Ballot snatching, violence, protests mar Bayelsa gov poll

By AdvocateNews on 17/11/2019

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Gov Seriake Dickson speaking with Journalists after voting in the election Saturday
Gov Seriake Dickson speaking with Journalists after voting in the election Saturday

The governorship election held in Bayelsa State, Saturday was marred  by snatching of electoral materials, violence, protests and late arrival of materials at polling units across the eight local government areas of the state.

In some polling units, thugs took advantage of the security lapses  to unleash mayhem on voters, party agents and Independent National Electoral Commission officials.

In other polling units, heavy security presence, it was learnt, also had its adverse effect on the election as some of the voters were not allowed to vote.

Soldiers stopped me from voting –Tricycle operator

A commercial tricycle rider in Yenagoa, the state capital, Simon Ogu, said he was prevented from getting to his polling unit at Ekeki by some soldiers, who told him to come out of his tricycle and trek a distance to where he was to vote.

Corps member feared missing as thugs attack polling unit in Bayelsa

In Opolo,  there was panic among corps members over the disappearance of their colleague during the election.

The corper, who has yet to be identified, was said to have gone missing when a group of thugs loyal to one of the two major political parties, attacked a polling unit in the area.

Some of the corps members explained that the hoodlums stormed the polling unit at 1pm and began to threaten INEC officials.

One of them, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some of them were saved by some agents of another political party, who called the attention of security operatives to the incident.

At Bishop Dimieari Grammar School in Opolo, a police officer, Edohie Ordu, ordered the arrest of a party agent for trying to fight at the point where security personnel planned to find a solution to a report of a missing ad hoc INEC staff member.

All entreaties on the police to release the party agent fell on deaf ears as they (policemen) forced the party agent into a waiting Hilux van, which later sped off to a nearby police station.

Thugs brandish weapons in Bayelsa community

Still in Opolo, youths suspected to be loyal to one of the two major political parties brandished weapons which scared voters away from their polling units, even as the development delayed the distribution of materials to other communities in the area, including Etegwe and Biogbolo.

Some journalists and election observers fled when they saw armed youths coming close to them in Opolo.

Voting materials set ablaze in Jonathan’s LGA

Angry residents  set voting materials ablaze in one of the wards in the Ogbia Local Government Area, Otuoke, where former President Goodluck Jonathan comes from.

Anambra State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Nkwachukwu Orji, who is in charge of the Bayelsa State governorship poll in the Ogbia LGA, disclosed this in an interview with one of our correspondents.

Orji said apart from the ugly incident, the polls in the area were peaceful.

Women protest, allege disruption of voting

Also, a group of women protested in Yenagoa, alleging that some thugs working for the All Progressives Congress disrupted the exercise in some parts of Yenagoa.

One of the placard-carrying protesters, identified as Miss Oboh, said her younger brother, Mr. Kafu Oboh, was abducted by thugs loyal to the APC.

I’m disappointed in our electoral system – Jonathan

Expressing his disappointment over the late arrival of INEC officials and election materials in Otueke, Jonathan said he was at his polling unit in Ward 13, Unit 39 at Otazi Playground at 8.19am without anyone to attend to him.

He stated that Nigeria had no reason not to get her electoral processes right, adding that many African countries had been able to maintain a good electoral system.

He said, “We must conduct ourselves if we want to bring real people to rule us either as president or governors. Nigerians are always blaming people in authority and the leaders, so here they must blame themselves.

“I was around at 8:19am, but the materials have yet to arrive in the polling unit. I have led election monitoring teams to other African countries; we used to go there 30 minutes before the time and in our reports, we indicated the exact time when the vote started.

“So, for election to start after that time, it is an indictment of the electoral body that manages election. There is no reason the election here should not start by 8am.

Dickson wants INEC to cancel elections in areas thugs hijacked materials

Governor Seriake Dickson, on his part, accused the security agencies of conniving with the APC to rig the governorship election and called on INEC to cancel the results of the elections in areas where voting materials were allegedly hijacked by APC thugs.

He listed the areas as  Nembe and the Southern Ijaw. He stated, “They (APC)  also have the Nigerian Army and rogue elements of the police force working in concert with them to deny the citizens of these communities their right to vote. So as we are speaking, in our country, in this day and age,  gun-wielding militia men, with the aid of security forces,  have overrun the election officials and most of the electoral officials in the  Southern Ijaw.

“These officials,  as we speak, have been  kidnapped and held hostage. This has been what we have been managing since 2015 with the APC at the centre, not caring about the lives and dignity of our people. The APC at the centre are too hungry and determined to make Nigeria a one-party state.”

He called on  President Muhammadu Buhari to do something. Dickson stated, “This is not democracy. What is going on in Bayelsa in the name of an election is not  democracy.

GOC connived with APC to rig Bayelsa poll –Dickson

Also,  the governor said that because of the desperation of the Federal Government, the GOC 6 Division, Port Harcourt, Gen. Jamil Sarham,  was deployed in Bayelsa State to ensure that the state was delivered to the APC whether the people voted or not.

Dickson said Sarham had been   transferred to the Nigerian Defence Academy  as commandant.

He stated, “I wonder what lessons he will be giving to those young cadet officers. Gen Sarham has defied   his transfer order and has stayed back to complete his mission of rigging Bayelsa for the APC.

Reacting, the acting Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Major Charles Ekeocha, challenged Dickson to provide evidence of his claim.

Ekeocha said, “If you are in Bayelsa, did you see the GOC there? But the thing is let the person tender evidence so that you will know whether to agree or not to agree.”

Allegations against us false – Bayelsa APC

The state acting APC Chairman, Mr Ebierein Etubo, denied the allegations levelled against the party by the PDP as false, adding that they had no thugs that would attack anybody during  elections.

He stated, “We know the antics of the PDP and they cannot go through suppression anymore. So, the people came out en masse to vote.

“We didn’t attack anybody.  We don’t have thugs. Nobody went out to attack any PDP person. We campaigned and the people have seen that we are coming to develop Bayelsa State.

Election better conducted than 2015 Bayelsa gov poll –Sylva

Also, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, decried the situation in the Sagbama and the Ekeremor local government areas, just as he added that the 2019 governorship election was better than the exercise conducted four years ago.

Speaking after voting at his polling unit at Okpoama in the Brass Local Government Area, Sylva said, “I have voted and it is a peaceful election in  Ward 4, Okpoama. As you can see, I have been confined to my ward and election has been smooth so far.

“I heard that there are a few skirmishes here and there in Sagbama and Ekeremor. I have not heard of any other problem here in Bayelsa State. As for INEC, they have been progressively improving and every year,  the processes are improving."

In his remarks after voting  at Olugbobiri  in the Southern Local Government Area, the APC governorship candidate, David Lyon,  described the election process as peaceful, saying INEC did a better job.

Cancel election in troubled areas -Diri

But the Bayelsa PDP governorship candidate, Senator Douye Diri, called on INEC to invoke its powers and cancel elections in areas where electoral fraud and violence occurred.

Diri also cautioned the security agencies to remain neutral and be professional in their duties to ensure a free, fair and election.

He stated “I can only speak about my ward, unit and the reports I have received in my local government area. The election is going on smoothly. Here I have just voted and the voting process is orderly.

“However, I have reports of pockets of electoral fraud committed by the APC, coming on with thugs to hijack electoral materials and preventing the PDP members from voting.

“I have raised the red flag about Nembe-Bassambiri and the report I have is that no PDP agent is allowed to go to Nembe-Bassambiri. At Enewari, the report I have is that the APC went with thugs; at Opolo the report I have is that the APC went there with thugs.  We are monitoring the process.

“We are calling on the umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission,  to be alive to its duties because we have received reports from other wards and local government areas. Where they need to invoke their powers, they should invoke their powers of either not accepting cooked up results or where materials have been hijacked.” --Punch

Posted 17/11/2019 08:17:58 AM


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