Police can’t tell if Bayelsa will have a new governor todayby Cletus Ukpong
Everyone in Bayelsa State for now appears to be in the dark about whether or not the inauguration of a new governor would take place this Friday in the state.
The inauguration ceremony should have commenced at 10 a.m. under normal circumstances.
It is unclear for now how the outgoing governor, Seriake Dickson, is running the state, having held a valedictory meeting with state officials Thursday.
The police in Bayelsa were unable to make a categorical statement on the political development in the oil-rich state when PREMIUM TIMES contacted them Friday morning.
“I wouldn’t know!” was the response of the police spokesperson in the state, Asinim Butswat at about 7:59 a.m. when asked if a new governor would be inaugurated today.
“We are all waiting. We have not received any signal on the inauguration,” Mr Butswat, a superintendent of police, said.
He, however, said the state was calm and that the security agencies were patrolling the streets.
“It is calm, there is no cause for alarm. Security agencies are patrolling the streets right from yesterday up till this moment, so there is no problem at all.
“We didn’t envisage anything and immediately the judgment was announced we deployed patrol teams to patrol the streets so that if there is any kind of protest that would go out of hand we will be able to handle it.
“We are already prepared for the inauguration. We have already made our plans, we have made adequate arrangement, so whichever way it goes, we are on the ground.”
A five-member panel of the apex court led by Justice Mary Odili on Thursday nullified the election of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, David 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 November 16 governorship election.
With the judgment, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election, Duoye Diri, is expected to be sworn in as governor, having received the second largest number of votes in the election.
But, before this should happen, Mr Diri needs to get a Certificate of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
An official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Bayelsa told PREMIUM TIMES this morning that they were yet to get any directive from their head office in Abuja.
“I can’t tell, I think it is a national thing, I don’t know if any statement has been made by INEC in respect of that,” INEC Head of Department, Voter Education and Publicity, Bayelsa State, Wilfred Ifogah, said around 8:36 a.m., on the issuance of a Certificate of Return.
“It can be in Abuja, depending on where it is convenient for them (INEC) to hand over the certificate. As I speak, I have not received any directive.”
A national spokesperson for the commission, Festus Okoye, while responding to inquiries from PREMIUM TIMES on the issue, Friday morning, said INEC would not immediately issue a certificate of return to Mr Diri until the commission is done studying the ruling of the apex court.
He added that after the review, the commission would make a decision if it should issue a certificate of return on the basis of Mr Duoye having lawful votes or if to order fresh elections.
An aide to Governor Dickson told PREMIUM TIMES that the swearing-in of Mr Diri would take place today but that the time remains unknown because of the “circumstances”.
“The only thing that is holding it is the certified true copy of the judgment of the Supreme Court,” the aide said.
The aide said Mr Diri and other PDP chieftains went to INEC for the Certificate of Return but INEC, he said, insisted on getting a certified true copy of the judgment first.
PREMIUM TIMES could not independently verify if Mr Diri had such a meeting with INEC.
“The confusion is only a matter of time, there is no specific constitutional time they say swearing-in must take place.
“The outgoing governor will be gone by today. I mean as of now, he is no longer effectively governor but under the circumstances since APC cannot also move in, he would generally be around the Government House tactically coordinating things while waiting for the new governor to get his documents and then come down,” he said.
The outgoing commissioner for information in the state, Daniel Iworiso-Markson and governor Dickson’s spokesperson, Fidelis Soriwei, respectively did not respond to calls from PREMIUM TIMES.