Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Bayelsa State have held a peaceful protest in Yenagoa, the state capital demanding fresh presidential and National Assembly elections in some wards in Nembe and Southern Ijaw local government areas.

The protesters, who marched to the state headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) displayed placards with various inscriptions.

They bemoaned the violence that marred the elections and wondered why INEC should declare results in areas where elections could not hold.

The National Coordinator, Grassroots for Development Support and Transformation Initiative (GDSTI), Toitoi Newton, said the CSOs sought a cancellation of the purported results from Constituency 4 in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.

He said: ‘What happened on election day in my Constituency 4 in Southern Ijaw was a rape of democracy. INEC and the security personnel colluded to hijack our voting materials.

“We absolutely condemn this and the fraudulent declaration of results in areas election did not hold in our constituency. The security personnel intimidated our people, shooting and hijacked election materials in wards 4, 15 and 16. We say no to this rape of democracy.”

Also, Tonye Richard of the Onward Restoration Advocacy Movement (ORAM) said that elections could not hold in the 7 wards of Nembe-Bassambiri following violence orchestrated by political thugs, who were aided by security personnel deployed in the community.

“There was no election in Nembe-Bassambiri. Our people came out to vote but they were deprived. They were chased away from their own town by thugs backed by the military,” he said.

Also speaking, Stephen Seleke of the Advocacy for Peace (AP) noted that what happened in parts of the state during the election negated constitutional provisions and the Electoral Act.

He said: “The Constitution of Nigeria is the norm, the alpha and omega. It represents the yearnings and aspirations of all Nigerians. The guidelines on how elections are conducted are enshrined in the Constitution and the Electoral Act. So anything that is contrary to the Constitution or the Electoral Act on the issue of election cannot stand.

“For instance, the military played a role in the election in Southern Ijaw that negated the provisions of the Constitution and the Electoral Act.

“That is why we came to register our grievances over the conduct of the military. Southern Ijaw and indeed the entire Niger Delta was militarised during the election in order to undermine, frustrate, threaten and intimidate the electorate.

“We want to sound it clearly to the military and INEC that the youths of Bayelsa State are not cowards. We are also educated and intellectually sound. We will therefore stand against any form of electoral fraud.”

Seleke however explained that the groups were not interested in promoting any particular political party but that the protest was to register their grievances over the conduct of the elections in the state.

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