Nigeria’s electoral body has declared the candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Duoye Diri as winner of Bayelsa state election in the southern part of the country after a Supreme Court judgment on Thursday overturned the election results held November 16, a day to inauguration of the former winner earlier announced.
Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu at a briefing in Abuja said a certificate of return will be issued immediately to the winner as pronounced by the court judgment.
The chairman announced that INEC had received a certified true copy of the judgment by the Supreme Court and will act on it despite earlier speeches by national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole that no governor will be sworn in on Friday due to his interpretation of the criteria set by the court ruling.
The leadership of INEC had met on Friday morning to review the judgment and results of the election, without including the voided votes of the APC.
“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,” Yakubu told journalists at the briefing. “Without the votes scored by the All Progressives Congress (APC), whose candidates were deemed not to have participated in the election,” the INEC chairman said.
INEC said the total votes cast after excluding the voided votes of the APC’s David Lyon and his deputy now stand at 146,999 and it said that since PDP polled 143,172 and scored 25 percent as required by the law, it had concluded that PDP was the winner of the election. Consequently, it would be giving the Certificate of Return to the candidate of the PDP, Douye Diri.
– APC kicks over court ruling –
“PDP candidate does not have one-quarter of the total lawful votes cast in that election in two-thirds of the eight local government areas in Bayelsa State,” Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress at the federal level had said on Thursday, stirring attacks by members of the opposition and other Nigerians who insisted that the Supreme Court judgment must be obeyed like it happened in Imo state recently.
Oshiomhole had insisted that the “judgement lacks the fruits of justice” and was based on mere technicalities which portend “danger to our democracy,” warning that “where justice and democracy thrive on the altar of technicalities, it constitutes a danger to our democracy.”
“Nobody has raised issues whether David Lyon and his running mates won an overwhelming majority,” he said at the party’s secretariat in Abuja while trying to explain how the interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment was allegedly misquoted and and misunderstood.
In the previous results released by INEC in November, APC’s David Lyon had been declared winner with 352,552 votes while PDP’s Douye Diri came second in the election with 143,172 votes. While Lyon won in six of eight local government councils, Diri had won in only two of the eight local governments. The tables have now turned after the certificate forgery scandal.
INEC’s decision to recognise the Supreme Court judgment finally put a death knell to the ambition of Lyon who was let down by his deputy-governorship candidate, Biobarakuma Degi-eremienyo that was caught in a forgery of his academic credentials by the courts.
The APC’s Lyon had been backed by former President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP who chose to do an anti-party activity because of the high-handedness of the outgoing Bayelsa state governor, Seriake Dickson. This caused uproar among party members and when the opposition APC eventually won, it was deemed all over for the PDP until it bounced back to power through the courts in the oil-rich state.
“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,” the INEC Chairman announced to a nation itching to hear its version of the debacle.
With Friday’s recognition, Diri who is a serving Senator would be handed a certificate and inaugurated as Governor of Bayelsa state.
Just on Thursday morning, Lyon had been rehearsing with security forces and protocol officers ahead of his botched inauguration on Friday.
Libya’s General Khalifa Haftar Agrees To Lift Oil Blockade
Self-styled Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), has said he would temporarily lift his blockade of the country’s oil production facilities.
Speaking on television, Haftar said that he has decided to allow the reopening of Libya’s oil ports “as per conditions and guarantees that ensure a fair distribution of wealth and spare it being plundered or used in terrorism financing.”
This the parliament in eastern Libya, which backed Haftar, resigned following protests in Benghazi and other cities over power cuts and deteriorating living conditions.
Ezzel-Deen al-Falih, a spokesman for the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR), said Prime Minister Abdallah al-Thani tendered the government’s resignation to Speaker Aguila Saleh late on Sunday.
Haftar said Friday’s announcement about lifting the oil blockade followed an agreement with the UN-backed government in Tripoli under which oil revenues would be distributed fairly.
A government minister has said a committee would be set up to oversee the handling of the revenue.
But the national oil company says it won’t resume operations until Gen Haftar’s forces leave the production facilities.
His blockade – which began January – has starved the Libyan economy of billions of dollars of desperately needed export earnings.
Before the blockade, Libya was producing around 1.2 million barrels per day compared to just over 100,000 barrels per day, according to Reuters.
AU Backs Call For Mali Junta To Hand Over To Civilian
The African Union (AU) has backed calls by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that the military junta in Mali appoint civilians to lead the country’s 18-months transition.
The military had overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali on August 18 in a bloodless coup, prompting sanctions from the 15-member regional bloc.
ECOWAS has insisted that the Colonel Assimi Goita-led National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) return Mali to civilian rule. The bloc also demanded that a civilian be named as head of the transition government.
The junta is yet to heed ECOWAS demand despite a deadline expiring on Tuesday. Instead, the junta, which had earlier proposed a two-year transition plan, released a charter reducing the transition period to 18 months.
Now the AU has urged the military junta in Mali to quickly appoint civilian leaders to manage an 18-month transition towards elections.
The AU Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui called for a return to constitutional order.
The AU announced the day after the coup that it was suspending Mali “until restoration of constitutional order”, and it is unclear what additional leverage it has.
Mali’s military rulers met West African leaders this week but the soldiers who seized power appear reluctant to let a civilian lead the transition.
A spokesman for the junta, Colonel Ismael Wague, said after this week’s talks in Ghana that Mali could face a “total embargo” from ECOWAS if it does not quickly appoint civilian leaders.
The sanctions could bite in the poor country already facing a severe economic downturn as well as a simmering jihadist insurgency and chronic inter-ethnic violence.
Wague nevertheless made clear the junta would prefer the transition be run by the military, and claimed that was also the preference of the majority of Malians.
Libya Prime Minister’s Planned Resignation Upsets Turkey
The planned resignation of Libya’s internationally recognised Prime Minister has upset Turkey, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, an ally to Turkey, had on Wednesday announced his intention to step down from office next month end.
Speaking to reporters in Istanbul on Friday, Erdogan said a Turkish delegation will hold talks on the issue with the al-Sarraj-government in the coming weeks.
“A development like this, hearing such news, has been upsetting for us,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, adding: “with these meetings, God willing we will turn this issue towards the direction it needs to go.”
Sarraj is head of the Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli, while eastern Libya and much of the south is controlled by Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA). His departure could lead to infighting among senior GNA figures.
The civil war has drawn in regional and international powers and Turkey supports the GNA, while the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Russia back the LNA.
Turkey helped the GNA turn back a 14-month LNA assault on Tripoli in June.
Sarraj’s had on August 21 announced a ceasefire in hostilities with the LNA.
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