• Threat of Violence Grips Kogi As Wada Seeks To Upstage Bello There has been intense friction and uncertainty in Yenagoa, the capital of the state of Bayelsa, and its neighboring local government areas as major political parties–the Democratic People’s Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC)–compete for the future of the oil-rich state.
Concerns about terrorism and massive deployment of security staff created a siege atmosphere that enveloped the state ahead of today’s governorship election.
The rise in violence in the build-up to the election increased tension across the country, especially in the areas of Nembe, Brass, and Southern Ijaw.
The two main parties have the most popular candidates, and the most supporters and analysts conclude that the race is between Senator Douye Diri of the PDP and David Lyon, Chief of the APC.
In the last 72 hours of preparation for the election, Kogi has also been in an anxious mood, as fear of violence has pervaded the country.
While yesterday’s Ministry of Education had ordered all public and private schools to go on a public holiday, most schools had closed down on their own since Wednesday.
Lokoja residents, the state capital, were seen traveling in droves to the senatorial districts of Kogi Central, Kogi East, and Kogi West, where they registered for exercising their franchise.
Most of the major streets had meager traffic, except vehicles carrying security operators to their various election duty posts.
A little kid (name withheld), who is in Primary Three, told The Guardian that he was prepared for school on Thursday only to find that there were no other schools opened.
He said he told his mother to leave the state because he had been frightened by helicopters hovering over Lokoja.
He also complained about gunshot sounds that wake him up every night from sleep, saying, “It’s so terrifying.” A resident of Gaduma, Hajia Salamatu, was seen moving to Adankola area with her family, where she said her polling unit was located.
Sequel to today’s epic proxy battle between two familiar enemies in Bayelsa, in the persons of Governor Seriake Dickson, who wants to return Diri and State Minister for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, who supports Lyon for the Creek Haven Government House, there were spots of violent clashes at campaign rallies between supporters of both camps.
The state’s apprehensive mood, triggered by the Nembe mayhem, where more than ten people were reportedly killed, with several others wounded or missing, is further aggravated by the heavy security presence.
In addition to the more than 32,000 police officers posted to meet their state-based colleagues, Nigeria Army, Nigeria Navy, Nigeria Security, and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), men and officers were also seen at strategic points.
There were concerns that if not handled well, the election would end up as a battle, as both parties were willing to fight in the election to outdo each other.
Unconfirmed reports said both camps might have recruited some former activists to prosecute the election, who were and maybe putting together arms and ammunition.
During the tense situation, more than 31,000 police personnel were mobilized for the election, including one Deputy Police Inspector General (DIG), 20 Police Service Commission (PSC) members, 15 Police Commissioners, and three Assistant Police Commissioners.
Due to the heavy presence of both police and soldiers, the state capital seems to be under siege.
A resident complained that a siege mentality had been generated by the situation as if the state was preparing for war.
To avoid any eventuality, the State Police Command had set up a comprehensive staff deployment to ensure the polls were conducted peacefully, urging all political parties and their backers to refrain from any act of violence capable of disrupting the exercise.
A statement by the spokesman for the Command, Asimin Butswat, further advised them to abide by the peace agreement they had signed earlier and to cooperate with security agencies, adding: “Security agencies were ordered to enforce restrictions on the movement of boats and all river craft activities in state waterways from November 15 to November 17 at 7 pm.
“Person, motor vehicle, tricycle, and motorcycle movement will be restricted from midnight on November 15 until the end of the voting exercise. By casting their votes for candidates of their choice, the electorate is advised to come out and exercise their franchise, “the statement added.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) started distributing sensitive materials to different Registration Area Centers (RACs) ahead of yesterday’s poll as early as 7:00 am.
His staff, party leaders, both national and international observers, were spotted on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Yenagoa branch to track the exercise very early yesterday.
Mr. Monday Udoh, the Resident Electoral Commission (REC), told journalists that INEC was 100% ready to conduct a credible election for the citizens, saying: “The electorate should be civilian, peaceful, conduct themselves well and listen to orders, particularly from the security staff.” In Kogi, the REC, Professor James Apam, said that since then, he had overcome the issue of allegations, adding: “The electorate should be civil, peaceful, conduct well and listen to instructions. We trained people; yesterday, we sent to the RACs sensitive materials. We have relocated Lokoja’s excess workers. “On threats from the flashpoint zones, he said:” We do have some of our colleagues coming from other states moving about. We’ve posted them to some of those local governments. “He insisted no pressure from any side.
On hard-to-reach areas, such as Ibaji and those areas that need flying boats to transport materials, Apam said the Nigeria Navy was supporting the INEC boat with their ships to move personnel and materials to those locations.
He expressed the hope that the election based on INEC preparations would be hitch-free.
In response to the alarm posed by the INEC national chairman about the volatile nature of Kogi and Bayelsa states in terms of safety and fear pervading the country, INEC national commissioner in charge of Niger, Kogi and Nasarawa states, Muhammad Haruna, said: “You usually know what the problem is when the results start, that is when the problem begins, but we hope this time, as everyone has prayed, it will b
“There was a story we’ve all finished, and the smart card readers were in Abuja’s Hilton Hotel. You’re going to hear all sorts of things. “He urged the electorate to go out and vote heavily, adding,” There are apprehensions, of course. The tension is there, it’s tangible, but even those who want to perpetuate violence would be terrified if people come out in large numbers.
“There would be a question only when a few people turn up, so people should come out in their large numbers and vote for whom they want to vote to govern the States.”