Election: Gov Dickson Flays Army’s Invasion Of Bayelsa...says Use Of Soldiers For Election Rigging Regrettable
Bayelsa State Governor, the Honourable Seriake Dickson, has condemned in strong terms, what he described as the Army’s invasion of Bayelsa and the flagrant violations of the right of the people to vote.
He said that the Army which has a statutory responsibility to protect the territorial integrity of the nation had assumed the sickening and disgraceful role of terrorizing innocent communities with a motive to rig elections in favour òf the ruling party in the country.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media Relations , Fidelis Soriwei, on Sunday, quoted him as having criticized the villainous conduct of some soldiers and officers while speaking as a special guest in an interactive live programme on Radio Bayelsa, Yenagoa.
The Governor who was exasperated by the barbarism displayed by the soldiers warned that he could call out the Bayelsa citizenry to embark on a massive peaceful protest against the illegalities being perpetrated by the Army.
He said while the Navy has maintained its integrity throughout the period of the elections, the men of the Army engaged in hijacking electoral materials to spearhead the plot to rig the elections for unpopular politicians of the APC.
He lamented that the infamous acts of the Army were pronounced in Kolo, Imiringi, Otuasega, Otuokpoti, Ayama, in Ogbia, Nembe Bassambiri, Peremabiri in Southern Ijaw, Kolokumma Okpokuma, Agbere in Sagbama and other communities across the state.
He stressed that it was inconceivable for officers of the Nigerian Army to deploy soldiers to all politicians of the APC who abused the privilege to use them to the carry out abhorrent and disgraceful act of ballot box snatching and rigging of elections in the state contrary to the electoral act.
Governor Dickson who also expressed regret over President Muhammadu Buhari's refusal to sign the Electoral Amendment Act, said if the use of the card reader had been strictly complied with, it would have averted political violence and electoral fraud in the country.
The Governor said Nigeria is treading a dangerous path under the APC-led government, noting that the country had never experienced the level of disrespect for the rule of law which had crippled its critical institutions such as the INEC and security services.
His words:" In 2015, this country was on the right path with decision sanctioned by the then, President Goodluck Jonathan when we authorised the use of the smart card. If INEC had implemented it faithfully, made neccessary investments, and if the APC-led Federal Government had pushed forward the frontiers of electoral reforms, Bayelsa State and indeed, this country won't be going through this situation.
"President Muhammadu Buhari wilfully refused to sign the Electoral Amendment Act, knowing fully that his party and himself would use unorthodox and every available means to declare themselves as winners.
"They are kidnapping electoral officers and intimidating and even outrightly preventing our people from voting because they know their party is not popular. These nefarious activities they are carrying out in the name of politics is plain terrorism.
"It can only happen in a country like Nigeria. Things like these show clearly that Nigeria is almost a failed state because it is only in failed state that state institutions collude with criminals.
"When you have institutions that are so weak that they now have to aid and abet crime and criminality instead of working for the national interest, you have a failed state, The APC has turned our democracy upside down. They have taken us over 30 years back. By 2015, everyone knew we were making progress but we all know where we are today .
“You can imagine soldiers of the Nigerian Army snatching electoral materials from various constituencies. I don’t see the logic in a major of the Nigerian Army leading people to Constituency 4 of Southern Ijaw to terrorize innocent voters.
“The Army is invading this state. I urge our people to be calm. However, the Army should not assault us as a state. We are not electing Army officers, we are not electing people to represent the Army. We are only trying to elect our representatives and they should allow us to do so.
“If they continue this way, I will be left with no other choice than to call out our people in all the communities of this state for a peaceful protest.”
He also advised the commanding officers to prevail on their junior ones not to jump into the fray but to be neutral, professional and provide general security in the interest of the country.
He also called on the Residence Electoral Commissioner in the state to redeem his image by investigating the card readers and cancel the wrongfully declared results in areas where election were disrupted or did not take place.