Nigeria’s electoral commission, INEC, has insisted on taking a wider look at the Supreme Court’s ruling that annulled the November 16 Bayelsa governorship election results, before it would issue a certificate of return to the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Diri Duoye.
A spokesperson for the commission, Festus Okoye, while responding to inquiries from PREMIUM TIMES on the issue, said INEC would not immediately issue a certificate of return to Mr Diri until the commission is done studying the ruling of the Apex court ruling.
He added that after the review, the commission would make a decision if it should issue a certificate of return on the basis of Mr Duoye having lawful votes or if to order fresh elections.
“The commission will look at the exact wordings of the enrolled Order and the context of the Order and make a determination of what the Supreme Court wants the commission to do.
“The moment that determination is made, we will decide whether a certificate should be issued or not,” Mr Okoye said.
“The commission will act in the best interest of the nation and expeditiously give effect to the judgement of the Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court gave the commission the sole responsibility of determining the party and candidate that scored the majority of lawful votes and secured the requisite spread and the Commission will not share this responsibility with any individual or groups.
“The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s judgement in a pre-election matter and the implication is that if the candidate was not qualified to be on the ballot, whatever votes they got are wasted votes.
“A determination that the votes are wasted votes leads to a new computation of votes.
“The commission will not be found wanting in the discharge of its duties,” he said.
The Supreme Court Ruling
On Thursday, a five-member panel of the apex court led by Mary Odili annulled the election of the candidate the All Progressives Congress (APC), David Lyon, as the winner of the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa.
Mr Lyon was sacked on the grounds that his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, presented false information before the commission.
The apex court, in the judgment delivered by Ejembi Eko, consequently ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Messrs Lyon and Degi-Eremienyo.
The judge also ordered that INEC should immediately declare the party with the highest number of lawful votes and geographical spread, the winner.
A new Bayelsa governor is expected to be sworn in on Friday, to take over from Seriake Dickson, who is finishing his tenure.
The national chairman of the ruling party APC, Adams Oshiomhole, in his reaction to the court judgment said nobody should be sworn in as the new governor of Bayelsa State on Friday.
Mr Oshiomhole, at a press briefing at the party’s secretariat in Abuja shortly after the court verdict, said only the APC candidate met the “desired spread as expressed by the Supreme Court.
The APC chairman’s utterances has been trailed by controversies.
Members of the main opposition have reacted. The governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, on Thursday evening, said Mr Oshiomhole’s remarks were “capable of destabilising the country.”