Dickson wins re-election as Bayelsa governor

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Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson yesterday won a second term after a tension-soaked election.

The election came to a conclusion following the declaration of results of Saturday’s supplementary election results in the troublesome Southern Ijaw Local Government Area and 101 polling units across six local government areas.

Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson
Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson

Dickson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won with 134,998 votes to beat the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Timipre Sylva, who polled 86,852 votes.

Dickson won in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area with  23,081 votes. Sylva scored 10,216 votes.

The returning officer announced the cancellation of  39,679 votes in Southern Ijaw for over voting, ballot box snatching, non-use of card readers and other irregularities.

Declaring the results, the Returning Officer and Vice -Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Prof. Zena Akpagu, said Dickson was returned having satisfied the requirements of the law and scoring the highest votes cast.

Amid tight security, Akpagu declared the winner of the election at the state collation centre inside the multipurpose hall of the Yenagoa Local Government Area secretariat.

Hundreds of armed security operatives surrounded the venue and its environs with head of security agencies, such as the police, army and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, monitoring the proceedings.

The governor extended his initially lead of 33,150 votes to 48,146 to retain his position after the epic electoral battle.

The breakdown of the results showed that Dickson won in seven of the eight local government areas. Sylva won in only his Brass Local Government Area.

In Yenagoa Local Government Area, Dickson won the supplementary election with 839 votes as against Sylva’s 448 votes.

The consolidated results for the Council showed that PDP and Dickson polled 25,097 to defeat APC and its candidate who scored 15,011.

In Brass,  the APC candidate widened his lead in the six polling units where the rerun election was held. Sylva polled 1,679 to extend his previous lead from 21,755 to 23,434 votes. Dickson got five votes to have a consolidated total of 6517 votes.

The agent of the APC from Brass, Mr. Denis Otiotio, staged a walkout from the collation centre, claiming that he was not given an equal opportunity by the Returning Officer to address issues raised by the PDP agent.

In Ogbia, Dickson extended his lead in the 27 polling units where the rerun poll was held.  He polled 1290 votes to lead from 13051 to 14341 votes.  Sylva added only 139 votes to get 9249.

Also, the PDP and Dickson won in Ekeremor, the local government area of the Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, amidst protests by the APC.

Dickson extended his lead from 14,602 votes to 17,297 after securing 2,695 in the 32 polling units where the supplementary election was held in the area.

Sylva got 257 votes poll to increase his consolidated votes in the area to 8,178.

There were, however, controversies in Ekeremor, following the cancellation of 17 units by the local government collation officer.

The officer said the units were annulled for overvoting, disagreements on electoral procedures and diversion of electoral materials.

He said the cancellation affected over 6,600 votes, adding that of 9157 registered voters, only 3,018 were accredited for the poll.

But the cancellation sparked a row between the agent of the APC, Mr. Denis Otiotio, and his PDP counterpart  Mr. Fred Agbedi.

Otiotio said the APC won by landslide in all the units cancelled, insisting that the ad-hoc employees of INEC were deliberately recruited with a mandate to work against the interest of the APC.

He said the ward collation officers were given too much discretionary powers and wondered why 6,600 votes would be cancelled in an election that had 9157 registered voters.

He said: “Everywhere APC won, the collation officer looked for a flimsy excuse to cancel it. The process must be free, fair and the procedure must be seen to be so. We submitted petitions but the electoral officers refused to collect them.”

Otiotio urged the Returning Officer to suspend the collation and devote some time to peruse the petitions byAPC, a request that was turned down by the returning officer.

He said APC had petitions against the conduct of elections in Ogbia, Nembe and Ogbia, insisting that the petitions must be looked into by the Returning Officer.

But Agbedi said the 257 votes scored by the APC in Ekeremor should be cancelled, describing them as stolen votes.

Agbedi, who is a member of the House of Representatives, accused the APC of engaging in actions that led to the cancellation.

However, in Nembe, Sylva won the supplementary election after scoring 1,400 votes but still trailed behind Dickson in the consolidated votes. Sylva had 8,374 overall votes, Dickson got 11,927 votes after securing 1,163 in the rerun election to win the council area.

The announcement of Nembe results also ended in protest following the cancellation of 883 votes.

Otiotio said the cancellation was done without following the process laid down by INEC, wondering why a local government collation officer annulled a result that had been collated and brought to the INEC office in Yenagoa.

He said: “l vehemently object to that procedure. When votes had been collated and brought to the INEC office, any party that has problem with it goes to the tribunal.”

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