Posted by Nelson Dafe, Edo | 23 January 2016 | 2,638 times
A member of a civil rights group which observed the recently held gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa State has raised the alarm over threats made to his life by suspected militants.
Iboi Bright Akhigbe, the Media and Publicity Secretary of Bayelsa State-based Niger Delta Forum For Good Government (NDFGG), said his group witnessed and documented acts of violence perpetrated by supporters of both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the January 9 elections and for that he and other members of his group are being hounded.
Akhigbe, who spoke with News Express on phone from an undisclosed location, said: “Our organisation, the NDFGG, has taken it upon itself to play a role in deepening democracy in Nigeria. To this end, we have been monitoring elections and making sure that we note and present findings on any irregularities perpetuated, irrespective of who was committing them. But the recent Bayelsa governorship election and the follow-up supplementary polls in Southern Ijaw have presented my group and me in particular with some special and deadly difficulty.
“We were in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area to observe the supplementary election and we made written and video documents of some unsavoury violence that led to the killing of several persons in that local government. We noticed that both parties (PDP and APC) supporters unfortunately were involved in the orgy of deadly violence and we prepared our reports for onward forwarding to the appropriate authorities.”
However, in Perembari community where his group was covering the supplementary election, Akhigbe noticed a car trailing the car he and NDFGG President Agiri Peters were driving in.
“All of a sudden, the Toyota Camry that was behind our car pulled up besides us and the window came down fast. I knew we were going to be shot at, given my experience watching movies and given the volatile situation in Bayelsa and coupled with the sensitive information we had at our disposal. My president ordered the driver to speed off without waiting. They didn’t fire any shot but I knew we would have been dead if we had dithered one second more,” Akhigbe said.
Worryingly for Akhigbe, since that incident, he has been receiving calls from different individuals threatening his life. He said: “That very night after we zoomed off from the stalking car, someone called me and identified himself as a militant. He said I should consider myself a dead man for daring to film the violence that took place at Perembari community. He said that his militant group has connections in high places and that they will snuff me and the members of my group out just as they had done.”
At the moment, the whereabouts of both Akhigbe and Peters remain unknown.
“I’ve been really afraid for my life. I can’t contact my president; his family members say they can’t either. I don’t know what has happened to him and all the video documents we compiled on the violence. My house has been burgled, and my relatives are being threatened with several phone calls,” Akhigbe said.
He disclosed that he has spoken to the police about the ordeal but is worried that a follow-up investigation has not been carried out. “I suspect that since my group’s report indicts both sides of the parties involved in the election, we won’t get any particular favours from anyone concerned, including the police authorities,” Akhigbe said.
The Bayelsa governorship election was won by incumbent Seriake Dickson of PDP, who fought off a strong challenge from his immediate past predecessor, Timi Silva of APC.
•Photo shows NDFGG the Media and Publicity Secretary, Iboi Bright Akhigbe.
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