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Bayelsa rerun: Violence, ballot snatching threaten poll again

The ongoing Bayelsa governorship election rerun is being threatened once more by violence, incidents of ballot snatching, despite assurances by security agencies and appeals by several stakeholders for peace.

The supplementary election is taking place in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and 102 polling units across six other local government areas of the state.

Ahead of the poll, in the early hours of Thursday, there was a bomb attack on the house of the Speaker, Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Mr. Konbowei Benson, in Korokorosie, Southern Ijaw LGA.

Although voting commenced peacefully in several polling units, as of midday, there had been several reported incidents of violence with electoral materials yet to arrive at some polling units.

 

Our correspondent reported that there was difficulty in conveying electoral materials from Amatoru Community School to polling units because of heavy shooting in the area.

He also reported that there was sporadic shooting in Amatolo, a riverine community in Southern Ijaw LGA, a development that prevented INEC officials from getting materials to the area.

In Agoibiri, two people were reportedly hit by stray bullets while angry youths destroyed electoral materials at some units.

Around 9:30am the Situation Room, a coalition of civil society groups, reported that voting was disrupted by violence in Otuokpoti Ward, Ogbia.

The Peoples Democratic Party also accused thugs loyal to the All Progressives Congress of disrupting election in three polling units – 6,7 and 10 – in Biseni.

The supplementary election had become necessary following the cancellation of the election in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state as a result of widespread violence.

The violence had prevented voting from taking place in the LGA along with others on December 5 and a rescheduled poll held in council the next day was cancelled on December 7 due to irregularities and violence.

More than a month later, the same problems are threatening the conclusion of the poll which has also been characterised by a war of words between the main contenders – incumbent Governor, Seriake Dickson, of the Peoples Democratic Party and former governor, Timipre Sylva, of the All Progressives Congress.

Election observers had accused the parties and candidates of encouraging violence in the December 5 poll.

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