From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Ahead of the pre-hearing of the petition filed by the governorship candidate of Liberation Movement (LM), Vijah Eldred Opuama, against Bayelsa Governor Douye Diri of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), pressure is being mounted on the plaintiff to drop his petition.
Opuama had dragged Diri, his deputy, Lawrence Ehwrudjakpo, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the Bayelsa Elections Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja, seeking the disqualification of Ehwrudjakpo and calling for a fresh governorship election.
Checks indicate that several emissaries from the PDP have been sent to Opuama appealing to him to drop the petition in exchange for an undisclosed sum of money and the promise of cabinet positions.
The emissaries are said to have met with Opuama and his close political associates pleading with him in the interest of the state and the Ijaw nation to withdraw the petition and save the state from avoidable distractions.
Chairmen of two political parties in the state who know Opuama personally are also said to have spoken to him, advising the LM candidate to withdraw his petition and cooperate with the PDP administration to form a government of unity in the interest of Bayelsans.
Opuama has, however, reportedly rebuffed all attempts to persuade him to withdraw his petition, purportedly saying that his petition was filed in the interest of Bayelsa State.
The LM governorship candidate, who recently raised alarm over threats to his life, said he is ready to pursue his petition up to the Supreme Court in order to get justice.
Opuama had hinged his petition on arguments that, as of the time of the governorship election, Ehwrudjakpo was not qualified to contest as he allegedly provided false information to the electoral commission to aid his qualification.
In his statement of facts before the Tribunal, the Opuama argued:
“The 4th Respondent was not qualified to contest the election in that he submitted an affidavit containing false information to the 1st Respondent. The 4th Respondent’s Degree certificate dated 3rd February 1998 purportedly issued by Rivers State University of Science and Technology and the 4th Respondent’s certificate of exemption from National Youth Service Corps purportedly issued on 2nd February 1998 are inconsistent with one another other and contradictory to one another.
“I know that by virtue of National Youth Service Corps Act, certificate of exemption from National Youth Service under the Act is only issued to persons who have successfully graduated from the University and have their degree certificate as approved by the University’s Senate.”
Ehwrudjakpo has since though his counsel Mr Clement Kekemeke in a press conference dismissed the allegation of presenting false information to the INEC for the Bayelsa governorship election.