…as police, military patrol Bayelsa streets
The ongoing clash between the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, continued on Saturday when the governor described the party chairman as a man without character.
Oshiomhole had, after the Supreme Court judgment that gave the Peoples Democratic Party victory in the Bayelsa State governorship election on Thursday, stated that nobody would be sworn in the South-South state the following day.
But the swearing-in held amid protests and violence, leading to declaration of a three-day curfew in the state.
Wike also dismissed Oshiomhole’s claim that he (Wike) was a violent politician, adding that the APC national chairman’s bitterness stemmed from the fact that he and his political party were stopped from stealing the mandate of Rivers people.
Wike had in his response accused Oshiomhole of trying to cause trouble in the Niger Delta region with his utterances, adding that the Federal Government should caution him.
Apparently dissatisfied with Wike’s reaction, Oshiomhole on Friday described the governor as a violent politician, who was trying to use the situation in Bayelsa to ingratiate himself with the PDP and the immediate past governor of the state, Seriake Dickson.
But in his fresh response on Saturday, Wike, who spoke in an interview at the Government House in Port Harcourt, called for the resignation of Oshiomhole in view of his failure to stop the inauguration of Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, as he earlier boasted.
Wike added, “I think Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress is not a character that anybody should associate with.
“First of all, I have never been violent and I will never be violent. However, when you see an armed robber come to your house, will you plead with the armed robber and say please, I beg you, leave my house.
“People think that armed robbers are only those who cart away people’s money. The worst form of armed robbery is when you steal people’s mandate and just like what Oshiomhole is noted for. He thinks because he’s in the ruling party, he can use security to steal the mandate of the people.
“He was taught a lesson; a bitter lesson and I want to repeat, if you come to steal our mandate, the people will respond accordingly. They will oppose your stealing of their mandate. So, Oshiomhole thinks that because he is in the ruling party, nobody should say anything or do anything.”
The governor said he stopped attending the National Economic Council meeting because Oshiomhole turned the forum into an avenue to bash former President Goodluck Jonathan, even when he had gone to praise Jonathan at Aso Villa for ensuring credible elections that made him governor of Edo State at the time.
He said, “When Jonathan left office, one of the reasons why I didn’t go to NEC meeting was because of Oshiomhole when he was a member. When Jonathan left, there was no day at the NEC meeting Oshiomhole would not bring Jonathan down.
“Meanwhile, this was the same man Oshiomhole went to praise for allowing ‘one man, one vote’. But when the man (Jonathan) left, Oshiomhole changed. That is his character.”
The governor also accused the party chairman of trying to install himself as a godfather to Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, adding that Obaseki’s refusal was the reason for the disagreement between them.
He added, “Oshiomhole said he fought godfatherism and at the same time, he wants to install himself as a godfather in Edo State. Why is he fighting Obaseki because the man doesn’t take instructions from him? He (Oshiomhole) preaches what he doesn’t practise.”
Wike declared that he remained a strong and unrepentant member of the PDP, adding that speaking out his mind at all times did not question his membership of the party.
He added, “I will not be a member of their party. I have always been a member of PDP and they know that. Oshiomhole knows that his party did not even score up to 25 per cent in my state. He cannot not tell me that.”
Police, military patrol Bayelsa streets
Meanwhile, the police and other security agencies in Bayelsa State on Saturday sustained their presence at strategic locations within Yenagoa, the state capital, and its environs following the protests that rocked the state on Thursday evening and Friday.
The protests and violence, which prompted the state police command to impose a three-day dusk-to-dawn curfew on the state on Friday, were a sequel to the Supreme Court judgment on Thursday, which annulled the victory of the APC candidate in the November 16, 2019 governorship election, Mr David Lyon, and his running mate, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, a day to their swearing-in.
The apex court noted that the APC ought not to have participated in the election because Degi-Eremienyo forged his certificates.
A five-man panel of the apex court, headed by Justice Mary Peter-Odili, had ordered that INEC should withdraw the certificate of return issued to Lyon and his running mate and declare as winner of the election the candidate with the highest number of lawful votes cast with the requisite constitutional spread.
Sequel to the court order in the lead judgment delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko, the commission on Friday declared Senator Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party as the winner of the election, after which he and his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, were sworn in by the state Chief Judge, Justice Kate Abiri, at the Government House.
But as early as Thursday evening, shortly after the court ruling, there were protests against the judgment in some parts of the state, including Yenagoa, and it continued until Friday morning.
The protesters, who were believed to be supporters of the APC, took to the streets setting bonfires on major roads in the state. The protesters also vandalised the private residences of Diri and his predecessor, Seriake Dickson, in Yenagoa, while some vehicles were vandalised at both locations.
The Bayelsa State Police Commissioner, Uche Anozia, had in response to the violence, imposed the curfew between 8pm and 6am each day to forestall further breakdown of law and order.
Anozia announced the curfew at the Government House shortly before the swearing-in.
Meanwhile, one of our correspondents who monitored the situation on Saturday observed that the police and the military had stationed their men at strategic junctions.
Two armoured personnel carriers and three military patrol vans were seen around the Opolo Roundabout on the Isaac Boro Expressway.
The junction connects the Commissioners’ Quarter-Elebele Road where Dickson’s personal house attacked by the angry protesters on Friday is located.
Although the state capital was calm, military and police patrol vans were seen in the morning carrying out a show of force on Mbiama-Yenagoa Road and Isaac Boro Expressway, to dissuade intending protesters.
However, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Asinim Butswat, said the eight suspects arrested in connection with Friday’s demonstrations would be charged after investigations.
He said no fresh arrests had been made, adding that “the protests are over.”
When asked if the curfew would be extended, he said, “No, it will not be extended; there may be no need for that.”
APC’s lawyers study judgment
Meanwhile, the legal team of the APC is still studying the Supreme Court Judgment to be able to advise the party on its next line of action, Sunday PUNCH has learnt.
Findings by one of our correspondents in Abuja on Saturday indicated that the party’s legal team, made up of members of the legal department as well as party loyalists with legal background, was still consulting on the best way forward.
A top-ranking member of the party privy to the development told Sunday PUNCH in confidence, “We want to tie all the loose ends and ensure that the grounds on which we are seeking this review are rock solid. We have a case that we are sure of.”
The National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, had at a media briefing in Abuja, on Friday announced that the party would approach the Supreme Court to seek a review of the judgment, a position he stressed again on Saturday.
When asked when the party would approach the apex court, the party’s National Legal Adviser, Babatunde Ogala, said, “You will know when we go to court.”
It is also not clear whether the party is considering any disciplinary action against the deputy governorship candidate, Degi-Eremienyo, whose credentials got the party into the situation it found itself.
Reps PDP caucus wants Oshiomhole, Lyon’s deputy arrested, prosecuted
The factional leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party caucus in the House of Representatives has called for the arrest and prosecution of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, for fielding an unqualified candidate in the Bayelsa State governorship election.
The PDP caucus also called for the arrest and prosecution of the deputy governorship candidate of the APC, Degi-Eremienyo, while congratulating the new Bayelsa governor.
This is just as the Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, congratulates the new governor for his victory at the Supreme Court and a successful inauguration “despite the antagonism to stall the process.”
The PDP caucus, in a statement by Mr Kingsley Chinda on Saturday, however, congratulated Diri and called for the prosecution of Oshiomhole and Degi-Eremienyo.
The statement reads, “Consequent upon the judgment, we call for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the National Chairman of the APC and the deputy governorship candidate of APC in the November 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa State under the Criminal Code.”
The caucus also pointed out that in line with Section 31 (8) of the Electoral Act, a political party which presents to the commission (INEC) the name of a candidate who does not meet the qualifications stipulated in this section, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of N500,000.00.’
Elumelu, in a separate statement on Saturday, called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to “immediately apprehend the masterminds and instigators of the violence, and ensure that they face the full wrath of the law no matter how highly placed they may be.”
But the National President, Ijaw People’s Development Initiative, Ozobo Austin, has advised the new governor to extend hands of fellowship to every stakeholder in the state.
Senate keeps mum over Degi-Eremieoyo
The Senate on Saturday maintained sealed lips over the fate of Senator Degi-Eremieoyo.
The serving senator, who according to the Supreme Court, presented forged certificates to INEC, represents Bayelsa East Senatorial district in the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
The court sacked Lyon for presenting a running mate, who presented a fake certificate to contest the November 16, 2019 governorship election in the state.
With this development, Degi-Eremieoyo, is expected to return to his seat in the red chamber because his opponent in the February 2019 National Assembly election did not challenge the authenticity of the certificate he presented to INEC before the polls.
Attempts to speak with the Senate spokesperson, Godiya Akwashiki, on what the red chamber would do over the issue were not successful on Saturday.
Akwashiki’s phone number, which was initially connecting without response, remained switched off on Saturday after a text message was sent to him, on why we wanted the position of the red chamber.
The number was still switched off as of the time of filing this report and he had yet to reply to the text message sent to him.
ZLP, ADC react to Supreme Court judgment
The National Chairman of Zenith Labour Party, Mr Dan Nwanyanwu, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Friday, said, “The Supreme Court has spoken. Its decision is final and it is final forever.”
Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the African Democratic Congress, Mrs Yemi Kolapo, described the apex court judgment as a victory for democracy, adding that Nigeria would be a better place if the court shows neutrality in all cases.
‘Judgment, a warning to political parties’
The Convener, Coalition for Good Governance and Justice, Mr Emmanuel Umohinyang, also said the judgment had sent a strong message to political parties that the court would not reward impunity with roses.
In a statement on Friday, he blamed the national leadership of the APC, especially its national chairman, for not carrying out a proper background check on its candidates before presenting them to the public for election.