Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) renewed their rivalry in Bayelsa State with bickering on the disruption of inspection exercise of ballot papers used for the November 16 governorship election.
Bayelsa Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja had granted PDP prayers to inspect the ballot papers.
However, PDP, in a statement by its Secretary, Godspower Keku, accused APC of sponsoring thugs to disrupt the exercise at the weekend.
He said the PDP team ably supervised by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials had successfully inspected election materials for the Southern Ijaw local Government Area and were preparing for the inspection of materials for Nembe Local Government Area before the thugs, led by some APC chieftains invaded the venue.
Keku, who disclosed that the disruption led to the suspension of the exercise by INEC and PDP for yesterday, said the order of the tribunal was for only INEC and PDP to inspect the materials.
“It is, therefore, a violation of the order of the tribunal and outright lawlessness on the part of APC to disrupt the peaceful exercise,” the PDP said.
In a swift reaction, the APC accused the PDP of using underhand means to intimidate INEC officials.
The party Secretary, Alabo Martins, in a statement, absolved APC members of any wrong-doing and alleged that the PDP sponsored suspected thugs numbering 50 into the inspection venue in a bid to create confusion and tamper with the electoral materials.
The party noted that the strategy adopted by the PDP during the inspection was disturbing and called on INEC to ensure strict adherence to its order on inspection of electoral materials.
“In the circumstance, we appeal to INEC not to treat PDP’s conduct with levity and call the gang of interlopers and busy bodies off.”
INEC on its part, through its Head of Department, Voters Education and publicity, Wilfred Ifogha, distanced the commission from the controversy between the two parties, stressing that its position is to obey the order of the court.