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PDP WINS BAYELSA BYE-ELECTION

By NBF News
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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Edipadei Fekoweimo winner of last Saturday's bye election in Bayelsa State.

The result of the election to fill the vacant seat of Yenagoa Constituency II of the State's House of Assembly was, however, dogged with controversy with the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) rejecting it, alleging that it was rigged in favour of the PDP by some INEC officials, the PDP and security agents.

Fekoweimo, according to the Commission, polled 6,794 votes to defeat other candidates, leaving the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate, Peredengikumo Ogirki, a distant second with 544.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Gabriel Ada, who disclosed that six political parties participated in the elections commended them for the display of maturity and peaceful conduct during the election.

He, however, acknowledged that there was low voters turnout, stressing that the next hurdle was for the Commission to partner with existing political parties to educate voters on the need to register so as to be able to vote in 2011.

Meanwhile Ada's commendation of the election ran contrary to the views of opposition parties and eye-witness accounts which insisted that the PDP practically bought the votes.

Investigations by Daily Sun revealed that before the election, the PDP allegedly set aside N5 million which was distributed to the 18 communities that made up the five wards in the constituency. In Polaku, a member of the state executive council was alleged to be in charge of the distribution of the money to elders, women and youths, while in Agudama, some people with strong links to the Bayelsa State Government were said to be in charge of the distribution.

In Koroama, PDP agents and some INEC officials reportedly disappeared with the ballot box, while in Okotiama, the Police and personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were accused of being recruited by the PDP, to thumb print ballot papers in full glare of the public. Though the ACN commended INEC for prompt distribution of materials, which was authenticated by party agents and escorted by the police, it however, frowned at the attitude displayed by some officials of the Commission, who openly fraternized with PDP officials to rig the election.

In a statement by its Chairman, Miriki Ebikibina, the party said for INEC to function well before the 2011 elections, some old hands in INEC office in Yenagoa should be shown the way out as their links with the PDP was a threat to democracy. While rejecting the result, the party explained that the connivance of security agents, INEC officials and PDP to subvert the peoples will had rendered the outcome of the election useless.