A group known as Egbesu Brotherhood has called for security to be stepped up in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, and at the various registration area centres of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), where rerun elections are scheduled to take place.
A statement by Bodmas Kemepadei, the group’s leader and coordinator, said the call became imperative as “strange faces are roaming the INEC office area, particularly at night hours”.
The group alleged that there were plans to bomb the INEC office in the state.
The statement read: “We suspect the presence of external forces using sophisticated weapons, considering the recent killings in the capital. We also suspect that there may be plots to burn down the INEC office to stall the conduct of the rerun election of 23rd March, 2019. If we may recall, we all witnessed how on the 10th of March 2019, a candidate from the ruling party entered the INEC office with unauthorized military personnel in the company of non-Bayelsans, and harassed a ward agent. If not for the timely intervention of some observers, it would have been chaotic.
“We therefore call on all relevant stakeholders to up the ante by tightening security to ensure that the office is protected for the peaceful conduct of the rerun election slated to hold on the 23rd of March, 2019. Any candidate with unauthorized military escorts must not be allowed to gain entrance from now until election results are announced.
“The activities of military personnel in Ukubie, Lobia, Azuzuama and Koluama, especially in the RACs of these wards, should be checkmated. The authenticity of military personnel, military gunboats, election observers, pressmen who may want to visit these areas on or before election day uninvited, must be thoroughly investigated.
“Also, we call on the Bayelsa State Government to at this point, invoke the community safety corps bill in support with the NPF, to ensure thorough community policing in these communities, to investigate every suspicious vehicle, person, and to spotlight on major hotels, investigating every group gathering and movements.
“We further call on INEC officials to be careful and neutral in their dealings with candidates of political parties as there are already rumours of SPOs and collation officers wining and dining with a candidate who is brandishing already prepared result, which we suspect that the said candidate moves about with in his vehicle, boasting that he has INEC on his palms.
“For a free and fair election void of any conflict amongst our people, we hope that this information, if adhered to, will avert disaster and forestall any possible danger.”