• Police Impose Curfew
• Buhari Cancels Visit
• The Arithmetic That Makes Diri Gov
From the jaws of celebration, Bayelsans would seem to have snatched a crisis. Rage and fury, yesterday, enveloped Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, as thousands of All Progressives Congress (APC) members went on a rampage, vandalising government property and homes of perceived Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members.
As tension was yet to abate, Senator Douye Diri, in a brief address after he and his Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, had taken the oath of office administered by the state Chief Judge, Justice Kate Abiri, at the Government House, Yenagoa, called for an end to bitterness and acrimony.
The governor, who called for a minute silence in hour of those killed during his governorship campaign in Nembe, pledged to embrace politics without bitterness in presiding over the state’s affairs.
Diri, who was flanked by his deputy, said his administration had brought to the people of Bayelsa State, a message of hope and prosperity, pledging to be magnanimous in victory, adding: “If we kill ourselves, who are going to lead.”
The governor recalled how he, as a member of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), had joined other stakeholders to tour round the country for the creation of the state.
To this end, he urged everyone in the state to join hands to build the dream Bayelsa State of the founding fathers.
Earlier in the day, the protesters barricaded entries into the state from the East-West road, expressing disappointment over Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling, which nullifies the victory of its candidate in November last year’s governorship election, Chief David Lyon.
The protest, which started peacefully as early as 6.00 am at Tombia Junction along the Mbiama-Yenagoa Road, demanding the reversal of the judgment, soon spread to other parts of the state capital, locking down all commercial and business activities in the metropolis, as shops, offices and even motor parks were shut down.
They set up burn fire at the popular Tombia roundabout, making vehicular and human traffics difficult, just as the markets closed down completely.
From there, they proceeded to INEC state headquarters to demand that Certificate of Return should not be issued to Senator Douye Diri, the PDP candidate, who has been declared the winner and issued a Certificate of Return, as the next governor of the state. The irate protesters chanted ‘no Lyon, no governor.’
The protesters marched all the way from Tombia, the city gate to downtown Yenagoa, a distance of over 20 kilometres.
The protest, which was peaceful, almost turned violent when some youths went on rampage and attacked PDP state headquarters, houses belonging to Diri and Prof. Steve Azaiki, a member of the House of Representatives, as well the state-owned Bayelsa Radio along Azikoro Road, where they looted and carted away valuables, while the station staff ran for cover.
On sighting a detachment of soldiers and policemen, who shot sporadically in the air, the protesters took to their heels. However, luck ran out on three of them, who were picked up by the Police.
The attack forced the radio station to go off air. But for the presence of the security operatives, the protesters would have torched the house of a PDP chieftain close to a radio station.
At the PDP headquarters, the protesters pulled down posters and signboards at the gate, chased away the security and smashed the glass windows.
At the library belonging to Azaiki, the gateman was beating to a pulp, while some of the protesters went into the library, looting and breaking all the computers, books and chairs.
Four cars belonging to Diri and his wife were vandalised, while phones belonging to some of his domestic staff were forcefully taken from them.
Speaking on the protest, a chieftain of APC in the state, who was one of those who led the protest, said they were against attempts by some group of persons to take away the mandate of the people of Bayelsa.
He vowed the protesters would not leave the streets until Lyon was sworn in as governor, insisting they would not sit down and allow the wishes and aspiration of the people to be truncated.
“We will not allow a Kangaroo board meeting to decide the fate of the entire Bayelsans that voted for Lyon. He was accepted by the people, loved and won on merit. Bayelsans have spoken; I will always say congratulations to every Bayelsans in this state for having confidence in Lyon.
“We are on the streets, we have gone to INEC to register our displeasure, that we will not sit down and watch our mandate being diverted. Of course, we will go for review. Like I told you, we will not leave the streets until Lyon is sworn in. No Lyon, no governor; our mandate will be given to us. If not, we will take it by force.”
But to prevent a complete breakdown of law and order, the Police have imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in Bayelsa State.
Decision to impose the curfew was in reaction to the violent protest that rocked Yenagoa and its suburbs. There is palpable fear that violence might erupt again and so the police had to take proactive steps to avert further disturbance.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari planned a visit to Yenagoa to inaugurate the new corporate headquarters of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), which was abruptly cancelled.
The visit, which would have coincided with the aborted swearing-in of Mr. David Lyon as the governor of Bayelsa State, was also intended to usher in the All Progressives Congress inroad into Bayelsa State politics.
By yesterday, scores of soldiers who were deployed to Yenagoa in anticipation of the visit were suddenly withdrawn when it was obvious that Senator Douye Diri would be sworn into office as the governor.
How Diri Emerged Governor After INEC’s Arithmetic
IN compliance with the order of the Supreme Court, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had earlier yesterday declared Diri as the new governor-elect.
Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, while announcing the decision during a press conference in Abuja, told journalists that the Commission reached the decision after it reviewed the result of the November 16 election, in which 45 political parties participated.
The Supreme Court on Thursday had sacked David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the ground that his Deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo, presented a forged certificate to INEC.
The apex court held that since Degi-Eremieoyo shared a joint ticket with the governor-elect, his disqualification invalidated their nomination by the APC.
The panel of Justices, led by Justice Mary Odili, in a unanimous judgment, also ordered INEC to declare as the winner of the governorship election in Bayelsa State, the candidate with the highest number of lawful votes cast with requisite constitutional (or geographical spread).
Diri came second in the election, behind Lyon, who was initially declared the winner by INEC, having won in six of the eight councils, polling a total of 352,552 votes, against Diri’s 143, 172 votes.
Yakubu said INEC had received the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the judgment of the apex court, which disqualified the Deputy Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and vitiated the joint ticket of the party earlier declared winner in the election.
“In compliance with the orders of the Supreme Court, the commission met this (yesterday) morning and reviewed the result of the election in which 45 political parties contested.”
He explained that the Supreme Court judge invalidated the votes cast for the APC, adding that without the votes scored by the APC, whose candidates were deemed not to have participated in the election, by virtue of the judgment, the total number of lawful and valid votes cast in the election now stands at 146,999.
Out of this figure, Yakubu said the PDP candidate scored the highest number of lawful votes with 143,172, adding that the party also scored over 25 per cent of the lawful votes cast in all the eight councils of the state.
“Furthermore, the total number of registered voters in places where the 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 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 INEC boss stated.
A breakdown of the new election results released by INEC revealed that after excluding the votes cast for the APC, Diri scored over 90 per cent of votes cast in all the councils in the state, except Nembe, where he had 55.35 per cent.
According to the new result, Diri scored the following in each of the councils: Brass- 10,354 (98.82 per cent); Ekeremor- 18,344 (99.58 per cent); Kolokuma/Opokuma- 15,360 (98.13 per cent), Nembe- 874 (55.35 per cent Ogbia- 13,763 (93.56 per cent); Sagbama- 60,339 (99.34 per cent); Southern Ijaw- 4,898 (95.72 per cent) and Yenagoa (94.76 per cent).
Meanwhile, the electoral umpire almost immediately presented a Certificate of Return to the Diri and Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo as governor-elect and deputy governor-elect of Bayelsa State, respectively.
A National Commissioner at INEC, Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu made the presentation at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
Speaking after the ceremony, Diri thanked the people of the state for the support given to him.
He described the Judiciary as the last hope of the common man, pledging to fulfill his campaign promises to the people of Bayelsa State.