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They offered me to rig Bayelsa election: INEC commissioner

By The Rainbow
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 The Bayelsa State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC),Braito Kpagih,  has said he was offered money to rig the December 5 governorship election.

Kpagih said it was his his refusal to collect their bribe and help them that made him their enemy, which prompted their attacks of calumny and vituperation on his person.

A report in Naij.com, citing a recent interview with The Guardian, Kpagih said since the cancellation of the polls in the Southern Ijaw local government area, he has been receiving threats to his life.

He was quoted to have said,  “I believe it was those who had tried to bribe me before to help them rig the election that are now behind all sorts of stories, being bandied around about me. My refusal had infuriated them and they started by saying I was missing and that I have gone underground and all sorts of stories. People should not take election as a do-or-die affair. I told them, I can't help them to rig the election and that they should use the money they wanted to bribe me with to go to the grassroots and canvass for the people's votes.

Somebody called me on the phone and threatened me and since then, I have been receiving all sorts of threats. These have come through text messages and others. Just on Thursday, two strange people visited my house in Yenagoa. They refused to identify themselves but told my people that they had an appointment with me and I knew for a fact that I didn't have any appointment with anybody that day.”

According to the REC,  the threats to his life have become more frequent in the last few days and he has been advised by his friends to stay away from Bayelsa state because his safety cannot be guaranteed.

The commissioner denied having a personal relationship with former President Goodluck Jonathan, saying they were never course mates and he joined the Customs Service a few years after Jonathan had left the service.

The first time I met him (Jonathan) was when he was the vice president and we never had any close relationship. I was retired prematurely, seven years before the mandatory year. If he was my close friend and he was the vice president, wouldn't he have helped me to stay in service?” he queried.

Speaking on the violence that marred the election, Kpagih said: “What keeps baffling me is the fact that up till now, nobody is talking about the arms and ammunition that were used to wreak violence on the people. Nobody is looking into how the arms got into Southern Ijaw and who brought them into the area. They were freely deployed into the communities and nobody is talking about those things.”

He advised that people look into the root causes of the violence rather than playing the blame game.

Kpagih warned that elections should not be seen as a do-or-die affair, but rather, as a call to service.

The Bayelsa governorship election was marred by large-scale violence across the state in which five people reportedly lost their lives in Nembe, Southern Ijaw and Brass local government areas, while scores sustained various degrees of injuries. The election was declared inconclusive by the INEC as it was cancelled in the Southern Ijaw area.