The country home of the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, in Ekeremor , Bayelsa State, was yesterday riddled with bullets by thugs in one of the several cases of violence during the governorship election.
Lokpobiri who doubles as the Director-General of Sylva/Igiri Campaign Organisation, was inside the building, along with members of his family and associates during the shooting.
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Timipre Sylva, accused leaders of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of engineering the attack with hoodlums brought in from neighbouring Rivers and Delta states.
He alleged that the thugs were deployed to kill him on Friday night but failed in the process.
The saving grace, according to him, was their inability to gain entry into the minister’s compound and the intervention of soldiers from Operation Pulo (Oil) Shield (OPS) and policemen.
It was gathered last night that the election in Southern Ijaw local government area might be cancelled as a consequence of the violence in the area.
Four people were killed in the violence when militants attempted to disrupt the distribution of electoral materials.
As at 1:30 p.m. yesterday, no polling unit was opened in Southern Ijaw LGA for the electoral process, out of fear of violence.
Sylva lamented what he referred to as sponsored attacks on APC members by the PDP, saying it was obvious the PDP and its government were not ready for the election.
He said a government official was going everywhere in Yenagoa with armed thugs, adding that the police had intervened to restore order in the capital city.
Sylva said the APC had told the police before the election that PDP and Bayelsa government officials were stockpiling arms for the poll.
He said though the police had their informants, they should have acted on the intelligence provided by the APC.
He dismissed allegation by Governor Dickson that PDP members were not allowed to vote in Brass LGA.
Dickson of the PDP, who voted at Unit 4, Ward 2 of his Toru-Orua hometown in Sagbama LGA of Bayelsa state at 3:45 p.m. yesterday, stated that he was not satisfied with the electoral process.
He accused Lokpobiri and the Federal Government of manipulating the electoral process, through killing and intimidation of his supporters, while thanking Bayelsans for remaining committed to democracy.
In Nembe LGA, there were gunshots at the Ogbolomabiri part of the council.
Gunshots at Ogbolomabiri were heard from 6 p.m. on Friday till 11 a.m. yesterday, while some members of the APC, including the Legal Adviser of the party, Mr. Atonye Freedom Stephenson, were critically injured and taken to an undisclosed hospital for treatment.
APC members, Jubilee Sampson and Thomas Iwokura, were reportedly referred to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Yenagoa by the Nembe General Hsopital, for the treatment of wounds inflicted on them in Nembe-Ogbolomabiri allegedly by PDP thugs.
The house of the Bayelsa Chairman of the PDP, Chief Serena Dokubo-Spiff, in Nembe was reportedly torched and he had to flee to Yenagoa to seek refuge.
Besides the pockets of violence, the electoral process was smooth and generally peaceful.
In Brass LGA, INEC officials arrived their polling units early and started accreditation about 8 a.m.
There was large turnout of voters in different communities in Brass LGA, especially at Okpoama, the coastal hometown of the governorship candidate of the APC.
Sylva and his wife, Alayingi, arrived their polling unit 004, Ward 4 in Okpoama at 11:40 a.m. and they successfully went through the accreditation process.
Speaking with reporters shortly after the accreditation, Sylva said the process was generally smooth and peaceful, besides the skirmishes and violent attacks against members of the APC.
He, however, pleaded with INEC to look into the intractable problems associated with the card readers.
The former governor noted that although the card reader read his Permanent Voter Card (PVC) successfully in a record time, it failed to read the PVCs of some other voters, who came to exercise their franchise.
He said: “I don’t know what is happening to this technology (card reader), but INEC should pay attention to it.”
Sylva tried to make a stop-over at Odioma, while on his way to Okpoama for yesterday’s election, but he was attacked by PDP youths in Odioma.
Security operatives attached to the convoy of the former governor and operatives of the OPS stationed at Odioma jetty repelled the attack, while the ensuing gunshots created confusion in the community and sent people, including journalists on election duty, scampering to safety.
Soldiers arrested 13 youths said to have been deployed to waylay and attack Sylva on his way to his community.
The youths were arrested in their boat on Odioma waterways around 7:40 p.m., while waiting for the convoy of Sylva.
A security source said weapons such as guns, machetes and axes were found in the possession of the suspects.
The source said: “They (the arrested Odioma youths) confessed that they were paid to attack and kill Sylva, but before Sylva arrived, operatives of the JTF at the Odioma base found and arrested them.”
Our reporters also gathered that PDP thugs, led by officials of the Bayelsa government, attacked APC members at the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday night.
The APC members, Abarowei, Abacha, Dr. Igbagara and Victor, were reportedly overwhelmed by thugs, numbering over 16, in an attempt to hijack electoral materials meant for Ward 6 of Sagbama LGA.
Igbagara, a university lecturer, who is an APC’s agent in Sagbama, reportedly ran into the bush with the injuries he sustained, to avoid being killed by the thugs working for the PDP.