Bayelsa Governorship: Supreme Court Fixes Date to Hear APC Application

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The Supreme Court has fixed February 26 to hear an application filed by the All Progressive Congress (APC), asking it to reverse a judgement that sacked David Lyon as governor-elect of Bayelsa State.

One of the lawyers representing the APC, Lateef Fagbemi told PREMIUM TIMES, “It is true that the Supreme Court has fixed Wednesday 26 February for our application.

“There has been no response yet from the respondents,” he added.

A five-member panel of the apex court led by Mary Odili, had on February 13, nullified the election of Mr Lyon on the grounds that his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, presented false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in aid of his qualification for the November 16 governorship election in the state.

The apex court, in the judgement delivered by Ejembi Eko, consequently ordered INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Messrs Lyon and Degi-Eremienyo.

The court also ordered that INEC should immediately declare the party with the highest number of lawful votes and geographical spread the winner of the election.

The PDP and its governorship candidate, Mr Diri, had filed a suit against Messrs Lyon and Degi-Eremienyo, and INEC, seeking the disqualification of the APC deputy governorship candidate.

They had claimed that Mr Degi-Eremienyo gave false information in his CF 0001 form submitted to INEC.

Not satisfied with the apex court’s judgement, APC, through their lawyers, Wole Olanipekun and Lateef Fagbemi, respectively, on February 20, filed their application.

In the application, the lawyers claimed that the judgment of the Federal High Court was misinterpreted by the apex court and thus disqualified Mr Lyon wrongly.

They further argued that the trial court, in its judgement delivered on November 12, 2019, found out that Mr Degi-Eremienyo was guilty of submitting forged certificates but that the judge, Inyang Ekwo, refused to grant the PDP’s request, which asked for Mr Lyon’s disqualification.
Lawyer condemns attack on judges

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) condemned the recent attack on Justice Odili, describing it as unwarranted, as it is dangerous for the independence of the court.

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Justice Odili had led the five-member panel of the apex court that sacked Mr Lyon.

After the judgement, Bayelsa State has experienced violence, due to the rejection of the judgement by the APC through its national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, prompting the police to declare dusk to dawn curfew.

There have also been allegations that some ‘sponsored’ protesters besieged the home of the judge, condemning her role in the delivery of the judgment.

In a statement, Mr Ozekhome said the attacks on Justice Odili was “highly condemnable, provocative, uncalled for and is certainly dangerous for the independence and courageous decisions template of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, which is the apex court.”

The lawyer lamented that Justice Odili was singled out and attacked by hired political hoodlums, miscreants and thugs, noting that she did not even write or deliver the lead judgement.

Mr Ozekhome said, “The lead judgment was written and delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko.

“More significant is the fact that the entire judgment was a unanimous decision and pronouncement made by the entire five members of the Supreme Court panel that heard the matter.

“Why would she be singled out just because she is from Rivers State, near Bayelsa State?” Mr Ozekhome questioned.

He further said that the attack on the apex court judge was not an ordinary one and thus, should not be ignored and swept under the carpet.

The lawyer urged the police and authorities to investigate the attack and bring anyone found culpable to book.

“The government, through the DSS, the Inspector-General of Police must immediately rise to the occasion and fish out the ignoble perpetrators that committed this heinous crime and this desecration of the citadel of Justice.

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“They must be singled out and prosecuted immediately and were found guilty, be given adequate punishment that they richly deserve.

“No attempt must be made by any political party, or by any person or group of persons, however so highly placed, to intimidate the judiciary and beat it to submission in such a way and manner that decisions of courts are procured by the executive or political fiat,” Mr Ozekhome added.

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