Saturday, 5 December 2015

INEC staff held hostage at Governor Dickson’s local government

The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC on Saturday said its staff deployed to distribute electoral materials at Sagbama local government area of Bayelsa State were being held hostage.

Sagbama is the home local government of incumbent Governor Seriake Dickson and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in today’s governorship election.


Speaking on a live programme on the Nigerian Television Authority, INEC’s Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said staff deployed to convey materials to Sagbama were confronted by some gunmen.

Mr. Osaze-Uzzi said the staff had to take refuge at the local government headquarters.

He said another team was held hostage Saturday morning as they made to distribute materials, adding that security agents had been contacted to help rescue the electoral officials.

“We are asking that a gunboat be sent to the place immediately,” the INEC spokesperson said. “If necessary, they will have to be evacuated and brought back to Abuja.”

But the Deputy Inspector-General of Police overseeing the election, Argungu Hashimu, said the police was on top of the situation.

“We are taking care of everything,” said Mr. Hashimu, who is also a guest on the NTA programme. “We are the ones on ground and we are doing our job.”

Cases of violent attacks were reported on Friday around some parts of Bayelsa.

The commissioner for Information in the state, Esuene Kikile, had told Chat212 Reporter that armed thugs attacked PDP leaders and supporters in Okpoma community in Brass local government areas.

“Some have machete cuts. One is in hospital, we cannot ascertain his condition yet,” Mr. Kikile said.

He said he was informed around 4pm about the attack, but that it may have happened earlier than that.

Former chairman of Brass local government area, two special advisers to Governor Seriake Dickson .
were among those that were attacked, Mr. Kikile said.

Mr. Kikile however said that PDP was satisfied with the deployment of security officers and their conduct in the state so far.

The Publicity Secretary of APC in Bayelsa, Nathan Egba, also told Chat212 Reporter that gunmen attacked APC governorship candidate, Timipre Sylva and three journalists, including a correspondent of the Punch newspaper, on Friday night in Odioma, Brass local government area.

One of the PUNCH correspondents covering the Bayelsa election confirmed to Chat212 Reporter that the entourage of Mr. Sylva was attacked by gunmen.

He said the journalists were rescued by soldiers.

Mr. Egba however denied the alleged APC’s involvement in the reported attack on PDP supporters in Okpoma community, Brass local government area.

He told Chat212 Reporter that what he learnt was that some hired thugs had misunderstanding with those who hired them, and that that resulted in a violent confrontation among them.

“It had nothing to do with APC, I can tell you,” he said.