Bayelsa State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate Chief Timipre Sylva alleged yesterday that the state office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conspired with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to “rig” him out of the election.
Sylva, who vowed to challenge what he described as the procured victory of the PDP in court, said the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Baritor Kpagir, deliberately set up a process to return the PDP candidate and Governor Seriake Dickson.
He said following allegations against the REC in the December 5 election, Kpagir lacked the legally required neutrality to go ahead and conduct the January 9 election.
The APC candidate, who spoke in Yenagoa, the state capital, added that the REC became an interested party when he jumped into the arena to accuse an unknown candidate of trying to induce him with bribe.
Sylva said although the INEC national secretariat sent some RECs to the state for the election, the delegates arrived after Kpagir allegedly perfected his plot to return the PDP candidate.
He said most of the collation officers and other ad-hoc employees of INEC, who conducted the election, were relations of PDP members.
The governorship candidate said: “Well, as far as the REC was concerned, I did not just write petition, I did not just write for change of the REC, even the REC at some point descended to the arena and had to join issues with us, accusing a faceless candidate of offering him bribe.
“A REC like that, who is quarrelling with the candidate in an election, is allowed to conduct the same election? I have never seen this. It has never happened anywhere in Nigeria before. But unfortunately, I didn’t get a reprieve as you know.
“In that case, you don’t expect me to opt out of the election because they have refused to change the REC. I was forced as a candidate because if I said I wasn’t going to subject myself to the election, what were the options? I don’t have any options.
“INEC was the body to conduct the election, and I cried out to INEC over and over again to change the REC, but INEC refused to change him.
“What will I do? Of course, I went into the election unfortunately hoping at that time that the REC fortunately will have a change of heart. But you can see from the events that they were just ensuring that the APC lost that election.”
Sylva said the REC deliberately ensured that some areas in the local government areas he won in December 5 election were cancelled and arranged a rerun election that took place in December 6.
He alleged that the state INEC was set up as part of the rigging machine of the PDP, adding that the same commission returned the former President Goodluck Jonathan in the last presidential election.
“If you look at the event from the beginning on December 5, we won in a local government and they cancelled a section of that local government, reordered election the next day, almost without informing us.