Bayelsa State governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Saturday’s governorship election in the state, Douye Diri and his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Timipre Sylva, yesterday traded words over alleged plans to perpetrate violence and stockpile arms during the election.
Diri and Sylva, both of whom, alongside candidates of other parties, signed the peace accord organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC) in Yenagoa on Wednesday, traded accusations shortly after embracing each other.
Speaking to newsmen at the venue of the signing ceremony, Diri alleged that the signing of peace accord would be ineffectual because the APC candidate was lying about violence and arms stockpiling in his Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area.
He said: “Sylva has accused me, Douye Diri of stockpiling arms, in Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA, that should be the fattest lie of the year and that shows that this peace accord is going to be ineffectual because if a man chooses to be telling lies even in the face of this peace accord, then something is wrong.
“I was really embarrassed when I got that information and everybody knows in this state, those who are given to violence and the flash red points, Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA has never been a flash red point. I think the candidate of APC may have stockpiled arms on Kolokuma/Opokuma”, he alleged, calling on security agencies to investigate.
The governor, however, promised to be “fully committed to peace.”
Also speaking, the APC candidate and former governor of the state, Sylva, alleged that there had been a lot of violence orchestrated by the PDP in Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA.
Sylva, however, expressed hope the peace accord would make the key actors in the election stand back and work for peace.
He said: “APC today has come to demonstrate that we are committed to peace in Bayelsa State, but we are not comfortable with the disposition of our opponents; there has been a lot of violence orchestrated by PDP in Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA, but I’m hoping that the peace accord will make all of us to stand back, and ensure there is peace in this election.
“We hope that other parties will obey and abide by the peace accord, having signed it, we believe it will at least change everybody not to do what they are planning to do because we hear all the plans, we hear thugs imported from other states,” he said.
Speaking during the signing of peace accord ceremony, the chairman of the NPC, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (Rtd), urged Bayelsa to vote for peace and togetherness on Saturday.
Represented by the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto and Secretary of the Committee, Bishop Matthew Kukah, the former Head of State advised the contestants not to see the signing of peace accord as mere formality.
In Kogi, where the NPC held the same peace accord signing, only the candidate of the APC, Usman Ododo, was there in person; while other candidates sent representatives.
The chairman of the NPC, who was represented by John Cardinal Onaiyekan, frowned at some of the governorship candidates who did not turn up for the signing of the peace accord.
He implored the stakeholders to strictly declare a sincere commitment to ensuring a free, fair and credible election on Saturday in the state.
“Candidates should present themselves for services and not to impose themselves on the people.
“If government institutions saddled with the responsibility to conduct the election should do it with diligence and without fear or favour, there is no need to go and seek redress in the law court”, he said.
The Inspector-General of Police, who was represented by Deputy Inspector-General Habu Sani, urged the governorship candidates to appeal to their supporters to maintain decorum and operate within the ambit of the law for a violence-free election where the most accepted candidate would emerge.
“Tell your supporters that elections cannot be won by violence. Signing the peace accord is not enough, but talking to your supporters to comport themselves during and after the polls”, he said.