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BAYELSA: Amid tension Diri takes over, sues for peace, love

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Senator Diri Duruoye

•Promises diligent service
•Protest rocks Yenagoa over Supreme Court judgement
•Diri’s home vandalised
•Police impose dusk to dawn curfew
•PANDEF sues for peace
•PDP victory is God’s will-Dickson
•Commendation Galore As Dickson Holds Valedictory Session
•Be a good ambassador of PDP, Secondus charge Diri
•Okowa urges PDP, Diri to reconcile aggrieved party members

By Clifford Ndujihe, Samuel Oyadongha, Festus Ahon, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Emem Idio, Dirisu Yakubu, Omeiza Ajayi & Ozioruva Aliu

DESPITE initial violence and tension that rocked Yenogoa, the Bayelsa State capital, Senator Douye Diri was yesterday sworn-in as governor of Bayelsa State alongside his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor, at a colourful ceremony held at the Government House.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s declaration of Senator Diri as winner of the November 16, 2019 governorship poll, earlier in the day, in obedience to the Supreme Court judgement, paved the way for Diri’s inauguration, which started at 6.20 pm, yesterday.

Diri’s swearing-in came as the All Progressives Congress, APC, rejected the INEC’s decision to return Diri as winner of the Bayelsa governorship election and vowed to explore legal options against it.

Indeed, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chairman of APC Governors Forum, and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu met behind closed doors at the Aso Villa, yesterday, over what sources said was in connection with the Bayelsa development.

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, sacked  Bayelsa governor-elect, Mr David Lyon and his running mate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, over perjury on the part of the latter.

Police impose dusk to dawn curfew

Following the violent protests that rocked Yenagoa, the state Commissioner of Police, Uche Anozia, yesterday, imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in the State from 8:pm to 6am from Friday to Sunday.

CP Anozia, who addressed the media at the Bayelsa State Government House shortly before the swearing-in ceremony was flanked by heads of other security agencies in the state.

He said eight suspects had been arrested in connection with the violent protests.

The CP who warned against the violation of the curfew advised members of the public to stay indoors as the security agencies will arrest and prosecute anyone who violates the curfew.

He also advised the public to remain calm as the security agencies are poised to secure lives and properties in the state.

Meanwhile, the PDP has called on the Inspector General of Police to stop APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole over his stance on the apex court verdict.

Why swearing-in was done in Govt House

Until Thursday afternoon, the Samson Siasia Stadium  was the venue for the inauguration. David Lyon had also done dress rehearsals for the event. However, the Supreme Court ruling altered preparations. The change of baton to PDP, violence that greeted the decision, delay in Diri getting certificate of return from INEC and returning to Yenagoa meant a change of venue.

The gate to the heavily fortified but restricted sprawling Government House complex was opened to Bayelsans to witness the swearing in ceremony of Senator Diri Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor.

Earlier yesterday, tension heightened in Yenagoa    as supporters of the APC took to the streets to protest the  Supreme Court ruling which voided APC’s Chief David Lyon’s election as the state governor-elect.

The protest paralysed commercial activities in the capital and its environs.

Filling stations, markets and shops  were hurriedly shut down when the protesters resorted to burning tyres and destroying properties along the streets and highways.

The protesters, armed with placards, were chanting, “No David Lyon, no Governor in Bayelsa State.”

Motorists had a difficult time navigating through the usually busy Edepie axis of Mbiama-Yenagoa road.

The story was not different at the Yenizue-Gene stretch of the same road hosting the secretariat of the APC where protesters barricaded a section of the road.

Saturday Vanguard learned that the development caused motorists to make detour at the Otiotio junction and Baybridge intersection to connect the Isaac Boro expressway.

The Amarata residence of the Senator Douyi Diri, located off Imgbi road, w  e fence.

The building window glasses and vehicles parked at the premises were vandalised while mobile phones and other valuables were reportedly carted away by the invaders.

A lady said to be a visitor to the Diri family was injured during the orgy of violence.

Also, the PDP secretariat, Onopa, and the sprawling shopping mall complex at the popular Ekeki Motor Park in the heart of Yenagoa were not spared by the protesters who vent their anger on the structures.

Some of the shops on the ground floor of the mall were vandalised. The quick intervention of men of the Nigerian Army on routine patrol saved the complex from being looted.

However, tight security was mounted by a detachment of anti riot policemen, and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps along the Onopa junction-Hospital junction stretch of the Melford Okilo express road housing the Government House, the State judicary complex and civil service secretariat.

Diri promises diligent services, cautions against  politics of bitterness

Despite the tension, Senator Douye Diri was yesterday evening sworn in as the 5th democratically elected governor of Bayelsa State by the Chief judge, Justice Kate Abiri.

Also, sworn in was the deputy governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor.

Clad in brown native Ijaw attire, Diri who arrived the Government House car park venue of the event at 6;15pm  was administered the oath of office and oath of allegiance by the State Chief Judge at exactly 6.50 pm amid tight security.

Speaking shortly after his inauguration, Senator Diri, who observed a minute silence for the PDP supporters killed in Nembe during the party electioneering campaign promised to serve the people diligently and will be magnanimous in victory.

His words: “My dear good people of Bayelsa State, this is the state that we all wanted to create, as a serving member of the Ijaw National Congress,INC, we traversed the length and breathe of Nigeria and all of us wanting to create a state that we can develop in our region and here we are. Today we have the state.

“We  have been sworn in today and I advise our PDP  members to be  magnanimous in victory.

“The bitterness, the acrimony, if we kill ourselves who are we going to lead, are we going to lead animals? Today is February 14, a day of love, as your Valentine Governor and Deputy Governor, we   bring you message of love and peace, hope and a message of prosperity to Bayelsa State.

“Therefore, let us   eschew bitterness and acrimony and learn to love ourselves whether of the same party or different party, primarily we are brothers and sisters from Bayelsa State. And our creed today is to serve you.

“We have come to serve you, let us work together to serve you and I read this creed that I have prepared that myself and my dynamic deputy governor have decided to do.

“Lord make us an instrument of thy peace, where there is hatred let us show love, where there is injury let us learn how to pardon because if we don’t pardon, our heavenly father will not also pardon us. Where there is doubt let us have faith where there is despair let us have hope, where there is darkness let us bring light, where there is sadness let us bring joy.

“Oh Divine Master who has made this day possible, grant us that we may not seek much to be consoled as to consoled, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that receive, let us also be givers. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, it is dying that we a born to eternal life.”

Dignitaries present include, the outgone Governor Seriake Dickson,

PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, Governors of Oyo and Bauchi States Seyi Makinde and Senator Bala Mohammed. Alhaji Asari Dokubo among others

PANDEF sues for peace

The Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF appealed to the people of Bayelsa State to accept the judgement of the Supreme Court in good faith.

PANDEF in a statement by its  National Publicity Secretary and PRO,  Hon. Ken Robinson urged the people to exercise restraint in the interest of peace.

The statement read: “Those who may be incensed by the judgement should not do anything that would cause public disorder in the state. We sue for calm and peace.

“We implore politicians on both sides of the divide to exercise restraint in their utterances, while urging the youths of Bayelsa State not to allow themselves to be used by political opportunists.

“PANDEF calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the rule of law is respected in the development in Bayelsa State, and that nobody, no matter how highly placed, is allowed to conduct him or herself in such a way that could undermine public peace in Bayelsa State.”

Why INEC returned PDP’s Diri as winner

While announcing Diri, the PDP candidate as Governor-elect, INEC Chairman

Professor Mahmood Yakubu told journalists in Abuja why it complied with Thursday’s judgment of the Supreme Court which nullified the election of Chief David Lyon, the APC candidate in the election.

Reading from a prepared speech, Yakubu said: “As you are aware, the Supreme Court of Nigeria yesterday (Thursday) delivered a judgement in a pre-election suit on the Bayelsa State Governorship election held on 16 November 2019. The Commission has received the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the judgement of the apex court which disqualified the Deputy Governorship candidate and vitiated the joint ticket of the party earlier declared winner in the election.

“The Court also ordered the Commission to ‘…declare as winner of the Governorship election in Bayelsa State the candidate with the highest number of lawful votes cast with the requisite constitutional (or geographical spread).

“In compliance with the orders of the Supreme Court, the Commission met this morning and reviewed the result of the election in which 45 political parties contested.

“Without the votes scored by the All Progressives Congress APC, whose candidates were deemed not to have participated in the election, the total number of lawful and valid votes cast in the election now stand at 146,999. Out of this figure, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scored the highest number of lawful votes with 143, 172.

“Similarly, the Party has scored more than 25% of the lawful votes cast in all the eight Local Government Areas of the State.

“Furthermore, the total number of registered voters in places where election was not held or cancelled as a result of sundry violations is 90,822. The candidate of the Accord party has the next highest score with 1,339 votes. The margin of lead between the candidates of the PDP and the Accord party is 141,833 votes. With this outcome, the election is conclusive at first ballot.

“Consequently, Senator Douye Diri and Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo of the

PDP are hereby declared winners and returned elected as Governor and Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State respectively.

“The Commission is aware that the tenure of the incumbent Governor of Bayelsa State ends at midnight today Friday 14th February 2020. Therefore, in fulfilment of the requirement of Section 75 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the Certificates of Return to the Governor and Deputy Governor-elect will be presented to them immediately as ordered by the Supreme Court.”

PDP victory is God’s will-Dickson

Meantime, Mr. Seriake Dickson, who held his valedictory session as Baylesa governor,      ascribed  the verdict of the Supreme Court to the mercies of God.

Dickson commended the judiciary for their courage, strict and exemplary adherence to the sterling ethos of the hallowed profession.

He said that the bold decision of the judiciary gives so much hope in the country.

The governor also thanked the Bayelsa people, all Nigerians of goodwill and the clergy for their support and persistent prayers throughout the period of pre-election dispute in the court.

Dickson said in a statement by His Chief Press Secretary, Mr Fidelis Soriwei, that that the victory was not just for the PDP but also the whole of Bayelsa and the entire Ijaw nation.

He urged that nobody should be molested or persecuted on account of the  judgment and called on all Bayelsans and indeed the Ijaw nation to give the requisite attention to the ongoing efforts to develop Bayelsa.

Prevail on your supporters to stop violence, he urges APC leaders

Dickson, who was accorded standing ovation amid commendations as he presided over his last state executive council meeting, the 114th  session also urged APC leaders to prevail on their supporters to stop violence.

The meeting commenced with a praise and worship session led by the governor who appreciated God for His blessings upon the people and government of the state in the last eight years.

Cabinet members, who took turns to speak, poured encomiums on the governor not only for giving them the opportunity to serve but also for providing quality transformational leadership for people of the state and the Ijaw nation.

Among those who spoke were Secretary to State Government, Barrister Kemela Okara; Chief of Staff, Government House, Mr Talford Ongolo; Special Adviser on Political Matters, Hon. Fyneman Wilson; Head of Service, Mrs Biobelemoye Charles-Onyema;    former Commissioner for Solid Mineral Resources, Mr Markson Fefegha;    Commissioner for Youth Development, Mr Ebipatei Apaingolo, and Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Arthur Seweniowor.

Earlier, Dickson who formally declared the Council dissolved at about 1pm, thanked God and members of the Council for the achievements of the Restoration Government.

The out-gone governor also expressed gratitude to people of the state for giving him the opportunity to serve them.

He assured Bayelsans of his resolve to work for the continued peace, stability, and development of the state even after leaving office.

Describing the Supreme Court victory of the PDP as no victor, no vanquished, Dickson also reiterated his call on APC leaders to prevail on their supporters to refrain from violence in the interest of the state.

Okowa tasks PDP, Diri on reconciliation

Speaking on the issue, Delta State Governor and Chairman of the South-South Governors Forum, Senator  Ifeanyi Okowa described the Supreme Court ruling as a welcome developmentand congratulated Diri and Ewhrudjakpor on their victory.

Okowa in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, in Asaba, stated that his confidence in the Judiciary had been rekindled by the didactic ruling of the apex court.

He urged PDP and the governor-elect to take steps to reconcile all stakeholders in Bayelsa in order to strengthen the party for future elections.

Okowa said: “The news of the Supreme Court ruling on the Bayelsa governorship election came to me with joy because we have been writhing in pain on the loss of Bayelsa to the APC in the last governorship election in the state.

“We are happy because the Supreme Court has once again restored the confidence of the people in the judiciary.

“This victory is a clarion call on the party and the governor-elect to take steps to reconcile all aggrieved party members who defected or worked against the party in the November 16, 2019 Governorship Election in the state.”

Focus on devt, empowerment, Ijaw group charges Diri

A socio-political group in Bayelsa State, Ijaw Political Frontiers, IPF, charged Governor    Douye Diri to focus on the development of the state and empowerment of the people by appointing young people into positions of authority.

The group, who welcomed the Supreme Court verdict, noted that development of the young state should be the topmost priority of the incoming administration as the state was in dire need of infrastructural and human capital development.

In a statement signed by the Director General and Secretary of the group Barr Ken Okorodas and Tare Bumotu, the group commended the immediate past governor of the state Mr Seriake Dickson for contributing his enormous quota to the development of the state and charged the incoming governor to continue from where the former administration stopped.

Be a good ambassador of PDP, Secondus urge Diri

National chairman of the   PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, yesterday, charged Governor Diri Douye and his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo to be good ambassadors of the party by implementing the party’s manifesto in the next four years.

Secondus gave the charge while receiving the Certificate of Return, CoR, issued by the INEC to the PDP candidate after the Supreme Court voided the election of David Lyon and his APC running mate.

Receiving the governor-elect and his running mate in Abuja, the party chairman urged him to keep the ideals of PDP which include reconciliation, accelerated development of the state and respect for the rule of law.

He also tasked him to reach out to all and sundry, adding that the victory should spur him to do more for the people.

He said: “We urge the newly governor- elect and deputy governor-elect to quickly go to work, embrace everyone regardless of their leanings or parties because this is what PDP represents. We believe in the rule of law and our matters are very clear. If it is on point of law, no argument, no protest, if it is not point of law, we will ask question. We don’t just make protests or argue or issue statements on ordinary ground. If we have ground, we will ask and on this matter in Bayelsa state, it was on point of law and the rule of law has taken effect.

“God has given you power, not man. So go and be good ambassadors of the nation and your state and the party. Call all the elders, all the youths of Bayelsan people together to work. It is not about the party alone. Party is important it is the platform, but the service you are going to render to the people of Bayelsa should be uppermost in your mind and that is how to build a nation.

Stop Oshiomhole now, PDP tells IGP

Meantime, PDP, has called on the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, to immediately pull in the APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole, for questioning and possible prosecution for incitement.

READ ALSO: Oshiomhole has not endorsed any governorship candidate ― Ize-Iyamu

This is even as the party said the violence and arson being perpetuated by APC agents in Yenagoa was in furtherance of “Oshiomhole’s inciting call that no governor would be sworn-in in Bayelsa state, contrary to the judgment of the Supreme Court.

A statement signed by Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP spokesman read: “Oshiomole’s statement was a direct call for sedition and violent subversion of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the statutory authority of the Supreme Court and the mandate of the people of Bayelsa state.

“He should therefore be pulled in immediately for prosecution for inciting violence and arson in the state.

“Nigerians can recall that our party had on Thursday cautioned Oshiomhole over his utterances and apparent plots to cause violence and a breakdown of law and order in the state.

“The world however watched with horror as APC agents, chanting APC slogans, assaulted the people of Bayelsa state, set the PDP secretariat in the state ablaze, attacked the premises of Radio Bayelsa, vandalized vehicles and equipment, took over major highways and attacked travellers, all in the bid to violently subvert the judgment of the Supreme court and forcefully take control of the state.

“The PDP therefore charges the people of Bayelsa, the security agencies and Nigerians at large, to hold Oshiomhole responsible and accountable for the violence in Bayelsa state and deal with him accordingly in line with the provisions of our laws.  Oshiomhole must be brought to book and stopped from the use of garrulity and clear misuse of language to cause crisis in our country.”

APC rejects INEC’s decision, explores legal options

In line with its earlier position, rejecting Thursday’s judgment of the Supreme Court, the APC has also rejected the return of the PDP candidate as governor by the INEC.

The APC which faulted INEC’s presentation of a Certificate of Return to Sen. Diri vowed to recover what it described as its mandate.

National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who stated his party’s position at a news conference in Abuja said the electoral umpire cannot usurp the role of a court in interpreting the verdict of the apex court as it deemed fit.

According to Oshiomhole, “INEC has decided to assume that the case of Bayelsa is the same with that of Zamfara. INEC has assumed judicial powers.

“We have consulted and resolved to reject in entirety the decision to issue certificate to the PDP candidate. We want to put the people of Nigeria on notice and of course the people of Bayelsa that nobody can hide under judicial cover to impose a minority on the people, even INEC is in contempt of the court.

“The Supreme Court for good reason gave a conditional order that INEC should swear in the second candidate with the highest number of votes and the required constitutional spread. I believe that the fact   that the Supreme Court insisted on constitutional spread is a recognition of the fact that the constitution does not want a situation in which anyone, governor or president presides over the affairs of a state without at least enjoying two-third support of the electorate of that state.   Clearly,   the votes scored by PDP and their candidate in that election only met the requirement in five local governments and you need six local governments to meet the requirements of two-third. The PDP candidate did not satisfy this requirement. INEC is now choosing to appropriate the judicial powers of the court to interpret laws that it is neither competent to do nor has the mandate so to do.

“INEC fails to recognize that its responsibility does not include legal interpretation and the Supreme Court did not ask INEC to go and begin to assume the judicial powers.   All what INEC needs to do is simple arithmetic – who has the next highest votes?   Does such person have the required vote spread?   If the answer is no, INEC can do no more. Now INEC has decided to assume that the case of Bayelsa is exactly the same case as that of Zamfara.

“We recognize that having purported to have sworn in or issued certificate to the PDP candidate, we still believe that there are viable legal windows that we will explore. We affirm our confidence in the judiciary even with pains in our hearts”, he stated.

Be humble in victory, Owie tells Gov Diri

Saluting Diri on his inauguration, former   Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Roland Owie, yesterday, urged him to be humble in his ascension as governor of the state, a development he said was divinely placed on him.

He also congratulated the wife of the new governor and prayed for a successful tenure for the new government.

He said in statement: “I wish to congratulate the people of Bayelsa State, the governor-elect, Sen. Douye Diri, and his Deputy Governor elect, Lawrence Ewrujakpor for the restoration of their mandate.

“However, I urge you Sen. Diri, to keep constantly in mind the wise saying of St. Josemaria Escriva “ don’t forget that you are just a trash can. so if by any chance, the divine gardener should lay his hands on you, and scrub and clean you, and fill you with magnificent flowers, neither the scent nor the colours that beautify your ugliness should make you proud” therefore in this your victory and governance of Bayelsa State, please be humble.”

Buhari, APC Govs Forum Chair, Badaru meet in Aso Rock

President Buhari on Friday met behind closed doors with Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC Governors Forum and Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu and the Jigawa State Governor, Abubakar Badaru at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The meeting came barely 24 hours after the Supreme Court sacked the Governor-Elect of the November 19, 2019 election in Bayelsa State, Chief David Lyon and  the Deputy Governor-Elect,  Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo.

The duo contested the election on the platform of the APC.

Governor Badaru was Chairman of the APC governorship campaign for the November 19, 2019 election in Bayelsa State.

The two governors joined President Buhari for juma’at service at the State House Mosque before the meeting.

There have been disquiet at the Presidential Villa after the Supreme Court judgment on Thursday.

After meeting with the President at the State House, the two governors declined to speak to State House correspondents.

The two governors had after the election alongside the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole   presented Lyon to the President..

It was unclear what Buhari and the two governors discussed, but Villa insiders hinted that the turn of events in Bayelsa was “definitely on the table.”

A source said: “Atiku-Bagudu is a regular face at the Villa, being the governors’ forum chairman.  However, this meeting coming today after the development in Bayelsa is for a special reason, to look into the issues that happened in Bayelsa.

“This is also because .Badaru was the chairman of the campaign committee for that election last year in November.”

APC youth leader, Igudia asks Oshiomhole to resign 

A youth leader and former aspirant for South South zonal Youth Leader at the 2018 National Convention of the APC, Comrade Donald Igudia, yesterday called on Adams Oshiomole to resign over what he termed “as the mismanagement of party fortunes.”

Reacting to the Supreme Court judgment,  Igudia lamented that “the timeline of Comrade Oshiomhole’s activities as National Chairman of the party has been marred by a display of ineptitude and a quest to satisfy his ego.

“When oratory is laced with egoism, lawlessness and selfishness, it becomes parotry.  It is time for Oshiomhole to use the exit door. If not for selfishness, ego and high handedness, we would not have been facing this embarrassment as a party in Bayelsa State today.

“Agreed that candidates choose their running mates, but this internal bickering in the party do not give room for sincere and genuine reasoning which may have led to spotting the obvious error. Oshiomhole’s pattern of give it to my interest at all cost, made the party in Bayelsa just like Delta to be torn apart and people had no choice but to fight for justice.”

Vanguard

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