In Yenagoa police operatives, Wednesday averted a near bloody clash between supporters of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to cancel the disputed Governorship election the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The anti-INEC protest, which was staged by hundreds of supporters of the APC from the Southern Ijaw area of the State, paralysed most activities in the State capital. The APC supporters called upon the leadership of INEC to investigate the reasons for the cancellation and to declare the cancellation illegal.
According to Mr. Preye Apreala, one of the protesters, the decision by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC),Baritor Kpagih, to cancel the election in Southern Ijaw local government area was criminal and a violation of the rights of more than 120,000 voters who participated in the poll in spite of threats.
The protesters carried placards with inscriptions such as “Let The Southern Ijaw Vote Count”, “Buhari Must Save The APC In Bayelsa”, ”The Cancellation Of Was Induced! Kpagih Must Face The Law!”. They marched from the APC Secretariat, located along the Sani Abacha Expressway, to the popular Imgbi road.
The protest, which was peaceful, nearly turned bloody when suspected PDP youths began to taunt the APC supporters. Fortunately, the timely intervention of armed police officers prevented any violence from erupting.
Reacting to the protest, the Director of Publicity of the Restoration Campaign Organisation of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Jonathan Obuebite described the protesters as “thugs” and “hoodlums”. He called upon the State Commissioner of Police and other heads of security agencies to take urgent steps to “check” the protest by APC members.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Mr. Obuebite warned Bayelsans, particularly business owners, to be wary of the APC protesters. He claimed that the APC protesters planned to unleash wanton violence on the streets of Yenagoa in an attempt to force INEC to declare their candidate, Mr. Timipre Sylva, as the winner.
“We urge the people of the State to take utmost precaution to steer clear of the protesters [APC supporters] and guard against any form of molestation, pointing out that, the aim of the protest is to create as much violence and disrupt the peace of the State to compel the APC led Federal Government to declare a state-of-emergency in the State, thereby making it impossible for INEC to hold the rescheduled election in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area,” Mr. Obuebite said.
Despite these warnings, the PDP spokesman assured the people of Bayelsa State that the APC's “evil plot would fail”. He also declared Governor Seriake Dickson the winner of the Bayelsa State Governorship elections.