By Wale Akinola
Ahead of the February 2012 gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State, Coalition of Nigerian Civil Rights Groups, CONCRIGs, is alleging growing cases of arrests, intimidation, assault on innocent people and “blatant rape of democratic norms in the state.”
The group said: “Not only are members of other political parties being arrested and locked up without charges, their supporters are being harassed by the same people that shut out high profile contenders in the recent Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, gubernatorial primaries.”
The coalition, which spoke through its Assistant General Secretary, Mr. Kehinde Adegbuyi, during a press conference in Lagos, said it just returned from a fact-finding mission in Bayelsa State.
He said: “Supporters of PDP candidates other than the one anointed by the Federal Government are facing threats to life. This horrendous situation is taking place under a carefully planned strategy aimed at imposing a candidate on the people of Bayelsa, whether or not the people like.”
He said the events call to question the future of democracy in Nigeria.
While asking the Federal Government to withdraw soldiers from Bayelsa and stop the drift into anarchy, the coalition asked Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to stop the Bayelsa poll unless there is proof that the election will be free and fair.
The group asked for the release of all those detained in connection with the Bayelsa PDP primaries and called for civil society groups’ mobilisation to monitor the election in the state “to ensure it is not rigged.”