The Senate has said it cannot declare the seat of Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo vacant despite the certificate forgery saga he is currently embroiled in.
The Supreme Court sacked Degi-Eremienyo as the Bayelsa deputy governor-elect a day to his inauguration after he was indicted for submitting fake educational certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ahead of the November 2019 governorship election.
But in spite of the apex court’s ruling, the Senate said it lacks the power to remove the senator and declare his seat vacant.
According to Godiya Akwashiki, the Senate’s spokesperson, the Supreme Court did not address the issue of his senatorial status while delivering judgment on the Bayelsa governorship election.
“The process of declaring somebody’s seat vacant is in three stages based on the provisions of the law.
“It is either by death; If his constituents demand his recall, or if any court of law, (tribunal, appeal, or Supreme Court), ordered that INEC should withdraw their certificate of return.
“In this situation, the judgment did not say anything about his (Degi-Eremienyo’s) senatorial seat,” Akwashiki told the Punch.
“The judgment only addressed the issue of the Bayelsa State governorship election.
“Also in the case of Degi-Eremienyo, he has not taken any oath of allegiance.
“The oath of allegiance that he took in the Senate still subsists since the Supreme Court did not mention his seat at the Senate in its judgment.
“For now, the Senate cannot do anything about his seat. He is still, a democratically elected member of the Senate.”
Akwashiki, however, justified the decision of the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, to declare the seats of the governor (Douye Diri) and deputy governor (Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo) of Bayelsa State vacant.
The Senate spokesperson said the action was necessary because the duo, who were serving senators before the Supreme Court pronouncement, had taken oaths of office during their inauguration at the National Assembly.
He said, “The Senate President acted according to the law because, both Duoye and Ewhrudjakpo cannot take oaths of office twice.”