The governor of Bayelsa state, Mr. Seriake Dickson has alleged that a former governor and leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state, Chief Timipre Sylva was conniving with the military and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to write fake results for the state house of assembly elections.
The governor made the allegation after casting his vote at his Toru-Orua village in Sagbama Local Government Area of the state.
The governor alleged that reports reaching him indicated that the APC, with the help of federal institutions deployed to the state to supposedly protect the electorate, rather prevented them from voting in several communities.
He said during the state assembly election, those who were ready to vote PDP candidates were disenfranchised at Okpoama in Brass Local Government, Peremabiri in Southern Ijaw and Basambiri in Nembe Local Government areas.
Describing the act as barbaric and undemocratic, the governor blamed the state Resident Electoral commissioner for failing to act according to the electoral guidelines.
"The APC is working with the military to overpower electoral officials to cart away materials and rewrite results and the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, has not demonstrated the courage and competence to respect the electoral guidelines", the governor lamented.
He called on the people to remain calm and resolute in the face of the alleged intimidation and harassment by soldiers, ensuring that his administration would seek redress in the appropriate manner.
The governor decried the militarization of the Niger Delta during elections and enjoined the people to rise and defend their democracy.
Sylva fires Dickson
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state has advised the PDP and Dickson to do the needful by going to the court to seek redress rather than always crying wolf.
The position of the APC is contained in a statement signed by its state Publicity Secretary, Mr. Doifie Buokoribo on the state assembly election held on Saturday.
He said Dickson had used state resources to buy votes in past elections and was determined to do same on Saturday, at a time when the state was having difficulty with payment of workers' salaries.
“He is also using state funds to arm political thugs and other lawless elements across the state, especially in areas where he is unpopular and has no social base. These thugs and lawless elements are working with his terror squad, Operation Doo Akpo. The irony of it is that as he is busy engaging in this ungodly act, he will be the one shouting that our party has perfected plans to cause mayhem in the state,” Buokoribo said of Dickson.
He called Dickson a “lawless governor”, saying, “Not only does he suffer from a persecution complex, he plays the victim card when he is actually the aggressor.
“As our people go out to vote this Saturday, we urge them to know that voting out the PDP and Governor Dickson's anointed candidates is a task that must be done. The only way Dickson and his party can win this election is by playing outside the rules.”
The APC spokesman lashed out at the governor for setting up a “strange Judicial Commission” on electoral violence with APC members as clearly marked out targets. He advised members of the party not to have anything to do with the panel.
Ahead of Saturday's House of Assembly elections in the state, Buokoribo urged the new Commissioner of Police, Mr. Olushola David, who was posted as Command CP to supervise the polls, to be neutral in the discharge of his duties.
APC has come to stay in Bayelsa
The statement reads in part: “Until the emergence of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), there were no serious electoral contests along party lines in Bayelsa State. At that time, once you had the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), you were almost certain of victory in the main elections. It was in that sense that our state used to be referred to as a one-party state. That is now history.
“In 2015, we had only one member in the state House of Assembly. This was not because our suffering people did not vote APC. They desired change, and voted massively for us but we were robbed of our victory. Even in the last governorship election, the people of Bayelsa State were with us. What happened was that Governor Henry Seriake Dickson used our money, Bayelsa State's money, to buy his way to victory. Today, nobody can accuse the APC of not actually existing in Bayelsa State.
“In the last presidential elections, we gave President Muhammadu Buhari 37.5 per cent of the vote. We also secured one seat in the senate and two in the House of Representatives. We are convinced that without the rough and tumble that characterised that election, we could have done better.
“Part of the problem our party faces is that we have a lawless governor. Not only does he suffer from a persecution complex, he plays the victim card when he is actually the aggressor.
Dickson is buying votes with our money-APC
“We would, therefore, like to alert the world to the fact that Dickson is using Bayelsa State resources to compromise the elections. He used state resources to buy votes in the past. He is determined to do so again. Dickson is doing this at a time when the state is finding it difficult to pay salaries of its employees.
“The people of Bayelsa State have a duty not to allow Governor Dickson succeed with his evil plans to subvert their will. In this election, as in previous ones, we have seen the governor and the PDP engage the media for smear campaigns, fake news and psychological warfare. Only a few days ago, they claimed thugs loyal to the leadership of our party sacked mobile policemen and operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in Bassambiri-Nembe. They added that the community had become a ghost town as residents had fled to Yenagoa and Ogbolomabiri-Nembe as refugees. Sadly, they did not tell us the location of any Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp. Here, we must thank a section of the media who visited the community and did independent reports that challenged the picture painted by Governor Dickson and his party.
“Let us make it very clear here that this election will not be decided on the basis of a campaign of calumny, fake news and schizoid propaganda. We commend the people of Bassambiri-Nembe for standing up to Governor Dickson. Come Saturday, he will be decisively defeated.
Sylva kicks over Election Probe panel
“Following the Presidential and National Assembly elections, Governor Dickson established what he called a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate the violence that marked the exercise. Now, Dickson is a major player and beneficiary of the general elections. Yet, he is inaugurating a Commission of Inquiry. This is clearly against the rules of natural justice. A man cannot be a judge in his own case. More than that, the general elections were federal elections governed by the Electoral Act. As a matter on the Exclusive Legislative list, the state government has no role to play. On these grounds, we reject Governor Dickson's Judicial Commission of Inquiry. Accordingly, the APC in Bayelsa State would like to advise its members not to have anything to do with the commission. The Electoral Act has already prescribed the relevant punishment for any offence that has to do with the elections. This strange Judicial Commission of Governor Dickson is a witch-hunt with our members as the target. Under Dickson, our members have always been victims of his needless aggression.
“We welcome the decision of the Federal Government of Nigeria to increase the presence of the armed and security forces in a number of states, including Bayelsa. In particular, we welcome the new Commissioner of Police, Mr. Olushola David, posted as Command CP to supervise the elections. We urge him to be neutral. On no account should Dickson's terror outfit, Operation Doo Akpo, be allowed to operate on Election Day. The outfit has no electoral function. Dickson had used the outfit in the past to compromise our elections.
Card Reader Embarrasses Jonathan's Mum
Mixed reactions are trailing the conduct of the state assembly election in the state.
Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Mr. Kombowei Benson expressed satisfaction with the relative peace that prevailed during the polls in Southern Ijaw.
The speaker described the electoral process at Korokorosei, his home community, as peaceful and orderly after he cast his vote at Ward 3, Unit 2.
Benson, however, bemoaned the attitude of some security operatives during the presidential and national assembly elections held on February 23.
Similarly, our correspondent observed that voting ended peacefully at Agbere, Odoni, Abuetor communities in Sagbama Local Government Area.
In Ogbia Local Government, the electorate defied the heavy downpour to exercise their franchise, though some voters complained of malfunctioning card readers.
For instance, the mother of a former president Goodluck Jonathan, Madam Eunice Jonathan was almost prevented from voting at Ward 13, Unit 39 in Otuoke community of Ogbia local government.
The card reader only authenticated her permanent voter's card but couldn't read her thumb but she was allowed to cast her vote.
While the polls were reported to be relatively peaceful in most parts of the state, the exercise was not devoid of rancour and ballot box snatching in some areas.
TNN reports that in ward 4, Unit 12, Kpansia in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state, armed hoodlums were reported to have attempted to snatch electoral materials but were chased by military men who arrived the area in a gunboat.
Miscreants were also reported to have invaded Ward 1, Unit 6 in Yenagoa and destroyed electoral materials while voting process was on but the Corp members were able to keep ballot papers safe until normalcy returned and voting resumed.
At unit 16, ward 4 at Yenizuegene in the state capital, a voter who refused to mention his name said hoodlums caused a breach of peace when they attempted to cart away electoral materials.
Also, election came to an abrupt end at unit 12, ward 4 in Agudama community with the snatching of ballot boxes.
APC Grabs four Assembly Seats
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has maintained its leadership in the state house of assembly after the election that held on Saturday across the 24 constituencies.
But the PDP failed to maintain a clean record, as the major opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, has already captured four out of the 16 seats that have been declared so far by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
In Brass Constituency 111, the incumbent deputy speaker of the state assembly, Mr. Ingobere Abraham of the PDP polled 6,551 votes to defeat his APC counterpart, Mr. Yousuo Oberiakuma who scored 2,142.
Brass constituency 11 was declared in favour of the APC candidate, Mr. Omubo Ayonatiminyo, having polled 10,958 to defeat the PDP candidate, Mr. Isou Andrew who had 6,833 votes.
In the meantime, the election of Brass constituency 1 was declared inconclusive.
For Ekeremor constituency 1, it is the immediate past chairman of the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, and candidate of the PDP, Mr, Tare Porri who was declared winner, after he got 7,239 to silence APC's Oguguer Bogdalon who gathered 3,945 votes.
However, in Ekeremor constituency 11, the candidate of the PDP and wife of the state governor had to fall for Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri's political might. Candidate of the APC, Mr, Wilson Ayakpo polled 17,428 to defeat the PDP candidate, Madam Grace Ekiotene who scored 11,184 votes.
In Ekeremor constituency 111, the incumbent member, Mr. Michael Ogbere proved superior as he scored 4,535 votes to put behind him, the candidate of the APC, Odudu Livinus who gathered 1,637 polls.
The incumbent member representing Nembe constituency 1, Mr. Ebi Ben Ololo was returned winner with 14,941 votes against the APC flagbearer, Mr. Derrick Omiediekuma who garnered 1,675 votes.
In Nembe constituency 11, Mr. Edward Irigha of the APC won with a wide margin. He secured a total of 8,167 votes to defeat the incumbent member, Princess Ingo Iwowari-Gold of the PDP who scored a paltry 401 votes.
In the same vein, INEC declared the APC candidate for Nembe constituency 111, Mr. Douglas Sampson winner, having scored 10,906 votes to overcome the PDP candidate, Mr. Orugbani Iti who got 301 votes.
The serving member representing Kolokuma/Opokuma constituency 1, Mr. Tonye Isenah of the PDP won the election for a third term with 7,478 while his APC rival, Mr. Angalapele Inemotimi polled 3,805 votes.
Similarly, the PDP candidate for KOLGA constituency 11 Mr. Wisdom Fafi got 5,963 votes to edge out his opponent, Mr. Ikemike Olatari of the APC who had 2,697 votes.
In Sagbama constituency 1, One Oyinke Godbless of the PDP won the seat with 16,831 votes as against 957 votes scored by the APC candidate, Mr. Lucky Alex.
Victory in Sagbama constituency 11 also went to the candidate of the PDP, Col. Bernard Kenibai (rtd) who is the incumbent. He polled a total of 10,913 votes to overpower the APC candidate, Mr. Suefadoh Boloyi who had 2,425 votes.
The current lawmaker representing Sagbama constituency 111, Chief Salo Adikumo was declared winner by INEC with 9,028 votes to surmount his APC counterpart, Mr. Ebomu Goodluck who got 1,973 of the polls.
Yenagoa constituency 1 was declared in favour of the PDP candidate and immediate past caretaker chairman of Yenagoa Local Government Area, Mr. Oboku Oforji with a very wide margin. Oforji scored 26,012 while the APC candidate had 1,976 votes.
In Yenagoa constituency 11, the serving member of the House, Mrs. Koku Obiyai was announced winner after polling 6,346 against her APC rival, Mr. Waripamo Stephen who scored 2,998 votes.
Yenagoa constituency 111 also went the way of the PDP candidate, Mr. Elemefuro Teddy who secured 3,674 votes to win his opponent, Mrs. Jack Caroline of the APC who polled 974 votes.
As at the time of filing this report, the results of the three constituencies in Ogbia local government as well as the four constituencies in Southern Ijaw Local Government were yet to be announced officially by the electoral umpire, INEC.
However feelers have it that the incumbent member representing Ogbia constituency 1, Chief Mitama Obordor of the PDP was already coasting to victory.
The member representing Southern Ijaw constituency 11, Mr. Monday Bolo Bubou and candidate for Southern Ijaw constituency 1, Mr. Bonny Ayah all of the PDP were also said to be leading respectively.
In Ogbia Constituency 11, the incumbent member, Mr. Gabriel Ogbara of the African Democratic Congress, ADC, and his PDP counterpart, Mrs. Naomi Ogoli were said to be running neck-to-neck.