Hundreds of aggrieved supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday threw Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, into pandemonium as they protested the cancellation of Southern Ijaw poll.
The protesters, comprising youths, ladies and persons with disabilities, gathered at the party secretariat in Yenagoa, from where they marched to the state office of the Independent National Electoral Commission on Swali Road.
As the angry protesters trekked about four kilometres to the INEC headquarters in the state, the entire Yenagoa metropolis had a full dose of gridlock, which virtually locked down the metropolis.
Onlookers and residents joined them in the demonstration as the protesters, who were under the cover of riot policemen, sang solidarity and war songs made their way through Yenagoa-Mbiama Road, Imgbi road, en route the INEC office.
When they got to the INEC office, they were however, prevented from entering into the premises by scores of security operatives that mounted guard at the entrance of INEC.
The protesters were asked to maintain peace and order and wait outside the premises to be attended to by INEC officials.
The protesters were unanimous in the request: “INEC, give us our votes in Southern Ijaw and declare our leader and candidate of the APC, Chief Timipre Sylva, the Governor-elect.”
They accused the State Resident Electoral Commissioner of fraud, saying he subverted the collective will of the electorate.
They said the REC cancelled the Southern Ijaw election, which results had already been collated, remaining to be announced because Sylva won in SILGA by a landslide.
They vowed that hell would be let loose if the INEC failed to announce the poll results as they were and return Sylva as the Governor-elect of Bayelsa.
noted that the protesters wanted INEC to declare Southern Ijaw results or also cancel the results of Ekeremor, Sagbama and Yenagoa, which they claimed were marred by extreme violence and irregularities.
The protesters further demanded the sacking of the REC, Mr. Baritor Kpagih, alleging that he was a bad influence and election rigger.
The protesters, who conducted their demonstration peacefully, brandished banners and placards with the inscriptions such as “The Resident Electoral Commissioner does not have the powers to cancel an election already declared by the returning officer”, “INEC must disqualify Governor Seriake Dickson for personally moving to Southern Ijaw to order violent attacks on APC members”.
“Others bore the inscriptions, “Mr. Baritor Kpagih, INEC REC should be sacked”, “We demand INEC to declare the Southern Ijaw results”, “Bayelsans reject the cancellation of Southern Ijaw results”, “Ijaw people reject and also say no to dictatorial and draconian leadership of Dickson”, among other requests.”
Speaking on the behalf of the protesting party faithful, chieftain of the APC, Mr. Famous Danaumougha, said they had come to send message to the commission that election was conducted in Southern Ijaw and that the results should be announced.
He said the APC was leading in that election, wondering why the INEC refused to announce the results.
He said the INEC officer that cancelled the results had no reason to do so as the election results had been collated for announcement.
“The REC was too much in a hurry to cancel that election. If it had been the Returning Officer, we would not have raised eyebrow. The REC was so biased. We demand the announcement of that result,” he said.
He said their appeal was very simple, the results should be announced to avoid escalation of crisis in the state.
Another speaker for the protesters, Mr. Egba Alfred, a former member of Bayelsa State House of Assembly, said INEC must without hesitation, announce the SILGA results, which he claimed the APC won overwhelmingly.
“Our message is simple: the APC had 25 per cent of the six LGAs that were declared and SILGA that the APC won round and square was cancelled. This is unacceptable. INEC has no power to cancel election that has been collated,” Alfred said.
Responding to the grievance of the protesters, INEC Head of Operations, Mr. O. Victor, told the protesting APC members that their grieviances had been understood and that he would transmit them to the relevant authorities.
He told them that the REC would have been there personally to address them but for his trip to the INEC national headquarters in Abuja.
He commended them for their peaceful demonstration, assuring them that the INEC would look into them.