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14 parties charge INEC on Bayelsa polls


Professor-Mahmood-Yakubu INEC Chairman … PDP calls for commission of inquiry
FOURTEEN Political Parties in Bayelsa state have urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be unbiased, neutral, and transparent by providing a level playing ground for all parties in the rescheduled governorship election in Southern Ijaw.

Besides, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on the Federal Government to set a commission of inquiry to unravel what the party described as the involvement of security agencies in the Bayelsa governorship election and the attendant violence.

The parties said they will resist any attempt by any political party, group and or agency to manipulate, hijack and or intimidate the electorate, party agents and INEC from exercising their franchise or carrying out their legitimate functions during the re-scheduled election in Southern Ijaw.

Mr. Victor Agbowarite, who spoke on behalf of 14 chairmen of SDP, ADC, ACPN, KP, ID, PPA, PPN, DPP, DPC, APA, NNPP, MPPP, UPP and PDC, stated this while briefing newsmen in Yenagoa.

Agbowarite explained that after an extensive and exhaustive deliberation on the incidents that occurred before, during and after the elections, the 14 political parties strongly condemned the situation where materials were distributed late in the afternoon, accreditation done in the evening and voting done in the night in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area which the parties claimed negated all democratic norms.

He diaclosed that they condemn and vehemently oppose the use of thugs, militants, military personnel and any other means to intimidate, oppress, hijack and steal INEC electoral materials for the purpose of election.

In spite of the resort to violence by some political actors, the parties commended the people of Southern Ijaw for standing firm to stop the militants, military personnel and thugs from carting away INEC electoral materials from INEC office at Oporoma, Amassoma and other communities. According to him: “We totally condemn in strong terms electoral fraud that characterized the exercise in Southern Ijaw”.

Agbowarite declared that the Governorship election in Bayelsa state was generally peaceful and conducted in accordance with the rules and regulations as stipulated by INEC and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). He argued that contrary to claims by some persons, the elections in Sagbama, Ekeremor, Ogbia, Kolokuma/Opokuma. Yenagoa, and Nembe were relatively peaceful, fair and credible.

He stated that the initial skirmishes reported in Nembe and Ekeremor local government areas were brought under control after the intervention of security agencies, to allow for the conduct of the election.

Agbowarite said it was disheartening that some could be involved in massive and monumental fraud, rigging, outright stealing of electoral materials and open attempt to overrun the INEC office using militants, thugs in Oporoma and Amassoma.

“We are aware that some military personnel colluded with militants and criminal elements loyal to a party to snatch electoral materials, thereby compromising the entire electoral process. We are also aware that some Youth Corps members were held hostage in some areas and forced to make entry in favour of a particular party” he alleged.

The governorship candidates of the 14 political parties are: Prince Oniekpe (SDP), Brisibe Kpodoh (ADC), Gabriel Tukuwei (ACPN) Golden Agagaowei (Kowa) Prince Elemah (ID), Alex Peretu (PPA), Enu Otonye (PPN) and Edwin Tare (DPP). Others are David Amabebe (DPC), Abbey Daniel (APA), Chief Inko Namatebe (NNPP) Isaac Eze (MPPP), Williams Berezi (UPP) and Hendrix Obranghono (PDC).

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday called on the Federal Government to set a commission of inquiry to unravel what the party described as the involvement of security agencies in the Bayelsa governorship election and the attendant violence.

Besides, the party said that there was need to find out why the card readers deployed for the election allegedly worked in areas where the All Progressive Congress (APC) was influential but failed to work in areas believed to be populated by PDP members.

The vice chairman of PDP in charge of the South South, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh said in an interview with The Guardian, that Commission of Inquiry has become necessary to lay everything to rest peacefully and restore the confidence of the electorate.

“Yes we want the state or preferably the Federal Government to constitute a commission of inquiry and look into this matter dispassionately. This has to be done to restore the confidence of the people and the electorate in particular”, he stated.

According to him, the issue of card reader and the role of security agencies in the election were sore and contentious matters that PDP as a party was miffed about alleging that security agencies particularly those deployed to Southern Ijaw were compromised.

He said that it was regrettable that persons who should secure everyone and be non-partisan in carrying out their duties will turn around and be perpetuating electoral malpractices.

The PDP chieftain therefore urged the government to ensure that the security agencies know their limits during election, adding: “We will pursue this matter to ensure that everyone involved is punished, to act as deterrent to others and to ensure that things are done properly according to the provisions of the law.”

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