February 14, 2020

BAYELSA SUPREME COURT VERDICT: We‘ll obey order when we get it – INEC


Independent National Electoral Commission

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has declared its readiness to act on the Supreme Court judgement but cannot do so now because It is yet to get the court order at press time.

Sacking the APC candidates, who would have been sworn-in today, the apex court, in a unanimous decision by a five-man panel of Justices, led by Justice Mary Odili, held that Degi-Eremieoyo presented a forged certificate to INEC.

Lyon polled 352,552 votes to defeat his closest rival and PDP candidate, Senator Duoye Diri, who scored 143,172 votes. A few days to the election, the PDP and its candidate secured a court order disqualifying Degi-Eremieoyo but the appeal court cleared the APC candidate to run.

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However, the Supreme Court, yesterday, held that the Form CF 001 Degi-Eremieoyo submitted to INEC for the purpose of November 16, 2019, governorship election contained false information of fundamental nature.

Justice Ejembi Eko who delivered the lead judgement reinstated the November 12, 2019, judgement of the Federal High Court in Abuja which disqualified Degi-Eremieoyo from participating in the governorship poll.

The apex court held that since Degi-Eremieoyo shared a joint ticket with the governor-elect, his disqualification invalidated their nomination by the APC. Of the eight local councils of Bayelsa, the PDP candidate won two – Kolokuma/Opokuma, and Sagbama and got more than 25 per cent of the votes cast in Ekeremor, Yenagoa and Brass.

It did not fare well in Nembe (about 19 per cent), Ogbia and Southern Ijaw where it got less than 10 per cent of the votes cast. According to the apex court ruling, Diri, who came second in the election must have 25 per cent of the votes cast in more than five of the eight local councils.

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Two-thirds of eight is 5.32 while Diri secured 25 per cent in five states. It is to be seen how the INEC would resolve the issue, which is akin to the 12 two-thirds controversies that hallmarked the 1983 presidential election between late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and former President Shehu Shagari, also deceased.

Then, there were 19 states. Shagari had a simple majority and 25 per cent in 12 states instead of approximately 13. But the apex court handed him victory based on 12 two-thirds of 25 per cent spread.

Speaking on the issue, yesterday, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, chief press secretary to the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said: “We just heard the ruling on the radio. There is no official communication. We will act on the order when we get it.

Also, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye said the commission would check its record to see which party came second in the election with a view to issuing its candidate a Certificate of Return.

“We would do that when we get the judgement of the Supreme Court so that we would know clearly what the Supreme Court want us to do and we would carry it out,” he said.

Vanguard News