Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has accused the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Monday Udoh, of violating the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal order on the inspection of election materials.
He also berated chieftains of the All Progressive Congress (APC) of sponsoring thugs to disrupt the inspection exercise.
The tribunal had on December 9 ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow the PDP to inspect the election materials used during the November 16 governorship election
However Senator Diri said in defiance of the tribunal’s order, the REC allowed the APC which is not party to the prayer to be part of the exercise to inspect sensitive and non-sensitive voting materials.
Diri in a statement made available to newsmen described the involvement of APC in the exercise as a flagrant abuse of the tribunal’s order stressing that the REC has shown his level of partisanship which confirms PDP fears that he has been working for the APC to defy the order of the tribunal
He called on chairman of the INEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, to beam his searchlight on the activities of the Bayelsa REC.
“The activities of the state REC confirm the fears of the PDP that it would be a huge challenge for the PDP to get justice in the ongoing legal battle,” he said.
Diri, while restating his confidence in the judiciary, called on INEC to do the needful by cautioning its REC in the state.
On the disruption of the inspection exercise by thugs believed to be working for the APC he said he was not surprised that the APC resorted to brigandage and hooliganism at the inspection venue, adding that the party was known for such acts which they unleashed on PDP members during a campaign rally at Ogbolomabiri-Nembe, which led to the death of a staff of the state-owned radio corporation among others.
He therefore, called on security operatives to investigate the disruption of the exercise and bring the culprits to book.
But INEC in a swift reaction said the REC did not violate the tribunal’s order on the inspection of electoral materials.
Mr Wilfred Ifogha, Head of Department Voters, Education and Publicity in an interview said APC members at the venue only observed the process of inspection being conducted by PDP.
“What happened is what obtains in standard practise. The APC is a party in the election, so if PDP is inspecting materials and INEC officials are there, it is only fair that APC should also observe. So that INEC and PDP would not be accused of doing anything funny. APC only observed the process, they did not inspect.”