Timipre Sylva

The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, has rejected the victory of his main opponent and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Governor Seriake Dickson.

Sylva, who spoke at a news conference in Yenagoa on Monday, said his party would head for the court to seek redress.

He, therefore, called on his supporters to remain calm and wait for instructions from the party.

Dickson was on Sunday declared the winner of the governorship election, having polled 134,998 votes against Sylva’s 86,852 votes.

Dickson, who thanked the people for re-electing him, said his victory was a triumph of democracy.

But Sylva alleged that there was collusion between the Independent National Electoral Commission and the PDP to rig the election in favour of the incumbent governor.

The former governor said, “This was collusion between the INEC and the PDP. Even the cancellation of elections in APC strongholds was a clear collusion. So, we feel that we have not had a free and fair treatment. I believe that in any free and fair election in Bayelsa, the APC will win.

“But unfortunately, why we are trying to be free and fair, our opponent is bent on rigging the process, because as we heard, they were bent on keeping Bayelsa. Then there is no way you can win. They were just bent from the beginning to rig the process.

“The results have been announced, but as far as we are concerned, they are completely unacceptable to us. However, we have called on all APC members to keep calm. There is no point for anybody to take the laws into their hands.

“We will seek redress in a competent court of law, but I will like to put this on record that as far as the APC is concerned, what happened in Bayelsa State was not a proper election.

“It was just the normal impunity of the PDP playing out. Of course, this institution was already set up by the PDP. It was inherited by this government and it will take a while before we see a complete disappearance of this attitude from Nigeria.

“So far, we have told our supporters to just keep calm and wait for instructions from us. I address the press to let you know the position of our party.”

While insisting that the declaration of the results that returned Dickson as governor did not meet the requirements, he said he had always complained about INEC in Bayelsa State.

He contended that even in a court of law, if an accused person standing trial before a judge said he could not expect justice from a particular judge, something was usually done about it to give him a sense of belonging.

He said that from the beginning of the contest, he had always stated that he had no confidence in the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner and the Administration Secretary.

He said he had expressed fears that he did not expect a free and fair election if those persons were to preside over the election.

Sylva added, “I said it over and over again that I did not have confidence in the state’s REC and the Administration Manager. I even reduced my complaint to writing and we sent a petition. Usually before an election of this magnitude, the INEC officials are switched.

“They send them to other states and bring other electoral commissioners to the state. This time, they chose a team that was already in place, set up by the PDP as a rigging machine.

“This was the same team that returned almost 100 per cent of all voters in Bayelsa to the former President Goodluck Jonathan in the state and we feel that these people could not have given us a free and fair treatment.

“Unfortunately, our cries fell on deaf ears. On Sunday, they proved themselves true to type. We believe that the election could have even been declared inconclusive on Sunday because there were still lots of votes outstanding – 53, 000 votes and they still declared the result against the law.”

On why he went into the election, despite his misgivings about the INEC leadership in the state, Sylva explained that he did not have any option but to go ahead, despite the fact that he was disadvantaged from the outset.

He said, ‘’Even though, I did not get any reprieve, I had to take part in the election. I went into the election hoping that the REC would have a change of heart and do the right thing.

“The Bayelsa INEC set up is a part of the rigging machinery of the PDP. They sent materials to nearest communities while neglecting those in the farthest communities, because they are our strongholds.

“The PDP strategy was to frustrate election in Southern Ijaw Local Government and they colluded with INEC to do this. There was no election in Southern Ijaw LG. The cancellations were done at the local government level, which was a misnomer. When we complained at a time, the INEC panel said they did not have the power to cancel any part of an election, but they cancelled the Southern Ijaw votes.

“Most of the Supervising Polling Agents were their people, and when I complained to the REC, he said that he had instructions to engage experienced hands for the election. These experienced hands were the same set of SPOs, who have rigged several elections in the state in the past.

“The whole thing is like a rat in a cat’s court. A rat can never win in a cat’s court. The election was procured for the PDP. It was a turnkey project for the PDP.’’

Speaking on the cancelled votes during the supplementary election, Sylva said the law does not say that cancelled votes would not matter at any stage at all.

Meanwhile, a civil rights movement, Transitional Monitoring Group, has expressed its disappointment with the failure of INEC and security agencies to conduct a free and fair governorship election in Bayelsa State, which, it said, fell below global best practices.

The Chairman of TMG, Ibrahim Zikirullahi, expressed this feeling on Monday in Abuja, during the official presentation of the final report on the Bayelsa State governorship election on December 5, 2015 and January 9, 2016.

According to him, the whole processes of the election were characterised by violence, as the two major political parties, the APC and the PDP, were obviously struggling to outsmart each other.

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