An act of God

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An election earlier declared in favour of the APC governorship candidate in Bayelsa state was upturned by the Supreme Court in favour of the PDP candidate for irregularities in the credentials submitted by the deputy governorship candidate

By Oscar Onojighofia

His opponent earlier declared winner of the Bayelsa state governorship election held November 16, 2019, David Lyon and his deputy Biobakakuma were in high spirit and indeed rehearsing for their inauguration when the news of their sack by a five man Supreme Court Justices came like a thunderbolt.

The supreme court judgment which ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to issue fresh certificate to the candidate of the party with the next highest votes in the governorship election in Bayelsa state, which is the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party PDP, Senator Duoye Diri and his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewrhudjakpo, has been carried out.

Hence on February 14th, when the world was celebrating Valentine’s Day, the duo of Senator Duoye Diri and Senator Lawrence Ewrhudjakpo were sworn in as Governor and Deputy Governor respectively. At a press briefing by the chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC boss noted that “INEC in compliance with the order of the supreme court met and reviewed the results of the elections in which 45 political parties contested”. Furthermore the INEC boss averred that “Without the votes scored by the All Progressives Congress, APC, whose candidates were deemed not to have participated in the elections, the total number of lawful and valid votes cast in the election stand at 146,999. Out of this figure the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP scored the highest number of lawful votes with 143,172. Similarly, the INEC boss said the party scored more than 25% of lawful votes cast in all the 8 Local Government Areas of the state. The candidate of Accord Party came next with 1,339 votes.

Furthermore, Yakubu stressed that the total number of registered voters in places where the election was not held or cancelled as a result of sundry violation is 90,822. The margin of lead between the candidates of PDP and the Accord Party, AP was 141,833 votes.

With this the INEC boss stated that the election is concluded at first ballot. Consequently, Senator Duoye Diri and Senator Lawrence Ewrhudjakpo of the PDP were declared winners and returned elected as Governor and Deputy Governor of Bayelsa state respectively in fulfillment of section75 of the electoral Act 2010 as amended. This happened few hours to the end of the tenure of the immediate past Governor of Bayelsa state. Even then, the immediate past Governor had earlier been attacked by youths of the party, PDP for making the party not to win the Governorship not knowing that a Supreme Court judgment was in the air to change the story.

The apex court found the irregularities in the credentials of the ex-APC deputy governor elect in Bayelsa state, Degi-Eremienyo and annulled the joint ticket of both Lyon and Degi-Eremienyo.

With INEC issuing a certificate of return in the morning of Friday, 14th February to Diri in compliance with the Supreme Court’s verdict the Chief Judge of the state on Friday evening administered the oaths of office on Diri and his Deputy, swearing both in as the fifth civilian governor and deputy governor of the state respectively.

Meanwhile, the Presidency last month said the President; Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) refused to interfere with the judgment of the Supreme Court in Bayelsa state annulling the victory Buhari’s party, the APC

Though Lauretta Onochie, an aide to the President on social media praised President Buhari for not interfering with the Supreme Court judgment sacking the candidate of his party, the APC in the Bayelsa state Governorship poll, she however noted that the Supreme Court had spoken and urged Bayelsans to move on.

Even then, as at the time of going to press, the people of Bayelsa state were still in lament over the vandalism and attack on innocent citizens, in different parts of the state. The protest and violent attacks on persons particularly perceived members of PDP in Bayelsa state is believed to be protests against the judgment of the Supreme Court. The protest which started Thursday, February 13th continued till Friday, 14th February until the Bayelsa state Police commissioner, Uche Anozia announced at a press conference a curfew in the state.

Before the curfew the protesters believed to be APC supporters had blocked different roads, burning tyres, brought traffic to unbearable sight as well as attacked the new Governors residence in addition to vandalism of other properties.

The vandalism notwithstanding the duo has been sworn in as Governor and Deputy Governor respectively. Happening at a time no man ever expected it would happen, maybe why Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor, Delta state noted that their emergence as Governor and Deputy Governor respectively was an act of God.

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