Festus Abu, Samuel Nkemakolem
The All Progressives Congress in Bayelsa State has slammed as “offensive, unwarranted and disgraceful” a statement attributed to the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum accusing a former governor of the state Timpire Sylva of “terrorising residents with impunity.”
The forum in a statement by Chief Edwin Clark (PANDEF leader), Chief Ayo Adebanjo (Afenifere leader), Chief John Nwodo (President-General, Ohanaeze) and Dr Pogu Bitrus (President, Middle Belt Forum), expressed concern over the situation in Rivers State during Saturday’s elections.
The statement, “There has been a spillover of the Rivers situation to Bayelsa State where Mr Timpire Sylva of the ruling APC has also been alleged to be terrorising residents with impunity.”
The group called President Muhammadu Buhari to caution the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and Sylva “and restore normalcy so that the electoral process in Rivers State in particular can be concluded”.
The leaders added, “Indeed, if we are a republic governed by law, Mr Rotimi Amaechi and Mr Timpire Sylva should have been arrested by now for the wanton violence they have instigated.”
However, in a statement on Wednesday by spokesman for the APC in Bayelsa, Doifie Buokoribo, the party dismissed the forum as “a campaign outfit of the Peoples Democratic Party”.
The statement said, “Our party finds the statement offensive, unwarranted and disgraceful. Like most Nigerians, we know it as a matter of fact that these are partisan elders on the side of the opposition (PDP).
“During the presidential election, this group openly supported and campaigned for the defeated PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
“These elders do not represent the interests of the ethnic nations they purport to speak for. They are only representing their pockets. And they have since made clear who is lining their pockets.”
It added, “In the specific case of Bayelsa State, if anyone needs to be called to question concerning the elections, that person is Governor Seriake Dickson.
“The governor and his party, the PDP, were the ones that unleashed war and terror on our suffering people. And they were the ones spreading fake news to incite violence and trying to cover up their evil activities.”
The party called on Nigerians not to take the elders seriously, insisting they were after self-interest.
The statement added, “With elders like Clark and his group, it is not surprising that our communal governance structures have become comatose.
“The elders in the Clark group are a disgrace to the South and the Middle Belt. And the earlier responsible people in the region begin to dissociate themselves from the group’s divisive prejudices, the better for the South and Nigeria.