All Eyes on Bayelsa Today as Politicians Urge Contestants to Abide by INEC’s Guidelines

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•PDP claims 5 of its supporters killed in pre-election day violence

By Ndubuisi Michaels with agency report

‎Some politicians on Friday urged contestants in the Bayelsa governorship supplementary election to adhere to the electoral rules and guidelines for a hitch- free exercise.

This came as the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) last night claimed that five of its supporters had been killed by suspected thugs of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in a pre-election day violence.

The politicians told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews in Lagos that strict adherence to the rules guiding the electoral process would help to avert violence.

Dr Yunusa Tanko, the National Chairman of the National Conscience Party (NCP), in an interview with NAN, urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide a level playing ground for all contestants.

“Open transparency to all is the key issue. For example, when you bring in materials for the election, ensure that all the contesting political parties have authentic information as regards the to the materials that are being brought.

“And at the time in which they are being brought; publicise it. That will build confidence.

“When you bring in security apparatus to come and look and provide security for the election, ensure that every political party that is contesting have access to those particular security agencies.

“Ensure that the voters register and everything is clean as possible so that everybody that has registered can easily see his or her own name.

“Make logistics easy for both INEC and the security men, ensure the NYSC people who are going to work are remunerated accordingly; that way it would deter them from collecting money or being bribed.

“INEC should not be partisan so that by the time a winner emerges, all of us will embrace each other and be sure that the election was free and fair.’’

In a separate interview with NAN, Chief Olatunji Shelle, Lagos State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), advised the commission to resist external interference in the discharge of its responsibility.

“My advice first goes to the politicians that they should conduct themselves properly, follow INEC’s guidelines; there should be no violence.

“People from Abuja should not come and interfere with the election in Bayelsa State; the few areas where they are going to hold election now are riverine areas that are not accessible to everybody. They will need a lot of policing.

“On the part of INEC, it should be seen to conduct the election properly, they shouldn’t take sides, they have a very small area to cover.

“Though the terrain is bad, there is a lot they can do.

“Every result at every polling booth can be documented therein and sent to the collation centre on time.

“Let them go strictly by the card readers they have promised that they will use, whosoever does not have a voter card should not be allowed to vote so that everything can go on peacefully.’’

Also speaking in an interview with NAN, Mr Abiodun Salami, the Lagos State Assistant Publicity Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC), expressed the hope that the electorate will show sincerity in their voting.

“From INEC, I expect transparency and from voters not just politicians in Bayelsa State I expect honesty and sincerity so that everything can go peacefully for a winner to emerge in accordance with the tenets of democracy.’’

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NAN reports that the supplementary election would only hold in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state where INEC cancelled the exercise owing to eruption of violence.

In the Dec. 5 election, the PDP governorship candidate, Mr Seriake Dickson, was leading in the six out of the seven local governments whose results were declared by INEC while the APC candidate won in only one local government.

The election was inclusive because the Southern Ijaw Local Government has the largest number of polling stations and the results from the area could determine the winner of the election‎.

Meanwhile, Bayelsa State last night came under siege as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) claimed five of its supporters might have been killed in attacks by thugs of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.

The PDP raised the alarm following massive gun shots reportedly unleashed on its supporters in Nembe Bassambri by APC thugs leaving in its wake five dead bodies and others sustaining various degrees of injuries.

The state police command was yet to disclose the identities of the victims as those injured were seen being rushed to Yenagoa, the state capita, for urgent medical attention last night.

In a statement condemning the development, Bayelsa State PDP last night said the attack on its members was ‘barbaric and mindless’ just as it decried the ‘militarization’ of the polls.

Spokesman of the Restoration Campaign Organisation, Jonathan Obuebite, noted in the statement that the situation in Nembe,Ekeremorr and Southern Ijaw was particularly worrisome, adding that activities of the alleged thugs had created “a verytensed atmosphere and regrettable”.

He further stated : ”It is unfortunate that the thugs are allowed to move about freely bearing dangerous and sophisticated arms without any form of interrogation by the security agencies.  Even more disturbing is the fact that these mindless and blood thirsty criminals are allowed to carry on with impunity without any arrest or invitation by the police or DSS”.

It was gathered last night that a notorious militant leader, General Ogunbos, in company with other militants were on rampage in Ogbombiri , Southern Ijaw, holding the police and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) hostage and had taken possession of sensitive electoral materials meant for the rerun election.

General Ogunbos was said to be threatening peaceful conduct of the polls as people in the community were also said to be very terrified because the police themselves were helpless.

“The police here witnessed all the criminalities being perpetrated by Ogunbos and his men but they looked dejected and helpless. No action was taken against them, disturbing the peace. It is certain given the level of violence and mayhem being unleashed on the eve of the supplementary election that the election tomorrow (Saturday) will be completely marred if the security agencies fail to take more purposeful action to deal with the deteriorating situation”, said a community leader who pleaded anonymity.

The PDP on its part called on the police and other security agencies to forthwith step up to their responsibility by taking charge of the situation and put a stop to the “brigandage, gangsterism and thuggery of the APC in the state”.

As at the time of filling this report, the PDP youths in the affected community were making efforts to call for security reinforcement from the military but it could not be ascertained if such intervention had yielded fruit.

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