By Nathan Nwakamma
The All Progressive Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa are trading blames over electoral malpractices in Saturday’s State Assembly Polls.
While Gov Seriake Dickson, leader of PDP in Bayelsa, accused the APC leaders in Bayelsa of masterminding electoral violence, the APC promptly denied the allegations and pointed accusing fingers at PDP.
The Bayelsa Chapter of APC alleged the use of thugs and other criminal elements by Gov. Seriake Dickson and the PDP in the state to undermine Saturday’s House of Assembly elections.
APC State Publicity Secretary, Mr. Doifie Buokoribo, said in a statement that armed thugs loyal to the PDP were on the loose in a number of communities throughout the polls, rigging for the PDP and intimidating APC members.
“Just on Thursday, we alerted the Bayelsa public to an evil plot by Governor Seriake Dickson to unleash mayhem during Saturday’s governorship and House of Assembly elections.
“The plot is to intimidate the opposition and impose his candidates in various constituencies of the state.
“We also warned about acts with smear campaign and fake news against our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Dickson, as usual, did not disappoint.
“On Saturday, thugs sponsored by Dickson and the PDP in the state went on the rampage in several constituencies of the state.
“They acted by carting away electoral materials, thumb-printing for the PDP, and deploying sundry acts of intimidation against APC members and others opposed the governor and his party.
“In Odioma, Brass Local Government Area, the PDP led thugs to cart away all the electoral materials.
“Our members were chased out of the community and PDP had a field day with the thumb printing of ballot papers.
“Odioma is Dickson’s surrogate community. In Brass Constituency 2, Dickson imposed the PDP candidate, Andrew, and he is desperate to ensure his candidates wins.
“Dickson also used to be a lawyer for this community.
“In Ogbolomabiri-Nembe, the hometown of the deputy governor, thugs were used to threaten and chase APC agents out of the community.
“In Sagbama, where Dickson comes from, our members were in hiding for the most part of Saturday for fear of being harmed by the governor and his armed thugs.
“Quite in his usual style, Dickson went to town on Saturday on a campaign of falsehood, alleging malpractices by our party and pretending to be the victim.
“While voting was still going on in several areas, he was out and about with his usual fake news to try to divert attention from his immoral ways.
“APC wishes to restate that elections are not fought on the basis of smear campaign or intimidation, but on the strength of support freely given by the people.
“This is our strength, it is what APC boasts. Dickson is, certainly, in terrible deficit of such support, and he is doing everything to make up for his lack of quality followership. But he will surely be disappointed.” APC stated.
But Dickson accused the military and Indepedent National Electoral Commission officials of colluding with a former Governor of the state to churn out fake results in the state House of Assembly election.
Dickson made the accusation while speaking with newsmen shortly after casting his vote in his home town, Toru Orua, Sagbama Local Government Area.
Dickson said that federal agencies deployed to the state were executing a premeditated plan to foist an unpopular political party, the APC, on the state.
According to the Governor, reports at his disposal indicate that several PDP members were prevented from voting in various communities including, Peremabiri, Okpoama and Bassambiri.
The Governor stressed that the APC, led by a former governor, was resorting to brigandage because it lacked the support base to win election in Bayelsa.
The Governor said what was happening in the state was barbaric ,criminal and undemocratic.
He flayed the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state for his failure to enforce the electoral guidelines.
He said that it was a sad commentary on the nation’s security apparatus that it had failed to carry out its constitutional responsibility to provide the conducive environment for the citizens to cast their votes.
“We have major challenges in this state arising from militarization and clear failure on the part of the agencies to do their jobs as it should be.
‘In Peremabiri in Southern Ijaw, several peopple, almost a thousand people couldn’t vote as they are now IDPs hiding in Yenagoa and other places.
“Criminals, supported by the Nigerian military services, have held the community hostage.
“Some security personnel, who managed to get to Peremabiri, were turned back and you ask me whether we have a nation within a nation.
“In Bayelsa, enclaves have been created by federal security agencies in connivance with APC leaders.
“In Bassambiri, PDP leaders and followers were pushed out by force and they are now IDPs in Ogbolomabiri, Yenagoa and other communities.
“This is because the APC knows that they are not on ground in this state so they want to win by force.
“I have just received an alert that in Ayama Cconstituency, military officials are trying to overpower electoral officers to cart away materials so that they can write any result.
“And the REC and his team in our state have not demonstrated courage, professionalism, competence and respect for their own guidelines, all because they want to crown APC in Bayelsa by force.” Dickson said.
Reacting to the allegations, Mr Monday Udoh, the Resident Electoral Commissioner who visited Dickson’s polling unit, said the Commision had overcome most of the challenges faced in the Feb 23 polls in Bayelsa.
He said that the Commission was yet to receive any report on the allegations.
Spokesperson of Army Brigade, Maj. Jonah Danjuma, distanced the military from the allegations, saying that on the contrary it arrested 15 armed men suspected to be thugs during elections in Bayelsa.