Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed fears over the utterances of political actors ahead of the November 16 governorship election in the state.
According to the electoral commission, the utterances are capable of undermining the conduct of a peaceful governorship election in the state.
The chairman of the commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu who stated this in Yenagoa during a courtesy call on the Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council warned that actions, comments and statements from political actors could lead to a breach of peace during campaigns and collation of results.
Yakubu also expressed concern over the rampant cases of vote buying to induce voters and use of armed thugs to disrupt voting and the collation process.
The INEC chairman disclosed that conducting election in Bayelsa and Kogi is a difficult task because of a combination of actors which are not palatable.
“We have a few areas of concern. The first is the action and utterances likely to lead to the breach of the peace during electioneering campaign, during voting on election day and during the collation of results. In 2012 out of the eight local government areas, we conducted elections conclusively and made declaration of results only in one local government area, Kolokuma/ Opokuma. Next is the recurrent problem where unscrupulous actors follow voters to polling units with money on election day to induce them. It is called vote buying. Our democracy cannot be for sale in the open market. The citizens should be allowed to vote for whoever they choose on the election day.”
He appealed to the traditional rulers to help talk to the political class and their supporters on the peaceful conduct during the campaign.
Diete-Spiff in his remarks urged INEC to reduce the presence of security agencies and to prevail on them not to take sides in the state.
“The military presence in the last election was too much. They were brought here by one of two candidates. They also after the election eliminated one or two persons. You will need to appeal to the army in particular to try to contain their men so that they would not go off the handle and scare people away from the polling units.”