Fear of violence as police deploy 66,241 for Bayelsa, Kogi elections
• Say heavy deployment not to intimidate voters
• PDP kicks as court grants APC stay of execution
• Buhari warns security agents against harassment
The police yesterday disclosed that 66,241 personnel would be deployed for security operations in both Kogi and Bayelsa states. Out of this, 35,200 would be deployed in Kogi State while 31,041 would be in Bayelsa State. Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Operations in Kogi and Bayelsa States, Abdulmajid Ali, made this known in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital. He said the policemen would be complemented by the Police Mobile Force, Special Protection Unit and Counter-terrorism Unit and other security outfits.
Ali said further that the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had ordered the posting of Deputy Inspectors-General of Police (DIGs), AIGs, CPs, DCPs and ACPs to all senatorial districts and local government areas within the two states. He noted that the heavy deployment of policemen for the election was not to intimidate voters but to make the elections a success.
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday warned security agents overseeing the Bayelsa and Kogi elections to shun voter intimidation. In a statement by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu, Buhari said: “Law enforcement officials must ensure that citizens are allowed to vote without harassment and intimidation.” He also urged them to stop attempts to steal or hijack ballots by “all legal means.”
Urging the electorate to be peaceful, orderly and law-abiding, the president noted: “In all democratic elections, there are bound to be winners and losers, and the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi will not be different.”He enjoined all candidates to accept the outcomes “and wherever they are dissatisfied, they should follow the due process of the law in seeking redress. There must not be a resort to self-help.”He further wished the people a safe and credible exercise as they vote in the historic and suspenseful polls.
This came as the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) traded accusations over who was to blame for the violence in the Nembe council of the state.
APC, in a statement released by Deputy National Publicity Secretary Yekini Nabena, said it had earlier warned of an alleged plan by PDP supporters to foment trouble in the area. “The PDP decided to unleash armed thugs, fake military and para-military men in uniforms to cause unrest in the area, ultimately to create fear in the minds of our potential voters,” the party said.
While commiserating with the families of those who lost their lives, the APC said: “We believe that the failed plan was to kill and injure as many as possible of our supporters in some of our strongholds, Nembe inclusive. But we also believe that the people of Bayelsa will not fall to the PDP’s devilish trick.”
But PDP’s candidate, Douye Diri, told newsmen in Yenagoa that the party had earlier received intelligence reports that the leader of a militant group insisted the campaign must not hold because Nembe ‘is an APC community’.Calling on security agencies to probe the incident, Diri said: “We refuse to be harassed. We refuse to be intimidated. We refuse to be killed by people who are equally aspiring to govern Bayelsa State.”
Meanwhile, a Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja yesterday cleared the All Progressives Congress to participate in tomorrow’s governorship election in Bayelsa State. Earlier, a Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa nullified the governorship primaries that produced Chief David Lyon as the candidate of the APC.
Justice Jane Inyang held that the primaries were not conducted according to the party’s rules. Filed by Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, the suit challenged the conduct of the APC governorship primaries held September 4.
Inyang submitted that since the process was conducted in violation of the party’s constitution and guidelines for the conduct of governorship primaries, none of the aspirants should be fielded as the party’s candidate. She also restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from including Lyon as the APC candidate in the election.
Inyang said that according to APC’s guidelines, the returning officer, Governor Mai Kala Buni of Yobe State, should have declared the results, and not Senator Emmanuel Ochega, who was the secretary of the Election Committee. She further held that the APC violated its own rules in the composition of the election panel by setting up a one-member committee rather than seven members as stipulated in the party rules.
“It has been established by judicial authorities and several judgments that political parties are bound by their own rules. The committee that conducted the primary threw caution to the winds and it is my ruling that the primaries stand nullified.“The results announced by Senator Emmanuel Ochega is not valid as he is not the returning officer for the election. And I make an order restraining INEC from recognising any of the aspirants that participated in the said primaries,” Inyang said.
But in a ruling, the document of which was obtained by APC’s Principal Counsel D. D. Dodo, the Appeal Court’s panel in Abuja led by Justice Steven Adah also cleared the APC deputy governorship candidate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo. The court granted and made the following orders: that the status quo ante Bellum which existed on or before the 19th September, 2019 when the suit was filed be maintained pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice; an interim order for stay of judgment of the lower court delivered on 12th November, 2019 pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice; the Motion on Notice to be heard on 20th November, 2019 and the Respondents to be served with the Motion on Notice and copy of the Court Order.
The APC had rejected the ruling, which disqualified it from contesting in the election vowing to file for a stay of execution. Seiyefa Brisibie, Director of the David Lyon Campaign Organisation, declared at a press conference: “We have appealed and filed for a stay of execution. It will be clear that this is one of those procured judgments. This judgment can never stand. We are assuring all Bayelsans not give any thought to it. Even a layman like me knows that is flawed.”
He added: “Our opponents are very jittery because of the acceptance of our candidate by all Bayelsans. We are reassuring every well-meaning Bayelsan not to panic. Do not be perturbed. Do not worry. Our candidate is fully and squarely on the ballot. We have done what is procedural to see that the judgment does not stand.”
Reacting, the PDP through its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said APC has no place in the governorship election in Bayelsa following the disqualification of its candidate, David Lyon, and his running mate by two courts of competent jurisdiction. The party said the development points to nothing but victory for democracy and the fact that manipulators cannot continue to have their way in our electoral process.
Ologbondiyan said APC stands disqualified from participating in the election on account of the disqualification of its deputy governorship candidate. He explained that even if the APC got a stay of execution in the judgment that nullified its primary election, the disqualification of its deputy governorship candidate, which the party noted had destroyed the joint ticket, remained valid. The party charged the Independent National Electoral Commission to immediately delist the APC from the ballot since the joint ticket has been voided.
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