The incumbent Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson of the Peoples Democratic Party, is currently leading his main opponent in Saturday’s governorship election, Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress, with a wide margin after results of five local government areas were released Sunday night.
Dickson, who won in four out of the five LGA results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission in Yenagoa, polled 81,929 votes as against Sylva’s 56,514 votes.
While Dickson is leading in Ekeremor, Sagbama, Yenagoa and Kolokuma/Okpokuma LGAs, Sylva, who is a former governor of the state, only led his main rival in the poll in his Brass LGA.
The five local government areas that had their election results confirmed are Brass, Ekeremor, Kolokuma/Okpokuma, Sagbama (Dickson’s LGA) and Yenagoa.
With the results so far, the incumbent governor may be coasting home to victory except the outcome of the governorship poll in Nembe, Ogbia (former President Goodluck Jonathan’s area) and Southern Ijaw will overwhelmingly be in favour of the APC candidate.
Dickson is currently leading with a difference of 25,415 votes, a margin that may be difficult for Sylva to reduce with the results of Southern Ijaw, Nembe and Ogbia LGAs still expected.
The results released so far showed that both Sylva and Dickson won comfortably in their various local government areas.
One shortcoming that was easily observed was the voter apathy in the state as the number of registered voters was far more than the number of total votes cast.
Incidents of violence, snatching of ballot boxes and over-voting were reported in polling units across the five local government areas by the APC and PDP agents, who were present at the collation centre in the state capital.
The development, according to the state APC agent, Mr. Dennis Otiotio, led to the cancellation of election in the affected polling units in some of the local government areas where the PDP won.
Having presided over the collation and announcement of the results, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar and Returning Officer, Prof Zana Akpagu, told newsmen and observers to reconvene by 10am on Monday (today) for the release of the remaining results in three local government areas.
There were reports that voting was still ongoing in Southern Ijaw LGA as of 6pm with the heavy presence of security operatives.
Results in the five LGAs are Brass: APC – 21,755, PDP – 6,516; Ekeremor: APC – 7,918, PDP – 14,602; Kolokuma/Okpokuma: APC – 6,896, PDP – 7,619; Sagbama: APC – 5,382, PDP – 28,934; and Yenagoa: APC – 14,563, PDP – 24,258.
Meanwhile, Sylva has called for the cancellation of election results in Sagbama and Ekeremor LGAs of the state.
According to him, widespread violence, security breaches and election manipulation, which he alleged were carried out by Dickson and the PDP in parts of the state during last Saturday’s governorship election, have invalidated the results of the election.
A statement by the Director, Media and Publicity, Sylva/Igiri Campaign Organisation, Chief Nathan Egba, asked INEC to cancel the results in the two affected local government areas.
The statement read, “It is now a well-known fact that over 1,000 armed men, suspected to have been imported from Delta and Rivers states by Governor Dickson, stormed Ekeremor community, where they unleashed terror on the entire community from the wee hours of election day for many hours before they were repelled by the Army, only for them to return in the evening when results were about to be collated.
“The gunmen we suspected were hired for the sole purpose of assassinating the Minister for State, Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, launched a sustained attack on his residence with grenade, dynamite and gunshots for hours before the Army repelled them.
He was very lucky to have survived that night as they returned in the evening to continue till they were again repelled by the Army.
“But in the meantime, they had carted away sensitive election materials to manipulate in favour of PDP and returned for collation.”
He stated that in Sagbama LGA, home of Dickson, youths, who were again alleged to have been brought from Delta and Rivers states, also hijacked the materials that were meant for all the riverside communities in the LGA, including the ward of the former acting governor of the state, Nestor Binabo.
He noted that other wards, where election did not hold, included Wards I and II.
He submitted that the violence, which cut across the state, largely took place in parts of Sagbama, Ekeremor and Southern Ijaw LGAs, where election was later rescheduled.
He said, “We therefore call on the INEC to cancel the election results in the two local government areas of Sagbama and Ekeremor and reschedule the exercise.
“The Sylva-Igiri Campaign also condemns in very strong terms the continuous breach of electoral laws by Governor Dickson when he stormed the Yenagoa LGA Collation Centre last night to threaten APC collation agents and this morning when he went to Oporoma against the law and also with full security details against the IGP’s directive.”
Before the announcement of the results on Sunday, the PDP in the state raised the alarm over an alleged plot to rig the rescheduled poll in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and other units and wards in Bayelsa State.
On Saturday, INEC announced the cancellation and postponement of the poll in Southern Ijaw and about 25 units in three LGAs in Bayelsa State.
The electoral umpire hinged its decision on alleged disturbance and violence in Southern Ijaw and the wards and units affected.
It was reported that five persons were feared dead in Southern Ijaw LGA though the police authorities dismissed the report.
The police had said some persons were injured, stating that nobody was killed.
Addressing a press conference in Yenagoa on Sunday, the acting Chairman of the PDP in Bayelsa State, Chief Serena Dokubo-Spiff, alleged that there was a grand plot by the APC to rig the poll in favour of the APC candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva.
Dokubo-Spiff claimed that the opposition APC, having realised that it had lost in seven LGAs at the various units across the state, had resorted to using ‘federal might’ to swing the pendulum of the election in its favour.
He also alleged that Sylva had gone to Abuja to consult with some senior government officials on how to perfect the rigging plot to give him an edge over Governor Seriake Dickson.
Dokubo-Spiff said, “The elections are going on and every responsible candidate should be at the theatre. The candidate for the APC, Chief Timipre Sylva, is in Abuja, having consultations with senior government officials, who are giving directive to the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state.
“As a result of this development, the REC himself, as we speak, is in Amassoma, taking steps and giving directive that accreditation and voting should go on simultaneously, which is outside the norm.
“We have told you about the huge logistics challenges and that going from one point to the other in Southern Ijaw will take about three to four hours. So, how do we expect the normal electoral process to be undertaken? In the event, we, the PDP, hereby say that is irregular, it is improper, it is unacceptable, we will resist it, we will not accept it. We must commit to do the right thing in this country. We will not accept it.
“The REC should be seen to do the right thing; he must not do the wrong thing at all. How can he say accreditation and voting must go on simultaneously in a place like Southern Ijaw that has geographical component as far flung as from here to Siberia? It is not right, we fear that there is intending plot to do mischief, that will not be accepted. We are saying this emphatically for the purpose of the records.”
The PDP chairman, who narrated how he was gruesomely attacked in his home in Twon-Brass, accused the police of looking the other way when he alerted them to his ordeal which he said lasted for more than two hours.
He added that the hoodlums, alleged to be APC members, held him hostage and beat him to stupor, resulting in his being admitted in a hospital in Brass.
But the Director, Media and Publicity, Sylva/Igiri Campaign Organisation, Chief Nathan Egba, said the reasons Dokubo Spiff had given for the postponement of the rescheduled governorship election in Southern Ijaw LGA were baseless and lacking in substance.
He stated that it was a known fact that the PDP had perpetrated all the violence in the Saturday governorship election in the APC’s strongholds to scare away the APC teeming supporters from voting in the election.
He added, “Having not succeeded in their violent acts and intimidation of the electorate due to the increased presence of security operatives in the rescheduled election in Southern Ijaw LGA, the PDP is now crying wolf.
“The Sylva/Igiri Campaign Organisation is confident that with the pronouncement made by Deputy Inspector General in charge of security in the state for the purpose of the election, that there was adequate security to protect men and materials as well as the readiness of the Independent National Electoral Commission to go ahead with the election which has already gone half way, there is no need for this call.
“It is extreme falsehood and total breach of electoral laws for the Chairman of PDP to claim that their party is leading in seven local government areas in the state when INEC has not officially announced any result in the governorship election.”
Following the violence during the election on Saturday, the Nigeria Police Force in Bayelsa State said they had arrested 10 persons in the course of the state governorship election.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Training, Hashimu Argungu, who said this on Sunday in Yenagoa, urged residents not to entertain fear as maximum security had been provided.