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Robert Mugabe’s Remains to be Buried in His Village Next Week

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Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe will be buried early next week in his village and not at a national monument for liberation heroes, his family said on Thursday.

The family of Mugabe, who died in Singapore last week, and Zimbabwe’s government have been at odds over whether he would be buried in his homestead in Kutama, northwest of Harare, or at the National Heroes Acre in the capital.

“His body will lie in state at Kutama on Sunday night.., followed by a private burial — either Monday or Tuesday — no National Heroes Acre. That’s the decision of the whole family,” his nephew Leo Mugabe told AFP.

AFP

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Bayelsa: We Can’t Conduct Fresh Poll, INEC Tells APC As Party Heads to S’Court

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The Independent National Electoral Commission on Sunday ruled out any fresh governorship election in Bayelsa State as requested by the All Progressives Congress.

INEC’s Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, dismissed the APC’s demand for a fresh governorship poll in Bayelsa State.

He said the commission on Friday concluded its work on the Bayelsa State governorship poll.

Also, top officials of  INEC, who confided in The PUNCH on Sunday, said the commission had never granted such a request and that of the APC would not be the first.

One of the officials said, “The APC is asking for what is not possible. The party should forget a fresh governorship election in Bayelsa State.”

The APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, had in a letter dated February  14, 2020 and addressed to the INEC Chairman,  Mahmood Yakubu,  called for a fresh election in Bayelsa State.

The APC national chairman said the swearing-in of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party,  Douye Diri,  as the state governor was unconstitutional as he did not meet the mandatory constitutional requirements.

The party said although the Supreme Court nullified its candidate, David Lyon’s victory, it stated that  Diri also failed to meet the mandatory requirements to become governor.

It said the court judgment did not void the votes of the APC  in the  November 16, 2019 governorship poll in Bayelsa State.   It, therefore, said its votes must be reckoned with.

The APC had said, ‘‘We are aware that Section 179(1)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria mandatorily requires a candidate for an election to the office of governor of a state to have not less than one quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two thirds of all the local government areas in the state before the candidate can be deemed to have been duly elected as the governor of the state. This mandatory requirement was affirmed by the Supreme Court in the judgment under reference.”

According to the party,  Bayelsa State has eight local government areas, hence the two thirds of at least eight local government areas will be approximately six local government areas.

The Supreme Court had on Thursday nullified the candidacy of Lyon and his running mate,   Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, on the grounds that Degi-Eremienyo presented false information about his educational qualifications in his Form CF001 submitted to INEC as a candidate for the 2019 election.

Justice Ejembi Ekwo, who read the lead judgment, had said Degi-Eremienyo’s disqualification on the basis of submitting false information to INEC had infected the joint ticket with which he and Lyon contested the election and emerged victorious.

Shortly after the judgment was delivered, Oshiomhole had vowed that Diri would not be sworn in as the  Bayelsa State governor because he did not meet the constitutional spread of votes in the governorship poll.

But in their swift reactions, the PDP and the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, dismissed the APC national chairman’s claim and insisted that Diri would be inaugurated.

After a meeting of its top management on Friday, INEC, at a press conference confirmed that Diri met the constitutional requirements.

It argued that votes of the APC candidates had been invalidated by the apex court judgment. It, therefore, presented a certificate of return to Diri, who was sworn in as the fifth governor of Bayelsa State on Friday.

The Punch

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APC Lambasts INEC for Declaring Diri Bayelsa Gov’ship Election Winner

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) has berated the electoral umpire, INEC, for its decision to declare the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Douye Diri, as governor of Bayelsa State.

Abiding by a Supreme Court directive, INEC on Friday declared Mr Diri governor-elect after it nullified the votes cast for the APC candidate, David Lyon, in the November 16 election in the state.

Mr Lyon was sacked on Thursday by the apex court on the grounds that his deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, presented a false certificate to the electoral body, INEC, in the build-up to the election.

In a press briefing on Friday at the party secretariat in Abuja, the APC chairman faulted INEC for issuing a certificate of return to Mr Diri.

“INEC expressly disobeyed the Supreme Court order which insisted on (votes) spread.

“Democracy is a game of numbers, it would not have been the intention of the Supreme Court that the man who did not have the spread be sworn-in as a governor. That is why the Supreme Court made that provision.

“We will employ every peaceful legal means to upturn this illegal decision of INEC,” Mr Oshiomhole said, suggesting the party could approach the Supreme Court again.

The party chairman also cautioned PDP and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers against celebrating their victory through Supreme Court as “the PDP has crossed one river and they still have many rivers to cross.”

In his argument, Mr Oshiomhole said the certificates presented by
Mr Degi-Eremienyo to INEC when he contested for the Senate was the same he presented as a deputy governorship candidate.

“The qualifications for being a governor is the same qualification of being a senator. It is the same documents that they used for his election as a senator that he provided to INEC. There is no evidence that he subtracted or added.

“So, if he was eligible to be a senator in the eyes of the law and suddenly become illegible to be a deputy governor,” he said.

Mr Oshiomhole also claimed in his address that the just concluded governorship election in Bayelsa State was won by APC for the first time without ‘firing a single shot.’

However, PREMIUM TIMES and other election observers witnessed several cases of violence and manipulations during the election.

Following the Supreme Court’s Thursday judgement, Mr Oshiomhole said that nobody should be sworn-in as the governor of Bayelsa on Friday. Among the criticisms that trailed the APC chairman’s reaction was from the Rivers governor, Nyesom Wike.

“The federal government should warn Oshiomhole to stop making remarks that will destabilise Nigeria.

“What he is doing in Edo State is not proper and he should not bring it to the rest of the Niger Delta,” Mr Wike warned Oshiomhole.

“Between me and my very dear friend (Nyesom Wike), who has the history of electoral violence?” The APC national chairman said in reaction on Friday.

“I have ran as a governor twice and to my credit I launched one man one vote. I fought the PDP godfather and I defeated them, without firing a gunshot. We emphasized the power of the ballot, peaceful ballot.

“Do you know how many lives were wasted, do you read your newspaper? Police officers were beheaded, where? Soldiers were beheaded, where? Rivers! Who was declared winner of such election violence, was it not Wike?

“When a tortoise continues to challenge the antelope for a race, know that something is wrong.

“He wants to use me to regain his dubious membership of the PDP,” he alleged.

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David Lyon: The Governor that Never Was

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By Eric Elezuo

“If you have tears, prepare to shed them now…”

The above expression by Mark Antony in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar came to mind as the Supreme Court declared its landmark judgment which threw the entire nation into a frenzy and shock, depending on your side of the divide. It ruled that the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), My David Lyon, who was elected governor of Bayelsa State in November 2019 will no longer be governor. This was barely 24 hours to his inauguration, and even as the former governor-elect was rehearsing for the ill-fated inauguration.

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 governorship election in the state held on November 16, 2019.

In the judgment, delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko, the final arbiter ordered INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Lyon and Degi-Eremienyo and immediately declare the party with the highest number of lawful votes and geographical spread the winner of the election. The decision did not just draw tears; it drew pains, heartbreak and blood. The Supreme Court judgment came exactly one month after it sacked the former Imo State governor, Emeka Ihedioha, who had been in office for eight months, replacing him with APC’s Hope Uzodinma, who came a distant fourth in the March 9, 2010 governorship election in Imo State.

With the judgment, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Diri Duoye, was declared winner and inaugurated as governor of Bayelsa State the following amid pockets of protests and subsequent three-day curfew.

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.

It is more painful that Lyon was sacked just two days after he survived a court process against a member of his party, Heineken Lokpobiri, who 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 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.”

But that was not to be when PDP approached the court. Recall that prior to the election on November 12, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja had 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, in its wisdom, 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.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeal, Diri and his party filed an appeal at the apex court, and the outcome, like they say, is history, leaving in its wake ‘sorrow, tears and blood’.
Today, David Lyon, who was governor-elect, and had only a couple of hours to become full fledged governor, is addressed simply as former governorship candidate of the APC. From records, as at Friday, February 14, 2020 when INEC rose from its emergency meeting, and a certificate of return presented to Diri, Lyon’s ceased to exist in electoral body’s registered, and is deemed not to have contested the election, not to talk of winning it.
Lyon, born to Mr and Mrs Arukubu Lyon Ekpeke of Abebiri family of Eubiri compound, Olugbobiri community in Olodiama clan, Southern Ijaw LGA, Bayelsa State, on December 20, 1970, can only look back and cherish the days he was erroneously declared and called governor-elect and endowed with appurtenances of state glory; the days he had to visit President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Rock, and addressed as Buhari’s newest baby boy by party chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
In 1978, Lyon became equipping himself for the task ahead when he attended Saint Gabriel’s State School Olugbobiri where he finished from in 1983 before proceeding to Community Secondary school, Olugbobiri, from 1984 to 1988. He obtained his National Certificate of Education (NCE) in Mathematics and Chemistry at the Rivers State College of Education.

Lyon started his career as a foreman in Western Geophysical Company Limited, before moving on to become the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Darlon Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited, Darlon Group Nigeria Limited and Arutex and Sons Nigeria Limited.

Lyon joined politics in the Third Republic, as a member of the defunct, National Republican Congress (NRC). He contested and won a councilorship election at Ward 4 in Southern Ijaw, but the military incursion aborted his tenure in 1997. He went on to become a founding member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Southern Ijaw. He was later appointed as the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Apoi Olodiama Local Government Development Center in 2000.

In 2015, he decamped to the All Progressives Congress and contested the Bayelsa State governorship primary election in September 2019, where he emerged as the party’s candidate.

The story of David Lyon will have a special place in history books as the almost governor or the governor that never was. He will have his chance again in 2023, maybe.

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