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#BayelsaDecides: Four Policemen, Two Soldiers Killed in Election Violence

Four policemen and two soldiers were among those who lost their lives in Saturday’s supplementary election in Bayelsa State, it has been gathered.

No fewer than 12 persons suspected to be militants and security agents were feared killed during the rescheduled election in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and 102 other polling units across the state.

Apart from the security agents, it was learnt that six civilians alleged to be militants from the neighbouring Delta State were also killed in the violence that occurred in some LGAs in the state, including in Nembe and Ekeremor.

Although security agencies have yet to confirm the deaths, Governor Seriake Dickson, has lamented the development, accusing the All Progressives Congress of being responsible for the killings.

A statement by the governor’s media aide, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, quoted Dickson as saying that security agents provided cover for the APC “to perpetrate violence and rig the elections in the state”.

Dickson’s party, the Peoples Democratic Party, however, claimed that up to 17 “innocent Bayelsans” were killed during the election, including one of the party’s agents.

Violence and ballot snatching had threatened the election with shootings in some parts of the state in the early morning of Saturday, the day of the rerun.

A resident of Ekeremor, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said some militants attacked Ekeremor, the hometown of the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, twice.

The source said the first attack, which was carried out by some militants suspected to be from Delta State was around 1am, while the second attack took place around 3am.

Investigations showed that the attacks, which were aimed at making it impossible for election to be held in the polling units with 13,000 voters’, were repelled by security agents.

Also, as a result of sporadic shootings in Southern Ijaw, two persons were said to have received gunshot wounds in Agoibiri area.

An unconfirmed number of casualties was recorded after the shootings.

The corpses of the dead bodies, numbering seven, were said to have been deposited in Oboro community in Bomadi area of Delta State.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Bayelsa State Command, Mr. Asinim Butswat, said he had yet to be briefed on the incidents.

He, however, promised to confirm the incident, saying he only heard that some hoodlums snatched electoral materials in Ogbia and that the police had intensified efforts to recover them.

As of the time of going to press, the spokesman had yet to respond to the death claims as well as the effort by the police on the snatched materials.

Some members of Governor Seriake Dickson’s campaign team, the Restoration Campaign Organisation, confirmed that there were shootings and killings in Ekeremor on Saturday.

They claimed that because of the development, election could not be held in nine units in Ekeremor.

They further claimed that in the Amassoma area of Southern Ijaw, elections were only held in some units, while others could not get election materials because of widespread violence.

In Brass, they claimed that election materials did not get to some units, including Akassa area.

The Dickson loyalists also alleged that there were heavy shootings and attacks of the Peoples Democratic Party members in Bassambiri area of Nembe.

According to them, a prominent ex-militant leader and his supporters also hijacked election materials in Peremabiri

They also alleged that in Ward 4 of Southern Ijaw, election materials for units 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29 were hijacked by political thugs.

The campaign spokesman for Dickson, Mr. Jonathan Obuebite, alleged that from what transpired during the supplementary election, the security agencies had failed the people of Bayelsa.

He said widespread violence occurred across the LGAs that participated in the exercise despite the assurances from President Muhammadu Buhari that security agencies would live up to the expectations of the people.

He said with what happened in the rescheduled poll, Dickson had been vindicated that the security agencies were not ready to provide the enabling environment for all the political parties to operate.

Speaking on the supplementary poll, the campaign team of the APC candidate, Mr. Timipre Sylva, dismissed the claim that the Presidency had any hand in the poll.

The spokesman, Sylva-Igiri Campaign Organisation, Mr. Nathan Egba, said, “Our attention has been drawn to a sponsored media report that the Presidency has issued a directive to the Independent National Electoral Commission to declare Sylva winner of the election.

“The Sylva-Igiri Campaign Organisation wishes to sound it clear once again that President Muhammadu Buhari is not influencing the result of the election in favour of our candidate, having remained neutral from the beginning of the process.

“The report linking the Presidency to the Bayelsa election was misplaced and mischievous. The APC was shocked at such claims coming from the PDP at a time election was ongoing in the various polling units in the entire Southern Ijaw LGA and some units in six other local government areas of the state.”

Egba said the statement from the opposition giving victory to the APC in the poll is an admittance of imminent defeat on their part as they must have sensed from the reports coming from the field.

He advised Dickson to learn from the experience of the last presidential election and stop his “brand of propaganda that had not taken him far since the election process began months back.”

The PDP, however, praised the people of Southern Ijaw and others in the remaining 101 units where the rerun took place for their steadfastness in the face of intimidation.

The Director of Publicity, Restoration Campaign Organisation, Jonathan Obuebite, in a statement, expressed joy that the PDP was cruising to victory in the rerun.

Obuebite said, “I want to appreciate the people of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and those in the other 101 polling units, as they listened to our call that they must not allow anybody to intimidate them as they step out to exercise their civic responsibilities.”

The rerun in Southern Ijaw and over 100 polling units across six LGAs in the state was not without some hiccups.

There were reported shootings, ballot boxes snatching and hijack of election materials, as well as late accreditation.

In Amassoma in Southern Ijaw, Ward 10, units 21 to 26, materials were not available as of 11.30am.

Heavy shootings also frustrated movement of materials from Amatoru Community Secondary School to units in the ward.

In Tara Kiwi community in Amassoma, the hometown of late former Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, the turnout of voters was high and accreditation was going on as of 11.50am.

In Amatolo community, still in Southern Ijaw, there were sporadic shootings and the development prevented INEC from moving election materials to the area as of 12 noon.

In Ward 1, Agoibiri in Southern Ijaw, there was sporadic shooting and two persons were reportedly wounded by stray bullets.

The development was said to have angered some of the youths in the area, who destroyed election materials.

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