From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Electoral materials were reportedly burnt in Agbere, Sagbama Local Government Area and Agoro in Ekeremor Local Government of Bayelsa State as voting went underway in the senatorial bye-election.
According to investigations, electoral materials for Ward One in Agbere and Ward Eleven in Agoro were burnt by suspected hoodlums.
Though the cause of the incident is yet to be determined, Bayelsa Deputy Governor Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo has accused the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) of being behind the incident.
Ewhrudjakpo, who stated this in an interview shortly after voting at Ubrogbo polling Unit Six of Sagbama Ward 4 in his hometown Ofoni, said:
‘The APC knows full well that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will win the two senatorial bye-elections in Bayelsa fair and square; that is why they are resorting to violence and other undemocratic measures to mar process.’
The Deputy Governor, however, applauded the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the measures taken so far to sanitise the conduct of elections in the country.
According to him, the measures taken by the Commission to ease the voting process and manage the result sheets would not only promote transparency but also restore the people’s confidence in the electoral body.
Mr Ewhrudjakpo, who described the voting process in his community as smooth and peaceful, maintained that INEC’s achievements in Edo and Ondo states as well as the success of Saturday’s bye-elections across the country would improve its current rating.
‘As usual, I want to thank INEC for the process, which as you can see is going on smoothly and peacefully in Ofoni here. Let me thank them especially for the Innovativeness INEC has brought to bear on the process in terms of its result sheets.
‘It is a major step to prevent people from hijacking genuine results or bringing in fake results. We are sure that with what INEC has done in Edo and Ondo states, we and every right-thinking Nigerian will appreciate if they also get today’s bye-elections right.
‘INEC and the security agencies should rise up to the occasion so that the electorate out there can exercise their franchise so that we don’t have any unnecessary run-off because that is what some people are planning.
‘But I’m very sure that we are going to win convincingly because Bayelsa West is PDP. Bayelsans should remain calm because what the APC is doing is like a man who does not have anything in a boat trying to cause a wave to capsize it.’
In an interview, INEC’s Presiding Officer, Miss Adebayo Ifeoluwa and domestic observer under the auspices of Mission for Education, Social and Health, Archbishop Alex Eseimokumoh, attested to the peacefulness of the election in Ofoni community.