Obasanjo, Jonathan, Shettima, Liberian VP, PDP Governors Grace Diri’s Inauguration

•Leaders seek unity to move Bayelsa forward 

•APC to call 224 witnesses against gov’s re-election 

•INEC disowns tendered results

Chuks Okocha, Alex Enumah in Abuja and Olusegun Samuel in Yenagoa

Eminent personalities, yesterday, including top ranking politicians, captains of industries and many others, graced the swearing-in of the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri and his Deputy, Lawrence Ehwrujakpor, for their second term in office, amidst pomp and celebration.

Leading the row call were two former Presidents, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Vice-President Kassim Shettima and his Liberian counterpart, Jeremiah Koung.

Others were the Minister for Petroleum, Heineken Lokpobiri; the Speaker of the House of Representative, Tajudeen Abbas, Governors from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-controlled states among others.

Also present were former Governors of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki; his erstwhile Delta State counterpart, Ifeanyi Omowa and Diri’s predecessor, Senator Seriake Dickson

Diri and his deputy were sworn-in by the state Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Maltida Ayemieye before hundreds of cheering Bayelsans and residents at the Samson Siasia Sport Complex, which was filled to capacity.

The governor, in his address, called on all Bayelsans irrespective of the political affiliations to come together, unite and collaborate to overcome their obstacles and build a  prosperous and resilient Bayelsa State that would be the envy of other states.

He emphasised the  important of unity and urged Bayelsans to remember that meaningful and lasting progress could only be achieved when they work together as a united front.

“Permit me to emphasise at this point the imperative of unity and togetherness. The African proverb, ‘if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,’ captures the essence of our journey ahead.

“We must remember that meaningful and lasting progress can only be achieved when we work together as a united front. Let us embrace the wisdom of this proverb and recognise the strength that comes from collaboration and corporation.

“Together, we can overcome any obstacle, achieve great feats, and build a Bayelsa State that is prosperous, inclusive, and resilient. We are better together.”

The governor, reeled off his first term achievements to include the three senatorial districts under construction and the rehabilitation of inter roads in Yenagoa and other parts of the state, among many others.

He said it was the strong belief of the “prosperity government” that citizens should have a more active and direct role in shaping and participating in the economy.

In a related development, the PDP Governors’ Forum (PDP-GF), has congratulated Diri, on his second term inauguration and swearing-in.

In a statement by the Director General of the PDP governors forum, Cyril Maduabum,  said Diri recorded a resounding victory at the November 11, 2023, gubernatorial election as declared by the  Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and was re-elected for another four years of devoted service.

The governors acknowledged the Bayelsa people’s testimonial of Diri’s good governance in the past four years in various sectors and a request for continuity of more impactful developments in the state to further improve their lives.

The PDP governors said Diri has enthroned an atmosphere of peace and tranquility in Bayelsa State, and the peace dividend is manifest.

They said they were confident of his capacity to deliver in the second term and wished him success at every step he takes.

“We join the Bayelsa  families, friends, and people in prayer for divine guidance and protection, good health, wisdom, and humility in service to lift the people through these difficult economic times.

“We shall assuredly provide him with unalloyed support and brotherly advice always,” the PDP governors stated.

APC to Call 224 Witnesses against Diri

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, disclosed that it would call at least 224 witnesses to prove its allegations against the re-election of Senator Duoye Diri as Governor of Bayelsa State.

Counsel to the APC, Chief Tunde Falola, and its candidate in the November 11 governorship election in Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, made the disclosure while speaking with journalists at the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, Abuja.

Falola, while expressing hope that the tribunal would be able to take his witnesses within the duration allotted the petitioners to make their case, maintained that it was wrong and unlawful for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to claim that election did not take place in three local government areas in Bayelsa State, at the recent election won by Diri.

INEC had declared Diri as winner of the November 11, 2023 governorship election in Bayelsa State, having won majority of the votes cast at the election.

The Returning Officer, Professor Faruq Kuta, said the PDP and Diri polled 175,196 votes to defeat his closest rival, Timiprey Sylva of the APC who scored 110,108 votes.

Dissatisfied, Sylva and APC approached the tribunal to challenge the declaration of Diri as winner of the November 11 governorship election.

The petitioners were asking the tribunal to hold that contrary to the position of the electoral umpire, election held in some polling units and winners declared at the said units, adding that it was wrong of INEC to disregard the results at the ward and local government level.

It was their claim that if the said cancelled results were restored by the court, they would emerge winner of the November election.

However, at Wednesday’s proceedings, the electoral umpire disowned results tendered by the petitioners in proof of their case.

According to INEC’s lead counsel, Chief Charles Edosanwan, SAN, the results sought to be tendered by the petitioners were not issued by INEC because no election took place at the said polling units.

Edosanwan while opposing the tendering of the said polling units results, urged the court not to admit them as evidence.

Similarly, Diri, his deputy, Lawrence Ewrujakpo and the PDP represented by Chief Chris Uche, Chukwuma Machukwu-Umeh – all SANs – submitted that the results brought before the court by the petitioners were forged and should not be admitted as evidence.

But the witnesses responding to questions from the respondents maintained that election took place in their various units peacefully and under the supervision of INEC officials and security agencies.

They claimed that after the election, results were announced and they signed their own copy of the election results issued by the presiding officer.

In proving its allegation that the petitioners results were forged, the respondents brought Certified True Copies (CTCs) of the same results showing discrepancies in the scores as well as the numbers of accredited voters.

Another witness, Mallory Afin, who also testified for the petitioners tendered APC results which had same serial number and number of accredited voters with that of INEC had different number of votes recorded for different political parties.

It was discovered that the results tendered by APC in ward 002 was prepared and signed by the same presiding officer for ward 015.

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