The fold of the highest decision making body of Ijaw Elders worldwide,the Ijaw National Congress (INC) is being torn apart by allegation of political manipulation and imposition of candidates without due process ahead of election into executive positions of the body.
The INC, which was planning on reactivating its leading role with a new election after years of becoming silent and inactive after the loss of former President,Dr. Good luck Jonathan in 2015 and undue political inteference by some Niger Delta governors, has been plagued by allegations and counter allegations of manipulations and fraud.
While some aspirants for executive position accused the Bayelsa Governor,Hon. Seriake Dickson of alleged imposition of candidates, others claimed the interference and political influence will lead to the emergence of a divided Ijaw National Congress(INC).
Also accused of alleged electoral fraud were the duo of Chief Francis Doukpoulagha and Senator Inatimi Spiff.
Inatimi Spiff and Doupoulagha,both members of the Bayelsa Elders Forum,were accused of procuring nomination forms through the back door and on a public holiday against the stipulation of the electoral committee.
Confirming the development, the State Chairman of the Civil Liberties Organisation and a Vice Chairmanship aspirant in the INC, Chief Nengi James-Oriworio, alleged that the action of Senator Inatimi Spiff and Chief Francis Doukplougha is an alleged wrongful purchase of nomination forms from the electoral committee.
Chief Nengi James,in his petition filed before the Electoral Committee of the INC through his lawyers led by Gideon Rogers Elebe, ESQ and made available to newsmen, alleged ‘That your exalted Committee in preparation for the conduct of the elections of the Ijaw National Congress made publications of Election guidelines and activities thus:
Collection of expression of nomination forms 20th – 30th May, 2019.’
‘Screening of Candidates 1st – 2nd day of June, 2019. That as a result of the clash of the public holidays, screening date was extended to the 5th day of June, 2019.OUR CLIENT informed us that throughout the period scheduled for the purchase of expression of nomination forms for various positions, none of the persons mentioned above partook in the said above highlighted election activities in line with your published Election guidelines.’
‘That neither CHIEF FRANCIS DOUKPOLAGHA nor SENATOR INATIMI SPIFF purchased the expression for nomination forms within the period stipulated by your published election guidelines.’
‘That to the surprise of OUR CLIENT, the above mentioned persons amongst others was surreptitiously allowed by Your exalted Committee to purchase the expression of nomination Forms outside the prescribed time and contrary to your published election guidelines.’
‘OUR CLIENT is dissatisfied with the acts of your exalted Committee in collusion with the persons mentioned above which acts may instill on the minds of contestants, a likelihood of bias in respect of the Ijaw National Congress Elections.’
‘We hold the firm view that Election guidelines especially when published by an Electoral Committee are binding on every contestant including the said Electoral Committee’.
‘We are also of the firm view that failure of the above mentioned persons to purchase the Expression of Nomination Forms within the time prescribed by the Electoral Committee is a gross contravention of the Election guidelines duly published by your exalted Committee’.
‘We therefore call on you sir, to reconsider the issues raised in this complaint and accordingly abide strictly to the election guidelines as published by your exalted Committee, as you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand.’