…Diri’s meeting of 25 per cent spread raises anxiety
By Clifford Ndujihe
THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has declared its readiness to act on the Supreme Court judgement sacking Bayelsa State Governor-elect, David Lyon, and his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo but cannot do so now.
Reason: It is yet to get the court order.
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 the INEC.
Lyon polled 352,552 votes to defeat his closest rival and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Duoye Diri, who scored 143,172 votes 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.
However, the Supreme Court, Thursday, 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 November 12, 2019, Judgement of the Federal High Court in Abuja that 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.
Consequently, it ordered INEC to immediately withdraw the Certificate of Return that was issued to them and issue a fresh one to the party that secured the second-highest number of votes and got the required constitutional spread. The judgement followed an appeal that was filed by the PDP, its governorship and deputy governorship candidates in Bayelsa State, Douye Diri and Lawrence Ewhruojakpo.
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 four of the eight local councils. Two third 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-third controversies that hallmarked the 1983 presidential election between late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and former President Shehu Shagari. Then, there were 19 states. Shagari had simple majority and 25 per cent in 12 states instead of approximately 13. But the apex court handed him victory based on 12 Two-third of 25 per cent spread.