The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja has upheld the election of Governor Duoye Diri of Bayelsa State and his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, at the poll.
In dismissing the petition by the Liberation Movement (LM) on Saturday, the three-member panel presided by Justice Ibrahim Sirajo held that the party failed to substantiate the allegations of certificate forgery against the deputy governor.
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The LM candidate, Vijah Opuama, challenged Ewhrudjakpo’s qualification to stand in the November 16, 2019, governorship election on the grounds that his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was forged.
Opuama added that Ewrudjakpo’s name on the First School Leaving and NYSC certificates were altered.
Justice Sirajo Sirajo ruled that the submission was fallacious and premised on false assumption as the evidence laid were not proved.
“The third and fourth respondents were at the time of the election eminently qualified to contest,” the judge said.
Earlier, Justice Sikiru Owodunni, dismissed the petition by the candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Onwei Tongo, challenging the election of Governor Diri and Ewhrudjakpo for being unproven and an “unnecessary waste of time of the court.”
A three-man panel of judges on Saturday held that the petitioner failed to prove the allegation of certificate falsification against Ewhrudjakpo beyond reasonable doubt.
The judgement, read by Justice Owodunni, upheld the objections by Diri, Ewhrudjakpo, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and ruled that the petition lacked merit and constituted “unnecessary waste of time of the court.”
Also, Justice Yunusa Musa dismissed the petition by the United Congress Party (UCP)’s candidate, Stephen Ibiene against INEC, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Governor Diri, and Ewhrudjakpo for lack of merit.
The tribunal awarded N200, 000 costs in favour of the four respondents in the LM and UCP petitions and N300,000 each in the AD petition.
Ewhrudjakpo dedicates victory to God
Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State Deputy Governor has described the ruling as God’s unfailing love over his life.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo, in a statement by his media aide, Mr Doubara Atasi, also described the judgment as a victory for democracy, rule of law and the government and good people of the state.
Extolling the nation’s judiciary, the Deputy Governor expressed gratitude to the three-member tribunal for their uprightness and firmness in doing what is right, no matter the cost.
He said the judgment had further demonstrated the fact that the judiciary does not only stand as the last bastion of democracy but also provides the ground for the application of the rule of law without fear or favour.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo used the opportunity to reiterate the call for Bayelsans, particularly the opposition, to close ranks and build the state irrespective of their political affiliation.
He said: “First, I want to thank the Almighty God for His abiding and unfailing love upon my life.
“Once again, I give Him all the glory for giving the Governor and my humble self the opportunity to lead this state and particularly for giving us another victory today.
“As you are aware, there has been a lot of hype about this case.
“I have always told those who care to listen that God never does anything and make mistakes.
“Therefore, He has spoken again.
“By today’s well-thought-out judgment, our judiciary has again proved itself as the last bastion of democracy.”
He said: “Right from the onset, the prosperity government of Senator Douye Diri had stretched out the Olive Branch.