An Appeal Court sitting in Owerri, Imo State on Tuesday dismissed a suit filed by the former Bayelsa governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Timi Alaibe against the state governor, Duoye Diri.
Mr. Alaibe is challenging the emergence of Diri as the legitimate winner of the PDP primaries held on September 3, 2019, which also produced him as the governor of the state.
The Supreme Court has fixed Wednesday, February 26 to hear the application filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The ruling party is seeking among others, a review of the February 13 judgement of the apex court which disqualified its candidate in the November 16, 2019, governorship election in Bayelsa State, David Lyon.
In the application filed on Thursday last week by its team of lawyers led by a Senior Advocate of Niger (SAN), Wole Olanipekun, the APC asked the Supreme Court to set aside some portions of its judgment.
This include where the court “wrongly” held that the Federal High Court disqualified its governorship candidate along with its deputy governorship candidate, and where it held that the joint ticket of its candidates was vitiated by the disqualification of the deputy governorship candidate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, and that both candidates were deemed not to be candidates in the election.
The party also urged the Supreme Court to set aside the portion of its judgment where it ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare as winner of the governorship election, candidates with the highest number of lawful votes.
It disagreed with the portion where the court ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to its governorship candidate and issue a fresh one to the candidate who had the highest number of lawful votes.
The APC argued that it was wrong for the Supreme Court to have voided its candidates’ participation in the election, because the judgment by the Federal High Court which disqualified its deputy governorship candidate, was stayed as at when the election was conducted.
It also requested that the Supreme Court set aside what it described as the “wrong” interpretation given to its judgment of February 13, 2020, and the subsequent execution by INEC.
The party contended, among others, that the Supreme Court in its judgment misinterpreted the November 12, 2019, judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja which the apex court affirmed.
It insisted that the Supreme Court acted without jurisdiction and denied it fair hearing when it proceeded to disqualify its governorship candidate, even though the Federal High Court in the judgment by Justice Inyang Ekwo, which the apex court affirmed, refused the plaintiffs’ prayer to disqualify Mr Lyon.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has reacted to the judgment of the Supreme Court on the governorship election in Bayelsa State.
In an exclusive with Channels Television, he said the apex court made a mistake when it treated a pre-election matter as a post-election case.
“What their Lordships ought to have done was to ask the lawyers, ‘can you address us with respect to our jurisdiction?’
“Because Section 133 of the Electoral Act stipulates that upon the conclusion of an election and once candidates are declared, any challenge of the conduct of the election, of the qualification of the candidates shall be heard and determined by an Election Petition Tribunal,” Falana stated.
On February 13, a five-man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili sacked David Lyon and Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winners of the November 16, 2019 governorship poll.
The court then ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to the APC candidates and issue fresh certificates to the candidate of the party with the next highest votes, and with the required constitutional spread of votes in the results of the election.
It disqualified Degi-Eremieoyo as a candidate in the election for submitting forged certificates to INEC, stressing that the deputy-governorship candidate had infected the joint ticket with which he and Lyon ran for and won the election.
This led to the declaration of Senator Douye Diri and Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winners of the election and subsequent swearing-in as the governor and deputy governors of Bayelsa State.
The leadership of the APC and Degi-Eremieoyo have separately asked the apex court to review its judgement on the election.
In his reaction, Falana who has disagreed with the APC led government on many issues insisted that the apex court made a mistake.
He stressed that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter, saying it should have gone before the Election Petition Tribunal.
Ahead of the review of the judgment by the Supreme Court, the senior advocate was hopeful that the opportunity would further develop and strengthen the country’s laws.
He said, “The election was held on the basis of the judgement of the Court of Appeal which was to the fact that yes! Degi-Eremieoyo changed his name many times, not that he forged any of his certificates; there was no such proof. Therefore, he can contest the election.”
“On the basis of that judgement, the people voted; which means by that judgement, the election was valid and legal.
“As of that date, there was no pending appeal before the Supreme Court whereby INEC could be accused of having violated the doctrines of lis pendens i.e. ‘since you knew a case was in court, why did you hold election? As was the case of Peter Obi and INEC,” he added.
Falana stated that it was after the conclusion of the election that the PDP filed an appeal in the Supreme Court.
He stressed, “With profound respect, the attention of the Supreme Court was not drawn to the legality of that appeal; the case had become spent.”
The personal home of the immediate past Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, was on Friday attacked by unknown protesters.
The attack comes just hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) issued a Certificate of Return to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, in the 2019 governorship election, Diri Douye.
Some angry protesters suspected to be loyal to the All Progressives Congress (APC) earlier in the day attacked the PDP secretariat in Yenagoa, the State capital, destroying properties.
Diri was issued the certificate of return following the Supreme Court ruling which sacked APC candidate, David Lyon as Bayelsa State governor-elect.
The INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, told journalists during a briefing in Abuja that Diri was declared the winner of the November 2019 election after top INEC officials met to review the results of the election, without the votes of the APC which have been voided by the court.
“The total votes cast after excluding those of the APC now stand at 146,999. PDP polled 143,172 and scored 25 percent as required by the law,” Yakubu said during the briefing.
Hours after the Supreme Court sacked the governor-elect of Bayelsa State, David Lyon, and his Deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo, Channels Television has exclusively obtained the enrolled order of the judgement.
The judgement summary contains the nine major decisions that make up the ruling of the apex court with regards to the election.
A five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili on Thursday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to the All Progressives Congress’ candidate (Lyon) as the winner of the November 16, 2019 governorship election in the state.
The Apex Court ordered INEC to issue a fresh certificate of return to the candidate of the party with the next highest votes and with the required constitutional spread of votes in the results of the election, which are the Peoples Democratic Party.
“We really must stop this habit of blaming President (Muhammadu) Buhari for everything, including issues that are not his business.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, was quoted as saying this during an interview with reporters on Tuesday in Abuja.
He was responding to the various reactions trailing the outcomes of the governorship elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Kogi and Bayelsa States.
Governor Yahaya Bello and Mr David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) defeated Mr Musa Wada and Senator Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kogi and Bayelsa States respectively.
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole has said the victory of David Lyon in the November 16 Governorship Election in Bayelsa state means President Muhammadu Buhari has a brand new baby boy.
David Lyon who was declared winner and Governor-Elect, defeated the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Duoye Diri and will take an oath of office on February 14, 2019.
Mr. Oshiomhole who spoke with state house correspondent said that the party abided by the request of President Buhari for a peaceful poll, stressing that the Bayelsa election can be described as the most peaceful since 1999.
“We went to present the governor-elect of Bayelsa state, Governor David Lyon to President Muhammadu Buhari as a president and our father; he has a brand new, sparkling baby boy who will be by February 14, sworn in.
“We thank the president for his fatherly role and he insisted that while we are determined to win an election, we play by the rule and ensure that the process is transparent.
“We were proud to tell him that besides very isolated cases of ballot box snatching, the election in Bayelsa can be described as the most peaceful since 1999.”
On the Kogi West Senatorial rerun election, Mr. Oshiomhole said that Senator Dino Melaye is struggling after decamping from the APC to PDP.
“We realised that of all the 16 senators who decamped along with Senator Bukola Saraki from the APC to PDP, hard as they have tried to come back, the Nigerian people in their respective constituencies have insisted on punishing them for being disloyal for transferring or monetising their mandate.
“I think the only one still struggling now is Dion Melaye, as you can see Senator Adeyemi is leading, even though INEC is insisting on a rerun.
“The lessons to be learned for us as a party are rather clear when politicians go to the poll to collect mandate on a particular political party platform, and then they leave for another party, the electorate will always be waiting for them,” he added.
The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr David Lyon, has won the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State.
The Returning Officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin, Professor Faraday Orunmuwese, announced this on Monday morning.
Professor Orunmuwese returned Lyon as the winner of the keenly contested election after scoring the highest number of votes in the poll.
The APC candidate polled a total of 352,552 votes to defeat his closest rival and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Duoye Diri, who scored 143,172 votes.
Six Of Eight
Residents of Bayelsa had taken to various polling units in their respective wards to cast their ballots in a bid to elect a new governor to succeed Mr Seriake Dickson who is about to complete his second term as governor of the state.
Governor Dickson had supported Mr Diri to succeed him in his bid to ensure the PDP continues to rule in Bayelsa, following the exit of the state’s former governor and present Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, from office in 2012.
He was, however, unable to achieve this as Diri suffered defeat to his APC rival with a difference of over 180,000 votes.
Meanwhile, the election was characterised with reports of violence and ballot snatching in some areas while some wards were merged together as a result of flooding.
The collation of results of the election across the eight local government areas of the state began on Sunday afternoon and lasted until the early hours of Monday.
Of the first six LGAs whose results were collated, Lyon dominated the election with a difference of over 80,000 votes and extended the lead by an additional 100,000 votes after the results of the remaining two local governments were collated.
The Governor-elect won in six LGAs while his PDP rival claimed the remaining two LGAs.
Lyon won in Brass, Ekeremor, Nembe, Ogbia, Southern Ijaw, and Yenagoa LGAs while Diri won in Kolokuma/Opokuma and Sagbama LGAs.
Declaring the APC candidate as the winner, Professor Orunmuwese explained that a total of 505,884 votes were cast, out of which 499,551 were counted as valid votes.
He added that a total of 922,562 voters registered for the election but 517,883 voters were accredited.
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Duoye Diri, has faulted the outcome of the governorship election in Bayelsa State.
Diri, who addressed a news conference on Sunday, accused the Nigerian Army of intimidating agents and supporters of the PDP in Ogbia Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.
“The Nigerian Army is in Ogbia chasing away all PDP agents and all PDP key stakeholders from Ogbia, arresting most of our stakeholders; arresting all key stakeholders in Ogbia and as we speak, the Nigerian Army is there in Ogbia,” he told reporters while the collation of results from the eight LGAs in the state was ongoing at the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Yenagoa.
The PDP candidate added, “We want to use this opportunity to call on the soldiers who are in Ogbia to immediately withdraw from Ogbia Local Government Area.”
Mr Lyon took the lead with about 352,552 votes as against Diri who has about 143,172, with a difference of over 180,000 votes.
He won in Brass, Ekeremor, Nembe, Ogbia, Southern Ijaw, and Yenagoa LGAs while his PDP rival won in Kolokuma/Opokuma and Sagbama LGAs.
However, the Returning Officer of the election and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin, Professor Faraday Orunmuwese, will announce the winner of the election after all processes have been concluded.
The European Union has condemned the reports of widespread incidents of violence and voter intimidation in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
A statement by the Diplomatic Watch also expressed alarm at the reports of fatalities and missing people, urging stakeholders to call for calm.
The Diplomatic Watch deployed teams from Austria, the European Union Delegation, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States to monitor both state elections on November 16.
“We express our alarm at reports of widespread incidents of violence and intimidation, some of which were witnessed by our teams in Kogi. There are reports of fatalities and people missing, including INEC staff. Our thoughts are with all victims and their families.
“We encourage all stakeholders, in particular, political leaders, to call for calm and we encourage security agencies to investigate thoroughly and bring perpetrators to justice.
“We are also concerned by evident vote-buying and credible reports of ballot box snatching in both Bayelsa and Kogi.”
The EU commended the commitment of voters in both states who came out to vote and asked that those enshrined with the mandate to see through a smooth democratic process should continue to act in all capacity.
“We commend the commitment and resilience of voters in both states who came out to exercise their democratic rights. We express our sympathy for those affected by the violence, including ordinary voters; INEC officials; members of the NYSC; civil society; and the media. All should be able to carry out their fundamental role in the democratic process free from intimidation and harassment.”