By Samuel Oyadongha & Emem Idio, Yenagoa
Tension Wednesday heightened in Yenagoa the Bayelsa State capital as thousands of All Progressive Congress APC supporters, men, women and youths took to the streets in protest of the cancellation of the rescheduled governorship election in Southern Ijaw local government area.
The Independent National Electoral Commission on Monday cancelled the governorship election in the volatile Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Baritor Kpagih, who announced the cancellation of the election in the area said the poll in the area was “substantially” marred by violence, ballot box snatching and hostage taking of electoral officers.
Southern Ijaw Local Government Area has 120,827 registered voters, the highest in the eight council areas of the state.
Government offices were hurried closed as tension escalated in the state capital following fears that the protest could spiraled into violence. Though it could not be immediately ascertained, it was gathered that the directive that the government offices within the secretariat complex was verbally issued by the Head of Service, Dr. Peter Singabele.
Vanguard findings however revealed that before the directive was issued most of the civil servants could not access their offices as the roads leading to the Government House and the state secretariat were condoned off by armed security operatives.
How APC grounded Yenagoa
The protesters who carried placards and sang anti INEC songs, caused serious gridlock in town as they marched from the APC secretariat at the Yenezue-Gene suburb of Yenagoa to the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC along Swali road to register their grievances over the cancellation of Southern Ijaw election result.
It was the second protests in two days despite the ban on street procession by the police.
Supporters of the PDP mainly women from Southern Ijaw council had on Monday staged a peaceful protest close to the INEC collation centre calling for the cancellation of the election in the council, alleging widespread irregularities.
Armed policemen were deployed at strategic locations in town with a Yankee patrol vehicle ahead of the protesters to prevent any break down of law and order as well as prevent miscreants from hijacking the process.
Some the protesters placards read: “REC does not have the power to cancel an election already declared by the returning officer,” “INEC should declare Southern Ijaw results now!” “INEC must declare results of SILGA or also cancel Ekeremor,Sagbama and Yenagoa”, “We say total no to injustice and executive rascality,” “Dickson must be disqualify for violating Electoral Act,” “Bayelsans reject the cancellation of Southern Ijaw Results:We demand INEC to declare the results,” among others.
The protesters, made up of scores of persons with disabilities called on the national leadership of the INEC to investigate the reasons offered for the cancellation and declare such cancellation illegal.
According to one of the Protesters, Comrade Preye Apreala, the decision by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Baritor Kpagih, to cancel the election in Southern Ijaw local government area was criminal and a violation of the electoral rights of the over 120,000 voters that participated in the poll in spite of threats.