Bayelsa Poll: Corps Members Trapped | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Bayelsa Poll: Corps Members Trapped

Posted: Dec 8, 2015 at 7:45 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

*INEC, APC differ on poll cancellation

*PDP vows to defend mandate, berates military

Amid violence that marred the Bayelsa State governorship election on December 5 and 6, some National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members that served as Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) adhoc staff are still being trapped in some troubled areas in the state. INEC declared the election inconclusive yesterday after it cancelled the rescheduled election in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.

New Telegraph learnt that security agencies are making spirited moves to retrieve the corps members from the volatile areas. A security source informed New Telegraph that the whereabouts of some of the NYSC members are still unknown.

The source added that some of the ad hoc staff sustained injuries while others were abducted in the attacks masterminded by party thugs and ex-militants doing the NYSC-membersbidding of their sponsors in the eight local government areas of the state. Governor Seriake Dickson confirmed the development last night while speaking with journalists.

“As we speak, we are in the process of working with community leaders and other partners to identify and retrieve youth corps members who were put in danger for no fault of theirs.

“I like to use this opportunity to also commend them, these young wonderful Nigerians who came here to serve their fatherland. I want to assure them and all stakeholders who will participate in the rescheduled election and other activities that Bayelsa will continue to be home to them. The government of Bayelsa appreciates their sacrifice and will continue to partner with them to make our nation a better place,” Dickson said.

Meanwhile, the INEC and the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) have differed on the cancellation of the rescheduled governorship poll in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. But Governor Dickson, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, applauded the electoral commission for the cancellation of the election in Southern Ijaw.

However, the APC governorship candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva, rejected the cancellation of the poll. INEC had earlier announced the cancellation of polling in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area in Saturday’s governorship election in Bayelsa. Announcing the cancellation at a news conference in Yenagoa, Baritor Kpagih, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), said the exercise was substantially marred by some irregularities and violence.

Dickson has won in six of the seven local governments so far declared while Sylva won in one local government – Brass. Addressing journalists in Yenagoa, the state capital, Sylva said INEC had no power to cancel the election that had been concluded and the result being awaited. “APC will not take this cancellation.

The REC has no power to cancel an election that has taken place. It is only a returning officer that has power to cancel an election,” he said. The APC flag bearer said he would challenge the INEC’s decision in court. Sylva accused the REC of working for the PDP.

He said: “The election of Southern Ijaw was held on the 6th. The results were coming on the 7th after the election had been concluded. The REC did not cancel it when it was being conducted. “It was when the REC discovered that the results were not going to favour the PDP that he decided to cancel it, citing violence. If Southern Ijaw is to be cancelled, then election in other local government areas where there was violence should also be cancelled,” he said.

The former governor said there was no basis isolating the election in Southern Ijaw while election in Nembe, Ekeremor, Sagbama, Yenagoa and Ogbia local government areas was marred by violence. According to him, militants took over Ekeremor amid sporadic shooting at the home of the Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, while election was going on, on Saturday December 5.

“Yet, election still went on and the results collated and announced because it favoured the PDP,” Sylva said. He noted that if the APC had won the election in Ekeremor, the poll result would have been cancelled. “In Sagbama, there were no electoral materials. PDP thugs snatched the materials, wrote the results and it was accepted because it favoured the PDP.

“The same thing applied in some parts of Nembe, Yenagoa and Ogbia. We raised the alarm, reported the matter, but our complaints were set aside because the PDP won. This whole election was set up for the PDP to win. I wonder why the APC was allowed to contest it,” the APC candidate said.

Speaking to newsmen in Yenagoa yesterday, Governor Dickson said the decision to hold the election on Sunday by INEC was ill advised. He commended Bayelsans for their resilience at ensuring that truth prevailed.

He expressed regret over the killings and abduction of INEC’s ad hoc staff and corps members in Southern Ijaw area of the state. His words: “I want to use this opportunity to commend INEC at last for taking the right decision. Let me say that it is regrettable that if INEC and the relevant authorities had taken my advice, as Chief Security Officer of the state, the incident would have been avoided. “They didn’t listen to the honest advice that I gave to them, otherwise, the decision to hold that election on Sunday was ill advised. Regrettably, a lot of people have suffered inconvenience, and a lot of public resources have been expended.”

The PDP also commended “the courage of the people of Bayelsa State in fearlessly curtailing APC’s rigging machinery,” which led to the cancellation of the elections.

PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, said but for the bravery of Bayelsans in standing up for their votes against the hordes of harassments by the military and other security forces allegedly working for the All Progressives Congress (APC), their will as a people would have been completely subverted in the election.

“We condemn, in the strongest possible term, the wanton confiscation and transfer of voting materials by security operatives directly to APC agents for outright allocation of votes.

“For the purposes of the rescheduled Southern Ijaw election, we wish to make it abundantly clear that we are ready, willing and able to defend the choice of the people.

“Never again will this leadership of the PDP allow our party candidates to be manipulated out of any election at any level. In that regard, we have activated our structures across the country to defend our mandate always, with all force and means available in a democracy,” the statement added.