FORMER Bayelsa Central Senatorial District lawmaker Senator Douye Diri has received his certificate of return from Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) clearing the way for him to be sworn-in as the next state governor.
Yesterday, Nigeria was thrown into turmoil as the Supreme Court in Abuja nullified the election of David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) less than 24 hours before he was due to be sworn-in. Ruling that Mr Lyon’s election was nullified because his running mate Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo has submitted forged academic certificates, the court said the candidate who scored the next highest number of votes should be declared winner in his place.
In November last year, Bayelsans went to the polls to elect a new governor in what was a straight fight between Mr Lyon of the APC and Senator Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). After the polls, Inec declared Mr Diri the winner but the PDP challenged the declaration in court and yesterday secured a legal victory.
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.
Despite protestations from the APC, today, Inec issued Senator Diri and his running mate Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, with their certificates of return this afternoon. Receiving the certificate, Senator Diri said God has healed Bayelsa State with the Supreme Court judgement that declared him the winner of the November elections.
Senator Diri said: “I will never forget the judiciary, it is the last hope of the common man. With what happened, God has healed our State Bayelsa and within this time, God has taken us through a journey of reconciliation and forgiveness.”
At a solemn ceremony in the Inec conference room at its Abuja headquarters, Senator Diri and Senator Ewhrudjiakpo were presented with their certificates of return by May Agbamu-Uche Mbu, Inec’s commissioner in charge of legal affairs. Inec had no choice but to obey the Supreme Court order which ruled that Mr Degi-Eremienyo’s disqualification had infected the joint ticket on which he and Mr Lyon ran, thus making it invalid.