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Voter Intimidation: Bayelsa leaders threaten mass action

Barely a week to the Governorship election in Bayelsa State, leaders of Bayelsa Progressives Forum have vowed to resist any form of intimidation or harassment of voters by security agents, especially the Police.

They threatened that if nothing urgent was done to address the issue, they would be left with no choice, but to lead mass protests against the development.

Reacting to an alleged harassment of citizens in Nembe Communities by the Nigeria Police Force Special Operation Unit (SWAT) ahead of the governorship election, the leaders warned that such moves will be resisted.

Coordinator of the Forum, Timi Osborn said; “these incidents are reported to be taking place in the run-up to the forthcoming governorship election, slated for the 11th of November 2023, in the State.

“It is with utmost alarm that we note the increasing incidents of alleged police misconduct and abuses targeting the residents of Nembe communities, over the past few weeks. Such actions not only violate the fundamental rights of our citizens but also pose severe threats to the peaceful conduct of the upcoming gubernatorial election in Bayelsa State.”

The Forum called on the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, whose primary responsibility is to maintain law and order in the country, to immediately investigate these allegations and take necessary steps to ensure that SWAT officers operating in Nembe communities adhere to the highest standards of professionalism and respect for human rights.

Osborn said the actions are vital to avoid any undue interference with the democratic process and to maintain public trust in law enforcement agencies.

The Forum said it was unacceptable, that citizens, who are registered voters in certain communities of the State, would be driven out of their ancestral communities during elections, owing to the desperation of politicians to be elected into offices.

He added; “We recognize the importance of a robust and effective Police Force, and we acknowledge the challenging tasks they undertake to ensure security and public order. However, this should never be an excuse for the violation of the rights of law-abiding citizens. We must strike a balance between maintaining security and respecting the democratic rights of our people.

“As we approach the forthcoming governorship election in Bayelsa State, we implore the Inspector-General of Police to intervene and call the SWAT unit to order.

“As much as the Bayelsa Progressives Forum remains dedicated to upholding the principles of democracy, respect for human rights, and the rule of law, we shall not hesitate to mobilize our people, in the next few days, using every legitimate means, to resist any attempt, at disenfranchising our people, in the coming Governorship elections in our state”.

The Forum expressed its readiness, to actively engage the political parties and stakeholders, in ensuring that the will of the people prevails in the elections.


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