The gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the recently concluded Bayelsa governorship election, Timipre Sylva, shifted the battle for the Bayelsa polls to the court as he vowed to challenge the results at the elections petitions tribunal.
On Monday, he assembled a legal team which will commence the process of seeking redress over the alleged irregularities immediately.
Sunday evening the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the incumbent Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson the winner.
Addressing newsmen on Monday, Mr. Sylva alleged that local representatives of INEC and the PDP worked in unison to rig the election in favor of the PDP.
He said that he had officially complained before the election that the present structure of INEC in the State could not conduct a credible election since it was originally designed to deliver Bayelsa to former President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP in last year’s general elections.
“I said in the beginning that I do not have confidence in Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Baritoh Kpagih, and the Administrative Secretary, that I did not expect a fair treatment if these people were to preside over the election.
“I said so over and over again. I even produced it in writing and submitted a petition. Usually before elections of this nature, the INEC officials are switched. But this time, they chose to keep this team that was already in place set up by the PDP as a rigging machine.
“This was the same team that returned almost 100 percent of all votes in Bayelsa to the former President [Goodluck Jonathan]. And we felt that these people could not have given us free and fair treatment,” he noted.
Mr. Sylva maintained that the election could have been declared inconclusive given that 53,000 votes were still outstanding as cancelled votes.
According to him, in places where APC won, the results were cancelled, but where PDP won, the results were sustained.
He further alleged that the rigging started with the distribution of materials, as these materials were taken to voting centers by vehicles provided by the PDP and diverted.
According to him, the same set of collation officers, and Supervisory Presiding Officers (SPOs) used in the December election were used during Saturday’s election; a situation he argued aided the rigging process.
Meanwhile the Director of Publicity of the PDP campaign organisation, Jonathan Obuebite issued a statement on Monday indicating that the popularity of the Party and the track record of Governor Dickson were the reasons Bayelsans re-elected him.
He noted that the result indicated that Bayelsa State is a stronghold of the PDP, adding that APC would always find it difficult to win an election in the State.
Fourteen out of the twenty political parties that fielded candidates during the Bayelsa governorship election, have urged Mr. Sylva to accept defeat.
The political parties, which endorsed the results of the poll, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the January 9 supplementary poll and called on Mr. Sylva to join forces to move the State forward.
Addressing newsmen in Yenagoa, Bayelsa chairman of Independent Democrat, (ID) Prince Elemah, flanked by State Chairmen of the other Parties, commended the efforts of INEC in the distribution of electoral materials to remote areas of the State and providing a level playing ground for all during the supplementary poll.
Political parties which endorsed the polls results are:
All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA); Democratic Peoples Party, (DPP); African Democratic Congress, (ADC); KOWA, Democratic People’s Congress, (DPC); Social Democratic Party, (SDP), African Peoples Alliance, (APA); Independent Democrats, (ID); Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, (ACPN); Peoples Party of Nigeria, (PPN); United Progressive Party, (UPP); People for Democratic Change, (PDC); New Nigeria Peoples Party, (NNPP), and Mega Progressives Peoples Party, (MPPP).