The Bayelsa State chapters of the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress have bickered on the recent comments of Chief Edwin Clark’s group on the outcome of the 2019 general elections.
The Bayelsa State APC had on Thursday criticised the Clark-led Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum for allegedly being partisan in comments on the elections.
But in a reaction on Saturday, the state’s PDP said the APC criticism of the group was disrespectful.
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum had issued a statement, titled: “On Danger Signals from Rivers and Other States,” which alleged that APC leaders in Bayelsa and Rivers States, led by ex-Governors Timipre Sylva and Rotimi Ameachi, were behind electoral violence in the states.
The statement was signed by Chief Edwin Clark, leader of Pan Niger Delta Elders’ Forum; Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere; Chief John Nwodo, the President General of Ohaneze, the Igbo people umbrella body; and Dr. Pogu Bitrus, the President of the Middle Belt Forum.
The groups said: “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.
“We call on the President to call Messrs Rotimi 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, Amaechi and Sylva should have been arrested by now for the wanton violence they have instigated.”
However, Doifie Buokoribo, Publicity Secretary of Bayelsa State APC, observed that the party had seemingly expressed concern over the statement, saying it was laced with malice and prejudice.
According to Buokoribo, the APC finds the statement offensive, unwarranted, disgraceful and partisan.
He said: “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 Elections, 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 it clear who is lining their pockets.
“In the specific case of Bayelsa State, if anyone needs to be called to question concerning the elections, that person is Governor Henry 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 try to cover up their evil activities.
“They were so wild and uncontrolled that even the military had to issue a statement a few days ago to call Dickson and the PDP to order.
“That statement was widely publicised by the local, national, and international news channels. It is surprising that the forum did not read such a crucial statement before making conclusions.
“They just decided to pick and choose those to slander. But the thinking public knows Sylva is an innocent man. He is a man of peace.”
The APC wondered why the elders failed to reach out to Sylva and hear from him on the allegations before releasing their statement.
Buokoribo noted that the principle of fair hearing was because the APC leader had only “been alleged” to do the things they referred to in the statement.
On the other hand, the Bayelsa State PDP described the response by APC as a “despicable display of disrespect” for the person of the Ijaw National Leader, Pa Edwin Clark, as well as other elder statesmen and leaders in the South-South and Middle Belt.
The State’s Secretary of the PDP, Chief Godspower Keku, berated Buokoribo for casting aspersions on the integrity of the leaders saying the APC was attacking the group for speaking the truth about happenings in Rivers and Bayelsa States.
Keku said it was as immoral for a son of the South South to make such disparaging remarks about the elder and leader of his people for saying the truth about issues of grave concern to them.
The PDP said the people of Bayelsa State had openly rejected the APC in the state when the PDP clinched 17 out of the 21 declared results of the 24-member House of Assembly seats and APC got only four.
Keku called on the state’s APC leader, Sylva, and his supporters to immediately tender an unresolved apology to the Ijaw Nation, the Niger Delta, the South-South and the Middle Belt.