A major political and constitutional crisis looms in Bayelsa State as the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gave different interpretations to the Supreme Court nullification of the victory of David Lyon over the misdemeanours of his running mate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo.
The APC, which lost out in the legal dispute via the apex court ruling, said that nobody would be inaugurated as the governor of the state today, a development that may create a succession vacuum if the ruling party’s position stands while the PDP declared that it was ready for the swearing-in of its candidate, Senator Duoye Diri.
However, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said that there would be no political leadership vacuum in the state as it assured Nigerians that the new governor of the state would be known today.
The apex court, in its judgment which lasted for about 30 minutes, held that it was established from the documents submitted to INEC that the deputy governor-elect forged certificates and fraudulently used different names when it suits him.
The court said that Degi-Eremienyo and his political party, the APC did not dispute the fact deposed to by the appellant that the multiple names were clearly and fraudulently used in Form CF001 submitted to the electoral body.
Justice Eko, who revealed the different names on the primary school leaving certificate, General Certificate of Education (GCE), first degree, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharge certificate and the master’s degree, which bore different names, did not approach lawful authorities to correct the multiple names on the certificates.
He also held that an affidavit of regularisation of names purportedly done by Degi-Eremienyo and published in the Chronicle Newspaper was a futile attempt to justify the multiplicity of names submitted to INEC and contained on the certificates.
The Supreme Court therefore concluded that the primary school certificate obtained in 1976, GCE, 1984, first degree, 1990 and others were product of forgery and that the deputy governor-elect violated Section 182 of the 1999 Constitution.
Justice Eko upheld the judgment of Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja that the case of forgery had been established going by the documents presented by Degi-Eremienyo with various names.
Justice Eko ordered that the certificate of return issued to the governor-elect by INEC should be withdrawn immediately and that a fresh one be issued to the candidate who scored the second highest number of lawful votes with geographical spread and with requisite qualification.
“We are still in a meeting. We’ve not received the court judgement. We will want to receive the court judgement, analyse it before issuing a certificate of return to the winner,” INEC chairman’s spokesman, Rotimi Oyekanmi said.
No Governor Will Be Inaugurated In Bayelsa Today – Oshiomhole
The party, which insisted that the judgement lacked the fruit of justice, stressing that for demanding that the next party with the highest vote should be given the certificate of return was wrong because the PDP did not meet the constitutional requirements.
While addressing a press conference at the APC national headquarters in Abuja, the party’s national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said that the judgement did not reflect the will of the people of Bayelsa hence, constituted grave danger to Nigeria’s democracy.
“We respect the rule of law as a political party but we have to say that the judgement lacks the fruit of fairness and it constitutes grave danger to our democracy. There will be no government in Bayelsa State because the PDP is not qualified to take over since they didn’t have the spread.
“Therefore, from the facts available to us and in due consultation with our lawyers, it is clear that no candidate meets the requirements of the Supreme Court which means no one can be sworn in legally tomorrow, unless there is deliberate attempt to abuse the legal process
“We have accordingly asked our lawyers to look at all the windows that exist in law and take steps to ensure that the will of the people of Bayesla State is not undermined on the altar of technicalities.
Oshiomhole further stated that “In 1999, there was a similar case in Bauchi involving Governor Adamu Muazu. The court found that his running mate was not qualified for whatever reason to contest that election, and accordingly the Supreme Court nullified the election of Governor Adamu Muazu and the court as a consequence directed INEC to conduct a fresh election.
“I have chosen to make this formal response to this judgement so that we do not leave in particular, the great people of Bayesla State in doubt as to where we stand – we stand by them. I also want the Nigerian public to know that this is the position of the APC.
“Let me say that this, as bad as the case of Zamfara State was, where after we have won the governorship election, the senatorial election, the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly election, the court held that APC did not conduct primaries in the state and therefore did not participate in that election. This one is totally different; there is no doubt about the fact that proper elections were conducted. In fact, even the Supreme Court upheld this, this is not another Zamfara case and therefore the essential ingredients are different and t the outcome and consequences cannot be the same.
“We want to assure not just APC members across the country, who are still in shock over this judgement, we want to assure the Nigerian people that we are a law abiding party, we still believe that the will of Bayesla people will prevail and there is sufficient legal window to achieve it,” Oshiomhole said.
PDP, Wike Caution Oshiomhole Over Utterances
The PDP also counselled Oshiomhole to be “careful with his utterances and not use any form of venomous garrulity and clear misuse of language to destabilise our nation and truncate our hard-earned democracy.”
Through its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said in a statement that he signed that “the people of Bayelsa State know as a fact that INEC under “our laws cannot take instruction from any individual, let alone a factional national chairman of a dysfunctional political party like the APC.
“The PDP also calls on the people of Bayelsa State to remain calm as their mandate has been restored and cannot be taken away by the ranting of any individual who has no stake whatsoever in the wellbeing of his own home state,” the party said.
PDP Insists On Imo Guber Seat
The PDP said while it received the judgement of the Supreme Court restoring its mandate in the Bayelsa State governorship election, the apex court must right the wrongs in the Imo State governorship election verdict. The party said that the Bayelsa judgment would not change the course of its demand that the Supreme Court should rectify what it called the manifest and widely rejected mistakes contained in its judgment on the Imo State governorship election.
Ologbondiyan said: “Our party insists that the Supreme Court will be redeeming its image and restoring public confidence on its infallibility by reviewing the Imo verdict given the manifold unjustifiable mistakes contained in that judgment.
“The PDP restates that the miscarriage of justice in the Imo state judgment is glaring given the established fact that the panel assumed the roles of INEC by recognising the votes concocted by the APC and Senator Hope Uzodimma, which ended up increasing the total number of votes in the election to 950,952, over and above the INEC certified total accredited votes of 823,743.
“In another miscarriage of justice, the Supreme Court panel named Senator Uzodimma/APC as winner whereas it had on December 20, 2019 ruled that Uche Nwosu, and not Senator Uzodimma, won the APC governorship primary,” he said.
Speaking with newsmen in Port Harcourt, yesterday, Wike berated Oshiomhole for saying that there would be no swearing-in of the PDP governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, asserting he had no such powers.
The governor said: “The federal government should warn Oshiomhole to stop making remarks that will destabilise Nigeria. What he is doing in Edo State is not proper and he should not bring it to the rest of the Niger Delta.”
He said: “It is most unfortunate, what Oshiomhole is doing because he wants to retain his position as national chairman. APC governors have rejected him; that is why he is struggling to prove that he is fighting for the party. He is making statements as if he owns the country. His is the same way he is carrying on in Edo State fighting the governor. He believes that he has the forces to cause crisis. He is arrogating powers to himself, which is not good.”
Mixed Reactions In Bayelsa
The verdict came a few hours after Lyon in the company of the commissioner of police, Uche Anozia, embarked on an inspection of the rehearsal of police ahead of his swearing-in ceremony at the Samson Siasia Sports complex.
A visit to the party’s secretariat along Baybridge area of the state witnessed the gathering of shocked members who were in search for genuiness of the reports on the sack of Lyon by the Supreme Court.
The outgoing commissioner for Information and Orientation, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, congratulated Diri and his running mate, Senator Lawrence Ehrudjakpor, on their well-deserved victory at the Supreme Court.
The state PDP’s publicity secretary, Barr. Osom Macbere, stated that “only God knows how to recompense for the many long nights of adversities we shared, whilst the opposition revelled with temporary timbrels and exuberant drums that collapsed into an abrupt decrescendo.
‘It was a battle between God and those who showed jejune credulity towards some ‘juggling fiends’ that creepily goaded them into orgy of opaque incantations now suddenly revealed at the dawn of the Valentine eve,” he said.
Lyon Rejects Verdict
Represented by the member representing Southern Ijaw federal constituency, Hon. Preye Oseke, the sacked governor-elect, said: “We are in shock, as a party and as people of Bayelsa we are rejecting it completely.”
Flanked by party chieftains and hundreds of supporters, he added that “it is a procured judgement. While we have our respect for the revered justices, we believe that this is not the wish of Bayelsans.
“Again, we are calling on INEC not to issue a certificate of return to the candidate of the PDP because he was unable to score the required 25 per cent in the two-thirds of the local government areas.
“As a party, we are law-abiding, our property have been destroyed even in the midst of the judgement that came this morning. We are calling on all our supporters to remain calm while our leaders and stakeholders meet and come up with the next line of action. We believe the right thing will be done. The rule of law will be upheld,” he said.
Atiku Hails Verdict
The PDP presidential candidate in the 2019 election, former vice president Atiku Abubakar, has praised the Supreme Court for the judgement which annulled the mandate of Lyon and declared Diri, winner of the poll.
Atiku, who said he was gladden by the apex court verdict, urged the Supreme Court to show consistency in its judgments and find the resolve to always deliver just-judgments no matter whose ox is gored.
The former vice president in a statement, said: “I received the verdict of the Supreme Court, declaring the candidate of the PDP in the Bayelsa State gubernatorial election, Senator Douye Diri, as the duly elected governor of the state, with gladness.
“Senator Diri had cause to visit with me before the elections and received my blessings and counsel. I am fully satisfied that he has what it takes to make Bayelsa the ‘glory of all lands’. His intellect, personality and character, are a credit to Bayelsa and the PDP.
“I congratulate Senator Douye Diri and his running mate, Mr. Lawrence Ewhrujakpor. I also felicitate with the PDP. The lord justices have given us another opportunity to show Nigerians that power belongs to the people, and we must make good use of this opportunity,” he said.