Anxiety brews in Bayelsa   

From: Jennifer UGWA and Olugbenga ADANIKIN (Reporting from Yenagoa)


THERE is rising tension in Bayelsa State ahead of Saturday – November 16 Governorship election scheduled to hold in eight local government areas (LGAs) of the state.

This is on the heels of Thursday’s Federal High Court (FHC) judgment in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital which suspended Lyon David, the All Progressives Candidate (APC) from contesting as candidate of the major opposition party for the governorship poll.

“For now, we have not heard anything. But once we get the court verdict, the commission will decide,” Wilfred Ifeogha, Director of Voter’s Education and Publicity, the State Independence National Electoral Commission told The ICIR.

He emphasised that it would be too early to decide as the commission is yet to be served the court verdict, hence yet to make any decision on the future electoral proceedings in the state.

However, public opinions in the states are beginning to shift their support to Owei-Tongu Woniwei, the Alliance for Democracy (AD) candidate.

“If they like, they can cancel the election and postpone it for all I care, PDP is not winning again in this state,” said an aggrieved voter upon receiving the news of the court verdict.

“Lord we don’t want to suffer again. We don’t want salary cut. We want your intervention,” said a civil servant who pleaded anonymity.

According to her, the state has been backward as there are no basic infrastructure such as electricity, good roads and high cost of school fees.

“Previously, I know I paid N35,000 in the state university but now, fees are almost N100, 000 in a state that people are hungry,” says Jeneware Juliet

On the contrary, a strong loyalist of the ruling party in the state vowed to vote for Sen. Diri Douaye due to his antecedents and purported impacts of the outgoing governor – Seriake Dickson.

Paul James, Head of Training, Watching the Vote Project of YIAGA AFRICA – an independent election monitoring organisation, who spoke with The ICIR in Bayelsa, said the judgement of the court could be a catalyst for unprecedented violence or a restriction to publics voting rights.

His words: “It is absurd that the judgement disqualifying the APC candidate is coming barely 48 hours to the election. The case was filed in September and judgement was only passed two days to the elections without recourse to the logistical and security implications.

“Knowing how volatile Bayelsa is, this judgement could add to the ugly incidents of loss of lives recorded yesterday in Nembe local government area.”

James said the new development could be a conspiracy which could be strenuous work, if not almost impossible task for INEC to reprint ballots without the logo of the APC.

“Unless this is done to limit political participation and to cause chaos to disrupt the process.”




     

     

    The ICIR further contacted INEC spokesperson, Rotimi Lawrence to react to the court ruling if the election would hold as scheduled or otherwise, but he did not respond to repeated text messages sent to him.

    He did not also respond to calls neither did he call back.

    Calls and text messages put across to the disqualified gubernatorial candidate – David at the time of this report were not responded to.

    He terminated calls put to his line asking if he would appeal the judgement. He also did not respond to his text messages.

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