The Appeal Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Saturday, January 11, has dismissed the appeal filed by the Former Minister of State for Agriculture and rural development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, against the ruling of the lower court on the purported emergence of the Bayelsa Governor-elect, Chief David Lyon as the flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the last Governorship election.
Senator Heineken Lokpobiri had filed a case against Lyon and the APC insisting that he and not Lyon won the governorship primary election in the state.
The parties in the matter including Lokpobiri, were, however, shocked when the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Jane Inyang in a controversial judgement delivered two days to the last year November 16 election held that the APC had no candidate for the poll.
Dissatisfied that the lower court went beyond his prayers that he should be declared the authentic candidate of the APC for the poll, Lokpobiri and his lawyers filed their appeal.
In the court action instituted on his behalf by Mr Fitzgerald Olorogun, the former minister claimed to have won the September 4, governorship primary of the party with a majority votes of 111, 439, claiming that Aganaba Stephen came second with 5,426, Ebitimi Amgbare was the third position with 638 votes while Lyon David Pereworinimi came fifth with 325 votes.
In the originating summons,Sen. Lokpobiri applied for an order of perpetual injunction restraining APC, its officers, agents and privies from treating, presenting or holding out Lyon to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the party’s candidate for the election.
The plaintiff also sought an order of perpetual injunction stopping INEC, its officers, agents and privies from accepting or further accepting, publishing or further publishing David Lyon as the flag bearer and another order barring the electoral body from excluding him as the APC candidate.
Besides, the governorship aspirant sought another order to stop Lyon from parading or further parading, presenting or further presenting himself as APC candidate and a similar order against INEC to stop it from accepting, recognising, or dealing with Lyon or putting his image on the ballot paper in the name of APC as the party’s governorship candidate.
Lokpobiri wants the court to compel INEC to treat him as the lawful candidate of APC and to accord him the rights, privileges and perquisites of a candidate of APC in the gubernatorial election.
In a 45 paragraph affidavit in support of the suit, the plaintiff averred that a governorship primary election committee was constituted by the National Secretariat of the APC under the chairmanship of Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni and that the committee in compliance with directive of the party conducted the primary poll through direct primary procedures.
The plaintiff, who personally deposed to the affidavit, claimed that the primary election was conducted throughout the state with the involvement of local government and ward chairmen of the party with six governorship aspirants including himself participating.
At the end of the primary election, Lokpobiri claimed that he won majority of lawful votes in five local governments comprising Ekeremor with 48,113, Sagbama with 24,890, Ogbia, 13,349, Yenagoa, 18,258 and Kolokuma/Opokuma where he scored 6,809, bringing his total score to 111,439 while David Lyon unlawfully declared as winner scored only 325 votes.
The plaintiff averred that instead of Yobe State Governor to supervise collation and declaration of result in line with APC guidelines, one Senator Emmanuel Ocheja allegedly announced false results without any collation and made Lyon a purported winner of the September 4 primary election.
The ex-minister further averred that local government and ward chairmen co-opted into the conduct of the primary election all swore to affidavits at the end of the collation of the results to confirm the authenticity and validity of the results in the five local governments while violence prevented declaration of results in the remaining three local governments.
The Plaintiff, who attached results of the primary election and affidavits of the collation officers to the originating summons claimed that he protested the unconstitutional announcement of David Lyon as winner of the primary election to an appeal committee of APC on the primary poll but did not get positive response.
The governorship aspirant also pleaded report of security agencies who monitored the primary election along with INEC officials to confirm collation of results in the five local governments.
He, therefore, asked the court to hold that the APC, David Lyon and INEC who are the three respondents in the suit did not to breach the 1999 constitution, the Electoral Act 2010 and the APC guidelines to make unlawful declaration and nomination of Lyon as flag bearer of the party.