Chairman of the Bayelsa Traditional Rulers Council, His highness Bubaraye Dakolo shared his concerns on the rise of electoral violence in the state of Bayelsa and the role of the police in ensuring security in the community during the upcoming elections .
In an ARISE NEWS interview on Wednesday, King Dakolo made it known that though he believes in the IG of Police to make efforts to keep his promises, he also remains skeptical due to experiences in previous electoral cycles where the police failed to do their duties. He also questioned the preparedness of the forces, one of the concerns being inadequate preparations to take on riverine environs of the state giving citizens limited access to participation in the elections.
“I believe that 98% of the state is ready to go in for this election. However, there may be just 1% or so, who may be ready to take the laws into their own hands. In the past, they have done so. For instance, someone maims or kills; and then at the end of the election process he’s promoted or given a Jeep, in saying, ‘thank you for a job well done’.
“Never has an electoral offender who has maimed or killed been ever brought to trial. That is what they know. So for them, this is a new Christmas season. And where citizens of Bayelsa state are not even ready to be a part of this violence, people go as far as neighbouring states to procure merchants of violence, bring them into the states through the creeks and cause a crisis. So while the Inspector General of Police has promised that there will be no violence, I want to take him for his words, but however, if it happens otherwise, his name will be written amongst others who have not been able to deliver on their promise. I hope he delivers on his promise.”
Though rumours have it that there are politicians participating in the election may be planning to instigate violence in their favour during the election. His Highness Dakolo stated that he has not gotten wind of any information like such and will ensure to liaise with the police if it surfaces.
However he added, “The truth is that the politicians are not really to blame. They are exploiting the weaknesses of law enforcement. They are exploiting the fact that they are able to do these things and get away with them. So that should be the concern.”
He also stated that law enforcement should “do their work” and ensure they have adequate equipment like boats to use as they do not have enough to be able to reach certain water logged areas of Bayelsa state to give which may hinder them from effectively carrying out security operations.
“How many boats do they have? How many boats does the police in Bayelsa state even have? I know they do not have enough boats as compared to vehicles. It puts them at some sort of disadvantage. Are they swimmers enough? Will they want to go on boats to all the riverine places without fear of getting drowned? These are the factors, long and short id that once there is any disruption or attempt of disruption, law enforcement should be proactive enough to get those people apprehended and ensure that it does not end after the elections to ensure that at the end of the day, they are sent and trialled and face the full weight of the law. That is deterrence. Anything short of that will just be blowing hot air and at the end of the day, no one is held accountable.”
Addressing the statements made by deputy governorship candidate of the APC, Joshua Maciver calling for his supporters to kill persons not in support of their party and dispose their bodies into the rivers, His Highness condemned this as an inciting statement saying that the law should take its course concerning the statement as it should against anyone regardless of their status in society claiming that not taking action would mean the police would be reinforcing the action.
King Bubaraye who is a retired military officer showed his support for a group of retired officers who released statements calling for peace in the state during the election, where he stated that it should serve as a call to duty for officers to condemn and prevent all forms of electoral malpractice.
In concluding his interview, King Dakolo lauded the incumbent governor who is re-runing form his post under the umbrella of the APC, Douye Diri. According to him, “Everyone will say, except they are biased, that Douye Diri has done exceptionally well but as you know, I have worked with him very closely and I’m conversant with all the things that have happened in recent times and all the commissioning that has been going in. As traditional rulers we are supposed to encourage anyone that is doing well to keep doing well. We work with those in authority to maximise democracy and that is what we’ve done.”