Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa Elders Council has joined other well-meaning individuals and organisations to condemn the destruction of lives and property in the just-concluded presidential and National Assembly elections in some parts of the state.
In a communiqué issued at the end of an emergency meeting over the weekend in Yenagoa, the forum also decried the militarisation of Bayelsa communities during elections, noting that it was the alleged roles some security operatives played that led to the killing of about three people in the state.
The Communiqué jointly signed by the council’s Chairman, Chief Francis Doukpola, its Publicity Secretary, Chief Thompson Okorotie and Chairman of the State Traditional Rulers Council, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, called for the abrogation of deployment of soldiers in subsequent elections.
While emphasising the need for a thorough investigation into the root causes of the violence, the Bayelsa Elders Council also urged political actors to play by the rules to avoid a recurrence of such dastardly acts.
The communiqué reads in part: “In this direction, council welcomes the inauguration of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry which provides an opportunity for those who have genuine cases to go before the commission to enable it to discharge its mandate in the interest of Bayelsa State and its people. Council commended the communities where elections held peacefully and requested violence-prone communities to emulate them. Council also called on political players across the parties to stop violence, killing and maiming of innocent Bayelsans and non-Bayelsans during elections.
“Council commiserated with one of its members, Chief A.A Taribi, whose son was allegedly killed by soldiers, and other families who lost their loved ones to the electoral violence.”
The elders noted that a situation where security agencies especially soldiers drafted to maintain law and order connive with any political party to disenfranchise the electorate portends grave danger to democracy and peaceful coexistence of the people.
Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State government has urged the Federal government to ensure that security operatives, particularly the Nigerian Army do not engage in partisan politics, as it was the case in the presidential and National Assembly elections that held on February 23.
Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (retd) made the appeal while speaking with newsmen shortly after PDP caucus members met with Governor Seriake Dickson in Government House, Yenagoa over the weekend.
Jonah, who condemned the partisan role played by the military officers in favour of the All Progressives Congress, described the action as a huge threat to the country’s democracy.
While lamenting the violence that marred the presidential and National Assembly elections in some parts of the state, he urged the people who fled their homes to return and participate in the March 9 House of Assembly polls.
The deputy governor stressed the need for the nation’s security personnel to be neutral and promote free, fair and credible elections in the forthcoming governorship and state House of Assembly polls.
He maintained that election is an important element of development that must be handled with utmost care for sustainable peace and progress to thrive in the country.
The deputy governor also called on the leaders and supporters of the APC to give peace a chance in subsequent elections in the interest of the state.