SUPREME COURT SACKS DAVID LYON AS BAYELSA GOVERNOR-ELECT, DIRI POISED TO TAKE OVER MANDATE

The Supreme Court has sacked the governor-elect of Bayelsa State, David Lyon, and his Deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo both of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

A report monitored on Channels Television, on Thursday, February 13, disclosed that, the five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili, in a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Ejembi Ekwo, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to the All Progressives Congress’ candidates as the winners of the November 16, 2019 governorship election in the state.

The court upheld the November 12, 2019 judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja which had disqualified Degi-Eremienyo in the election for submitting forged certificates to INEC and ruled Degi-Eremienyo’s disqualification had infected the joint ticket with which he and the governorship candidate, Lyon, ran for and won the November 16, 2019.

The Apex Court also ordered a fresh certificate be issued to the governorship candidate with the highest votes cast and wide geographical spread in the governorship election held on November 16, 2020.

Mr Lyon and his running mate have already been given their certificates of return as the Governor-elect and Deputy Gover-elect respectively, of Bayelsa state, by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and were due to be sworn-in as the next Executives of the state on Friday, February 14, 2020.

They were sacked for presenting a running mate with a fake certificate in the said election.

With this judgment just delivered, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Diri Duoye, who appears now to have scored the highest lawful votes and with the requisite wide geographical spread across the state, is now poised to become the next governor of Bayelsa State.

David Lyon of APC had polled a total of 352,552 votes and won in Six LGAs, to defeat his closest rival and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Duoye Diri, who scored 143,172 votes and won in Two LGAs, with difference of over 180,000 votes in an election which was reportedly characterised with widespread incidences of violence, military intervention and ballot snatching in some areas while some wards were merged together as a result of flooding.

It could be recalled that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had sued the Bayelsa APC governorship candidate, David Lyon; his deputy, Degi-Eremienyo and INEC, seeking the disqualification of Degi-Eremienyo over fake certificates presented to INEC.

Justice Iyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja had on November 12, 2019, given judgment to the PDP and disqualified Degi-Eremienyo for allegedly supplying false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as part of requirement for the governorship poll.

Justice Ekwo had, in the judgment, not only held that all his documents bore different names but had also declared that Senator Degi-Eremienyo gave false information in relation to his educational qualifications and went ahead to depose to an affidavit to correct the discrepancies.

However, a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, chaired by Justice Stephen Adah had on December 23, reversed the judgment of the Federal Hight Court disqualifying the Deputy-Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo from participating in the Bayelsa State governorship election on November 16.

Degi-Eremienyo who was then the deputy governor-elect had challenged the High Court verdict that restrained him from taking part in the recently concluded poll and in his ruling, Justice Stephen Adah had 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 Appellate Court 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.

The Appellate Court judge had concluded by saying that: “I agree with the appellant that the owner of the school leaving certificate and the GCE certificate are one and the same and I theref.ore set aside the judgment of the court below.

The PDP was however not satisfied with the ruling of the Court of Appeal and had taken the matter to the Supreme Court for a final judgement that has now laid the matter to rest once and for all.