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Gov’ship Polls: APC In Early Lead In Bayelsa

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The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Bayelsa State governorship election, David Lyon, is leading in the result so far released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Also, the leading candidates in the Kogi gubernatorial election, APC’s Yahaya Bello and Musa Wada of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday showed strength in their senatorial districts.

LEADERSHIP Sunday reports that based on the unit results, APC is leading in most places in Bayelsa State.

It was gathered that the APC candidate was having an edge in Brass, Ogbia, Southern Ijaw, Nembe and in parts of the state capital, Yenagoa, while the PDP candidate, Senator Douye  Diri, was also leading in Sagbama, Kolokuma\Opokuma and Ekeremor.

It was noticed that the other 40 candidates could barely get votes in their polling units, as the majority of the votes cast yesterday went to APC and PDP.

However, the elections conducted in Kogi and Bayelsa states were marred by violence, ballot box snatching and vote buying.

In Kogi State, thugs attacked two journalists on election duty. Sam Egwu of LEADERSHIP Newspapers and Sunday Omachi of Radio Kogi were attacked at the Unity Roundabout, Ayingba area of the state.

The state commissioner of police, Akeem Busari,  who confirmed the incident, said the masterminds of the attack had been arrested.

Pockets of violence were experienced in Bayelsa State with staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on election duty reportedly abducted.

INEC national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr Festus Okoye said violence was not widespread,  adding that the commission will investigate the isolated cases.

INEC chairman’s spokesman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, also decried the outbreak of violence in some parts of Bayelsa and Kogi.

Oyekanmi said those that disrupted the election just wasted their time, adding that the commission can conduct the election in places without results.

“The extent of it is still being collated,” Oyekanmi said, adding that there were several areas in both states where the voting process went very well and the turnout was quite impressive.

“INEC did its best to persuade the political actors to abandon the path of violence and remove the not-too-good reputation attached to the two states as far as elections are concerned,” Oyekanmi said.

He stated that INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had urged political parties to keep the peace during stakeholders’ meetings and also led a strong team of officials to both Yenegoa and Lokoja on two occasions to meet with stakeholders and appealed to them to help INEC conduct peaceful elections.

On his part, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Bayelsa State, Pastor Monday Tom Udoh, said the violence was reported mostly in the Southern Ijaw area and a few other places.

During the election in Gbeleko ward in Kabba- Bunu local government area of Kogi West, there was open vote buying.

As a result, most of the youths were desperate to vote in order to collect the cash, a situation that made some of them force their way into the queue.

The vote buying was seen taking place openly despite the presence of police officers.

The  vote sellers will cast their ballot, show the ballot paper to some boys who will give them a paper in the form of a receipt with which to collect cash few metres away from the voting cubicle.

“Some boys are forcing people to vote for a particular party; that is why the line has been disrupted,” a young lady, who refused to give her name, said.At St Paul polling unit in Kabba area of Kogi west, thugs snatched ballot boxes.

In Kogi central, operators of Bureau De Change made bricks business as many trooped to their shops to exchange dollars with naira, money realised from vote selling.

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) including Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and YIAGA Africa also noted the extensive use of financial inducements to affect the outcome of the elections.

There were systematic and coordinated violent attacks at numerous polling units and the carting away of voting materials.

In many polling units, observers and journalists were blocked from taking photographs in what appears to be an attempt to prevent the gathering of evidence of electoral malpractices.

There were reported coordinated disruption of voting across many polling units with hired thugs invading Polling Units, shooting sporadically to scare away voters, and in several cases taking away voting materials.

“In Polling Unit 001 in Ward 4, Dekina LGA, CDD observers reported the sporadic gunfire. Violent disturbances caused by rival party thugs who battled each other over control of the polling environment was reported in Felele and Ganaja areas of Lokoja LGA, especially in Registration Area 08, Oworo, Felele Area, PU 004. In Ankpa 1 Polling Unit (PU) with number 2203-04-0 in Ankpa Local Government,” CDD report said insisting that security agents aided the violence in some places.

Ballot box snatching was also experienced in some places, especially in  Polling Unit 004 Ayingba (PMML Primary School, GRA) where the polling unit was attacked by thugs.

Meanwhile, CDD Election Analysis Centre (EAC) released the preliminary findings on the conduct and key processes of the November 16, 2019, Bayelsa Governorship election.

Speaking at the release of the preliminary findings, CDD director, Idayat Hassan, flayed what she described as a coordinated disruption of the voting process and the subsequent destruction of electoral materials by armed thugs.

Hassan noted that the widespread electoral malpractices such as the theft of ballot boxes, the abduction of INEC ad hoc staff and subsequent hijack of election materials as recorded in several parts of the state, calls to question the integrity of the electoral process.

She said: “The very daring way and the manner in which the political thugs disrupted the voting and destroyed materials in such a planned and coordinated sequence, takes everything away from the credibility of the process and its outcomes. In large numbers of polling units, the voting environment was so hostile and unsafe, thereby scaring away eligible voters, who would only come out to vote at the risk of losing their lives.”

The CDD helmswoman said the number of critical pitfalls recorded in the election make it impossible for it to pass the minimum test for credible elections.

“Similar incidents were recorded in Otuan Ward 5 Southern Ijaw LGA, where the election materials were hijacked by thugs. Voting was also disrupted after ballot boxes were hijacked in Yenizue Gene II, Polling Unit II in Yenagoa LGA. CDD EAC observers further reported incidents of sporadic gunfire in Opolo area of Yenagoa Local Government, with one person reported injured, while two persons were feared to have died after being shot.”

The CDD director further noted that data from EAC observers spotted  an incident of disruption of voting at Epie III ward, polling unit 001, where the election had to be cancelled.”

“The level of malpractices in this election was pervasive as reported by our CDD EAC observers on the ground. In Agbere community in Sagbama Local Government area, for instance, there were reports of a group of people thumb printing a significant number of ballot papers.”

Concerning INEC and the perennial logistics problems, CDD lamented that in many polling units, voting did not commence as at when due because of the very late arrival of election materials.

In other cases, the delay in the arrival of election materials had to do with clashes between rival party supporters at the Registration Areas Centres over how electoral materials should move. Those clashes, in some cases, led to the destruction of the electoral materials,” she said.

On the issue of vote-buying and trading, the CDD director said widespread cases were recorded in Tombia Community; in Yenagoa LGA, the two dominant parties, APC and PDP matched each other with the PDP buying votes for N7000, while the APC paid N8000. In Sagbama, between two and three thousand Naira was offered to voters.  In PU 24, Ward 2, CDD EAC observers reported seeing vote buyers and sellers using code words and sign language to indicate where to meet for payment after voting.

“In the light of these findings, there is no mistaking the fact that we are degenerating to a gunpoint democracy, where the democratic choices of the voters do not matter, and where the desperation of the political actors would use every vile tactic available to undermine the democratic ethos. We, therefore, have a lot of work to do as citizens,” she concluded.

Another CSO,YIAGA Africa, said reports on voter inducement and vote buying were observed across the LGAs.

Specifically, YIAGA Africa said voter inducement and vote buying were witnessed in Adavi (PU 001 Afinorere ward),  Ankpa (PU 010, Ward 01), Ibaji (PU 007, Itale Iyanu ward), Idah (PU 001, Ugwod ward),  Yagba East (PU 01, ward 08), Kogi K.K (PU 005, Ukwu ward) and Ajaokuta (PU 005, Deregu ward) LGA.  Voters were paid as much as N5,000 in some cases in exchange for their votes. The CSO said there were cases of voters by-passing the processes of accreditation.

At Aluaja, Iyano Ward in Ibaji LGA, INEC officials were given N15,000 and security agents N50,00 to compromise the process, according to YIAGA Africa.

Watching the Votes (WTV), a YIAGA Africa campaign, reported that card readers were not used for verifying or authenticating the PVCs and fingerprint of some voters, specifically 4 voters in PU 010 of Ward 01 (Ankpa Township Ward) in Ankpa LGA.

“Unknown men and party agents of some identified political parties were found to be attacking and intimidating voters in polling units of LGAs in Dekina (PU 017, Ward 12 and PU 001 Yashi), Lokoja (PU 001, Ward C), Ofu (PU 005, Ugwalawo ward), Ankpa (Ojokwu ward 3) and Igalamela/Odolu (PU 022, ward 08) LGA.

According to the group, WTV observers were beaten and their observation checklists destroyed, with the process degenerating to sporadic shooting in PU 027, Ayingba Etiaga, Dekina LGA.

YIAGA Africa said it also received reports of intimidation of journalists and sister election observer groups like Inclusive Friends, Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room and Search for Common Ground, in the full glare of security agencies who made no effort to forestall or reprimand the political thugs..

 

Condemnations Trail Nembe-Ogbolomabiri Clash Between APC,PDP Supporters

Politicians, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ijaw youths and the members of the Bayelsa State house of assembly have condemned in strong terms, Wednesday’s violent clash between supporters of the Peoples Demoractic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC) that led to the killing of eight persons including two policemen in Nembe-Ogbolomabiri community of Nembe local government area of the state.

Former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Timi Alaibe , in a statement he personally signed, stated that the level of unprovoked violence was unacceptable.

“On many occasions and as someone who has been in a position to fight against violence, I have asked these questions particularly as they concern my state: Why should a true Ijaw man murder a fellow Ijaw man just because he wants to win an election? Why should anyone procure arms and train people to kill their fellow human beings so as to pave way for their rise to power? Why would anyone desire to swim in the blood of fellow Bayelsa men and women so as to attain exalted political offices? This is not just an abomination but an aberration.

“From our recent history, we have witnessed detonation of explosives at political campaign grounds. Campaign offices and homes of political leaders and perceived political opponents have been burnt. You are aware that I was, more than once, a victim of such senseless attacks. The bloodshed and killings during elections are examples of disgraceful act of violence. They should never happen at all.

“Elections to public offices are supposed to be based on acceptability by the electorate. That acceptability is a product of popularity of ideas. Election must not be contested and won based on superiority of violence but on superiority of ideas. Ideas speak to the heart of the people. Ideas generate transformation. Violence brings about torture and death. The result of violence is bloodshed and tears.

“Elections must be contested and won based on the freewill of the voters. Voters must not be intimidated by threat of violence. We must resolve to depart from this path. Every democratic society is tailored after the ideological concept of freedom, welfare, equality, solidarity and progress.

“My position has always been that politics or election is not worth dying and killing for. It is not war. Seeking election to public office does not mean we should kill anyone who stands in our way. Seeking election to public office means convincing opposing elements with superior arguments. We must not kill the electorate to win election. We can only persuade the electorate to have their votes.

“Our people must not be killed because they want to elect leaders of their choice by exercising their constitutional rights. We as politicians must learn from the errors of the past. Enough is enough. I am on the side of free and fair election on November 16. I am on the side of election without violence. This is my position.

“It is therefore the duty of the security agents to rise to the challenge posed by the above scenarios. Our people cannot die so cheaply without those responsible being brought to justice. Enough is enough.”

Legal practitioners under the aegis of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA),Sagbama branch, described the bloody clash as unfortunate.

“As the  watch dog of  the society, we  condemn in strong terms the acts of violence by the yet to be identified gunmen, who sporadically fired live bullets into a crowd of people causing the death of many persons and leaving many others injured and lying in critical conditions in hospitals,” a statement from the  NBA said.

The statement signed by its chairman, Barr. Dise Sheila Ogbise-Erhisere, stated that , “To say the least, this act is most barbaric and inhuman, with no regard for human life. It should be noted that Section 33 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended provides that every person has a right to life and no one shall be deprived of his right to life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which the penalty is provided by law.

“The act of these unknown gunmen is criminal in nature and amounts to a gross violation of the fundamental right of the victims and we stand to condemn it in its entirety. We therefore call on the commissioner of police to begin investigation, arrest and prosecution of the culprits according to the law. The people of Nembe and all other critical political stakeholders should come together and help the security agencies apprehend these criminal elements.

“Political players are urged to desist  from every line of action that violates the right of Bayelsans as  they cast their votes on the 16th of November 2019.The government has a cardinal duty to protect the lives and properties of its citizens as guaranteed by the constitution especially during this gubernatorial elections and there is no better time to stand up to the occasion than now. Youths are also advised not to lend themselves for the perpetration of violence.

”As members of the NBA Sagbama branch, we shall monitor this case to its logical conclusion.We further call on Bayelsans not to be intimidated by that isolated case of violence but come out enmasse to cast their votes for their preferred candidate as the future of the state depends on it.May we also use this medium to condole with the bereaved families and the people of Bayelsa State for the loss, we pray that God will give their families the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss. May their souls rest in peace.”

Also commenting on the sad development, Ijaw youths under the aegis of the Movement of the Survival of the Ijaw Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND), condemned in strong terms the killings in Nembe local government area of Bayelsa State.

National secretary of the Movement of the Survival of the Ijaw Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND) , Amb. Winston Cotterel Amain, stated that the Nembe Kingdom has hitherto been violent until Mingi Xii brought back peace to the land,and wondered what has gone wrong, for Nembe kingdom to be thrown into this needless crisis.

The Niger Delta activist pointed out that the perpetrators of this heinous crimes got their wealth from the Nembe land and wondered why persons who had not gone out of the Nembe kingdom to hustle would be causing havoc to its ancestral heritage.

The MOSIEND national secretary further called on King Edmund Daukoru, Mingi Xii and his chiefs in council to, as a matter of urgency, banish Jonathan Obuebite, and Gabriel Jonah, or the chiefs in council should step aside and allow people with leadership capacities to take over the mantle of leadership in Nembe kingdom.

Amb. Winston Cotterel Amain further stated that no stone should be left unturned to ensure that the perpetrators of the heinous crimes were brought to book.

In the resolution of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, members condemned the violent clash and killing in Nembe local government area of the state.

The speaker, Rt. Hon. Monday Obolo, said that no political ambition can justify the killing and maiming of any person, adding that if voters were killed, there would obviously be no one to govern.

He, therefore, called on all politicians in the state to be tolerant of each other, emphasising that all parties had equal legitimacy to campaign within the state.

The speaker stated these following resolutions of the house that it condemned the dastardly murder of PDP members in Nembe during their rally.The house also called on the security agencies to redouble their efforts to ensure the security of lives and property in the area.

In addition, the house called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to cancel the election in Nembe.

The governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson, was also urged to impose a dawn to dusk curfew in Nembe, in addition to communicating to the presidency to invoke the necessary sections of the 1999 constitution, as amended, for the declaration of a state of emergency in the local government area.

This is following a motion for matter of public importance moved by Hon. Ben Ololo, member representing Nembe constituency 1.

According to Hon. Ololo, the mayhem was as a result of premeditated assault by APC members on PDP members who were there on political rally. He disclosed that, stones, bottles, guns and other weapons were freely used, to unleash the unprecedented terror, resulting in the destruction of lives and property.

Describing the scenario, Ololo said even as the rally was a constitutional prelude to actual casting of votes, he had a premonition that the Saturday 16, governorship election might lead to greater destructive tendencies resulting from the pandemonium.He also recalled that while four persons had died, over 20 had been hospitalised.

In their seperate reactions, Hon. Sunday Kenibai, Hon. Abraham Ngobere, Hon. Koku Obiyai, Hon. Tare Porri, condemned the dastardly act in its entirety, stating that there was no justification for the pain the hired thugs had caused the law abiding citizens of the area.

In reminiscence of previous incidences of political intolerance, leading to loss of lives and property, particularly during the 2015 presidential election, they expressed great displeasure with the condition of the state.

According to them, the developement  had been a dent on the political image of the state, stressing that most times PDP had always been defensive.

 

Guber Polls: Protect Your Votes, PDP Tells Kogites, Bayelsans

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the people of Kogi and Bayelsa states to remain at alert, resist all undemocratic elements and take all legitimate steps to protect their votes to the very end.

The party also charged INEC and security forces to ensure that nothing happens to the ballots at every level and that results reflect only the will of the people as expressed at the polling units.

The PDP, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, cautioned INEC to note that the people already know how they voted; they already know the outcome of the polls at the respective polling units, they already know how the parties are standing and, as such, will never accept any alternation of results at the collation level.

The party also called on the Inspector General of Police of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and the military high command to be patriotic by taking measures to assist and protect the people, in their quest to protect their votes.

The PDP charged security forces to check the agents of Governor Yahaya Bello and the APC, who the party accused of moving around collation centres with armed hoodlums and compromised security personnel, shooting and disrupting collation processes in their desperation to subvert the aspiration of the people.

“The IGP should therefore beef up security at the collation centres to ensure that only legitimate votes count. This is because any result that does not reflect the will of the people will surely not be accepted,” it said.

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