Some armed thugs held officials of the electoral commission, INEC, hostage in one of the wards in Kolokuma Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, thereby delaying final collation of results, an official and an election observer said.
As being done in all the eight LGAs in Bayelsa, it is expected that after voting and counting, the presiding officers will compile and take results to the LGA headquarters for final collation before it will be taken to INEC head office in Yenagoa, the state capital.
But in Kolokuma Opokuma as at Sunday noon, not all final results from the 11 wards in the LGA had reached the headquarters in Kaiama town.
It was learnt that results from 10 of the 11 wards had been submitted except that of Igbedi – a waterlogged community.
INEC officials in Igbedi had finished the electoral process and vote counting as at Saturday evening but were held hostage by thugs who want to manipulate the results, according to an INEC staff who refused to give his name saying he was not authorised to speak on the matter.
Eze Martins, a local election observer, also confirmed the development.
“They held the presiding officers and other INEC staff hostage in the community until this morning when the collation officer went there with armed soldiers to rescue them”, the INEC official said.
As at 12:05 p.m., it was learnt that the soldiers had effected the release of INEC officials and were on their way back to the LGA headquarters.
The results from the LGA will be announced as soon as the presiding officer from Igedi return with results from the ward, the INEC official said.
“The challenge has been resolved. They are on their way back,” he noted.
Observers, INEC staff and journalists were still waiting for results from Igbedi at the time of filing this report.
Though elections in Kolokuma Opokuma LGA were relatively peaceful at the beginning, pockets of violence erupted in some parts towards the end of the process.
Some INEC staff were manhandled as they were counting and compiling results. This made many of them to leave their polling units and return to the LGA headquarters for compilation on Saturday evening.
There were also reports of vote buying.
This reporter witnessed where a group of youth in Kaiama town were discussing how much they collected from the major parties.
“PDP gave us N5, 000 but APC paid 4,000”, a female voter said Saturday evening.
Voting did not start early in many of the polling units in the 11 wards in the LGA, especially in areas ravaged by flood.
The flood occupying the only route to Sampou community, home of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Duoye Diri, prevented voters, INEC officials, observers, journalists and security operatives from getting to polling units on time.
Mr Diri voted along with his wife in his polling unit in the community around 11:30 a.m.
At the end of counting Saturday afternoon, the PDP candidate polled 781 votes to massively edge out his closest rival, Mr Lyon, who had 3 votes at the polling unit.