The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, on Saturday, upheld the election of Governor Duoye Diri and his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo. The Justice Ibrahim Sirajo-led three-member panel tribunal which conducted its proceedings in Abuja, in separate unanimous judgements, dismissed three different petitions that sought to nullify the outcome of the governorship election that held in Bayelsa State on November 16, 2019.
The tribunal held that the three petitions were incompetent and lacked merit. The dismissed petitions were brought before the tribunal by Alliance for Democracy, AD, and its candidate, Owei Woniwei, United Peoples Congress, UPC, and its candidate, Ibiene Stephen, as well as that of candidate of the Liberation Movement, LM, Vijah Opuama. Aside from Justice Sirajo, other members of the panel that threw out the petitions are Justices Owei Woniwei and Yunusa Musa.
The petitioners had separately challenged the qualification of the deputy governor, Ewhrudjakpo, alleging that he tendered forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. They alleged that Ewhrudjakpo altered the name on the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, certificate he presented to INEC for the purpose of the governorship election.
The petitioners specifically queried the authenticity of Ewhrudjakpo’s NYSC Exemption Certificate issued in 1998, even as they also accused him of falsifying his age. They urged the tribunal to disqualify governor Diri, his deputy, Ewhrudjakpo and their political party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and order a fresh governorship election in the state without the participation of the disqualified party.
However, dismissing the petitions on Saturday, the tribunal, held that the petitioners failed to prove any of the allegations they levelled against Ewhrudjakpo, beyond a reasonable doubt. Describing the case as “unnecessary waste of time of the court”, the tribunal, upheld preliminary objections that Diri, Ewhrudjakpo and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, filed to challenge the competence of the petitions.
More so, the tribunal, noted that the issue of qualification of the candidate as was raised by the petitioners is a pre-election matter. It will be recalled that though Diri of the PDP came second in the governorship election, he was later declared winner after the Supreme Court, in judgement on February 13, disqualified the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, David Lyon, following discrepancies in documents his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo, attached to the Form CF001 he submitted to INEC.