All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Bayelsa State chapters were conspicuously absent yesterday during a meeting between political parties in the state and the Commissioner of Police, Joseph Mukan.
Instead of the big-two, the chairmen of other smaller parties attended the stakeholders’ meeting, which was held at the police officers’ mess, Yenagoa.
The CP had invited heads of all political parties in Bayelsa under the auspices of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) to brainstorm on modalities and the challenges to peaceful campaigns and free and fair elections in the state.
But in reaction, Mukan said the absence of the two major political parties had nothing to do with the progress of the meeting adding that the outcome of the deliberation applied to all the parties in the state.
He said all the parties were invited to the meeting but said neither the PDP nor the APC sent representatives or gave any reason for not being present.
He noted that any party that acted contrary to the electoral guidelines or breached security would be dealt with in accordance with the law.
“We cannot hold a separate discussion with them. Everybody was invited but they didn’t send any representation that is why they are not here. Anybody who falls prey or err will be totally dealt with”.
The CP warned parties against bringing arms to their campaign grounds under any guise, stressing that the Police would deal ruthlessly with any attempting to create violent scenes during campaigns.
He assured that the Police would be unbiased umpire that would ensure a level-playing field and security to all the parties.
The state chairmen of PDP and the APC, Moses Cleopas and Jothan Amos, could not be reached as at press time.
Speaking on the essence of the meeting, he said: “You are all aware that the campaign has started. We have rules guiding every competition most especially our elections. The electoral laws are very clear.
“The INEC guidelines are there to guide us. Security agents are here to ensure a level-playing ground. So, there is a need for us to come together and see how we will have a successful election in 2019.
“What you have to do is to inform us within 72 hours when you are going for your campaigns or avail us with the timetable if your itinerary to make it easier for us. This is to stop thugs from hijacking your rallies. We are unbiased umpire”, he said.