Governor-elect, Chief David Lyon’s hope of becoming the fifth elected governor of Bayelsa State, on Friday, 14 February 2020, has been dashed just hours to his historic inauguration. The Supreme Court on Thursday voided his election and that of his running mate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo.
Political ‘rookie’ Lyon, whose emergence proved many bookmakers wrong at the November 16 poll was left disappointed and like the biblical Moses, literally saw the ‘promise land’ but couldn’t enter it. The apex court in its ruling held that Degi-Ermienyo, Lyon’s running mate, was not qualified to have contested the election with the APC governorship candidate.
Sadly, he was sacked by a five-man panel of the court headed by Justice Mary Peter-Odili about 24 hours to his swearing in today. Prior to his removal, Lyon, was taken round Government House by the out-going governor, Seriake Dickson while the APC flag was already flying high at the gate of Government House. He was at the Samson Siasia Sport Complex, the inauguration ground, to rehearse for the ceremony, which would have marked his swearing-in.
Lyon’s misfortune is coming barely a day after a section of Bayelsans booed the outgoing governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, for losing the PDP-controlled state to the main opposition party, APC. It will be recalled that protesters had blocked Dickson from leaving Government House in Yenagoa reportedly in protest over non-payment of their December salaries.
But some of the protesters had accused Dickson of destroying the party before his exit, saying he “kill our party when we dey manage”. Dickson’s travail in Bayelsa reportedly started after he singlehandedly chose a successor, who is currently basking in the euphoria of the Supreme Court judgment, against the advice of many bigwigs in PDP, including former President Goodluck Jonathan. He choice had caused huge disaffection within the ranks of the party in the state and caused the defeat, which has been upturned against the APC.
But on Thursday, what promised to be a woeful day of exit for Dickson, as governor became good fortune as the Supreme Court upheld the November 12, 2019 judgment by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which had disqualified Degi-Eremienyo in the election for submitting forged certificates with multiple names to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). That judgment caused Lyon his ticket, his teaming supporters pain and his party another four or eight years in opposition.
According to Justice Ejembi Ekwo, who read the lead judgment, which was upheld by the Supreme Court, in view of the discrepancies in the names certificates submitted by Degi-Eremienyo to INEC, he was not qualified for the election. The learned Justice therefore proceeded to disqualify the APC deputy governorship candidate in the election.
“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 election,” he stated.
Justice Ekwo then ordered 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 apex court ordered INEC to issue fresh certificates to the candidates of the party with the next highest votes and with the required constitutional spread of votes in the results of the election, which are the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidates.
But in his modest reaction, the out-going governor of the state, Dickson, has called for calm. He said there was ‘No Victor, No Vanquishe,’ as the victory was divine. He said the victory calls for reconciliation among the party faithful.
He said, “I preached peace; I preached reconciliation, forgiveness. We are brothers and we must join hands to move the state forward.”