. It’ll be legally wrong to swear-in Douye Diri as gov- Oshiomhole
.Judgement will not deter us from pursuing justice in Imo – PDP
The nullification of the electoral victory of the Bayelsa State governor-elect, Mr. David Lyon, by the Supreme Court on Thursday has elicitated different reactions from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Daily Times recalls that less than 16 hours to his official inauguration, the Apex Court on Thursday sacked Mr. David Lyon, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governor – elect for Bayelsa State in an a pre-election appeal judgment that took both litigants and the public by surprise.
The Supreme Court, in an unanimous judgement delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko nullified the nomination and participation of Lyon and his running mate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eriemienyo in the November 16, 2019 Bayelsa State governorship election.
The apex court held that the running mate to the governor-elect gave wrong information about his names and presented forged certificates to secure clearance as APC deputy governorship candidate.
Supreme Court therefore set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal which had in December last year nullified the judgment of the Federal High Court that disqualified Degi-Eremienyo from the contest.
Court of Appeal had in the judgment held that a case of forgery was not established against Degi-Eremienyo.
But the Supreme Court agreed with the trial court. It held that the Court of Appeal was wrong and its judgment was perverse.
The apex court said that it has been established from the documents submitted to INEC that the deputy governor-elect forged certificates, fraudulently and chamelionously used different names when it suited him.
The apex court said that the deputy governor-elect and his political party, APC, did not dispute the fact deposed to by the appellant that the multiple names were clearly and fraudulently used in the INEC form CF001 submitted to the electoral body.
Justice Eko, who listed the different names on the primary school leaving certificate, general Certificate of Education (GCE), first degree, NYSC discharge certificate and the Masters degree, which bore different names did not approach lawful authorities to correct the multiple names on the certificates.
The apex court held that an affidavit of regularisation of names purportedly done by the governor-elect 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 came to the conclusion that the primary school certifacate 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 and Section 31 of the Electoral Act.
Justice Eko upheld the judgment of Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja that the case of forgery has been established going by the document presented by Degi-Eremienyo with various names.
The court therefore voided the joint ticket of David Lyon and his running mate and set aside their participation in the November Bayelsa governorship election.
Justice Eko ordered that the certificate of return already issued to the governor elect by INEC 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.
It ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Lyon and a fresh one issued to the governorship candidate with the highest votes cast and wide geographical spread in the governorship election held on November 16, 2020.
With the judgment, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Diri Duoye with the highest lawful votes and with wide geographical spread will eventually become the next governor of Bayelsa State.
It would recalled that the Court of Appeal in Abuja has annulled the judgment of a Federal Hight Court disqualifying the Deputy-Governorship elect of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo from participating in the Bayelsa governorship election on November 16.
Degi-Eremienyo had challenged the High Court verdict that barred him from taking part in the poll.
Justice Iyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja had on November 12, 2019 disqualified the lawmaker for allegedly supplying false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as part of requirement for the governorship poll.
In a judgment, Justice Ekwo said Senator Degi-Eremienyo gave false information in relation to his educational qualifications and went ahead to depose to an affidavit to correct the discrepancies.
The judge held that all his documents bore different names.
But in its ruling, a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, chaired by Justice Stephen Adah held that the High Court erred in law and in breach of the appellant’s right to a fair hearing.
According to him, the case which was brought under Section 36 of the Electoral Act is criminal in nature and the respondents in the case ought to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Senator Degi-Eremienyo gave false information in his form C001 submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as part of his qualifications to contest the election.
The Court of Appeal held that more so the lawmaker submitted an affidavit sworn to court to prove that the names Adeyi-Eremienyo on his school-leaving certificate is one and the same as Degi-Eremienyo on his GCE certificate and newspaper cuttings announcing to the whole world a change in name and same was not challenged by the respondents in the lower court as such the findings of the lower court are erroneous.
Reacting, the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Thursday rejected judgement of the Supreme Court sacking the governor – elect, David Lyon.
The party frowned at the adoption of legal technicality by the apex court in disqualifying the APC candidate on the ground of the disqialification of his running mate.
National chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, therefore, said it will be legally wrong to swear – in PDP candidate, Senator Douye Diri, today as Bayelsa State governor.
Stating the party’s position at a press conference on Thursday at APC national secretariat, Abuja, Oshiomhole declared that “Nobody will be sworn-in on Friday (today) as the new governor in Bayelsa State.”
He said that apart from Lyon, no other candidate meet the constitutional requirement and therefore no one can be sworn in as governor.
Oshiomhole said: “Nobody has raised issues about whether or not David Lyon and his running mate won overwhelming majority in the said election. Issues of whether a chieftaincy title is part of a name or is not a name in our view couldn’t be a reason to dismiss the wishes of the great people of Bayelsa State who reposed absolute confidence in the way in which they elected David Lyon and his running mate during the last governorship election.
“If as the Supreme Court has ruled that David Lyon cannot now be sworn in as the person who has the highest number of votes and the spread to be sworn in, it simply means from tomorrow (today) there will be no government in Bayelsa State.
“The next candidate, as the facts are before court, who happens to be a PDP candidate does not have one quarter of the total lawful votes cast in that election in two third of the local government councils in Bayelsa State.
“And, therefore from the fact available to us, in consultation with our lawyers, it is clear that there is no candidate that meet the requirements of the Supreme Court, which means no one can be sworn in legally tomorrow unless there is a delibrate abuse of the legal process”.
Considering legal option, he said APC has accordingly asked its lawyers to look at all the windows that exist in law, and take steps to ensure that the will of the people of Bayelsa State is not undermined on the altar of technicalities.
Making reference, Oshiomhole said: “In 1999, there was a similar case in Bauchi involving Governor Adamu Muazu. The court found out that the 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 believe it is still the same Supreme Court and therefore we have asked our lawyers to exploit all lawful legal windows to ensure that Bayelsa people have a governor of their choice.
“Let me say that as bad as the case of Zamfara was, where after we have won the governorship election, senatorial, House of Representatives and state assembly elections the court heard that APC didn’t conduct primary in the state. And, therefore didn’t participate in the election. This one is totally different.
“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 (today), unless there is deliberate attempt to abuse the legal process.
The national chairman assured not just APC members across the country, who are still in shock over this judgement but Nigerian people that the party is law abiding.
Reacting, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it received with joy, the judgment restoring its mandate in the Bayelsa State governorship election but insisted that the apex court must right the wrongs in the Imo State governorship election judgment.
The party said the Bayelsa judgment “will not change the course of its demand that the Supreme Court rectifies the manifest and widely rejected mistakes contained in its judgment on the Imo State governorship election”.
In a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP insisted 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 party restated that the miscarriage of justice in the Imo State judgment is glaring given the established fact that the panel assumed the roles of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), by recognising the votes “concocted by the All Progressives Congress (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.
“The Supreme Court had also disqualified Uche Nwosu from the election for having acquired the governorship ticket of two political parties; the APC and the Action Alliance (AA), an aberration to the electoral laws.
“Our party holds that a judicial review on Imo governorship election has become inevitable because by these earlier rulings of the Supreme Court, not only is Sen. Uzodimma not a candidate, the judgments also nullified all the votes that could have been accruable to APC and AA and their candidate, Uche Nwosu, in the election, leaving the PDP candidate, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, as the incontestable winner of the election”, the party said.
The PDP congratulated the people of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri and his deputy governor-elect, Lawrence Ewrujakpor, as their mandate has been restored.
In his reaction, the presidential candidate of the PDP in 2019 general election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, said he received the verdict of the Supreme Court with gladness.
In a personally signed statement on Thursday, the former vice president said: “Senator Douye 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 Peoples Democratic Party. The Lords Justices have given us another opportunity to show Nigerians that power belongs to the people, and we must make good use of this opportunity.
“I call on all the people of Bayelsa to make peace with the recent past and embrace the future together, united in the mission to transform the state into a haven of peace and prosperity.
“Finally, I urge 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 people of Nigeria are behind the apex court in whatever they do to free themselves from the dominance of dictatorial forces”.