The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was last night served the enrolled order of the Federal High Court, Abuja that disqualified the All Progressives Congress (APC) running mate in the governorship election scheduled for Saturday, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, who had disqualified Degi-Eremienyo on Tuesday due to anomalies found in his form CF 001, submitted to the INEC for clearance in the poll, signed the order, a certified true copy of which was made available to newsmen last night after service.
A lawyer in the commission’s legal department, who refused to disclose his name, received the order from the court bailiff, who also refused to disclose his name.
INEC’s national commissioner in charge of voter education and publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, could not be reached for confirmation yesterday even though report witnessed the service.
According to Thisday gathered that the commission might meet today to decide on the fate of the APC in the contest given the obvious vitiation of the party’s ticket in the contest by the court judgment.
It was gathered that although many of the national commissioners were outside Abuja last night, its weekly Thursday meeting would have to hold today to deal with the matter.
The disqualification of Degi-Eremienyo endangered the candidacy of the party’s governorship candidate, Mr. David Lyon, who risked being delisted from the ballot as the pair is constitutionally conjoined to run for the election.
INEC’s Director of Voter Education and Public Enlightenment, Mr. Oluwole Izzi-Iyamu, had told Thisday earlier wednesday that the commission could not take a decision on APC’s chances yet because it was yet to be served the court order.
He, however, assured the electorate in Kogi State that the commission would obey a court order that overruled its disqualification of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) for the November 16 gubernatorial election in the state, adding that the party’s governorship candidate, Ms. Natasha Akpoti, and her party were on the ballot for the election.
INEC had earlier disqualified Akpoti for fielding an underage running mate, but in upturning the disqualification, the Federal High Court held that the commission had no power to disqualify candidates.
Izzi-Iyamu said the commission would meet as soon as it received the court order that disqualified Degi-Eremienyo from participation in the Saturday’s governorship election in Bayelsa State.
He, however, added that he was not aware when the commission would meet to take a decision on Bayelsa APC.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) urged the electoral commission to obey the court order and disqualify Lyon as he cannot run without a validly-nominated running mate.
“As we speak, the INEC chairman and the national commissioners are on their way from Lokoja to Abuja.
“The commission as an election management body is yet to meet to take a decision. We have not been served the court order to know what the court did and said and the prayers granted in the order. The commission will study the order and take decision. The commission is known for that,” Uzzi-Iyamu explained.
When reminded that a governorship candidate would not be qualified to stand for any election without a running mate, Uzzi said: “We are conversant with the extant laws regarding a candidate and the running mate. But as I said, please wait for the commission to meet on this.”
Also reminded that Saturday is the Bayelsa State governorship election, he said, “INEC is aware of that but the commission has not been served with the court order. We will await a briefing on that from our lawyers.”
On the fate of SDP in Kogi State, he said: “SDP and her candidate are on the ballot for the November 16 governorship election in Kogi State.”
Meanwhile, the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, has called on INEC to act quickly on the court ruling disqualifying the deputy governorship candidate of the APC by invoking the relevant sections of the constitution and the Electoral Act.
Secondus said a gubernatorial candidate without a deputy was not qualified to run for an election.
A statement from his media office quoted him as saying that what the court ruling means is that APC has no validly nominated candidate for the November 16 governorship election as the law requirement on this is clear.
He urged the electoral commission to do the needful by disqualifying APC candidate in the race as he could not stand alone nor be replaced at this time.
According to him, what is happening with APC in Bayelsa State is obtained when desperadoes chase power without any clear vision and love to serve the people.
He also faulted the attitude of the military in Kogi and Bayelsa states ahead of the Saturday election, saying the image of the country before the world is being damaged.
Secondus urged the military to stay away and not do anything that will further endanger the reputation of the nation’s military.
“You are supposed to be apolitical and neutral as you are established to protect the country and its citizens all the time and not government in power at a time,” he stated.