THE Ijaw National Congress, INC, on Monday, raised alarm on what it describes as wide-spread incidences of electoral malpractice, falsification of results, violence, and deaths which characterised the presidential and national assembly elections held on Saturday, February 23 in several Ijaw communities, in Bayelsa and Rivers States.
In the statement issued by the Chairman of the Ijaw Pan socio-cultural organisation, Prof. Joseph Ajierika, he decried the increased cases of electoral violence that led to the loss of lives and properties in Bassambiri of Nembe Local Government Area, Twon-Brass in Brass Local Government area, Agbere in Sagbama Local Government Area and various parts of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area in Bayelsa State.
“Notably, was the murder of Seidougha Taribi, a community chief, in his home after the conclusion of voting in Oweikorogha community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.
“There was also disturbing reports of violence in Okrika Local Government Area, Opobo in Opobo Local Government Area, Bonny Island in Bonny Local Government Area and Abonnema in Asari-Toru Local Government Area where scores of young people were killed,” Ajierika said.
The INC reports on the elections stated that desperate politicians, many of who do not enjoy popular support base in their areas played major roles in orchestrating violence in their areas.
“It is a serious concern that cases of high handedness and excesses by security and law enforcement agents were responsible for some of the incidents. This is totally unacceptable and we condemn it.
“No matter how highly placed and irrespective of political affiliation, everyone involved in this nefarious act must be brought to book. There should be no sacred cows. The Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) must ensure that falsified elections are rejected and where necessary new elections conducted.”
Ajierika urged the Ijaw people to disregard political elites of Ijaw extraction who mastermind electoral irregularities, violence, and militarisation of Ijaw communities to facilitate their selfish political interests above that unity and progress of the Ijaw people.
The Interim Steering Committee of the INC called on the Federal Government to urgently investigate the reports of electoral violence and malpractice in the Niger Delta and bring to book all perpetrators of these heinous crimes including the murder of innocent Ijaw youths in the prime of their lives.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.