The Bayelsa Government on Tuesday said it remained committed to protecting the residents’ right to vote in a safe atmosphere in the forthcoming general elections.
Mr Seweniowor Arthur, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, made the assertion while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa.
Arthur said the state government was very much concerned about the voting rights of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the state.
According to him, government was aware that the Peremabiri community had petitioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Police in Bayelsa over reported insecurity in the area.
He said the community had expressed concern that they could not vote in the coastal settlement as they had fled the area over security concerns and consequently demanded for alternative voting venue.
“As a government, we have got reports that a certain militant leader invaded Peremabiri and unleashed violence on the people, compelling them to be displaced.
“We do believe that those who have voting rights should vote and it is our view that INEC still has time to act on the petition before them.
“If they do not, we shall take legal steps to compel them.
“Section 26 of the Electoral Act provides a window for INEC to make alternative venue arrangements for displaced people where there are security challenges and we are monitoring developments,” he said.
According to the attorney-general, security agencies had not restored normalcy in the area.
“If at the end of work on Tuesday no action is taken, we shall be heading to the court on Wednesday to seek legal redress, to ensure that alternative voting venue is provided,” Arthur said.
The Peremabiri people on Tuesday submitted a petition to the Bayelsa Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Monday Udoh, seeking alternative voting venues for the Feb. 16 and March 2 polls citing insecurity.
Responding, Mr Lebai Samsi, Administrative Secretary, INEC, Bayelsa, told the placards-carrying community members at the commission’s office that security was beyond INEC’s mandate.
Samsi had urged them to report the situation to the police and other security agencies, adding that INEC relied on the law enforcement agencies to do its job of conducting elections.