Supreme Court sacks APC's governor-elect in Bayelsa State and declares PDP's Senator Diri victorious

NIGERIA'S Supreme Court has nullified the election of David Lyon as the Bayelsa State governor-elect and declared Senator Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner if the November 16 poll.


In November last year, Bayelsans went to the polls to elect a new governor in what was a straight fight between Mt Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Senator Diri of the PDP. After the polls, the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) declared Mr Diri the winner but the PDP challenged the declaration in court and today secured a legal victory.


This afternoon, the Supreme Court nullified the election of Mr Lyon and his running mate Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, who were both preparing to be sworn-in tomorrow on Friday February 14. Now Senator Diri and his running mate Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, will take the oath of office as governor and deputy respectively instead.


A five-man panel Supreme Court judges led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili ordered Inec to withdraw the certificate of return issued to the APC candidates as the winners of the November 16, 2019 governorship election. It then instructed Inec to issue fresh certificates to the candidates of the party with the next highest votes and with the required constitutional spread of votes, which was the PDP.


Justice Ejembi Ekwo, who read the lead judgment, made the orders after disqualifying the APC’s deputy governorship candidate, Mr Degi-Eremienyo, as a candidate in the election. The court upheld the November 12, 2019 judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja which had disqualified Mr Degi-Eremienyo for submitting forged certificates to Inec.


According to the court, Mr Degi-Eremienyo’s disqualification had infected the joint ticket on which he and Mr Lyon ran. In November, Professor Faraday Orumwense, the Inec returning officer in Bayelsa State who announced the final results, declared that Mr Lyon polled 352,552 votes while Mr Diri came second with143, 172 votes.