Off-CYCLE ELECTIONS: Violence, voter apathy in Bayelsa

Posted by Timige, On 12 Nov, 2023 | Updated On 12 Nov, 2023 No Comments »



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The governorship election that held in Bayelsa State on Saturday was marred by of violence which were reported in some parts of the state.

Reports gathered by Sunday Tribune revealed that while the election could be said to be peaceful in some areas, same could not be said of other local governments as armed political thugs invaded polling units in Sagbama Local Government Area of the state, shooting sporadically and to scare voters as they hijacked and took away election materials.

Sunday Tribune learnt that at about 9am on Saturday at Agorogbene community, unit 6,7 and 8 in ward 11 of the local government, armed thugs destroyed election materials and interrupted voting for about an hour, forcing many voters to scamper for safety.

According to sources,attempts by the electorate to challenge the armed men were met with heavy gunshots.

In Souther Ijaw, Sunday Tribune learnt that there were reports that materials didn’t arrive Ward 14, polling unit 7and 28 in ward 14 until 4pm. The local government also witnessed the presence armed thugs who hijacked election materials in five units of 18 18,19, 20, 21 and 22 from the Ward headquarters located in Olugbobiri Community.

In Ogbia Local Government Area of the state, gunmen dressed in military uniforms allegedly invaded some wards and intimidated and reportedly ordered agents and electorates on election voting to leave the venue but some of them refused.

An agent of one of the political parties told newsmen that at Kolo Community in Ogbia area, “Army men just arrived in kolo now arresting our unit Coordinators and taking over our pay points.

Also at Nembe Bassambiri, some election materials were hijacked by the gunmen.

Sunday Tribune also observed that Yenagoa Local Government recorded more cases of electoral violence than other LGAs. At Ekeki ward 6, gunmen stormed two polling units, 36 and 02, carting away electoral materials.

At the Registration Area Center (RAC) in Famgbe Community, an armed thug accidentally shot a bystander while he was attempting to hijack electoral materials.

According to sources, in the process of trying to cart away the electoral materials from community members who resisted his attempt, the locally made pistol he was armed with fell from his hand and accidentally discharged a bullet that injured one Mr. Ovie Ogbara.

Jonathan calls for cancellation of off-cycle elections

Meanwhile, former President Goodluck Jonathan has called on the National Assembly to take appropriate legislative measures to stop off-cycle elections in the country.

Jonathan said this after casting his vote at the governorship election in Bayelsa State, adding that it was important for Nigeria to unify its electoral calendar.

Jonathan voted at polling unit 39 in Otazi Ward 13, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

He told newsmen at his Otuoke country home that the National Assembly should block the off-season election, “because it is neither the best for the country nor a globally acceptable practice.

“Basically this is an off-season election, I get worried about off-season elections and will use this opportunity to plead with the National Assembly to block it.

“This is not the best practice. The country can elect their people at the same time like the Americans that elect everybody at the same time,” he said.

According to him, if we continue with this, there will be a time the Nigerian presidential election will be off-season, and Nigerians should be worried.

“When I say Nigeria presidential election may be off-season, they may say how and why, but it almost happened in 2007, when I was the running mate to the late Umaru Musa Yaradua.

“In that election, seven justices presided over the case, and three of them said the process be annulled while four of them sustained it.”

LP gov candidate alleges vote buying

The Labour Party (LP) governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, Mr Udengs Eradiri also expressed his disappointment over what he described as vote-buying that marred the gubernatorial election held on Saturday in the state.

He said he was particularly disappointed about the open cases of vote-buying, because his campaign was partly devoted to educating the people not to sell their votes.

“I had thought my messages against money politics would have been okay with the people, but I was wrong. I am deeply disappointed, I was wrong.

“My greatest disappointment was with a woman from this community whom I offered a scholarship to her son, but today sold her vote for N14,000,” he added.

The LP governorship candidate regretted that the electorates seemed to have opted for money instead of voting for the right candidate.

“We have a long way to go in stopping money politics in this country.

“I thought I had found a solution but I was wrong. I did not come into this race to buy votes,” Eradiri added.

According to him, votes were freely traded for between N12,000 and N40,000 per vote.

“The level of vote-buying is overwhelming,” Eradiri said while commenting on the general conduct of the election.

Eradiri, who spoke at Agudama-Ekpetiama, Yenagoa Local Government Area, claimed that he was even approached to step down, but declined.

He said he was particularly disappointed about the open cases of vote-buying, because his campaign was partly devoted to educating the people not to sell their votes.

“I had thought my messages against money politics would have been okay with the people, but I was wrong. I am deeply disappointed, I was wrong.

“My greatest disappointment was with a woman from this community whom I offered a scholarship to her son, but today sold her vote for N14,000,” he added.

Abducted INEC official regains freedom in Bayelsa

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Bayelsa State said its Supervisory Presiding Officer (SPO), abducted on Friday, had regained his freedom.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the SPO was abducted by gunmen on his way to the Registration Area Centre – 06 (Ossioma) in Sagbama Local Government Area.

The Head of Voter Education and Publicity of the state INEC in Yenagoa, Mr Wilfred  Ifogah, confirmed the news in a statement made available to newsmen on Saturday.

According to Ifogah, the officer is hale and hearty. NAN reported that the officer, whose name was not disclosed, was abducted while waiting at Amassoma Jetty to board a boat to his place of deployment.

The spokesman for the Police Command in the state, CSP Asinim Butswat, could not be reached for comments.

I’m disappointed my name was missing, says 86-year-old woman

An 86-year-old woman, Mrs Mercy Okodo, expressed disappointment that her name was missing on the voters register in her polling unit in Yenagoa, Bayelsa.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the woman said she trekked to Polling Unit 011 at Yenada Market Square, Epie III Ward, Yenagoa, in order to vote for her governorship candidate.

NAN reported also that the polling unit has 822 registered voters.

Okodo expressed disappointment that her name was missing in spite of voting at the same polling unit in the past.

“I’m surprised to be told that my name is not on the voters list, it’s very disappointing,” the octogenarian said.

Okodo, who said she was at the polling unit before voting started, was eventually assisted to return home by a good Samaritan.

Meanwhile, Mrs Sarah Godfrey, a 60-year-old civil servant, said after casting her vote at the polling unit that the election has been peaceful.

She commended INEC for making special arrangements for elderly persons to vote without hassle.

Godfrey, who recently had a surgery, said she came out to vote for the future of her children.

“I had a surgery, but I could not sit down at home without voting. I am doing this because I believe it will be the turn of my children tomorrow.”

Source: State Oyo - Tribune

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