By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoa—The Restoration Campaign Organization of Governor Seriake Dickson, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the inconclusive poll in Bayelsa State, yesterday, slammed the Joint Task Force, JTF, for absolving itself of any blame in the violence and irregularities that marred the recent election in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state, saying that the security body could have done better to forestall the violence that led to the cancellation of the election.
It has also rejected the position of the JTF on being neutral as the governor’s campaign outfit accused it of colluding with others to rig the election.
General Stevenson Olabanji, Commander, 2 Brigade, of the Nigerian Army, had at a news briefing in Yenagoa, regretted the violence during the election and claimed that the JTF made a number of arrests just as he stated that Governor Seriake Dickson’s visit to Oporoma on election day fueled violence in the area.
But the Restoration Campaign Organisation of the PDP, in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Jonathan Obuebite, blamed the JTF for the security lapse leading to loss of lives in Southern Ijaw council because it did not heed advice by the governor and others to postpone the election on account of anticipated violence.
He accused the JTF of being partisan, stating that its officers worked with thugs loyal to the opposition party in the state to undermine the entire electoral process in Southern Ijaw council.
“It is only fit and proper for the JTF to own up to its failures and apologize to the people of Southern Ijaw for the despicable and unprofessional conduct of some of its officers who clearly were more interested in lining their pockets. It failed to give reasons why it withdrew the military security attached to the governor and gave order for them to be detained, thereby compromising the security of the governor,” he said.
Even while he commended the JTF on some of its efforts, he, nonetheless, said they fell short of expectation.
“We expected the JTF to have done much more, knowing fully well reports of arms build-up by the APC leading up the election. The JTF should have adopted a proactive approach by deploying superior intelligence to track down the movement of arms by APC thugs and arrest same long before the commencement of the election,” he added.
According to him, the JTF failed to acknowledge that it erred by not heeding the advice of the governor and others including women, NYSC corps members and INEC ad hoc staff to postpone the election and despite of the gun duel it had with the militants, miscreants all through Friday night up till the morning of Saturday, which, he said, necessitated a shift in election.
Obuebite noted that even on Sunday, the day of the rescheduled election, security concerns were still at an all-time high, a development which prompted the governor as the Chief Security Officer to visit Oporoma to see things for himself, adding that he acted well within his rights and out of genuine concern.
“Unfortunately the JTF lied that the governor’s presence further heightened security in the area. That’s so cheeky and it only clearly shows that the military was indeed compromised. The governor went to Oporoma, headquarters of Southern Ijaw council out of genuine concern for the security of lives of the citizens. He went there as early as 7a.m., long before the commencement of election.”
Applauding the gallantry and professional conduct of some of its officers during the elections, which led to the arrest of some thugs and hoodlums, he challenged the JTF commander and Commissioner of Police to reveal the identity of those arrested and their sponsors.