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Bayelsa: Indigenes were denied right to freely vote, says group

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A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) under the auspices of Democracy Watch Nigeria (DWN) has expressed concerns over the manner and nature of conduct of the Bayelsa state gubernatorial election, saying some parts of the state were denied the opportunity to freely participate in the polls.

The coalition of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) accredited observers headed by Dr. Gabriel Nwambu while addressing the media on its interim observations at Meglams hotel in Yenagoa, the state capital, maintained that thugs were widely used to disrupt the electoral process thereby disrupting the exercise in several polling units.

According to Dr. Nwambu such practice in addition to snatching of ballot have grave consequences on the integrity of the process and have also moved a step to deny citizens of their fundamental rights of freedom of association as enshrined in the 1999 constitution.

The coalition also said it upholds that, elections conducted under such atmosphere falls far below the benchmark of international standard and urges appropriate authorities to take immediate and responsible to bring to book those responsible for such infractions.

The rest of the text of the media briefing reads as follows:

What we saw in some LGAs in Bayelsa state is an aberration to this constitutional provision and grossly not in consonance with the provision of the Electoral Act 2010 as Amended. We observed that elections did not hold in some parts of Bayelsa State as it was grossly disrupted by violence, intimidation and ballot box snatching. In some instances, there were complete absence of voting materials and Ad hoc staff.

On Wednesday the 13th of November, 2019, a political party was having a campaign in Nembe LGA. Some blood thirsty gun men came to the venue and opened fire without any provocation whatsoever, killing scores of law abiding Nigerians. Same gunmen prevented election from holding in Nembe LGA. Till the time of this briefing, there has been no arrests, no prosecution thus increasing the impunity associated with committing such heinous crime as perpetrators are largely known and seen moving freely in such communities.

In Yenagoa Ward 5, Epie 2 Ward 4, Apiffa 2 Ward 2 and Epie 3 Ward 6, elections did not hold.

Nembe LGA was the worst hit in pre election and election related violence. Elections did not hold in Nembe LGA.

Some parts of Southern Ijaw were completely disrupted with violence. There was no elections in Ekeremor.

Our interest is to preserve the democracy of Nigeria.

Several communities in Bayelsa state were sacked not due to flood or any natural disaster, but as a result of their affiliation to a particular political party. We did not see the IDPs living in Bayelsa state vote.

There is a disconnect of the security architecture of the 2019 Governorship election in Bayelsa state and the reality on ground as observed by our coalition.

In furtherance as Non-governmental and non-partisan organization, it is our collective determination to ensure that politicians who sponsor, fund, aide or abate violence would be made to face the full wrath of the law. We would report perpetrators to embassies so that travel bans could be issued on them and their families.

Finally, in line with ensuring a transparent, free, fair and credible elections, we call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to reject election results emanating from areas where elections never held in Bayelsa state as a way of strengthening our democratic tenets.


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