There is no going back in Saturday’s governorship election in Bayelsa State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said on Thursday.
The commission said it would obey all legitimate court orders served on it in respect of the poll.
The Federal High Court in Yenagoa on Thursday nullified the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries that produced Chief David Lyon as the party’s candidate .
INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, told The Nation that the commission had deployed all it needed for the elections, adding that the polls would go on as planned.
He said the election would go ahead with its plans for the election, using the materials already prepared before the judgment was given.
He said: “If there’s any court order concerning what we are doing, we will obey all court orders because that has been the tradition of the commission; to obey all legitimate court orders.”
Justice Grace Inyang held that the primaries were conducted outside the guidelines of the party.
Justice Inyang held that Lokpobiri and Lyon were not qualified to fly the flag of the party since the internal poll was not conducted in line with the party’s guidelines.
The judge restrained INEC from including Lyon as the APC candidate in the poll.
She said based on APC guidelines, the results of the primaries should have been declared by the returning officer for the pre-election, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State and not Senator Emmanuel Ochega, Secretary of the Election Committee.
Justice Inyang ruled that the APC violated its own rules in the composition of the election panel when it constituted a one-member committee and not seven members as stipulated in the party rules.
She said: “It has been established by judicial authorities and several judgments that political parties are bound by their own rules, the committee that conducted the primary threw caution to the winds and it is my ruling that the primaries stand nullified.
“The result announced by Senator Emmanuel Ochega is not valid as he is not the returning officer for the election. And I make an order restraining INEC from recognising any of the aspirants that participated in the said primaries.”
Lokpobiri said that he never asked the court to nullify the primary election.
He said: “I did not pray for the court to nullify the primary election but rather prayed the court to declare me the winner. On this note, I have been briefed by my lawyers, so we will file a motion of stay of execution in the Court of Appeal.”
Also yesterday, Lyon asked voters not to panic saying he was still contesting the election.
He said the Court of Appeal has asked all parties to maintain status quo and called on Bayelsans to come out tomorrow and vote massively for the APC.
A former Bayelsa State Governor Timipre Sylva said the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has granted a stay of execution of the judgment.
He told reporters: “Let me use this opportunity to let all Bayelsans and our teeming supporters know that there is no cause for alarm. Our candidates, Chief David Lyon and Bishop Degi-Eremienyo are fully, squarely on the ballot.”
Also yesterday, the Appeal Court in Abuja granted an ex-parte restraining INEC from preventing the APC and its candidates from taking part in the election.
Lyon and his running mate Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo had sought an order restraining the INEC from barring them from participating in the election based on a High Court judgment disqualifying Degi-Eremienyo.
The applicants prayed that the status quo antebellum, which existed before September 19, be maintained, as well as an order for a stay of execution on a November 12 judgement by an Abuja High Court.
Abdu Aboki, granting an ex-parte application numbered CA/A/1053/M/2019, said: “The motion ex-parte filed on 13/11/2019 is granted and ordered as follows:
“An order is granted, compelling the 5th respondent to maintain status-quo antebellum, which existed on or before the 19th day of September 2019 when suit number FHC/ABJ?CS/1101/2019, now on appeal to this court, was filed at the lower court, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction, filed on November 13, 2019.
“Consequently, an interim order of stay of the judgment of the lower court, delivered on the 12th day of November 2019, in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1101/2019, is granted and made pending the determination of the motion on notice for an order of interlocutory injunction, filed on 13th November 2019.
“The motion on notice shall be heard on 20/11/2019. The Respondents are to be served with a hearing notice and the copies of the order immediately.”