Bayelsa gov’ship tussle: Gov Diri wins at the supreme court again

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The Supreme Court has upheld the election of Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri as it dismissed the appeal by Timi Alaibe challenging his emergence as the lawful candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa State.

A five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour dismissed the appeal.

Alaibe’s lawyer, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe, withdrew the appeal after the panel members pointed his attention to the fact that the issues raised in the appeal were not about the primary election but about an internal affair of the party.

Alaibe, who had lost the suit at both the Federal High Court in Owerri and the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal, had in the suit challenged the participation of two delegates who voted in the primary that produced Diri as the party’s candidate.

In the preliminary inquiry preceding the hearing on Tuesday, the Justice Rhodes-Vivour panel informed Adedipe that his case could not be categorised as a pre-election case that a court could entertain but about an internal affair of the party which the court lacked jurisdiction to hear.

Adedipe then withdrew the suit and was struck out by the court.

It would be recalled, the Chairman of the PDP electoral panel and governor of Taraba State, Governor Darius Ishaku, had declared Diri winner after polling 561 votes to defeat his close rival, Ndutimi Alaibe who polled 365 votes.

Alaibe, dissatisfied with the declaration of Diri as Governor, had approached the High Court arguing that the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) adopted a flawed process that led to the emergence of Diri as the PDP flagbearer.

Justice Tijani Ringim sitting at the Federal High Court Owerri had dismissed Alaibe’s suit declaring Diri as the winner of the primaries.

Alaibe had proceeded to the Appeal Court to challenge the decision of the lower court and in a unanimous decision, the Appellant Court upheld the decision of the lower court.

Alaibe, however, filed an appeal at the Supreme Court arguing through his counsel S.T. Ologunorisa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) that the lower and the appellant courts erred in law by upholding the election of Diri as PDP candidate and pray that the apex court declares him the winner of the primaries.

A five-man panel of Supreme Court Justices headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammed had on June 17 asked the appellant and the respondents to regularise their processes.

Ahead of the supreme Court judgement there has been palpable tension in the State as Diri and top chieftains of the PDP relocated to Abuja to monitor proceedings.

It would also be recalled that the Supreme Court in February, nullified the election victory of Bayelsa Governor-elect, David Lyon, and that of his Deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo.
Lyon was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election.

His victory also meant the first time a candidate of the APC would be winning a governorship election in Bayelsa.
Lyon’s election victory was nullified because his running mate, Degi-Eremienyo, presented a forged certificate to the electoral commission.

The decision followed actions by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) explained to pave the way for the swearing-in of the candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Douye Diri, as governor of Bayelsa State after Supreme Court judgment that sacked the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, David Lyon, who won the November governorship election.
INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, had told newsmen in Abuja that Mr Diri has met all the constitutional requirements to become the governor-elect of Bayelsa, with the removal of Mr Lyon and his votes from the election result as ordered by the court.
“Without the votes scored by the All Progressives Congress (APC), whose candidates were deemed not to have participated in the election, the total number of lawful votes cast in the election now stand at 146,999.
“Out of this figure, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scored the highest number of lawful votes with 143,172,” Mr Yakubu said.

“Similarly, the Party (PDP) has scored more than 25 % of the lawful votes cast in all the eight (8) Local Government Areas of the State,” he added.

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