From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Tension heightened in Yenagoa, Baylesa State capital on Friday as the Federal High Court (FHC) Yenagoa Division delivered an eleventh-hour ruling on the status of candidates of the All Progressive Congress (APC) for Bayelsa West and Central senatorial bye-election, Chiefs Peremobowei Ebebi and Abel Ebifemowei respectively.
The FHC Court 1 presided over by Justice Jane Inyang had on November 4 delivered two separate judgments which disqualified Ebebi and his party from participating in the election.
However the Court of Appeal on December 2 stayed execution on the judgment paving the way for Ebebi to contest the election.
The move by the FHC to hear another set of cases involving both parties on Thursday ended in confusion as suspected hoodlums sacked the Court leaving lawyers and judicial officers spellbound.
On Friday a combined team of soldiers and Policemen from the Counter Terrorism Unit and Mobile Policemen beefed up security at the FHC for the Judges to deliver the judgments.
In Court one, Justice Inyang in a case of allegations of falsification against Ebebi disqualified him again from participating in the election.
In Court 2, Justice Abimbola Olawumi Awogboro struck out the case of forgery brought by the PDP against Ebefimowei.
The APC has however urged its members and Bayelsans to disregard any eleventh-hour ruling against the party and go to the polling booths to vote for the APC.
Meanwhile the Police has deployed 5, 000 including 10 units of the Police Mobile Force(PMF) to the five local governments in Bayelsa West and Bayelsa Central. Two local government areas, Sagbama and Ekeremor and in Bayels West while Yenagoa, Southern Ijaw and Kolokuma/Opokuma rea in Bayelsa Central.
The Commissioner of Police, Mr Mike Okoli who assured Bayelsans of adequate security said the Command is ready for the exercise.
“As you can see within the headquarters we are doing the deployment. The deployment started on Thursday. You know the terrain of Bayels is riverrine and most of our men are moving through speed boats, gunboats and hired commercial boats to far places like Southern Ijaw, Ekeremor and Sagbama. We have done adequate preparation to cover all the PUs and RACs”, the police boss disclosed.
“The IGP has been magnanimous enough in giving us sufficient manpower to cover this election. We are deploying 5,000 personnel. Out of that 5,000, we have 10 Mobile PMF Units. The Mobile Units would not be at the polling units but at the outer rings to checkmate the activities of hoodlums and those that want to disrupt the exercise. The unarmed Police would be at the Units. We have deployed adequately and we expect good result”
Responding to attack on the Federal High Court by hoodlums on Thursday in Yenagoa and the invasion of Ondewari Community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Okoli said the violence was immediately curtailed.
“We were able to move in and arrest the situation. The Court sat today and it delivered a ruling and it was very peaceful. With the manpower we have we are going to dominate the terrain”, Okoli assured
On the allegation that he had been comprised by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to invite chieftains of the All Progressive Congress, APC, in Sagbama and detain them, the top police officer dismissed the allegation as unfounded and invited journalists to check Police cells for any political detainee.