From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Former President Dr Goodluck Jonathan has condemned the violence that erupted in Ogbia Constituency 2, Ogbia Local Government Area during the State House of Assembly election.
Hoodlums armed with guns were said to have reportedly stormed the Registration Area Centre (RAC) for the constituency and carted away election materials meant for Ward two, three, four and five.
Gunmen also stormed polling units and chased away voters in Opu- Nembe, Nembe Local Government Area and Sambo in Twon Brass, Brass Local Government Area.
Jonathan, who spoke shortly after voting at his polling Unit 39, Ward 13, Otuoke, Ogbia Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, lamented the hijacking and burning of the election materials.
He called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators, noting that such behaviour should not be condoned.
Also speaking, Governor Douye Diri, who spoke shortly after voting at ward 6 unit 4 Kalama-owei wari in Sampou, Kolokuma/ Opokuma Local Government Area, strongly condemned the destruction of ballot materials by suspected party thugs in connivance with some armed security men.
He described the action as highly condemnable and warned those behind the violence in the state to desist forthwith as the full weight of the law would be brought down on them.
Diri, who said his administration abhors any form of criminality, especially electoral violence, called on the Commissioner of Police to arrest the perpetrators and ensure they are brought to book.
He said he had asked the Commissioner of Police to apprehend the perpetrators and ensure that the full weight of the law was brought on them.
He was quoted to have said in a statement released by his Chief Press Secretary, Dan Alabra: “You do not force people to be ruled. Rather, you appeal to people for them to work with you. So, let us avoid the use of thuggery in elections.
“Fortunately, we now have BVAS. Thuggery or violence is an antiquated political strategy that people are still trying to adopt in our state.
“I call on all of us, particularly politicians across parties, my own party inclusive, to abide by the rules as set by INEC and by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“I also like to warn miscreants and those bent on fomenting trouble that wherever and whenever they are seen, they will be promptly arrested and persecuted.”
Meanwhile, the governor has commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for an improved process from the conduct of the presidential and National Assembly election on February 25.
“The voting process was quite seamless and very fast. So I believe that INEC has improved upon the previous election from what I just witnessed from my own polling unit in ward 6 unit 4 here in Sampou. Kudos to INEC for what I have seen today, “he said.
Ahead of the November 11 governorship election, stakeholders in the Bayelsa State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have warned that the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, lacks the required potentials to confront and wrest the governorship ticket from the incumbent, Douye Diri. Operating under the auspices of APC Progressive Consultative Forum (PCF), the stakeholders urged the Petroleum Minister to resign his position as stipulated in the amended Electoral Act less than a month to the party primary scheduled for next month April 10.
They further argued that former member of APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, David Lyon, has the magic wand to win Diri again.
“It is however our considered opinion that for the APC to make the desired impact at the polls and win the governorship seat, the party must put forward its best and the most acceptable candidate, while also ensuring that it goes into the elections with a united force to defeat the ruling PDP and the emerging LP,” the statement from PCF signed by its Director General, Wilberforce Waribote, read.
“It is our candid opinion that Sylva, at this point, could not be considered APC’s best choice in the forthcoming governorship election. Sylvia’s political inconsistency in recent times made him unfit for the party’s ticket.
“It will be recalled that he surreptitiously indicated interest to vie for Nigeria’s presidency, but lacking the courage to resign his appointment as Minister and go for it, he buckled at the primaries. His presidential interest was not lost on the party’s power brokers and the electorate in Bayelsa who have noted his lack of guts.
“In a similar vein, his refusal to resign from his current position as the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, a month before the party’s primaries as required by the Electoral Act is a legal lacuna.
“Akin to his indecisiveness at the presidential primaries, Sylva has again shown a visible lack of courage to do the needful at the right time but went on to join the power brokers to carry on a spoiler game,” the statement added.