The All Progressives Congress (APC) has tackled the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for delisting its candidate in the November 11 Bayelsa State governorship election, Chief Timipre Sylva, from the amended list released by the Commission on Tuesday evening.

Sylva’s name and that of his running mate, Joshua Maciver, were not included in INEC’s amended (final) list of candidates for the November 11 Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo governorship elections.

In the list signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Rose Oriaran-Anthony, and uploaded on INEC’s website, the columns for the names of the APC candidate and his ruining mate were left blank with the columns for remarks in both cases marked “court order”.

Oriaran-Anthony, who explained that INEC’s action was in obedience to court orders, said the Commission had published the final list of candidates for 2023 Bayelsa State Governorship Election on June 9 in accordance with the provision of Section 32 of the Electoral Act, 2022, as well as the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the Election. However, the Commission was later served with an order of court in respect of the nomination of the APC candidate for the Bayelsa governorship election.

“By virtue of the provision of Section 287 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the Commission is bound to enforce the orders of court on nomination of candidates by political parties in the state,” Oriaran-Anthony said.

“The amended list of candidates in respect of the 2023 Bayelsa State governorship election is hereby amended pursuant to the orders of court served on the commission,” she said.

But the APC National Publicity Secretary, Mr Felix Morka, in a statement in Abuja described the delisting of Sylva and his running mate as premature.

“The attention of the APC has been drawn to the updated list of gubernatorial candidates for the Nov. 11 governorship election in Bayelsa by INEC, which excluded our candidate’s name, Chief Timipre Sylva,” Morka said.

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“This action by INEC may not be unconnected with the High Court judgement of Oct. 9 which disqualified Chief Timipre Sylva as candidate of our party.

“Our candidate and party promptly appealed that judgement and brought other processes seeking stay of the judgement’s execution.

“Recognising the extreme urgency of the matter, the Court of Appeal granted an order of accelerated hearing of the matter now fixed for definite hearing on Friday Oct. 27,” Morka said.

He said that INEC was a party in the matter and had been served with all relevant filings and orders regarding the matter, adding that delisting APC’s candidate in the circumstances was clearly premature and could preempt the outcome of the valid appeal in the matter.

Morka further said the delisting would foist a situation of helplessness on the appellate court, the candidate and the party should the appeal succeed.

He urged INEC to withdraw the amended list in the interest of fairness, while also appealing to Bayelsans, especially APC members and supporters, to remain calm while the judicial process runs its full course.

Recall that the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had on October 10 disqualified Sylva from participating in the Bayelsa State governorship election.

The presiding judge, Justice Donatus Okorowo, ruled that Sylva, having been sworn in twice and ruled for five years as governor of Bayelsa State, would be in breach of the 1999 constitution (as amended) if allowed to contest in the November 11 governorship election in state.