By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN—Members of Bayelsa State governorship primary election committee, of All Progressives Congress, APC, have declared in the official report to the National Secretariat of the party that what was done at the Samson Siasia Stadium on September 22, was not a primary election but “a ransom for our release from captivity.”
In the report signed by Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, Chairman of the committee, the secretary, Senator Ishaq Salman and five other members of the committee, narrated the efforts by members to ensure a free and fair primary, but lamented that their efforts were scuttled by thugs allegedly loyal to former Governor Timipre Sylva, when the committee insisted on accreditation of genuine delegates.
The report said: “On our way to the stadium, we encountered an army of youths wearing vests with the inscription “APC Volunteer Force”, who barricaded the venue of the exercise. When we entered the venue, we were confronted by some aspirants complaining that the APC Volunteer Force was an outfit of one of the aspirants used to intimidate and deny entry to the opponents of the said aspirant. They said many of our own supporters have been attacked and some have been hospitalized. The police told us that earlier that day two AK47 rifles with 146 rounds of ammunition and Pump Action gun with several cartridges were recovered from some people who abandoned the guns and ran away. We held a meeting with the security agencies present where it was decided that the Volunteer Force should be dispersed by the police.”
The committee said it started accreditation with the statutory delegates and completed without hitch, until it started accreditation with Brass Local Government Area, where it discovered that many of them did not have approved means of identification, adding that many of the PVCs were fake.
The committee said, “It was at this stage that the chairman (Oshiomhole) arrived and he called for a meeting to review the process so far in view of the several calls he had received and what he saw on his way to the venue”.
The report noted that after the meeting with all the aspirants and the Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, the police was directed to secure the stadium and ensure that hoodlums were not allowed in, but unfortunately, reverse was the case.
According to the report, “the crowd invaded the stadium and started raining abuses on us. Without waiting to be invited with other aspirants, Timipre Sylva, came and insisted that the election must be held. He repeated what he said at the meeting the previous day that the guideline was targeted at him and that the chairman of the committee was in Bayelsa to act out a script”.
It said after Oshiomhole’s plea that Sylva should order the thugs out of the stadium failed, “the chairman asked him to clarify the status of the committee members, if we have been held hostage. Chief Sylva was adamant but after a lot of persuasions he spoke to the crowd who retreated only a few meters but still within the stadium, it was clear at this stage that the crowd was the army of Chief Sylva.
The chairman (Oshiomhole) called for help and the officers and men of the JTF came to rescue him. after his departure we realized that we were now held hostage and the ransom demanded of us was to conduct the election” it stated. The reported stressed that no primaries were conducted due to the tensed atmosphere which according to them was allegedly perpetrated by Chief Sylva”.