The Supreme Court, on Thursday, sacked David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as governor-elect of Bayelsa State, barely 24 hours to his inauguration.
Mr Lyon, who won the November 2019 governorship election, was to be sworn in as governor on Friday.
A five-member panel of the apex court led by Justice Mary Odili 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 judgment delivered by Justice 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.
With the judgment of the apex court on Thursday, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Diri Duoye, is expected to be inaugurated as governor of Bayelsa State.
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.
Lower courts earlier decision
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja had, on November 12, disqualified the APC governor-elect on the grounds that his deputy provided false information to INEC.
Mr Ekwo held that there was no connection between the name on the candidate’s school-leaving certificate, first degree (BA), master’s degree and the affidavits he swore.
However, the court of appeal set aside the decision of the trial court and affirmed the election of the APC candidates.
The three-member panel of the appellate court led by Justice Stephen Adah said that the PDP did not prove their case against the APC candidates.
The court held that Mr Degi-Eremienyo submitted an affidavit which showed evidence of his change of name from Adeyi-Eremienyo to Degi-Eremienyo.
“I agree with the appellant that the owner of the school leaving certificate and the GCE certificate are one and the same and I, therefore, set aside the judgment of the court below,” Mr Adah said.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the court of appeal, Mr Diri and his party filed an appeal at the apex court.
In its judgment on Thursday, the apex court set aside the judgment of the court of appeal and affirmed the decision which nullified Mr Degi-Eremienyo’s candidacy.
Interim victory for Lyon
Thursday’s sack of Mr Lyon came two days after the politician secured an interim victory at the Supreme Court.
Heineken Lokpobiri, a former minister, filed the appeal before the apex court, challenging Mr Lyon’s candidacy.
Mr Lokpbiri had approached the apex court, asking it to declare him the winner of the APC governorship primary held in the state.
He claimed that the party wrongly gave the ticket to Mr Lyon who eventually contested and won the governorship election.
But in its judgment on Tuesday, read by Justice Iyang Okoro, the Supreme Court said, “The sole issue is resolved against the appellant. Accordingly, the appeal lacks merit and is hereby dismissed.”
The court said Mr Lokpobiri challenged Mr Diri’s victory late, beyond the time allowed by the constitution.
Mr Okoro said that section 285(9) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) does not admit any extension of time when it comes to pre-election matters.
The apex court said ”Any party seeking redress must file within the 14 days period.
“The appellant cause of action arose on 4th September when he was not declared the winner and not 7th September,” he ruled.
The court held that Mr Lokpobiri’s appeal lacks merit and accordingly dismissed it.
Two days after he secured that victory, however, Mr Lyon has now been sacked by the same court.