The All Progressives Congress, APC, is on its way to winning the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship polls, held on Saturday. At press time, the party was awaiting final declaration as winner from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. In Kogi, Governor Yahaya Bello, who is seeking re-election led the other 23 candidates by a wide margin in results from 15 of the 19 local councils so far announced. There are 21 local councils in the state.
So far, Bello of the APC has 466, 134 votes while his main challenger, Engr Musa Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP got 151,566 votes. APC is leading with a margin of 314, 568 votes.
Results of Ankpa and Okehi local councils will be announced tomorrow according to INEC. In Bayelsa, which has been dominated by the PDP since 1999, the APC is ahead of the PDP with 206,134 votes in seven of the eight local councils of the state so far declared.
While David Lyon of the APC has secured 330,063 votes, Duoye Diri, of the PDP is trailing with 123,829 votes. Result from Ekeremor LGA is being awaited. The INEC has announced results in Yenagoa, Ogbia, Brass, Nembe, Kolokuma/Opokuma and Sagbama. Results of Southern Ijaw, where Lyon hails from and Ekeremor are yet to be announced. In Nembe LGA, where the APC Deputy Governorship Candidate, Senator Biobarakumo Degi-Eremieyon, hails from, the APC polled 83,041 votes, while the PDP got 874 votes.
However, the PDP won in Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA with 15,360 votes to APC’s 8,934 votes. The APC also won in Brass LGA, polling 23,831 votes; the PDP got 10,410 votes. Results from from 16 units were cancelled in Sangana, Brass I, and Mini-Bie due to violence, over voting and swapping of results. Minister of State for Petroleum, Chief Timipre Sylva is from the council area.
APC swept Southern Ijaw Local Council. It polled 124,803 votes while the PDP scored 4,898 votes. Results in 51 units were cancelled due to various electoral offences. Expectedly, the PDP has kicked against the results alleging manipulation.
PDP kicks as APC’s Lyon leads in Bayelsa
The PDP governorship candidate in the Bayelsa, Senator Douye Diri, accused the Nigerian Army of conniving with the APC to rig the polls in parts of the state. Addressing newsmen, yesterday evening, Senator Diri said members of the PDP were being terrorized and arrested by soldiers acting on superior order.
The PDP candidate briefed the press alongside the National Chairman of the PDP Campaign Council and Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed and National Vice Chairman of the Party, South South, Elder Emmanuel Ogidi. He noted that what is playing out in Bayelsa confirms the earlier red flag the PDP had raised days to the election about plots by the APC to use the Army to subvert the will of the people.
According to the PDP candidate, critical stakeholders of the party were harassed and prevented from accessing the collation centre in Ogbia, which is former President Goodluck Jonathan’s Local Government Area. Senator Diri said the chairman of the Council, Hon Ebiyon Turner and a serving member of the state House of Assembly representing Ogbia Constituency II, Hon Gibson Munalayefa were all arrested and detained by the Army operatives up till the time of the briefing.
In Southern Ijaw, he noted that PDP members who were travelling to their communities for the election including Dr Michael Amaegberi were also apprehended by soldiers at Ogboinbiri while their APC counterparts were allowed to go scot-free. Senator Diri who commended the Independent National Electoral Commission and the media for their show of professionalism in the conduct and coverage of the election, however, urged them to maintain the tempo for the sake of democracy.
He called on the international community and lovers of democracy to prevail on the Nigerian Army to respect the rule of law and for democracy to thrive in Bayelsa and Nigeria in general.
Bello leads as Wada, PDP reject results
The APC candidate’s highest win so far is in Okene, his local council, where he scored 112,764 votes as against Wada’s 139 votes. Governor Bello also floored Wada in Kabba/Bunu, the LGA of Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP’s spokesman.
APC polled 15,364 votes in Kabba Bunu which almost doubled that of Wada who polled 8,084 votes. The PDP Governorship candidate, Engr. Musa Wada and his running mate have rejected the result. Addressing newsmen in Lokoja, yesterday, he said results were being written to favour the APC.
He alleged that the deputy governor of the state, Chief Edward Onoja with security agencies were moving freely and visiting collation centres where he changed results to favour his party. He also lamented that APC rigged the election with the result of Kogi Central, adding that he and his party will challenge the result in court. “The result is not true reflection of what happened. The people of the state voted for PDP but APC changed the result to favour them.
“Results declared so far by INEC is a written result and we can’t accept that. Every single result was changed and we are going to challenge the election. The election is not true reflection of what happened in the field.”
In like manner, the PDP rejected the results and called for the cancellation of the votes garnered by the APC and Governor Bello in Okene Local Council. In a statement by its Spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said: “Nobody can accept the provocative alteration of results from polling units as well as allocation of fictitious votes, particularly the awarding of 112,000 votes to APC in Okene.”
The party added that the people of Kogi State have glaring evidence of alterations of figures to reduce the vote of the PDP and allocate what it called imported figures to the APC. The party therefore advised INEC not to ever declare such “mutilated results” as they will not be accepted by the people.
“Our party hopes that these apparent moves to allocate fictitious results to the APC has no bearing with the allegations in the public space that Governor Yahaya Bello and the APC had compromised highly placed INEC officials with huge sums of money to alter result in favour of the APC.
The PDP therefore cautions INEC to note that any attempt to declare the figures being bandied for the APC will be a validation of the bribery allegation. The only way out is for INEC to cancel and drop the fictitious figures being bandied and declare only the results from votes cast and declared at the respective polling units.”
APC urges calm, accuses PDP of importing thugs from Oyo, Osun
However, the APC has urged its members in Kogi and Bayelsa state to remain calm in the face of unfolding victory, and accused the PDP of importing thugs from Oyo and Osun into Kogi State with a view of rigging Saturday’s governorship polls.
While disclosing how the PDP had made elaborate plans to rig the polls in Bayelsa, the ruling party urged its supporters to remain calm ahead of its victories in both states, hailing security agencies for the arrangements put in place for the polls in the two states.
“We are aware of several hoodlums brought into Kogi State from Osun and Oyo states few days before the elections, just as we monitored the grand preparation to unleash violence in Bayelsa State. We are delighted that the forces of darkness have failed.
The subterfuge deployed by the Peoples Democratic Party to rig the election in both states, including the Kogi West senatorial rerun election was thwarted,” said Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC.
He said in Kogi and Bayelsa states, the APC was “certain of securing the majority votes for the two governorship seats and the Kogi West senatorial seat. For this, we knew we must ensure a peaceful atmosphere for voters to freely turn out and exercise their franchise.
As expected, not being in the tradition of PDP to thrive under orderly and credible electoral process, they did their best to discredit the process. We are glad that the voting processes came to a successful end in Kogi and Bayelsa states”.
“The Party thanks security agencies and other officials who did their best to minimize the impact of the PDP thugs whose sole agenda was to create chaos and scare voters from coming out to vote. Of course, the PDP did not achieve their objective of winning through violence.”
US, UK, others calls for calm and thorough investigation
Meanwhile, the United States, United kingdom and others have called on political leaders to maintain peace and encouraged security agencies to investigate thoroughly and bring perpetrators of electoral violence and manipulation to justice.
They spoke in statements made available to journalists by the Diplomatic Watch, deployed teams from Austria, the European Union Delegation, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States to the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
The statement read in part: “We express our alarm at reports of widespread incidents of violence and intimidation, some of which were witnessed by our teams in Kogi.
There are reports of fatalities and people missing, including INEC staff. Our thoughts are with all victims and their families. “We encourage all stakeholders, in particular political leaders, to call for calm and we encourage security agencies to investigate thoroughly and bring perpetrators to justice.
“We are also concerned by evident vote buying and credible reports of ballot box snatching in both Bayelsa and Kogi. “We commend the commitment and resilience of voters in both states who came out to exercise their democratic rights. We express our sympathy for those affected by the violence, including ordinary voters; INEC officials; members of the NYSC; civil society; and the media.
“All should be able to carry out their fundamental role in the democratic process free from intimidation and harassment. “As long-standing friends, we have been present at every major election in Nigeria since 1999. We remain committed to working impartially with Nigerian authorities, INEC in particular, as well as civil society to consolidate and deepen democracy.”
30 ‘missing’ INEC staff found
Meantime, the INEC said it has found 30 of its staff who were declared unaccounted for, following violent attacks on their duty posts in Saturday’s Governorship election in Kogi state.
Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi in a statement in Abuja said the staff were safe and sound while they had also concluded their election day assignments.
“We can now confirm that all the 30 ad-hoc staff engaged for the 2019 Kogi Governorship election and posted to Polling Units 002, 006 and 013 at Olamaboro III; and Polling Units 006, 012, 015, 016, 022 at Imani 1 all in Olamaboro Local Government Area have been accounted for.
They are safe, sound and back in their respective homes. The Chairman of the Commission has personally spoken with some of them and they confirmed that they are hale and hearty”, he said. Oyekanmi said none of the staff was harmed or killed.
“These election-day duty staff could not be accounted for initially following the violent attacks by some armed thugs at their respective duty posts after the close of polls. The Commission has established that none of them was either injured or killed. They were able to successfully conclude the result collation process before the commotion started”, he added.
CSOs decry level of violence, seek passage of Electoral Offences Commission law
The Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room, on Sunday, decried what it termed as unprecedented level of violence witnessed in the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States, even as it called for urgent passage of the Electoral Offences Commission law.
The Situation Room which is a coalition of over 70 CSOs in the country that deployed observers to the two states, in a statement it made available to newsmen in Abuja, maintained that the elections represented a major setback for Nigeria’s electoral democracy.
Even though it noted that there were few reports of polling materials and personnel not arriving on time, the Situation Room said it still received reports of late commencement of polls in several polling units across the two States. It said it also received reports of security personnel standing by and watching incidents of ballot box snatching, violence and abuse of the electoral process.
“The levels of violence witnessed in the two State governorship elections are unprecedented, alarming and raises questions about the credibility of the elections. Nigerians had expected that lessons learnt from the 2019 General elections by stakeholders especially by political parties, the Police and other security services would be taken to improve on the conduct of these elections.
“Unfortunately, this was not the case and both elections have proved to be a disappointment. The governorship elections conducted in Kogi and Bayelsa States represent a major setback for Nigeria’s electoral democracy.
“For instance, in Kogi State this was observed in Ajaokuta Local Government, Ganaja Ward; Dekina Local Government, Anyigba Ward, PUs 003,005, 009, 018, 025 and 026 and Ankpa Local Government, Agodo Ward, PU 006. Whereas in Bayelsa State this was observed in Kolokuma/ Opokuma Local Government, Ward 1, PU 003 and Nembe Local Government, Igbeta-Ewoama Ward, PU 002.
In several polling units, police personnel who were unarmed were overwhelmed by political parties, thugs and supporters. “These security personnel, as was the case in most instances, did not receive back up support from roving security personnel as planned.
There were also reports of armed security personnel shooting, dispersing voters and carting away election materials and even destroying them”. “Situation Room received many reports of security surrounding the elections including lapses that had far-reaching consequences on the elections. The Nigerian police had stated before the elections that it was deploying 35, 200 police personnel to Kogi State and 31, 041 Police personnel to Bayelsa State.
“In addition, other security agencies deployed personnel for the elections including the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Customs Service Federal Road Safety Commission, Army, Navy and Air Force.
The claimed overwhelming numbers of the deployments by security officials should ordinarily provide enough security for the elections. “In spite of these, security gaps and lapses remained manifest throughout the elections in the two States.
Security forces failed to provide details of names of its personnel that it deployed for the elections, raising questions about the claims on the numbers deployed”. More so, the CSOs bemoaned the level of vote-buying in both states, stressing that some electorates were swayed with money ranging between N500 and N6,000. It said:
“The commercialization of Nigeria’s elections appears to have reached unprecedented heights. Political parties and their agents operated openly and with impunity distributing money in purchase of votes and it appeared that they were no efforts to stop them. Sums paid at polling units ranged from N500 to N6,000″.
In conclusion, the Situation Room said it was disappointed with the conduct of the two governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States and expressed its worry that the elections fell below the standards expected for free, fair and credible elections.
“With particular reference to the elections in Kogi State, the levels of violence perpetrated by the two major political parties and politicians, evident sometimes in the collusion with security personnel, seriously undermined the elections, deterred voters and made the exercise a farce.
Accordingly, Situation Room is calling for the cancellation 0f the entirety of the Kogi State elections conducted on 16 November 2019. “The Kogi State election represents a major dent to Nigeria’s democratic process.
The governorship election in Bayelsa State also witnesses serious lapses, with high levels of violence perpetrated by political parties again in collusion with security personnel and reports of “community voting”- a practice whereby political parties controlling particular areas compel overwhelming votes in favour of their party.
“Situation Room calls on INEC to fully interrogate the elections in Bayelsa State with a view to identifying the high incidences of malpractice that took place and reflect the genuine vote of the people.’’
SERAP wants ICC to probe APC, PDP officials over violence
Also, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, called on the International Criminal Court, ICC, to investigate the persistent crimes of corruption, violence, and killings during elections in Nigeria, most recently in Bayelsa and Kogi states, and particularly, the involvement of the APC, and PDP officials. SERAP also urged the court to probe whether the repeated failure of the Nigerian authorities to address the crimes amount to violence against Nigerians and crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
In the petition by Deputy Director of SERAP, Kolawole Oluwadare, dated November 16, 2019, addressed to Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor, ICC, SERAP pushed “for those suspected to be responsible for these crimes, mostly security officials, officials of the two main political parties, APC and the PDP and other actors who contributed to the corruption, violence and killings during the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states, and are therefore complicit in the crimes, to be tried by the ICC.”
SERAP explained that:”The events in the Bayelsa and Kogi elections suggest criminal conduct within the jurisdiction of the ICC. If the results of the preliminary investigation suggest that further investigation is warranted, the ICC should work with Nigerian anti-corruption agencies on the matter. Election-related corruption and violence are not just minor infractions, they suggest serious crimes against Nigerians, in particular, crimes against humanity.
“In the ICC case on Kenyan election violence, the culture of impunity was considered one reason why violence had been ‘normalised’ as a means of political struggle. We therefore urge you to investigate allegations of corruption, violence and killings in Bayelsa and Kogi elections, if the ICC is to contribute to preventing escalations in future elections, including the general elections scheduled to hold in 2023.
“The incidents of bribery and corruption, intimidation and violence witnessed in Bayelsa and Kogi States also strike at the integrity of the democratic process and seriously undermine President Muhammadu Buhari’s oft-expressed commitment to fight corruption and end impunity of perpetrators.
“The desire for power at all costs by politicians undermines Nigerians’ rights to open, transparent and accountable government that respects human rights and observe the rule of law. Election-related corruption and violence make public officials susceptible to corrupt incentives.
“The Nigerian authorities over the years have been unwilling and/or unable to prosecute suspected perpetrators of election-related corruption, violence and killings, which in turn has promoted the sense of impunity and emboldened those politicians and their accomplices who continue to commit these crimes against the Nigerian people during election periods.”
Nigeria being a state party to the Rome Statute and deposited its instrument of ratification on September 27th, 2001, SERAP therefore, urged the ICC to use the example of its intervention in the Kenyan election violence in 2007 and 2008, which led to the ICC prosecution of perpetrators, including government officers, for crimes against humanity.
It continued: “The violent events witnessed in the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states suggest the lack of political will by the authorities and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to respect the sanctity and integrity of the electoral system and to apply criminal sanctions to perpetrators of corruption, violence and killings during elections.”
“The events in Bayelsa and Kogi states also suggest the misuse of state resources for party political purposes apparently by the APC and PDP. Corruption and violence-tainted elections invariably produce would-be corrupt public officials, and lead to a vicious circle of corruption, mistrust, impunity, and deny citizens access to public goods and services.”
“The Nigerian authorities and the leadership of the two main parties failed abysmally to ensure an election free of bribery, violence and intimidation in Bayelsa and Kogi states. “According to our information, the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states were characterised by widespread reports of vote-buying (ranging from N500 to N6,000), violent attacks on citizens and journalists, and outright stealing of ballot boxes by armed thugs hired by politicians apparently of the two major parties, the APC and PDP, suggesting grand corruption and brazen impunity.”