The Bayelsa State Elections Petition Tribunal has begun sitting in the state.
The tribunal on Wednesday began a pre-trial hearing into the petition filed by a former Bayelsa Governor, Timipre Sylva, against the declaration of entertainment mogul, Mr. Ben Murray-Bruce as Senator-elect for the Bayelsa East senatorial District.
Sylva, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the district in the April National Assembly election, had approached the tribunal headed by Justice Ononoeze Madu, asking the court to declare Senator Murray-Bruce unqualified to contest the April 8 National Assembly election.
He had hinged his argument on the Senator’s dual citizenship and his refusal to relinquish such before the election.
Sylva also prayed the court to disqualify Murray-Bruce due to the irregularities and manipulations allegedly carried out by the PDP and their agents during the elections in Brass and other parts of the district.
Sylva asked the court to uphold his candidature and declare him valid winner of the National Assembly election.
But at the pre-trial hearing before the tribunal on Wednesday, counsel for Sylva, Abang Ogar, was engaged in legal arguments with the counsel for Murray Bruce, Chief Duro Adeleye as well as the counsel representing the Independent National Electoral Commission, Samuel Brisibe over the legality of the motion for the extension of time to respond to the objections raised by Sylva’s petition.
Ogar, in his argument against the objections raised by the duo of Olaleye and Brisibe said the motion for extension of time was based on mandatory position of law.
He noted with reference to Egbese & co. versus PDP in 2015, according to the Court of Appeal reports, that the motion can be granted and cannot be stopped due to rule of the court.
But Murray-Bruce’s lawyer argued that the authority cited by Sylva’s counsel was not applicable to the argument before the tribunal, saying, “it is not a question of rule but it is a matter of statute.”
The presiding Judge, Justice Madu, however fixed June 12 for ruling on the application by Sylva’s counsel for the motion for extension of time.