My position is clear which is that some officers of the army committed a lot of atrocities. There was gross misconduct from most of them. I do have a lot of respect for the military as an institution but will be failing in my duty if I don’t point out the flagrant misconduct and the impunity with which the rights of the good people of Bayelsa State were violated.
We are talking of a situation where for the first time soldiers were in custody of sensitive electoral materials and handed them over to some militants supporting the APC, gave the militants protection and cover instead of arresting them. They agreed with them on the modalities of diverting electoral materials that were entrusted to their care and custody and brutalised my supporters (PDP) supporters. They were everywhere even exchanging fire with police officers who were on legitimate electoral duties, fighting over custody of electoral materials. They forcefully overpowered unarmed civilians, INEC staff and even police officers and handed over the electoral materials to known militant supporters of APC.
The rescheduled elections in southern Ijaw was simply a military affair. It was war not elections and this left the people outraged and traumatised.
I commend the people of Southern Ijaw for their courage and bravery. Unarmed men and women came out and used their bare bodies to block armoured Personnel Carriers. Military officers who were in illegal possession electoral materials forcefully snatched, were blocked in Amassoma. In Twon Brass military officials gave protection to APC thugs who went around on rampage attacking and killing PDP supporters and that happened throughout Brass. My Special Advicers in Brass were attacked one from Ewoama and another from Okpoama where the APC candidate hails from. So the APC never planned for an election but war and they had stock piles of dangerous weapons in every community. The military and security agents had knowledge of this because as Chief Security Officer of the State, I am privy to certain intelligence report of which I duly communicated to them.
I campaigned all over the state moving from community to community talking to the people about peaceful elections but they were preparing for war and the military was actively used to facilitate these infractions of human rights and violation of the dignity of the people of our dear state. They are busy accusing me and my party but it is simply an attempt to tar us with the same brush. They are all known as violent people. In Ekeremo LGA for example, the minister who is resorting to cheap propaganda to exonerate himself and maybe spare himself from an imminent sack, in the company of his younger brother called Teko; a known thug, brought people to shoot in Ekeremo and the same thing happened in Brass and Southern Ijaw. Why is it that most of the people attacked were PDP Supporters? So this is not an election matter. They simply wanted to unleash violence on the innocent people and the surprise is that the security forces whose duty is to protect the people of the State, were actively colluding and giving them cover while they go on rampage, attacking, killing people and snatching electoral materials. The rerun of the southern Ijaw election on Sunday was not appropriate and I advised the security agencies and INEC severally about this.
The previous day, the APC militant supporters with the support of the military had attacked Oporoma where electoral materials were kept for the entire local government and five people were killed on the spot and the tension was high. Youth corpers who were on electoral duties were protesting afraid for their lives.
Moving forward, for a free and fair election to be conducted in Southern Ijaw, we need to do what is right which is that the military has a statutory duty to guard strategic installations and no one can take that away from them. Even I as governor, would want them to continue to do so.
The military also has the duty to act in aid of civil authorities when there is breakdown but the military has no responsibility to conduct elections. No responsibility to be in possession of sensitive electoral materials and should not be procedurally within the inner circles of the election cordon. That is what will bring about security, because the people are now aware of their atrocities, are very angry and justifiably so.
But since we are talking about elections in one local government area, it’s a large one but we have conducted elections there before and it can be done again; all that is required is for the civil authorities, the police, civil defence and SSS to take charge of the operations particularly the police, to lead the operations and make sufficient deployments.
I gave this advice earlier but they refused because they wanted to perfect the rigging, they wanted to doctor results from the local government to cancel out the victory I have already won and let me make it clear I have already won this election and I am even surprised that INEC didn’t declare me the winner. Rather they were talking of waiting for the outcome of Southern Ijaw. I already won six out of the seven local governments declared, a clear majority. I may be leading but it won’t deter me from raising this alarm. I am also governor not just an aspirant and if the rights of my people are under assault, if the my state is under attack by these misguided officers, I have a duty and responsibility to this state and to our country to speak up when things are going wrong and to prevent them from leading to a point where there is a general breakdown of law and order in the State and you all are aware that the region is quite volatile.
I will continue to say that the right thing be done, I don’t want anybody to manipulate elections in my favour, I will win squarely in every community if people are allowed to vote. All I am saying is to support the request of the citizens of the State and particularly southern Ijaw women who were protesting naked. I expect Nigerians to ask what the military officers were doing with APC, who gave them the orders to go about carrying ballot papers and other sensitive materials and diverting them to militants and APC sympathizers. Who gave those orders? What is the identity of these military officers and what was the intention?
We want all this to stop. It must be condemned by all people of goodwill who love democracy. We do not want this kind of democracy. The people are ready to vote and those of us who are contesting must abide by the freedom of their will.
I have already won this election, I have received it and I am happy about the result and my gratitude goes to the good people of this state who in spite of this environment of siege, intimidation and violence unleashed by the APC and the security forces actively colluding with them, came out to vote and I have won in all local governments.
Let me put the records straight, I even won in Brass LGA (my opponents LGA) in spite of the brutality that he and his thugs carried out with the active connivance of the military and the security forces but they doctored the results. I have already won six out of the seven results declared leading with about thirty four thousand lawful votes and I underline the word ‘lawful votes’ as against the doctored results he got even from Brass.
The people have already spoken and I am just waiting for a formal declaration of me as winner by INEC. Haven said that, we are ready for elections anyday provided the condition is right for people to turn out en mass to vote. And as democrats we should be ready to abide by the legitimate votes of the people. We will not succumb to manipulation and intimidation.