Tension in Bayelsa as Appeal court rules on pre-election qualification of Lyon, Degi

There is renewed tension among the supporters of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State following the decision by the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja to deliver ruling on the appeal filed by the party against the pre-election judgment of the Federal High Court Abuja delivered on December 11 by Justice I. E. Ekwo.

The Appeal filed by the APC, in a suit numbered CA/A/1055/2019, was called on Thursday before the presiding Judge, Justice Abdul Aboki.

After the hearing of the appeal by both parties, Justice Abdul Aboki adjourned the matter for Judgment together with Appeal NO: CA/A/ 1053/2019 on a date to be communicated to the lawyers to the respective parties.

Barr. C.V.C Ihekweazu, Lead Counsel to People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Douye Diri and Senator Lawrence Ewrudjakpo (1st to 3rd Respondents), in his submission to the court, said the disqualification of Lyon and his running mate from contesting the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa state was properly founded by the Federal High Court.

Ihekweazu (SAN), pointed out that the said documents in support of Degi’s nomination were riddled with various false information,”the case at the trial Court was proved against the Defendants is Degi , Lyon, APC and INEC both on the preponderance of evidence and beyond reasonable however it was considered and that the learned trial Judge Hon Justice I.E. Ekwo did not make any mistake in placing the burden of proof in the case”

According to the Legal team of PDP “the admission by Degi that there were mistakes in the educational qualification Certificates he presented to INEC then the onus to legally apply and correct the errors which are part of the false information rests squarely on him and not any other person. Even the newspaper publication and the affidavits before the Notary Public were as conflicting as the Certificates are contains false information

“As it stands the provisions of Sections 186 and 187 of the 1999 Constitution which provides for the office of Deputy Governor of a State and further provides that in the absence of a Deputy Governorship candidate the nomination of a Governorship candidate becomes invalid is what the Court of Appeal is invited to apply in this case. The Deputy Governorship candidate of APC provided and submitted information concerning his identity and the educational Certificate he submitted to INEC among others as follows: 1. 1976 Primary School Certificate as Degi Biobaragha.”

“Two, 1984 WAEC school certificate as Adegi Biobakumo. Three, in 1990 University first degree Certificate as Degi Biobarakuma, Four, in the year 2002 in University MBA as Degi Biobarakuma Wangagha. Five,in 2018 and 2019 INEC Forms CF001 as Biobarakuma Degi-Eremiwenyo. 6 in the Newspaper publication and the affidavits sworn to by Degi before two different Notary Public the names of Degi were conflicting and varied.

“In the trial court, Sir FN Nwosu who handled the case said that the only way any person could have answered such varied and multiple names and has explanation which will not be a palatable one would be a multiple married and frequently divorcing woman but not a man”.

The SAN in his synopsis of the false in information demonstrated that Degi in his Form CF-001 stated on oath that his real name is Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo. This contrasts itself with approved official name, the name on the First Leaving Certificate of 1976 submitted by him is Degi Biobraha.

“To make matters worse, Degi Biobraha’s WAEC Certificate he submitted bears Adegi Biobakumo, 1st Degree Certificate submitted by him bears Degi Biobarakuma, while the 2nd Degree certificate he submitted bears Degi Biobarakuma Wangagha respectively”.

The counsel to the PDP further maintained that in part B of the said Form CF-001 completed on oath and submitted to INEC by Mr. Degi, he was also asked whether he has other names outside Biobarakuma Degi Eremienyo where which he never affirmed to by him which validates that the names on the various enumerated certificates are not his and to the effect false names and also the said certificates does not belong to him and therefore are also false documents contrary to Section 31(5) and (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

In its counter submission, the APC lead Counsel, D.D. Dodo SAN, argued that the Honourable trial Court failed to place the appropriate burden of proof on the 1st to 3rd Respondents before coming to the conclusion that the 5th The Respondent (Degi) submitted false information to INEC. (4th Respondent). He urged the Court to set aside the judgment of the trial court.

A legal practitioner, Barr. John Adah, who spoke with our correspondent after the Court session, commented that by the adjournment, the Court of Appeal is expected to rule anytime on this matter and any party not satisfied will have 14 days to appeal to the Supreme Court.

He stated that the law is clear that “The Supreme Court has 60 days within which to dispose of the appeal and with the speed of the Appeal Court so far, it is clear this entire matter will be concluded before February 14, 2020. “

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