Isaac Ombe, Yenagoa
There was drama at the gate of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, on Thursday, as journalists who covered the commencement of distribution of sensitive materials to the eight local government areas in the state by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were barred from entering the premises of the apex bank where the exercise took place, on Thursday afternoon.
As if the exercise was at shrouded in secrecy, consistent efforts made by the journalists present to witness the distribution exercise inside the premises of the apex bank were rebuffed by security officials.
No reasons were advanced for the development.
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However, unconfirmed sources disclosed that authorities of the bank were scared that some issues concerning the current financial situation might be divulged, stressing “there were some happenings within the premises concerning old Naira notes that might attract journalists attention if allowed into the premises.”
The sensitive materials to the eight LGAs make up the 24 constituencies in the state including Brass, Southern Ijaw, Ekeremor, Yenagoa , Kolokuma /Opokuma, Nembe, Ogbia, and Sagbama local government areas in the state.
INEC Head of Voters Education and Publicity, Wilfred Ifogah, who spoke to journalists outside the premises of the CBN was also mute on the development.
Ifogah said they were at the CBN to retrieve the sensitive materials which comprised result sheets and ballot papers for Bayelss state House of Assembly Constituency elections.
He disclosed that materials would get to six local councils that are mostly located on land later, on Thursday. While materials for the remaining two LGAs located in the riverine areas of the state which included Southern Ijaw and Brass would be moved to the state INEC headquarters, in Yenagoa, for onward movement, on Friday morning, to the local government headquarters.
This method would enhance the quick distribution of the materials from the RACs to the various polling units.
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“We know in Bayelsa we are not having governorship election , so right now we are moving the materials to the various local government headquarters so that the distribution can be early enough on Saturday.
“We have 24 Constituencies in Bayelsa. Each of the local government has three except Southern Ijaw which has 4 and Kolokuma/ Opokuma with two. Every necessary arrangement has been put in place. BVAS has been reconfigured for this particular Election. So far so good we are good to go”.
Ifogah said to make the system more smooth, a re-fresher training for the supervisor presiding officers has been organised, saying hopefully that of collation officers will also take place.
“Just before today, we actually reviewed the election we had on the 25th and we look at some of the lapses and what actually caused them. As we speak today, we are trying to break the chain. That is why we are moving our materials early enough so that they can go to the various local government headquarters, especially those on lands”.
“The result sheet of state Assembly Election also has a seal on it, thought the seal is different from that of presidential election. This is to prevent people that want to be funny possibly want to compromise having seen that of the presidential. We don’t play with that at all, so we design a different seal for this particular one”.
One of the party agent, Comrade Martins Bago, who spoke with journalists said, they went inside and inspected the materials and from their findings Constituency 2 has eight cartoons, Constituency one, is 11 cartoons while Constituency 3 also has 11 cartoons totaling 30 cartoons.
“I want to believe that the materials are correct, we are moving them to Sagbama to separate them and send them to various wards to see how complete they are”.
Also speaking, the state’s chairman of New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP), Comrade Joel Tubonimi, said the materials were already parked before they got there but that they insisted that all materials must be dropped down for proper inspection to know whether they are correct before moving them out which they actually inspected for confirmation.
He said they insisted because of what happened during the presidential election where some result sheet were missing. “So we insisted that we want to see everything and we were showed some of them. At Sagbama our agents are also going to inspect the materials again to make sure nothing has happened in the course of transit”.
“We hope that INEC will keep to there promise by giving us free, fair and credible election on Saturday because we were not satisfied with the presidential election and others”.