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Activists push for Sylva’s prosecution over 2015 Bayelsa elections violence



• Ex-minister raise alarm over safety, claims Diri hiring spies to monitor him


From Fred Itua, Abuja and Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

A coalition of pro-democracy organisations has called for immediate implementation of the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the violence that marred the 2015 governorship election in Bayelsa State.

The coalition’s spokesman, John Atani, said as concerned citizens, they were also calling for prosecution of indicted politicians, including governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Timipre Sylva, among others for their alleged role in the violence, which led to killing of some citizens and destruction of properties.

He said as citizens dedicated to ensuring justice for the victims who suffered as a result of the election violence, they would not relent until justice is served.

The 2015 governorship election in Bayelsa State was marred by widespread violence, intimidation, and electoral malpractice. According to many election observers, the poll “was a dark chapter in Nigeria’s democratic history, where there was a brazen attempt at ensuring that voices of the people were drowned out by acts of political thuggery and lawlessness. Families lost loved ones, homes were destroyed, and the entire electoral process was undermined.”

Immediately after the polls, a civic organisation, Save Ijaw Nation Group, conducted an independent investigation and presented a 285-page report, which identified places, victims, perpetrators and sponsors of the violence, which erupted during the December 2015 governorship election.

Subsequently, the government of Bayelsa State, constituted the Justice Margaret Akpomiemie (retd) Judicial Commission of Inquiry, to investigate the violence and identify its perpetrators. It submitted its report years ago.

The coalition’s spokesman said: “Yet, to our dismay, the findings and recommendations of this report have remained largely unimplemented. This is a blatant injustice to the people of Bayelsa State and a disregard for the principles of justice and the rule of law.

“We, therefore, demand the immediate implementation of the Commission’s report. The government must act swiftly to implement the recommendations of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the 2015 Bayelsa State governorship election violence. Justice delayed is justice denied, and it is time to right the wrongs of the past.

“There must be prosecution of indicted politicians. Those politicians indicted by the Commission’s report, including Sylva, must face the full weight of the law. Nobody should be above the law, and political office should not be a shield against accountability.

“There must be justice for the victims. The victims and their families who suffered as a result of the election violence deserve justice. This includes compensation for the loss of lives and properties and support for the rehabilitation of those who were affected.

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“These victims are Mr. Roland Yinkore, Ekeremor town (Ekeremor Local Government Area). Mr. Simeon Otor, Ekeremor town (Ekeremor Local Government Area), and Isaac Godgift.”

But former deputy national publicity secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena and close ally of Sylva, told newsmen that the move was purely a political witch-hunt. He said the Commission was constituted by the PDP-led government and it was expected that it would be biased.

Nebena said Governor Douye Diri’s administration has failed to live up to expectations of the people and vowed that no amount of political intimidation will stop the defeat of the PDP-led administration in the State.

“This is political persecution. The Commission was set up by a PDP government and we won’t join issues with them. We expect nothing less. We know that we will win this election. The governor got into office through the backdoor and he will be sacked,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sylva accused Governor Diri of recruiting spies to monitor his movement.

In a statement, yesterday, he claimed credible intelligence available to him indicated that the spies operating across the state, especially the Bayelsa International Cargo Airport were asked to document and report his movements in the state to some off-grid security architecture in Bayelsa.

 Diri’s media aide, Daniel Alabrah described the governor as a well-known pacifist and an advocate of politics without bitterness who does not need to spill blood to get re-elected.

 Alabrah urged the public to ignore Sylva, noting that he is trying to make excuses for his failed governorship project.

But Sylva, former governor, said activities of the spies were being coordinated by a close security aide to Governor Diri with the aim of compromising his convoy.

He called on security agencies and members of the public to take note of Diri’s strategy of violence against him and the people of Bayelsa with special focus on Opu-Nembe.

According to him any serving governor hoping for re-election adopts the strategy of commissioning and inaugurating projects to convince the people noting, however, that Diri has resorted to desperation, violence and underhand practices following his failure in office.

The statement said: “Sylva’s push to Creek Haven is an act of liberation and Bayelsans are massively aligned. The change is soon, the change is inevitable and the soul of Bayelsa state will be salvaged from the jaws of characters whose futile way of making their inefficiency is violence.”

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