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Political violence in Bayelsa: Hold Dickson responsible


The Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the weekend pointed out that Governor Henry Seriake Dickson was raising a false alarm about violence during the presidential and National Assembly elections in the state. The party said Dickson’s goal in shouting “violence” was to mask his own terror and lawlessness towards the polls.  The governor has since followed this up on Sunday with wild and unsubstantiated allegations against the Nigerian Army, the APC and its leadership, among others. Dickson specifically excoriated former Bayelsa State Governor and APC leader, Chief Timipre Sylva.

In Dickson’s court, Sylva and APC stalwarts are guilty of hijacking of electoral materials, killings - and even terrorism. Expectedly, the media has been awash with reports of “violence” by APC in parts of the state, particularly Twon-Brass and Bassambiri-Nembe.

We reiterate that the APC in Bayelsa State and its leadership had nothing whatsoever to do violence during last Saturday’s elections. Governor Dickson and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) should be held responsible.

This was what happened in Twon-Brass - according to an eyewitness account:

“The Caretaker chairman of Brass, Victor Isaiah, stormed INEC Collation Centre with a bus load of thugs, rents the air with war chants. Mrs. Marie Ebikake, the PDP candidate for Brass/Nembe Federal House of Representatives, accompanied Isaiah. They went into the collation room with the intent to stop the collation and announcement of results.

“Twon-Brass is the senatorial headquarters for Bayelsa East Senatorial district, and all election results from the area should be collated and announced in Twon-Brass and not Yenagoa where Victor Isaiah and Jonathan Obuebite (Bayelsa State Commissioner for Education), in connivance with the Nigerian Police, attempted to cart away election results to.

“Victor Isaiah, in the first instance had no business being inside the INEC collation office, as he was not a party agent. Nevertheless, he stormed the INEC Collation Centre with thugs to prevent the collation of results. His first attempt to prevent collation of results failed as he was ordered to leave the Collation Centre.

“Marie Ebikake tried to protest the results from Bassambiri-Nembe, insisting there was no election, this was countered by the INEC collation officer who insisted there was, and her PDP agent endorsed the Bassambiri-Nembe result. Marie Ebikake announced her intention to protest the result through a petition.

“As a candidate, Marie Ebikake wasn’t supposed to be in the collation room, but she appeared there twice trying to prevent the collation and announcement Bassambiri-Nembe result.

“Jonathan Obuebite threatened to beat INEC collation officer for refusing to compromise as desired by Mr. Obuebite.

“Victor Isaiah returns a second time, stormed the collation room in a fury, threatening fire and brimstone if the results are announced. Security personnel again ordered him out. On his way out of INEC premises, he blurted out these words, ‘Make dem leave us make we fight for only one hour’. He came to the collation centre spoiled for war.

“Security agencies ordered anyone who wasn't an INEC staff out of the collation room. This was directed at party agents. Jonathan Obuebite, Dickson’s Commissioner for Education, insisted on remaining, and said he was ready to die there.

“Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr. Kola Okunlola, seen making a phone call, later announced to the party agents and INEC staff that the results would be taken from Brass, the Bayelsa East senatorial headquarters, to Yenagoa for security reasons.

“Voters suspected a foul play, insisted the results be collated and announced. Deputy Commissioner of Police stood his grounds and ordered INEC officials with elections results into a waiting military gunboat.

“Attempt by voters to stop them from moving the elections results proved abortive, as the gunboat the Deputy Commissioner of Police ordered the INEC staff with elections results into, sailed away from the jetty.

“Voters accosted the Deputy Commissioner of Police and demanded he calls his men and orders them to return the election results back to where it rightfully should be collated, counted, and announced, and expressed fear that there's a plan to tamper with results.

“Deputy Commissioner of Police wasn’t abducted, as widely speculated. Voters acted in defence of their votes by insisting he orders his men accompanying the elections results to Yenagoa to return them to Brass Local Government Secretariat where the results are constitutionally supposed to be collated and announced.

“Deputy Commissioner of Police ordered materials back to Brass. The materials were taken to INEC office for collation.”

Clearly, DCP Okunlola was performing extra-police duties and issuing illegal orders when voters acting in defence of their votes resisted him. Even the Nigeria Police have admitted that he was not kidnapped. Indeed, it is impossible for unarmed men to abduct a senior police officer in the presence of armed mobile policemen and regular policemen.

In Bassambiri-Nembe, the PDP wanted to use their usual commando-style of politics to compromise the elections but they failed lamentably. Voting took place in all the seven wards. Results were collated, and the APC did very well there. No political party or politician will seek to perpetrate violence in its stronghold or area where it is winning.

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