Palpable tension enveloped Bayelsa State, as Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday cancelled the results of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, following political violence, snatching of ballot boxes, intimidation, and physical attacks on INEC staff among others.
Declaring the election inconclusive while briefing newsmen in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Mr Baritor Kpagi said a lot of irregularities marred the polls, particularly in Southern Ijaw LGA, explaining that a new date would be fixed by the electoral umpire to determine the actual winner of the governorship poll.
According to the result so far released, the PDP is leading in six LGAs; Kolokuma/Ogoloma, Yenegoa, Sagbama, Ogbia Ekeremor, and Nembe, while the APC won in Brass LGA.
Details of the results in the six LGAs indicated that, in Yenagoa, APC scored 14,563 while PDP scored 24,258; Sagbama, scored APC, 5,382, while PDP scored 28,934.
Others arte; Brass, APC, 21,755, PDP 6,516; Ekeremor, APC 7,918, PDP14,602; Ogbia, APC,9,106, PDP,13051;and Nembe, APC, 6,974, PDP, 10,768.
There were, however, cases of cancelled elections in some units and wards throughout the LGAs in the state, mainly occasioned by political violence, snatching of ballot boxes, intimidation, physical attacks on INEC staff among others.
Party representatives in the elections, who alleged irregularities were advised by the INEC boss to send their petitions to the office, through the proper channel of communication, promising to give attention to any genuine complaint.
Dickson calls for immediate withdrawal of soldiers
Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson yesterday called for the immediate withdrawal of soldiers deployed to monitor the ongoing governorship election and accused them of colluding with the All Progressives Congress, APC and Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to rig election in seven wards in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.
Making the allegation during a live radio interview in Yenagoa, the governor said in spite of the calls by the stakeholders for postponement of the election as a result of the security challenges, which led to the death of no fewer than five persons, INEC went ahead without addressing the issue.
According to the governor, electoral materials meant for the election were distributed late in the night and subsequently hijacked by suspected APC thugs aided by military personnel.
He disclosed that some INEC ad-hoc staff and corps members are still being held hostage for failure to accede to the request of some APC chieftains in the affected wards.
Apart from intimidating and harassing eligible voters, members of the leading opposition party hide under the cover of darkness to perpetrate electoral fraud, which includes thumb printing of election materials and filling of the election result sheets.
Expressing concern over what he described as undemocratic act and a flagrant violation of the fundamental human rights of law abiding people of the state by the INEC officials and security operatives, Governor Dickson called for timely intervention of the international community to prevail on the Buhari-led Federal government to ensure fairness.
According to him, “what the Nigerian government is doing is a coup against democracy and subversion of my authority as governor and even of the peace and security of this state.
“If you asked, who is creating this mess, it is the APC led Federal government deploying for the first time the military personnel to humiliate and attack people and forcing them to vote midnight. It has never happened anywhere in this Country.
“They reason for this avoidable mess in Southern Ijaw is because by the calculation of the APC led government with tacit support of the military to forcefully hijack some election materials on that Sunday so that they can aid APC to write results without voting” he submitted.
Speaking in the same vein, the Acting National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus said the development is unacceptable, as it negates all known democratic norms, assuring the governor of the party’s support in fighting against political criminality and injustice.
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately call to order the Minister of Defence, Gen. Mohammed Dan Ali (rtd), the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai, the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase and the top brass of other security agencies.
His words, “we stand shoulder to shoulder with our governor and the good people of Bayelsa State. So far, so good, what we have heard from Southern Ijaw is shameful and this anti democratic measure being taking by the Federal government, asking the soldiers to conduct election is absolutely unacceptable.
“Elections have been conducted in all the other parts of the Country. I have not seen this type of invasion by the military. Our advice to Buhari and the Country is that the country is gradually sliding into a collapse democratically. He should tell the Minister of Defence and Chief of Army Staff that what they are doing in Bayelsa State is wrong and should be condemned.”
Police ban procession, rallies and demonstrations in Bayelsa
The Bayelsa state police command on Monday banned rallies, demonstrations, and all forms of procession, following a tip off.
A press release signed and issued by DIG Hashimu S. Argungu of the department of training and development, Bayelsa State police command said the police have information that some people were planning to “carry out illegal demonstrations” in the state.
“Information at our disposal revealed that some disgruntled elements are planning to carry out illegal demonstrations, procession and rallies.
“This form of conduct will jeopardize the ongoing electoral process. Therefore, the command warns the intending perpetrators to desist from such acts as it will deal decisively with any person or group of persons who wish to engage in any conduct that will compromise the existing peaceful atmosphere.”
The statement further advised members of the public to go about their normal businesses, as security agencies are poised to guarantee the safety of lives and properties.
Bayelsa PDP berates INEC, security operatives
It will be recalled that the Bayelsa state Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Sunday, condemned in strongest term the actions of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in neglecting the security of lives and property at South Ijaw Local Government Area.
The PDP Acting chairman, Chief Serena Dokubo Spiff, in a world press conference , in Yenagoa called on the international and national communities to X ray the attitude of INEC and security operatives assigned to cover the rescheduled Bayelsa state Governorship election.
He lamented the inability of the security operatives in not responding to his call, when he was in distress, when angry mobs barricaded his apartment and looted his properties and N700, 000 in cash only to turn up two hours later when the damage had already been done.
He said “PDP wishes to register it’s concern over the decision to conduct the governorship election in Southern Ijaw LGA, today, Sunday 6th December, 2015.
“Our position is based on the fact that, the issues of security of lives and electoral materials, which caused the shift of the exercise from yesterday, have still not been adequately addressed.
“For emphasis, yesterday’s orgy of violence perpetrated by All Progressives Congress, APC, tugs in the full glare of security agents resulted in the loss of 5 lives.
“For information, the majority of the indigenes of Oporoma, headquarter of SILGA and some other communities, are still taking refuge in the forest and swamps as a result of the heavy gunfire.
The heavy security situation has been confirmed to be even worse in the creeks and other communities in the area.
“The situation is still so tense, with gunshots heard in some parts of Oporoma and the major communities in the LGA, making it clearly impossible for any peaceful election to hold.
“It is therefore, our position that, adequate arrangements be put in place within the next couple of days to ensure security for voters, INEC advocate staff, including Youth Corps and materials, because lives have already been lost, it is crucial to take steps to ensure that more lives are not lost.”
He prayed the INEC, security agencies and other stakeholders to take the genuine fear into consideration, so that the people of Southern Ijaw can freely exercise their civic responsibilities.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Civil Society Organization, CSOs monitoring the election in the area in their interim report, stated that security agencies particularly the police did not deploy effectively, making it difficult for INEC to be provided adequate security to deploy personnel across the State.
This resulted in the failure of the elections to hold in the entire Southern Ijaw Local Government Area as well as in polling units and wards in Nembe, Brass and Ogbia Local Government Areas.
“There was late deployment of personnel and materials to various polling units across the entire state,” the statement said, adding that there were several incidents of failure of the card reader machines to authenticate fingerprints of voters.
“Political parties stoked the fires of violence in the State during this election leading to incidents of violent clashes between their supporters, occasioning deaths, injury and mayhem. The conduct of our observers also noticed incidents where political parties also brazenly dispensed cash to buy votes at polling units.
“There were also reports of voters who turned up in polling units, actively receiving cash for votes. We also received isolated reports of under-aged persons with voters’ cards in PU 06/03/07/010 in Opokuma North Ward of Opokuma Local Government Area.
They explained that their concern is about the lapses on the part of INEC and security agencies in the conduct of the election. The lack of synergy between INEC and the security agencies may have resulted in some of the challenges associated with the election, including late delivery of materials, security breaches and failure of election to hold in the identified local governments areas, wards and polling units.
Therefore, they called on INEC to evaluate the use of card reader technology in election with a view to improving on its efficiency and effectiveness and also call for investigation of all acts of violence and the arraignment and prosecution of all persons that have promoted or carried out violence in this election.
They noted that voting would continue in areas where they failed to happen on December 5, 2015 such as the whole of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and certain units in Nembe, Ogbia and Brass Local Government Areas and expects that every effort would be made to ensure full participation of all voters and electoral staff in order that everyone is given the opportunity of exercising their franchise.