Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The people of Opu-Nembe (Nembe Bassambiri), a community in Nembe local government area of Bayelsa State, have staged a protest against intimidation and calls for the postponement of Saturday’s governorship and state houses of assembly elections due to insecurity in the community.
A group of women had on Monday called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to suspend the forthcoming house of assembly election in the troubled community.
Spokesperson of the Women Mrs Sotonye Samuel-Johnson said in a statement that the call to postpone the election in the violence-ridden community was necessary to safeguard the lives and properties of women and children in the area.
However, in a counterprotest, demonstrators, including women and youths, armed with placards with inscriptions such as “It is not a crime to vote APC”, “Toru Orua is for PDP, Nembe- Bassambiri is for APC”, “Seven years in Office, no single project in Nembe- Bassambiri”, “ Bayelsa Police is PDP”, “Nembe-Bassambiri say no to intimidation and oppression”, and “Buhari save APC members in Opu-Nembe” said they would resist attempts to cow them from voting their choices in the state house of assembly election.
Deputy Chairman, Council of Chiefs, Chief Agent Belele Ekene, who took journalists round the community, said those peddling reports of insecurity in the community do not mean well for the people.
“Opu-Nembe is peaceful as you can see. There is no tension or problem here like some people are saying. Everybody is going about their normal business. Those peddling reports of crisis in the community are lairs. Those who said there was no election in the community are also lying. As you can ascertain by yourself, everybody is at peace with each other in the community. Those not from the community are saying we have problems, but this is not true.”
Community Development Committee (CDC) secretary Mr Kombonimi Awori also debunked reports that the community was deserted due to violence between the PDP and APC during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Awori, who said Nigerians should disregard calls for the cancellation of the February 23 elections said those staging protests in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, are agents of destabilization.