Tension in Bayelsa over Assembly’s refusal to obey court order

Chief Judge of Bayelsa State, Justice Kate Abiri (left) administering the oath of office to Seriake Dickson, (2nd right), supported by his wife, Rachael (right) during his swearing-in for a secod term as governor of Bayelsa State at the Samson Siasia Sports Complex in Yenagoa.
Chief Judge of Bayelsa State, Justice Kate Abiri (left) administering the oath of office to Seriake Dickson, (2nd right), supported by his wife, Rachael (right) during his swearing-in for a second term as governor of Bayelsa State at the Samson Siasia Sports Complex in Yenagoa.

FEW hours after the swearing in of Governor Seriake Dickson for a second term in office, a fresh trouble is brewing in the state over the refusal of Bayelsa State House of Assembly to obey an Appeal Court’s judgment ordering it to inaugurate the candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Mr. Ogbara Gabriel Michael, as a member of the House.

It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, had on December 9, 2015 allowed the appeal of Ogbara and dismissed the ruling of the trial tribunal, which ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh poll in Ogbia Constituency III.

In the judgment delivered by Justice Ejembi Eko, the court ruled that the ADC candidate won the April 11, 2015 House of Assembly election in the constituency and not the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Naomi Ogoli.

The court had said: “The order of the trial tribunal directing a re-run of the election is hereby set aside. In its place, the first appellant (Ogbara) is hereby declared winner of the election conducted on April 11, 2015 in Ogbia Constituency III with the majority of lawful votes cast in the election.

“The first respondent (INEC) is hereby ordered to forthwith issue to the first appellant, Ogbara Gabriel Michael of African Democratic Congress (ADC) the certificate of return.”

However, it was gathered that while INEC obeyed the order and issued the certificate of return to Ogbara, the leadership of the PDP-dominated House refused to honour the directive.

Meanwhile, a source close to the House alleged that pressure from the Executive arm of government on the House leadership not to swear in the ADC candidate and the sack of the Speaker may not be unconnected with reasons Ogbara is yet to be sworn in.

But residents of the state are not comfortable with the refusal of the House to obey the order, describing it as an affront to the rule of law and desecration of the temple of justice.

Also, the immediate past state Secretary, Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Mr. Alagoa Morris, said the powers that be were frustrating obedience to a court order.

He wondered why the House had refused to swear in a candidate that had been issued a certificate of return by INEC.

He said: “Sadly, the ruling and order of the Court of Appeal is yet to be acted upon by the leadership of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly even though INEC, the election umpire, had since honoured the court order and had issued a certificate of return to the winner.

“This is happening when tongues are wagging that the state governor, who is a former policeman, lawmaker and a legal practitioner by profession is not unaware of this attack on democracy.”

Morris said it was a sheer wickedness to keep denying Ogbara his right to represent his Constituency in the House.

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