TENSION AS D-DAY BECKONS ON BAYELSA GOVERNORSHIP CASE
Many Bayelsans had thought that with the conclusive governorship elections in February 11, matters concerning the process that led to the emergence of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate have been laid to rest.
But that is not the case as loyalists and supporters of former governor Timipre Sylva are anxiously waiting for the April 20 day judgment of the Supreme Court on the matter. Their confidence that they would reclaim back the government is setting supporters of the new government on edge breeding tension in the state.
According to investigations some officials of the state government have been meeting with some youth groups led by the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), and Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) to stage a one -million man march to drum call for the arrest and prosecution of former Governor Timipre Sylva and drum up support for Governor Henry Seriake Dickson.
Supporters of Sylva who have also been meeting see the rally as an attempt to preempt the Supreme Court in the verdict.
Already a group, Bayelsa Democratic Front (BDF) which has been in the fore-front of denouncing the process that threw up Dickson as the governorship candidate of the PDP has raised alarm over the proposed rally.
President-General of BDF, Mr. Promise Okpoebi has alerted the public and the security authorities to the danger of a 'one million-man march' which he said is being planned by the Bayelsa State government ahead of the Supreme Court judgment on the state's governorship contest.
Okpoebi in a statement warned that the march could precipitate chaos of unprecedented magnitude in the state and seriously upset the Niger Delta peace process.
He described the rally as a deliberate attempt to intimidate the judiciary and derail the democratic process in Bayelsa.
The statement reads: 'The rally being planned by the government of Hon. Seriake Dickson to coincide with the ruling of the Supreme Court on the Bayelsa State governorship contest is an open invitation to anarchy in the state and the Niger Delta. It is a huge but needless destructive fire that is being set to cause enormous and potentially unrivalled damage to the Bayelsa State and, indeed, Niger Delta peace process, a project to which the people and government at various levels have made vast human and material investments to nurture. It is ironic that funds meant for the development of the people are being expended in very expensive mobilization efforts coordinated by the office of the Special Adviser to the Bayelsa State Governor on Youth Empowerment, Training and Rehabilitation to kindle this large destructive fire.'
It continued: 'We see this rally planned by the Bayelsa State government on the eve of the April 20 Supreme Court ruling on the Bayelsa governorship crisis a psychological warfare waged against the Nigerian judiciary to send out a clear message to the apex court as it prepares to pronounce the final outcome of the governorship contest. This attempt to ridicule our judiciary, the bastion of our democracy, is, to say the least, regrettable.'
But the SNG have served notice that it would allow the group to be intimidate by people who want to shield Sylva from the laws of the land.
The new coordinator of the SNG, Mr Tony Akange during the last meeting to be convened by the immediate past coordinator, Mr Tony Ile who was recently appointed as aide to Dickson reiterated the decision of the group to stage the rally and compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to arrest former governor Chief Timipre Sylva over alleged misappropriation of Bayelsa state funds.
It is on record that Sylva alledged embezzled state allocation in four years and I can tell you categorically that the future of Bayelsa State has been mortgaged by Sylva and his cohorts. It is on this note that Members of Save Nigeria Group Bayelsa State Chapter is calling on the Anti-corruption Agencies' (EFCC) to expedite action in apprehending Sylva and his cohorts in order to recover the said looted funds of Bayelsa State.'
The Bayelsa state government has also shed light on the Peace Walk it is sponsoring and the one million man march.
The Senior Special Assistant Media and Public Affairs to the Bayelsa state governor, Mr Daniel Markson Iworiso categorically stated that the state government does not need a rally to drum up support for the new administration.
According to him the state government through the office of the Special Adviser on Youths is organizing a Peace walk against social vices and it has nothing to do with the Supreme Court verdict.
The statement reads: The proposed Peace Walk earlier scheduled for Saturday 14th April 2012 and organized by the Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor of Bayelsa State on Youth Empowerment, Training and Rehabilitation, has been postponed to Tuesday 17th April 2012. The postponement was as a result of the visit of Mr. President to the state on Saturday.
The Peace Walk is not in anyway connected to any one million man match as been alleged, all with a view to curry support for Governor Dickson ahead of the Supreme Court Ruling slated for April 20th. We wish to place it on record that this government does not need a one million man march to alter the ruling of the Supreme Court in its favour. The Peace Walk as the name imply is simply a peace walk and the objective is quite clear – to serve as platform to denounce the vices in the society often perpetuated by the youths and other criminal minded persons in the society. His Excellency, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, will lead the walk in himself and they will move to all the major streets in Yenegoa. At the end, the Governor will address the youths in a forum that will be held at the Cultural Centre'