Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and former Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva has distanced him from the recent protests by some unknown persons at the home of Justice Mary Odili, following the February 13, Supreme Court judgement that overturned the governorship victory of David Lyon and the All Progressives Congress, APC on the grounds of alleged multiple identities in the certificates presented to INEC by the APC running mate, Degi-Eremienyo, for the election.
The Minister’s denial of involvement, which was contained in a press statement signed personally by him, is in response to allegations by the Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike that both Timipre Sylva and APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, should be held responsible for the protest at the home of Justice Odili and her husband and former Rivers governor, Dr. Peter Odili.
It could be recalled that a five-man panel of the Supreme court, led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili, had nullified the election victory of the All Progressives Congress’ candidates who had been declared winners of the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa state and ordered INEC to issue fresh certificates to the candidates of the party with the next highest votes and with the required constitutional spread of votes in the results of the election, which are the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidates, which turned out to be the PDP.
Though Justice Mary Odili had been the head of the panel, it was Justice Ejembi Ekwo, who read the lead judgment of the apex court and made the orders after disqualifying the APC deputy governorship candidate, Degi-Eremienyo, as a candidate in the election and upholding the November 12, 2019 judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which had disqualified Degi-Eremienyo in the election on the grounds that he presented false information about his educational qualifications in his Form CF001 submitted to INEC as a candidate for the 2019 election.
Timipre Sylva, in his statement, disclosed that he held the Odilis in very high esteem to even contemplate such an action and while hinting that Governor Wike may be not be completely exonerated from the sponsorship of the protest, himself chided the Rivers governor thus: “Those whose palm kernels were cracked for them by benevolent spirits should not forget to be humble.”
The full statement by the Minister is published below:
SYLVA: COUNT ME OUT OF PROTESTS AT THE ODILIS.
I returned yesterday, February 19th, 2020, from an official engagement abroad to read Governor Nyesom Wike’s statement: to the effect that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and I are responsible for protests in front of Governor Peter and Justice Mary Odili’s house. There is no truth in that strange claim.
Governor Wike should know in what high esteem I hold Governor Peter and Justice (Mrs) Odili whom I have known and worked with long before Governor Wike came into the picture. It will not occur to me to malign the person and image of people I hold up as role models.
I hope Governor Wike or those working with him have not organized this protest with the intention of hanging it on our neck. To incense the Supreme Court towards us, knowing that we intend to approach the Supreme Court again.
What Governor Wike is doing is akin to deciding a matter bordering on criminality by way of Originating Summons where the issues have not been investigated and the accused given an opportunity to defend himself. Why will a Governor hasten to conclusions? If this is not adding salt to injury, what is?
I have been so numbed by the events of February 13th that I could not even contemplate any other course of action than to approach the Supreme Court again. I am a man of peace and would not support any action that can cause a breach of the peace.
I have had several encounters with the Supreme Court of Nigeria since 2012. I have never, at any time, attempted to protest their judgment. You know how difficult it is for an old dog to learn new tricks. Why will I now?
On the issue of securing Governor Peter and Justice (Mrs.) Mary Odili, I have this to say: Governor Wike as Governor of Rivers State has the duty to protect all Rivers people including the Odilis. I hope he has lived up to this duty creditably. It is for Rivers people to judge. As for the threat to me, ultimately it is God that secures not man or even a Governor.
Let me conclude with these words for Governor Wike: “Those whose palm kernels were cracked for them by benevolent spirits should not forget to be humble.”
H.E. CHIEF TIMIPRE SYLVA
Former Governor of Bayelsa State and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources
February 20, 2020