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Friday, February 14

Confusion in Bayelsa: PDP falls short of constitutional requirement, INEC meets

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is meeting today after receiving on Thursday night the enrolled order of the Supreme Court judgment on the Bayelsa State governorship election.

The judgment nullified the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate David Lyon.

The electoral agency will determine the next candidate who scored the majority of the lawful votes and the candidate with the requisite spread.

But the electoral body faces a quandary of a problem as the runner-up candidate in the election, Senator Duoye Diri of the PDP fell short of what the constitution stipulates.

Any candidate to win the governorship election must have a majority vote and also win a minimum of 25 per cent in two thirds of the states.

Bayelsa has eight local councils, Southern Ijaw, Ogbia, Nembe, Sagbama, `kolokuma/Opokuma, Brass, Ekeremor and Yenagoa.

Mathematically two thirds of the eight LGAs is six LGAs.

But according to the results published by INEC on November 18 when David Lyon was declared the runaway winner, Diri only made 25 per cent clearly in four LGAs, with a fifth council, Brass close to call. He made it in Ekeremor, where he won 18344 votes, to APC's 21489. He won massively in Sagbama with 60,399 votes and Kolokuma/Opokuma. He also met the requirement in Yenagoa, where he polled 19184 votes, to lose to APC 24,607 votes. In Brass, he polled 10, 410 votes to APC's 23, 831 votes. Depending on cancelled votes, Brass may be on the borderline.

However, Diri was shut out in three LGAs of Nembe, Southern Ijaw and Ogbia.

INEC said on Thursday night it needed to study and comply with the exact wordings of the Supreme Court.

According to the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye: "This night, we received the Supreme Court judgment. The commission does not just rely on the revision of all these lawyers or the recollections of people to give effect to the judgment of the Supreme Court.

"We will meet tomorrow (today) to understand the context in which the judgment was given and also to enable us to understand what specifically the Supreme Court wants us to do.

"We are about to give effect to the judgment of the Supreme Court.

But National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole gave indication on Thursday that the party would institute legal challenges of the Supreme Court order, saying no other candidate met the constitutional requirement.

According to Oshiomhole, as far as the party was concerned, the next candidate who happened to be a PDP candidate did not have one quarter of the total lawful votes cast in that election in two-third of the eight local government areas in Bayelsa State.

He said from the facts available to the APC and in consultations with its lawyer, it was clear that there was no candidate that met the requirements of the law which meant that no one could be sworn in on Friday legally unless there was 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."

Oshiomhole drew attention to a similar incident in 1999 when the same Supreme Court ordered a fresh election after nullifying the election of former Governor of Bauchi State, Adamu Muazu.

He added : "When judges make judgements, they are published and there are those ones that laymen can understand. In 1999, there was a similar case in Bauchi involving Governor Adamu Muazu.

"The court found that his running mate was not qualified to contest the election and the Supreme Court nullified the election of Adamu 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.

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