Ahead of Saturday’s governorship poll in Bayelsa State, some residents have expressed worry over the state of security in different parts of the state.
Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES in several interviews on Friday, the residents called on government and intelligence agencies to ensure the security of lives and property in the state.
Kelechi James, a resident, told PREMIUM TIMES that reports of violence in different parts of the state could jeopardise the system and make a mess of the electoral process.
He said the development could instil fear in the people and prevent them from exercising their franchise.
“Violence and shooting by politicians are targeted at instilling fear in the people,” he said in an interview Friday morning.
“The purpose is to prevent the people from coming out and deny them their franchise. That’s why security agencies must come in and ensure that sanity prevails.
Pockets of Violence
There have been concerns over the security of lives and property in Bayelsa state ahead of Saturday’s election.
On Wednesday, a staff of a radio station was shot dead in the state when suspected thugs attacked a political rally. Witnesses said scores of people, mostly supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party, were injured in the attack.
They said the thugs were loyal to the All Progressives Congress. The attack occurred at around 2 p.m. in Nembe community.
An indigene of Nembe who declined to have his name in print told PREMIUM TIMES that Nembe has had its numerous issues since the campaign season began. The community is also said to be a stronghold of the opposition All Progressives Congress in the state.
On Thursday, a former Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, decried incidents of pre-election violence in Kogi and Bayelsa states ahead of Saturday governorship polls in both states. Mr Jonathan described the signals from both states as “disturbing”, adding that only electronic voting process can address issues of electoral violence in Nigeria.
“The signals coming from both are quite disturbing,” Mr Jonathan said. “The use of thugs, shooting guns and our people already being killed when the voting process has not even started, is disturbing.”
The former president is from Otuoke, a community in Bayelsa state.
On Friday night in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, PREMIUM TIMES observed that preparations were in top gear amid anxiety among people in the metropolis.
Ahead of the election on Saturday, our reporter observed heavy presence of security operatives in strategic parts of the capital city, from Azikoro Road through Tombia Roundabout.
At Agofure Motorpark area, numerous commuters were seen struggling to get buses to different parts of the states ahead of the election.
Many of the residents in random interviews with PREMIUM TIMES expressed their eagerness to participate in the poll. Others expressed fear over the safety of lives and property.
“Yenagoa is relatively peaceful but we hope that the process will not be violent tomorrow,” Isaac, a Keke rider, told PREMIUM Friday evening along Azikoro Road.
“People here are peace-loving; politicians are the ones causing violence and mayhem among us,” he added.
Another resident, Jerry, told this reporter that there are a few areas considered flashpoints within the metropolis but security operatives are expected to nip any act of violence in the bud.
“We trust our security people as we look forward to a peaceful election here in Bayelsa State,” he said.