The deputy governor -elect of Bayelsa State under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo has spoken out publicly for the first time after the supreme court judgement that nullified the election of himself and governor-elect David Lyon.
The supreme court had sacked David Lyon, the governor-elect, on the grounds that Degi-Eriemienyo presented forged credentials to INEC.
Degi-Eremienyo, who spoke for the first time to reporters in Abuja, said he needed to clear his name because the court’s decision has left him “traumatised” and open to “assault, adding that the allegations were not proven, and that those who issued the certificates were never contacted.
He said: “The aim of this press conference is to defend my reputation which the Justices of the Supreme Court, whether consciously or unconsciously, subjected to scurrilous scandal, assault and unfair imputation.
“The judgment of the Supreme Court that I was not qualified to contest as the deputy governorship candidate of APC and my attendant disqualification adversely affected the governorship candidate of the APC.
“The result was that our hard-earned victory, not just for ourselves, but our party and the majority of the good people of Bayless state who have entrusted us with the mandate to democratically govern them, is threatened.
“The event of my disqualification is distressing and traumatising to me personally and, of course, a greater trauma was inflicted on my party, the governorship candidate and the good people of Bayelsa who signified their choice of who should be their governor and deputy governor.
“It is this unsolicited assault on my personality and reputation by the judgment in question that has constrained me to chart this course.
“Unless unfair imputation to character is quickly corrected, it assumes the toga of truth.
“It was clearly a desperate and calculated attempt not just to grab power through the judicial process but equally to tarnish my good image and bring same to disrepute on completely false and unproven allegations.”
Senator Degi also claimed he was denied his right to fair hearing.
“As a lawmaker, I know that what Section 182(1) (j) of the Constitution contemplates is that a candidate cannot present forged educational certificates not belonging to him to aid his constitutional qualification.
“Forgery can, therefore, not be defined in different context simply to lower the burden of proof in order to meet a political end.
“The seeming discrepancies in my name, which I have adequately explained by an affidavit, was not impeached by any evidence that the names were misspelt by the issuing authorities.
“The issuing authorities who are accessible by my accusers were not called to impeach my assertion in the affidavit explaining away these errors I stated which were not illegal.
Let me state that some of my primary school teachers are still alive: Chief Eredogiyo Watson, Chief Allen Obebe-Orukari and Susan Otiotio.
“Let me also state in clear and graphic terms that I attended two secondary schools.
“First, Nyemoni Grammar School, Abonnema, Rivers state where some of my classmates were Harrison Braide, Tombo Douglas, Ferdinand Amabebe: Professor Owunari George Will, Justice Biobele Georgewill, Chief David Briggs and Alpheus Otta and some of my teachers were Mr Wamarte and Mrs Humbly, Mr Frank etc.
“All my academic certificates are in the public domain. Whether they are genuine or forged are verifiable matters.
“If these certificates exist and have not been altered in any manner, it would mean they are genuine. The next enquiry would then be if the names appearing thereon belong to me or belong to some other persons.
“If no other persons can be found who claim the names in the certificates then they are mine.”
He said the apex court could ask law enforcement agencies to investigate the matter so as to have his name cleared of the allegation.
“Judges including justices of the supreme court are free to request law enforcement agencies to investigate persons who appear before them as to the commission or otherwise of crimes,” he said.
“All the educational qualifications I presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission to aid my constitutional qualification were acquired by me personally from institutions here in Nigeria which are still in existence till date. The records are verifiable anytime and any day here in Nigeria.”
“As a lawmaker, I have enormous regard for the judiciary. I am aware that my party has headed to Supreme Court for a review of the judgment.
“By the grace of God, our second journey to the Supreme Court will end in celebration.”