The governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva on Wednesday threw officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the men of the Nigerian Police and members of other political parties into shock following his appearance at the signing of peace accord ahead of Saturday’s governorship election with civilians dressed in military uniforms and armed with sophisticated weapons.
Sylva arrived in a long convoy of vehicles with numbers of security operatives and civilians dressed in military uniforms and putting on APC face caps and armed assault rifles identified as AK 47. Their arrival at the venue however threw politicians and officials of the INEC off balance expressing doubt over the peaceful conduct of the governorship elections.
Some members of the Accord Party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) openly expressed reservation over the conduct of the governorship candidate of the APC, Chief Timipre Sylva.
Serious indication that the peace accord may be violated emerged when the frontline gladiators, Governor Douye and his rival Chief Timipre Sylva spoke with journalists shortly after the ceremony as both candidates traded accusations and counter accusation of plots to undermine the peace accord.
Governor Douye Diri of the PDP and his main challenger, Chief Timipre Sylva of the APC attended the ceremony in which signing by proxy was not allowed. The event, held on Wednesday, at the Lady Daima Memorial Events Place in Yenagoa was facilitated by the National Peace Committee.
Gov. Diri said: “Generally Nigerians are seeing this as an election ritual because a lot of politicians do not keep to it. So it is just a ritual, we come and sign and the bad politicians among us will continue the violence. I have just been informed that the former governor of the state who you interviewed has accused me (Douye Diri of stockpiling arms in Kolokuma-Opokuma”
“That should be the fattest lie of the year and that shows that this peace accord is going to be ineffectual. Because if a man chooses to be telling lies even in the face of this peace accord, then something is wrong in our polity”.
“I am really embarrassed when I got that information. Everybody knows in this state those who are given to violence and the flash red point and I think that the candidate of the APC, Chief Timipre Sylva may have stockpiled arms in Kolokuma-Opokuma and I have called on the security agencies to immediately swing into action to see if Timipre Sylva is bringing the devilish actions he has been taking in Nembe where he has disallowed the people of Nembe to participate in democratic electoral peaceful process”
“ And we in Kolokuma will never accept that from him, I am one person that all of you will at least know that the peace in this state is because the body language of the governor is peaceful. The body language of the governor is security and so the issue of my commitment does not arise here.” ‘
Sylva also claimed that “The APC today has come to demonstrate that we are committed to peace in Bayelsa State but we must say that we are not very comfortable with the disposition of our opponent. There has been a lot of violence perpetrated by PDP in Kolokuma-Opokuma and this morning, I was told that they were stoking violence in other places. But am happy that the peace accord will make all of us to stand back. I think it is a very important step that we have taken”.
“For us in APC we are very happy that this is happening because we have always stood for peace and we hope that other parties will also obey and abide by the peace accord. Having signed it, we believe that it will at least jolt everybody not to do what they have planned to do because we hear all kind of plans of thugs being imported from all over the place, Rivers and Delta to Bayelsa.”
Many politicians present called the attention of the senior officials of the INEC to the strange civilians brandishing assault rifles.
They recalled that the Deputy Governorship candidate of the APC, Great Joshua Machiver had also threatened violence against those opposed the choice of the APC during the Governorship election.
Already in some communities ahead of the elections, suspected APC thugs have carried out open attacks against members of the PDP in Nembe, Kolokuma/Opokuma, and some parts of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
The home of a prominent PDP member in Yenagoa located along the Kpansia area of the State capital was attacked with improvised explosives. While others were attacked
Closely monitored report also showed that the country home of the APC candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva in Okpoama community of Brass Local Government area have been turned into a fortress and a military barrack with catche of arms and ammunition suspected to be position for onward attack against opposition members in Brass.
In Nembe alone, one PDP member was last Thursday killed by some members of the APC and another seriously wounded.
And indigene of Brass Local Government, Chief James Peters, lamented on why Sylva and his party members are plotting to perpetuate violence in some parts of the state during the elections., “we are calling on the Inspector-General of Police, the Director-General of the DSS, the Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Army Staff to know that Sylva is not out to contest elections in Bayelsa. But he is out to perpetuate violence and promote the killing of his people.”