Wednesday, 24 April, 2024

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Clark Accuses Sylva Of Promoting Violence In Bayelsa Polls, Claims Sylva Has Diminished His Reputation With Election Violence


The leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Edwin Clark, in an open letter to the All Progressive Congress candidate (APC), Bayelsa governorship candidate in the November 11, governorship election, Timipre Sylva, said that he “burnt the goodwill I had for you when you championed violence in the general elections on two occasions in Bayelsa State.”

The letter titled: RE: “ELECTION VIOLENCE IN BAYELSA STATE AND YOUR INORDINATE AMBITION TO RULE THE STATE AGAIN”, came after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) added Sylva’s name to the list of candidates running for the Bayelsa governorship.

According to the elder-statesman in spite of all of his fatherly guidance and encouragement, Sylva blinded by his ambition to become the state’s governor following former president Goodluck Jonathan and his recent presidential ambition, which in one way or another helped him, he instigated violence in the state.

According to Clark, it’s very unfortunate and terribly disappointing that Sylva has not stopped his brutal and violent approach to elections.

He stressed that the statement made by Sylva’s running mate in Brass during campaign has gone viral in the media, where the running mate said that “anyone who misbehaves will be thrown into the river to drown”, “some people will die, it’s not the first time people die in elections”.

He said four days to the governorship election, that Sylva and his running mate were yet to renounced the statement rather; he was trying to defend his running mate.

“Too bad. This categorically demonstrates that you are a security risk during general elections in the State.” Clark said.

According to Clark, he is not surprised that Sylva has a penchant for violence stressing that violence runs in his political activities.

He said he observed during that Sylva’s tenure in office as Governor of Bayelsa State, that he appointed a security committee under the leadership of the late Mr. Richard Kpodo, from Torufani, and the name of the security outfit was called Operation Famou Tangbe.

He said the meaning of the gang was ‘kill and throw away’, adding that it was common knowledge that the security outfit committed a lot of atrocities in Bayelsa State, including killings, raping, harassing political opponents, etc, until the Presidency intervened.

” You can therefore see the reasons why most of our Ijaw people in Bayelsa and other residents are against your candidature for fear of insecurity and victimization of political opponents and innocent citizens.” He said.

The full statement.

Chief Timipre Sylva,

APC Gubernatorial Candidate,

Bayelsa State.

My Dear Son,

OPEN LETTER

RE: ELECTION VIOLENCE IN BAYELSA STATE AND YOUR INORDINATE AMBITION TO RULE THE STATE AGAIN

This my letter will come to you as a surprise because to you, you have done nothing to offend me or against Ijaw people.

This you demonstrated when you excitingly paid me an unscheduled visit during which you stated that you have come to obtain your father’s blessings before you will go and see Mr. President. You then mentioned that some of your colleagues from the north have bought you a presidential form at the cost of ₦100 million.

Thereafter, we celebrated and I offered you my fatherly blessings in your contest to be a Presidential Aspirant of the APC.

We still feel that the goodwill which existed between me and you and His Royal Majesty, King Edmund Daukoru of Nembe Kingdom, your former boss, still exist when I single-handedly contributed to your becoming the successor of then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, when he became the running mate to late President Umaru Yar’adua in 2007.

All that is now history. Unfortunately, you burnt the goodwill I have for you when you championed violence in the general elections on two occasions in Bayelsa State.

Firstly, it was during the gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State between you and Senator Seriake Dickson, where both of you because of your personal ambition imposed violence on the innocent citizens of Bayelsa State.

I remember criticizing both of you at a press conference in Abuja, and I reproduce hereunder the extract of that press conference as reported in the Vanguard newspaper of 14th January, 2016;

“Bayelsa: Dickson, Sylva not democrats —Clark

FORMER Federal Commissioner for Information and an Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, yesterday, described Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State and former Governor Timipre Sylva as non-democrats who do not know anything about democracy, adding that all they were interested in was grabbing power.

Addressing newsmen at his Asokoro residence, Abuja, Chief Clark, who described the violence that characterized the Bayelsa State governorship election where lives were lost as a brazen and open show of shame, accused both candidates of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and All Progressives Congress, APC, of being responsible because of the level of desperation that enveloped them.

Chief Clark, who said he was constrained to talk even though he had resigned from partisan politics because of what happened during the governorship election, stressed that he cannot exonerate the two contenders of the violence.

He said, “The two contestants have served the people as governor of the state, the people already know their individual capabilities. They should have allowed the electorate to peacefully decide who they wanted. It is very unfortunate that both of them are not democrats and therefore, they do not know what democracy means. What they know is power.”

The Ijaw leader who explained that the political violence in Bayelsa State was due to desperation and greed, stressed that if both Dickson and Sylva had put 1/10th of the efforts they placed in the Bayelsa State election in the Presidential election of March 28, 2015 to campaign for their various Presidential candidates, both former President Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari would have had higher figures in their election in Bayelsa”.

Again, during the 2019 General Elections as an APC politician, you engaged in violence activities during the Presidential and National Assembly elections in the State. At the end of the election, the Southern and Middle-Belt Leaders Forum which I lead, issued a statement condemning you and Rt. Hon. RotimiAmaechi, who was the Minister of Transportation in former President Muhammadu Buhari’s government for championing violence during the election in Bayelsa and Rivers States.

I reproduce hereunder the text of the statement which was published in all the media, and I remember you read the statement and phoned me that you thought you are my son and I should not be condemning you publicly;

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has expressed deep worry over the turn of events in Rivers State over the gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections held on the 9th of March, 2019 which has now been suspended by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) indefinitely.

The forum in a statement signed by Chief E.K. Clark -PANDEF Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo-for Afenifere Leader, Chief John Nwodo – President General Ohanaeze and Dr. Pogu Bitrus, President -Middle Belt Forum quoted Mr. Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner as saying, “Initial reports suggest that violence occurred in substantial number of polling units and collation centres; staff have been taken hostage and materials including result sheets have either been seized or destroyed by unauthorized persons.

“In addition, safety of our staff appears to be in jeopardy all over the state and the commission is concerned about the credibility of the process.

“Consequently, at a meeting held Sunday, March 10, the commission has decided to suspend all electoral processes in the state until further notice”.

It however said that the statements actually codified what members of the ruling party led by Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi had been doing in a state where APC had no official governorship candidate adding that Soldiers, Air Force personnel and thugs had been deployed to terrorize opponents, INEC officials and many citizens in Rivers State in the last few days thereby creating a state of panic and anxiety all over the state.

The forum posited that there had been a spill-over of the Rivers situation to Bayelsa State where Mr. Timpire Sylva of the ruling APC had also been alleged to be terrorizing residents with impunity.

“We call on the President to call Messrs Amaechi and Sylva to order and restore normalcy so that the electoral process in Rivers State in particular can be concluded.

“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.

“There has been peace in the Niger Delta in recent time and it would be sad if the President’s men provoke a situation that will disrupt the peace of the region with serious implications for the whole country”, it said.

While decrying the role security agents had played in Imo where the collation centre was invaded and election materials carted away, it however warned of serious consequences if such crude methods were used to violate the will of the people.

It continued,” The militarization of several areas of the country for the Governorship elections has been a serious blight on our democratic experiment and the President should have seen how voters across the country have now resorted to shunning polling booths for fear of their safety. The sad part is that these soldiers have only played the role of intimidation and not to guarantee safety as we have seen how lack of security forced non-indigenes to stay in-door in Lagos during elections.

“The Chief of Army staff should bury his head in shame as all his assurances of neutrality of the Army has come to naught as his men were involved in undue interference in the electoral process and harassment of opposition elements.

“We have also noted how elections are now being declared inconclusive in many states where the ruling party is having challenges with results. As at last count, this has taken place in Adamawa, Bauchi, Plateau, Kano and Sokoto states. This development is worrisome and is capable of creating serious stress for the system. We must learn from history and not overstretch the system the way the ruling party is doing”.

I am terribly disappointed that you have not stopped this brutal and violent approach to election. The statement made by your running mate in Brass during campaign has gone viral in the media that “anyone who misbehaves will be thrown into the river to drown”, “some people will die, it’s not the first time people die in elections”.

You have not renounced the statement rather; you are trying to defend him. Too bad. This categorically demonstrates that you are a security risk during general elections in the State.

Finally, on this issue of violence, I observed during your tenure in office as Governor of Bayelsa State, you appointed a security committee under the leadership of one militant fellow, late Mr. Richard Kpodo, from Torufani, and the name of the security outfit was called Operation Famou Tangbe, meaning ‘kill and throw away’. It is common knowledge that this security outfit committed a lot of atrocities in Bayelsa State, including killings, raping, harassing political opponents, etc, until the Presidency intervened. You can therefore see the reasons why most of our Ijaw people in Bayelsa and other residents are against your candidature for fear of insecurity and victimization of political opponents and innocent citizens.

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