Elections: Ex-President Jonathan, wife, Gov Dickson, Sylvia vote in Bayelsa

The State House of Assembly election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Bayelsa State was peaceful with a large turn out of voters and early arrival to voting materials to the units in Bayelsa State.

Despite the peaceful nature of the election and heavy security presence, there were reported cases of ballot hijack, vote buying, and voters intimidation recorded in Sagbama, Kolokuma/Opokuma, Southern Ijaw, Member, Brass and other parts of the state.

At Otuoke community in Ogbia Local Government area where the former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience, voted at unit 39, Ward 13 at the Otazi Playground, there was a reported case of ballot snatching.

At about 11: 30 today, former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Dame Patience Jonathan, went out to vote at Polling Unit 39, Otuabula 2, Ward 13, Ogbia LGA, Bayelsa State, for the Governorship and State House of Assembly Election. The Ward 13 is made up of five communities, namely: Otuoke, Otuaba, Ewoi, Otuabula 1 and Otuabula 2.

At unit 37, the Four Square road, an unidentified youth attempted to snatch a ballot box but soldiers on election monitoring chased him and he escaped to the bush.

At Odi community, where a member of the President Buhari campaign Council, Chief Preye Aganaba voted at Unit 3, Ward 3 , there was an alleged case of intimidation of voters by the Vice Chairman of the Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Council.

Prince Preye Aganaba, however, commended the INEC for bring electoral materials on time and commencing the voting process early as they earlier promised.

He further stated that, so far, there has been no report of card reader malfunction and material hijacking, saying the process is peaceful and seamless.

“However, we have a flash point, Unit 5, where the Vice Chairman, an ex-militant is causing problems but I am sure security men have gone to calm the situation.

“And with the look of things, the APC would win the elections in my constituency and many other areas where we have strong support.” He explained.

At Sangana community, a former Local Government Chairman, Hon. Bello Bina, assured that the conduct of the election was peaceful but conducted under zero security presence.

He said despite the activities of hired thugs to intimidate voters in the area he rated as PDP stronghold, the outcome will be for the PDP Assembly candidate.

In Sagbama Local Government Council, which is the home local Council of  Governor Seriake Dickson, there were allegations and counter allegations by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)  and the All Progressive Congress (APC)  of vote buying, hijack of result sheets and other electoral offences.

The APC candidate of Sagbama constituency 2, Hon. Sufadoh Boloyi, alleged that there was no election in Ward 6, 11, 12 of Sagbama, alleging that the PDP candidate is alleged to have hijacked election result sheets to Toru-Orua, the country home of the governor of Bayelsa, Hon. Seriake Dickson.

He further alleged that his party agents have held the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) staff posted to the areas to account but that they have not been able to fund answers to the whereabouts of the sensitive materials.

Speaking to newsmen after casting his vote at ward 10 in Sagbama Town, Boloyi said “in Ward 10 that is made up of seven communities; Okumbiri, Ogobiri, Kabiama, Oriama, Ahgoro, Ahgorogbene and Kabiamagbene, sensitive materials have been hijacked and electorates have not been able to cast their votes.

“I, therefore, call on the INEC to investigate the matter and cancel the elections in these areas. They have not only hijacked materials, have chased our supporters out of these communities.”

In his reaction to the allegations the Caretaker Chairman of Sagbama, who is also a PDP stalwart, Michael Magbisa described the allegations as failed and a figment in the imagination of APC loyalists.

“We have video evidence of the APC candidate, Sufadoh, involved in massive vote buying activities. We are going to petition him to INEC and also attached the video evidence to it because it is an illegal activity.

“As a candidate, he is expected to be in his unit to cast his vote but our video evidence has shown that he has been moving from the unit with cartons full of money buying votes.

“If not for the fact that we have conducted ourselves peacefully, there would have been chaos in Sagbama.”

When contacted, Boloyi said “that is not true. Do I have money than the PDP candidate that is the incumbent? They are the ones in charge of the State Treasury and the ones apparently buying votes.”

At Toru Orua, where the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson voted he accused the Military and Independent National Electoral Commission officials of colluding with former Governor of the state, Timipre Sylva, to churn out fake results in the state House of Assembly election.

Governor Dickson said that federal agencies deployed to the state are executing a premeditated to foist an unpopular political, party, the APC, on the state.

According to the Governor, reports at his disposal indicated that several PDP members were prevented from voting in various communities including, Peremabiri, Okpoama and  Bassambiri.

The governor alleged that the APC led by former Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, was resorting to brigandage because it lacked the support base to win the election in Bayelsa.

The Governor, who described what is happening in the state as barbaric, criminal and undemocratic, 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 to elect their representatives and leaders.

The Governor said that reports at his disposal indicated that soldiers carted away electoral materials in Epebu, Olodi and Ayakoro in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

While calling on the people to remain calm in the face of unwarranted intimidation and harassment by soldiers, he assured that his administration would take appropriate measures to seek redress.

Governor Dickson further expressed regret over the militarization of the Niger Delta states and urged all well-meaning  Nigerians to stand up in defence of democracy.

His words:”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 people, 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 coordinated by Timipre Sylva all with a view to making Bayelsa State ungovernable. I keep raising this alarm.

“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 the ground in this state so they want to win by force.

“I have just received an alert that in  Ayama Constituency, 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.”