The atmosphere in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital was charged yesterday, in anticipation of today’s ruling of the Supreme Court in the Bayelsa governoship election appeal.
While there is palpable apprehension in the camp of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Governor Seriake Dickson, those in the All Progressives Congress (APC) seemed to be prepared for the eventual outcome.
This is just as indications emerged that the Supreme Court may in its ruling, declare that fresh election be conducted in parts of the state.
A civil society group in the state, Movement for the Independence of the Judiciary in the Niger Delta (MIJN), raised the alarm yesterday that some top government officials were mounting pressure on the Supreme Court to cancel the election of Governor Henry Seriake Dickson and order a re-run within 90 days.
National president of MIJN, Comrade Patrick Egribido, in a statement, alleged that the re-run, when ordered, would provide enough time for the ruling APC to put its house in order to win the election, even through rigging.
He further alleged that already, a panel had been set up at the Supreme Court to perfect the arrangement, with a clear directive on what to do.
He, however, praised the judiciary, pointing out that some judges had already made it clear that they would not be cowed or threatened into delivering any contrary judgement, insisting on the rule of law.
The group noted that the CJN was also keeping the names of the justices to hear the Bayelsa Governorship appeal close to his chest.
Justice Mohammed who is billed to retire on November 10, is said to have vowed never to compromise his office especially at this time that he is at the ‘‘departure lounge’’ of his flourishing career.
‘‘This is not the first time, the Presidency would be making incursion into the judiciary on the Bayelsa governorship case to sway judgement in favour of the APC. It is unfortunate that a government which claims to be fighting corruption would be bent on putting justices under pressure to do its bidding.
What the Buhari Presidency has forgotten is that manipulating court judgements is worse than naira and kobo corruption. The Presidency should urgently desist from shopping for favourable judgements as well as stop threatening incorruptible justices before the Buhari administration gives credence to critics who believe that the recent raid on the homes of some justices by the DSS was meant to gag the judiciary from being impartial!’’
While stressing that his group was apolitical, Comrade Egribido averred that his organisation would continue to defend the independence of the judiciary in the country and in the Niger Delta in particular.
According to him, both the Bayelsa State Elections Petitions Tribunal and the Appeal Court had in separate unanimous judgements, upheld the last governorship election in Bayelsa which Governor Dickson won and wondered whether the federal government was oblivious of the security implication of thwarting the will of the people at the apex court.
Following the alarm by Comrade Egribido, the Bayelsa State PDP Chairman, Hon Cleopas Moses has urged PDP faithful to be calm. He lamented that the actions of the Federal Government under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari were drifting the country to a totalitarian, fascist state and called on men of goodwill to rise to the occasion before Nigeria is turned into an APC- one- party- state.
The PDP chieftain expressed confidence in the dudiciary and urged the Supreme Court Justices never to capitulate to the manipulation of anyone, no matter how highly placed.
Moses emphasised that regardless of how many times elections hold in Bayelsa, Governor Dickson and the PDP will continue to trounce the APC.
He said this is because the governor has delivered on his campaign promises by placing Bayelsa state on the path of security, rapid development, peace and prosperity for which ‘‘our people are eternally grateful.’’
‘‘Governor Seriake Dickson of the PDP overwhelmingly won the December 5 and January 9 governorship elections in Bayelsa State in 7 out of 8 local government areas of the state. Timipre Sylva and the APC were roundly rejected by Bayelsans in the elections. Both the trial court and the Appeal Court justifiably upheld the election of my Governor and it will be preposterous for the Supreme Court to cancel the election just because the Presidency wanted it cancelled…’’
‘‘ For me, cancelling the election will stab justice on the head and make mockery of democracy and it is against this backdrop that I urge the judiciary to always stand up to be counted in dispensing justice and in the defence of democracy in our fatherland!” He added.