There are heightened fears that some politicians in and outside Bayelsa State are grooming some youths that will serve as field soldiers before, during and after the November 11 gubernatorial election.
This is coming after a group, the Jagaban Army, announced its readiness to storm Bayelsa State ahead of the election and work towards the victory of its preferred candidate. The group claims to have its brigade commands in all parts of the country, including Bayelsa.
A flyer which has been in circulation in various online platforms shows the promoters of the group taking salute in a para military attire. Also on the flyer is a message to the effect that the group will be working for the candidate of the APC, Chief Timipre Sylva and his running mate, Great Joshua Maciver.
In some social media platforms, respondents have expressed the fear that the Jagaban Army may just be a pseudonym for a rag tag army being put together to cause mayhem in the state. Some commentators alleged that there were plans to sew military uniform for their members in Bayelsa.
They said considering the kind of violence that usually trail elections in the state, there was so much to fear concerning the plans of the group.
There were also concerns about the connection between Jagaban, a title ascribed to the president, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and an army that is not known to law. Some also said the name of the organisation was strange and never heard of during the last general election.
For example, a rights activist, Morris Alagoa said even during the general elections, he never heard of the Jagaban Army, except that Tinubu had urged his party members to fight hard and grab power, before the February 2023 elections.
While expressing shock over the emergence of the group and what they are out to achieve, Alagoa said “I won’t clap for the so-called Jagaban army of youths…except they(are) meant to go about it democratically by convincing the electorate to vote for their candidate and not via application of violence or intimidation.
When pressed to speak further, he said “let those eating from the political parties as SSA, SA, etc, etc respond.”
Last week, Mr Zikepnah T. Coker, known to be the state secretary of the Jagaban Army in Bayelsa, issued a press statement announcing their plans ahead of the election. Coker, who is also known as the brigade secretary, said “the National Youth Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Hon Dayo Israel have directed all members of the Jagaban Army in Bayelsa State Brigade to go all out to deliver Chief Timipere Sylva and Joshua Maciver in the forthcoming November 11th 2023 Guber election.”
In the statement which was laced with bad grammar, Coker said the official “gave the directive via text message he sent by himself to the state Brigade watshapp platform. His words: Please go all out for Sylva/Maciver, deliver your pulling units and streets for our party candidate, I will be live in bayelsa with the Jagaban army to canvas support for the candidate. The National Youth Leader also assures of his total support to the bayelsa state brigade command.
“Jagaban Army is a campaign council of the APC Youth wing, formed by the National Youth Leader. Hon Dayo Israel with structures across the country to canvas support for President Bola Tinubu and other candidates during the 2023 Election.
“In a statement by the secretary of Jagaban Army Bayelsa State Brigade Mr Zikenah Tunks Coker….We are aware of the develish mechanism of the PDP government that have resorted in creating fall’s narratives about our party Candidate and it Deputy, spreading campaign’s often built on falsehood. But unfortunately the voting masses in the state can decipher between truth and falsehood, the masses also know that the PDP is just a expiring political party.
“The Jagaban Army Bayelsa State Brigade shall deploy all electioneering weapon to tear through the PDP rigging machine in the next Guber election. We are not moved by there disinformation campaign’s.”
On Monday, TNN engaged Coker in an online interview. He was asked to provide information on the registration status of the organisation, but he referred our reporter to the national youth leader, after sending a full list of those they call commanders and soldiers in the Jagaban Army.
When he was interrogated further on the registration issue, he responded thus: your(sic) funny, whatever that meant. But he said there was no cause for alarm as no member of the group was capable of carrying arms to cause violence on election day.