There was tension in Bayelsa State, Friday, as voters in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and over 101 polling units across six local councils, prepare to chose between Chief Timipre Sylva and Governor Seriake Dickson on Saturday.
Since it started on December 5, the election has been a two-horse race between the former Governor and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Timipre Sylva and the incumbent Governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Seriake Dickson.
The December 5 governorship poll in the state was declared inconclusive with supplementary election fixed for today after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) controversially cancelled the results in Southern Ijaw.
It was observed that Southern Ijaw has been soaked in tension in a build-up to the rerun.
Hired militants and thugs were said to have laid siege in the council preparing to violently deliver their candidates.
Some of the thugs who were reportedly brought into the council from neighboring states of Delta and Rivers were said to have clashed with indigenes of some Southern Ijaw communities.
It was gathered that youths loyal to the All Progressives Congress (APC) caught one of the youths in Peremabiri, who reportedly confessed he was hired by the PDP.
A source in Peremabiri who spoke in confidence, said there was tension in the area and other parts of the council.
“There is tension everywhere. In fact, we don’t know what the outcome of the election will be. There are signs that it will be marred by violence,” he said.
It was, however, gathered that the council was surrounded by gunboats of the Operation Safe Conduct (OSC), a special military outfit drafted to monitor the poll, the police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
Following threats of violence, the NSCDC, directed its operatives and officers to provide maximum security around all the oil installations in the state.
The corps also deployed 1500 personnel to assist other security agencies in ensuring a hitch-free election.
While deploying the operatives, the state Commandant, NSCDC, Mr. Desmond Agu, warned persons sent to protect public facilities against the temptation of leaving such installations to follow politicians.
Agu said the Commandant-General had ordered that any NSCDC operatives found culpable of compromising the rules of engagement should be dismissed from the service.
He said the officers and men of the command were deployed to provide security to critical public installations during the poll.
He named such installations as facilities of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), Oil and Gas Pipeline, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
He said: “On no account should they allow themselves to be used for other activities during this supplementary election in Southern Ijaw and environs as against their primary duties of keeping surveillance and protection over facilities in their custody.
“Anyone found guilty to have contravened this strict order of the commandant-general will face a stringent disciplinary action of dismissal from service
“I am not deploying you to go and die. Don’t attach yourself to any politician. I am commending you for the job you did in the last election because the people said if not for you, things would have got out of hand.”
The commandant warned the people against destabilizing their state insisting that election is not a do or die affair.
Also, the police command said it had beefed up security with increased foot, vehicular, and waterways patrols, as well as intensive aerial surveillance in all nooks and crannies of the state.
A statement signed by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Asinim Butswat, asked all political parties and their contestants to desist from any act capable, of disrupting the electoral process.
The statement said: “The Command in collaboration with other security agencies have synergized to create an enabling environment for the forthcoming re-run elections in Southern Ijaw LGA and other affected polling units.
“VIPs are advised to desist from using security men to escort them to polling units on election date, as any violation to this order will not be tolerated.
“Security agencies have been ordered to enforce the restrictions of movements, of boats fitted with two hundred (200) horse power engine and above, and all river craft activities in the state waterways, from 7pm to 7am Friday 8th – Sunday 10th January, 2016, respectively.
“Any person or group of persons who violates this order will be arrested and prosecuted accordingly. Likewise, movement of persons, motor vehicles and tricycles will be restricted on the election date, in the entire state, from the hours of 6am to 6pm, only those on essential duties will be allowed to move.
“The electorates in the affected areas are advised to come out and exercise their franchise by casting their votes for candidates of their choice.”