Nigeria: Court Disqualifies APC Deputy Governorship Candidate in Bayelsa

12 November 2019

A Federal High Court, Abuja Division, has disqualified the APC deputy governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, from participating in the November 16 governorship election.

The court in a decision on Tuesday said Mr Degi-Eremienyo provided conflicting information in his documents submitted to the electoral commission, INEC. The court agreed with the arguments of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that Mr Degi-Eremienyo gave false information in support of his candidacy to the INEC.

The PDP had asked the court to regard the discrepancies in Mr Degi-Eremienyo's certificates as major impediments to his candidacy. The Bayelsa governing party accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) running mate of providing different names at all levels of his education.

The PDP alleged in its case brought before Justice Inyang Ekwo that while Mr Degi-Eremienyo's name was written as Degi Biobara in his primary school certificate, the documents from his secondary education bore Adegi Biobarakumo, as his name, while that of his university education had Degi Biobarakuma as his name. Also, the PDP said the result from his MBA certificate had Degi Biobarakuma Wangaha as the name of the same person.

The court agreed with the PDP that the affidavits sworn to support the changes in the names were insufficient to validate the changes.

The court, therefore, decided that Mr Degi-Eremienyo did not fulfill the requirements for participation in the November 16 elections and thus disqualified him.

According to section 187 (1) of the constitution, a governorship candidate in an election must present a deputy governorship candidate to be considered as haven been validly nominated for governorship.

In an explanation on this section in relation to Tuesday's judgement, a lawyer, Oghenovo Otemu, said the implication of the disqualification is that the APC no longer has a candidate because the time to submit candidates to INEC had elapsed.

He however noted the right of INEC to an appeal against the judgement.

Another lawyer Hameed Jimoh, however, says the decision of the court regarding the APC running mate cannot be forced on the governorship candidate because the law allows him to nominate a deputy.

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