On Thursday, February 13, Nigeria’s Supreme Court gave another surprise judgement in the Bayelsa governorship election case before it.
The court sacked David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as governor-elect of Bayelsa state and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue the certificate of return to the next candidate with the highest number of votes and the requisite spread.
Lyon had been earlier scheduled to be sworn in as Bayelsa state governor on Friday, February 14.
Why did the Supreme Court sack Lyon? Legit.ng breaks it down in this succinct explainer.
Surprisingly, the matter that led to Lyon’s sack did not really concern him, it has to do with his deputy-governor elect, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo.
David Lyon meets President Buhari after winning the Bayelsa governorship election. Photo credit: Presidency
The five-member panel of the apex court which was led by Justice Mary Odili ruled that Degi-Eremienyo is guilty of presenting false information regarding his certificate to INEC.
Who is behind the suit accusing Degi-Eremienyo of providing false information?
The suit was initiated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who had asked the court to nullify Degi-Eremienyo’s candidacy because of the inconsistencies in his certificates.
In his primary school certificate, Degi-Eremienyo’s name was written as Degi Biobara while the documents from his secondary education bore Adegi Biobarakumo, as his name.
However, documents from his university education had Degi Biobarakuma as his name while the result from his MBA certificate had Degi Biobarakuma Wangaha his name.
Why did the apex court sack a governor-elect for his deputy’s offence?
A governorship ticket is not valid without a running mate. Thus, the Federal High Court in November 2019 disqualified the APC governor-elect on the grounds that his deputy provided false information to INEC.
However, the APC challenged the court ruling at the appeal court and won.
The appellate court set aside the decision of the Federal High Court and affirmed the election of the APC candidates.
The court held that Degi-Eremienyo submitted an affidavit which rectified the inconsistencies in his names.
The PDP was also not satisfied with the ruling of the appeal court and proceeded to the Supreme Court.
At the apex court, the PDP got a favourable judgement as the judges set aside the judgment of the appeal court and affirmed the decision of the Federal High Court which had nullified Degi-Eremienyo’s candidacy.
Who becomes the governor after Lyon’s sack?
After sacking Lyon, the apex court ordered INEC to declare the party with the next highest number of lawful votes and the requisite geographical spread the winner of the election.
Which party benefits from this ruling?
The PDP is the beneficiary of the ruling because its candidate, Duoye Diri, had the next highest number of lawful votes and the requisite geographical spread.
PDP’s Diri is expected to be sworn in as Bayelsa governor in place of Lyon
Diri is expected to be sworn in as the next governor of Bayelsa state in place of Lyon.
INEC has also announced that it would meet to study the judgement of apex court and comply accordingly.
Are you confused that the Supreme Court had earlier affirmed Lyon’s election?
This is what happened. On Tuesday, February 11, the Supreme Court upholds Lyon’s victory as Bayelsa governor.
But the case had nothing to do with the PDP or post-election matter. The suit which the apex court decided in favour of Lyon was initiated by the former federal lawmaker, Heineken Lokpobiri over the governorship primary of the APC in the state.
The court dismissed the appeal filed by Senator Lokpobiri which was challenging the candidacy of Lyon for lacking in merit.
So, Lyon won his candidacy suit but got sacked as the governor of Bayelsa because his deputy lost his candidacy suit which was filed by the PDP.