INEC, APC in war of words over Bayelsa: You erred in presenting certificate to Diri —Oshiomhole

•We deferred to judiciary —Yakubu, INEC chair

National chairman of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) Comrade Adams Oshiomhole on Friday  maintained his claim that the new Bayelsa State governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Douye Diri did not meet the constitutional requirements to be declared  winner of the last November governorship election in Bayelsa state.

The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, ( INEC) Professor Mahmoud Yakubu had issued Certificates of Return to Senator Douye Diri and the  deputy governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo.

Professor Yakubu submitted that the PDP candidate, Senator Diri scored the highest number of lawful votes and scored more than 25% of the lawful votes cast in all the eight (8) Local Government Areas of the State.

But addressing newsmen at his party’s national secretariat in Abuja, Comrade Oshiomhole claimed that the PDP candidate did not meet up with constitutional requirements.

The APC chairman who revealed  that his party would initiate a court action to challenge the presentation of Certificate of Return to Senator Diri by INEC further accused the Commission of appropriating  ‘’the judicial powers of the court to interpret laws that is neither competent to do nor has the mandate so to do.’’

He said:’’  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 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 electorate of that state.

‘’Clearly,  the votes scored by PDP and their candidate in that election only met requirement in five local governments and you need six local governments to meet the requirement of two third. PDP candidate did not satisfy this requirement. INEC is now choosing to appropriate the judicial powers of the court to interpret laws that 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 has a required vote spread?  If the answer is no,  INEC can do no more.

‘’We recognize that having purported to have sworn in or issued certificate to 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.’’

In his swift reaction, INEC chairman who spoke through his media aide, Rotimi Oyekanmi dismissed the interpretation of constitutional requirements as canvassed by the APC national chairman.

Professor Yakubu said his action was in compliance with the judgment of the apex court.

He said:’’ It is not the Independent National Electoral Commission’s practice to join issues with politicians on any matter, especially on issues under its jurisdiction.

‘’The Supreme Court on 13th February 2020 delivered a judgment in a pre-election suit on the Bayelsa State Governorship Election held on 16th November 2019. INEC received the Certified True Copy of the judgment on 14th February, convened a meeting this morning to study the judgment and at the end of that meeting, took a decision to comply with it.

‘’Therefore, as far as we are concerned, we have done what the Supreme Court ordered us to do and we couldn’t have done otherwise.’’

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