- APC explores legal options
BY VICTOR OSOWOCHI, ABUJA – Still smarting under the weight of Supreme Court judgment sacking its candidate, David Lyon as the Bayelsa State Governor-elect, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole insists the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flagbearer, Senator Duoye Diri cannot be sworn in today (Friday, February 14) as Governor of the South South State.
He said going by the apex Court’s pronouncement, none of the candidates in November 16, 2019 gubernatorial poll, except its flagbearer, Lyon, met the mandatory spread of 25 per cent score in the Local Government Areas spelt out by law.
Comrade Oshomhole, who described the judgment as lacking the ingredients of justice, said using technicalities to nullify the wish of the people amounted to putting democracy under threat.
The party Chairman said though the ruling party respects the verdict as delivered by the apex court, it is ready to explore “all the windows that exist in law and take steps to ensure the will of the people of Bayelsa State is not undermined on the whims of technicalities.”
”From the online reports we have read, the Supreme Court ruled that the certificate of return earlier issued to David Lyon be withdrawn and directed INEC to issue a certificate of return to the person who scored the highest votes after Lyon if such a person has the required spread, “ Oshiomhole said.
“As a political party, we respect the rule of law and we have confidence in the judiciary. However, this judgement lacks the fruits of justice. For me and our party, at the heart of election is the issue of who the people actually voted for.
“Is there a case of impersonation on the part of the deputy governor-elect? Is there any other person who has come out to claim that name as to raise doubt as to whether this is the deputy governor-elect duly elected along with the governor during the Bayelsa governorship election?
“Where justice and democracy thrive on the alter of technicalities, it constitutes danger to our democracy. Nobody has raised issues whether David Lyon and his running mate won over- whelming majority.
“Issues of whether a chieftaincy title is part of a name or not could not be a reason to dismiss the wishes of the great people of Bayelsa state who reposed absolute confidence in the election of David Lyon and his running mate during the last governorship election.
“It is not a state secret. If as the Supreme Court that has ruled. David Lyon cannot be sworn in as governor and that the person who has the highest number of votes and spread be sworn in, it simply means that from tomorrow(today), there will be no government in Bayelsa State.
“As far as we know, the next candidate who happens to be a PDP candidate does not have one quarter of the total lawful votes cast in that election in two-thirds of the eight local government areas in Bayelsa State.
“Therefore, from the facts available to us and in consultations with our lawyer, it is clear that there is no candidate that meets the requirements of the law which means that no one can be sworn in tomorrow(today) legally unless there is deliberate abuse of the legal process.
“We have accordingly asked our lawyers to look at all the windows that exist in law and take steps to ensure that the will of the people of Bayelsa state is not undermined on the whims of technicalities”, the Comrade Chairman said.
Citing a similar situation in 1999 when the same Supreme Court ordered a fresh election after nullifying the election of former Governor of Bauchi State, Adamu Mu’azu, the APC National Chairman said; “When judges give judgments, they are published and there are those ones that laymen can understand. In 1999, there was a similar case in Bauchi State involving Adamu Mu’azu.
“The court found that his running mate was not qualified to contest the election and the Supreme Court nullified the election of Muazu and directed INEC to conduct a fresh election.
“I believe it is the same Supreme Court and therefore, we have asked our lawyers to explore all legal windows to ensure that Bayelsa people are not denied their wishes.
“Let me say that bad as the case of Zamfara State was where after we won the elections, the court held that APC did not conduct primaries and therefore did not participate in that election. This one is totally different because proper election was conducted.”
According to him, “This is not another Zamfara case. The essential ingredients are different and so, the outcome and consequences cannot be the same.”
While calling for calm among its teeming supporters, Comrade Oshiomhole assured APC “members across Nigeria“ that as a law abiding party, “we still believe that the will of Bayelsa people will prevail.”