The Independent National Electoral Commission has cancelled Saturday’s Bayelsa State governorship election in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area — one of the state’s eight LGAs.
The decision, was announced officially by INEC, means the elections are inconclusive.
INEC said the decision was taken because of violence, the abduction of electoral officials and ballot box snatching
The electoral agency believed what happened in Southern Ijaw was a negation of global best practices in election conduct and that it was necessary to cancel the election there to enthrone credibility in the process
The supplementary election will be conducted in due date.
The electoral agency decided on the cancellation of the Southern Ijaw votes shortly after two Toyota Hilux vehicles, carrying 24 ballot boxes and some men (believed to be political thugs) stormed the collation centre in Yenagoa, causing a stir.
They vehicle drove in as if they were chased into the venue, screeching to a halt outside the centre. Three men came down chanting local war songs.
They claimed the ballot boxes contained electoral materials from from Southern Ijaw and that they had overwhelmed ‘soldiers’ firing at them to return the ballot boxes they were carrying.
They did not appear to be INEC officials and officials at the collation centre were dazed and unsure about how to react.
Shortly afterwards, journalists covering the collation were advised to move from the collation centre to INEC office for a press briefing on the situation in Southern Ijaw LGA.
Tension remains thick across the state amid reports of protest. Earlier yesterday, the police had banned any form of procession, rally, protest or demonstration across the state.
Governor Seriake Dickson has a clear lead in the election, according to results announced so far by INEC.
Brass, Ekeremor, Kolokuma/Opokuma, Sagbama and Yenagoa were announced by INEC’s returning officers, while Nembe and Ogbia were added on Monday.
Election in the Southern Ijaw Local Government was rescheduled to Sunday owing to major disturbances and challenges experienced by the electoral body.
The Sunday election, however, started late because of the peculiarity of the riverine area and the challenge of securing electoral officials and materials which eventually arrived late.
Earlier in the evening, there were also reports that ex-militants had disrupted the election in Amassoma ward of Ijaw South Local Government Area.
The militants carrying firearms were said to have chased away the voters and INEC officials conducting the exercise in the area.
Mr. Dickson, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, won in majority of the seven local government areas announced on Sunday by INEC.
His main challenger, Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has so far scored the second highest number of votes.
Because of the violence in the region, many analysts predicted that it could be impossible to declare a winner without results from Southern Ijaw LGA which has 425 polling units.
The Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson has set up a judicial commission of enquiry to examine the alleged violence and thuggery during the governorship election.
He said that he was worried about the situation and that his government would go to any length to uncover those behind the situation.
Before INEC declared the result in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area inconclusive, Governor Dickson had advised against conducting the election in Southern Ijaw late in the night without adequate security.
Sylva Rejects Cancellation
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate in the December 5 election have rejected the cancellation of the election held in Southern Ijaw, by the Resident Electoral Officer.
Speaking to journalists shortly after the announcement, Mr Timipre Sylva said that the action of the election umpire is a rape on democracy and has denied the people of Bayelsa the right to choose their leaders.
He also alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has shown that it is working in collusion with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
To this end the party said that it would explore legal means to ensure that not only is the franchise of Bayelsa people protected, but that the All Progressives Congress gets what is due to it at the polls.