- Bayelsa election prone to violence, says coalition of CSOs
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The violence that occurred when some suspected hoodlums loyal to one of the parties in Bayelsa attacked a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), rally in Nembe, Bayelsa, has claimed a police Inspector posted from the Mobile Police formation in Asaba, Delta State.
Achibugu Odagi, it was learnt, died of gunshot injuries he received from the thugs who unleashed mayhem on PDP members during the campaign rally when the Governor, Seriake Dickson and the PDP candidate, Douye Diri had yet to arrive the venue.
This is as a coalition of Civil Society Organisations, (CSO) under the umbrella of Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room said yesterday that despite several warnings, chances that the Bayelsa election would be marred by violence was still very high.
The shooting was at the King Koko Square venue of an aborted PDP rally In Ogbolomabiri, Nembe, while the body had since been deposited at the Nembe General Hospital
Another of his colleagues, Mr. Ododomu was said to still be battling for his life after surviving the attack with a gunshot wound on his leg. Two other policemen are critically injured and are battling to survive, it was learnt.
A source said that several other people were still missing with growing worries from unconfirmed reports that the thugs ripped open the stomach of their victims and threw them into the nearby river
However, it was gathered that medical personnel had started discharging several of the victims at the Specialists Hospital and Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa.
Meanwhile, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Anthony Ogbizi, who regretted the killing, has vowed to apprehend suspected hoodlums who killed the police officer and injured two other cops at the Nembe rally.
“What happened in Nembe is unfortunate because these are police officers who planned to go for their primary assignment of ensuring that the election process is conducted free and fair and they were attacked by militants, but that is a statement we’ve taken care of and justice will be done.
“Nembe area is no longer a no-go-area. You are here and you are used to militancy. I will only advise that, that doesn’t pay. Killing their fellow brothers is not the option. Whoever wins is still an Ijaw, is still a Bayelsan so why are they taking up arms against themselves?
“And then why are you taking up arms against peace officers who are here to did their work? But notwithstanding, you can see the massive deployment that is going on and is complete.
“Every area we have deployed security agents to ensure that enabling environment is provided.
“Every Bayelsan is assured of his security. They should not be afraid, but come out and cast their votes. And I want to advise that after casting their votes, they should go back to their respective homes and wait for the outcome of the election,” he said.
While expressing concerns over what she termed the activities of cult groups, thugs and militants, the Situation Room said it frowned at the recent killings in Nembe and called on security agencies to fully investigate the incidents and bring all those responsible to account.
Alternate Chair of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Esther Uzoma, who spoke during a press briefing in Yenagoa yesterday, said the organisation had deployed over 90 election observers across the eight local government areas of the state for the governorship poll.
She said: “Despite repeated warnings, Situation Room observes continued signs of preparation for violence by political actors.
“We call for accountability for sponsored violence particularly violence affecting election officials and ad-hoc staff. Situation Room calls for non-partisan sanctions of political parties that do not take active steps mobilization for violence in their ranks.
“Situation Room expects an improved administration and management of the November 16 Governorship Election in Bayelsa State and calls on INEC to take bold steps to hold election officials to account for any partisan activities or behaviour. Situation Room calls on INEC to ensure that all materials are adequately deployed for Saturday’s election.”
According to the coalition which is made of over 70 CSOs , the group was also partnering with the Police Service Commission (PSC) to monitor the conduct of all police officers engaged in election duty to tone down illegal activities during the poll.
Uzoma pointed out that the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room will collate information and observations from the field to ascertain the extent of compliance with the set rules and guidelines for the election and interface with relevant authorities where the need arises.