DEFYING what he considered to be threats to
his life, Bayelsa Resident Electoral
Commissioner (REC), Mr. Baritor Kpagih, has
revealed that he was offered money by
certain interests to skew the state’s
governorship election in favour of their

He disclosed that his refusal to be bribed had
pitted them against him.

In an exclusive interview with The
Guardian , Kpagih said that he had been
receiving threats to his life since the
cancellation of the Southern Ijaw Local
Council poll results.

Also, he denied a personal relationship with
former President Goodluck Jonathan, noting
that both of them were not in the Nigeria
Customs at the same time.

The Bayelsa REC said that election should not
be seen as a do-or-die affair, but rather, as a
call to service. He told The Guardian: “Some
people tried to bribe me to help them win
the governorship election and this itself was
a misconception by these individuals.

This is because there is no way I can help
anybody win an election. Mine was to
oversee the process. I can’t falsify results,
because they only come to the head office
after they have been collated at all other
levels. I only stay in the situation room and
oversee collation.’’

He said those who had approached him to
swing the election in their favour were now
persecuting him and spreading all sorts of
false stories about him.

‘‘I believe it was those who had tried to bribe
me before to help them rig the election that
are now behind all sorts of stories, being
bandied around about me. My refusal had
infuriated them and they started by saying I
was missing and that I have gone
underground and all sorts of stories.
People should not take election as a do-or-
die affair. I told them, I can’t help them to rig
the election and that they should use the
money they wanted to bribe me with to go to
the grassroots and canvass for the people’s
votes,” he said.
On the threats to his life, Kpagih said they
started after the election, but that they had
become more frequent in the last few days.

‘‘Somebody called me on the phone and
threatened me and since then, I have been
receiving all sorts of threats. These have
come through text messages and others. Just
on Thursday, two strange people visited my
house in Yenagoa.

They refused to identify themselves but told
my people that they had an appointment with
me and I knew for a fact that I didn’t have
any appointment with anybody that day.

“Quite a number of people who are my
friends have advised me to avoid all the
hassles and stay away from Bayelsa State
because my safety cannot be guaranteed. But
I have a job to do and I am going to see it
through,’’ he said.

On his alleged relationship with Jonathan, the
Ogoni-born electoral boss said he joined the
Customs Service a few years after Jonathan
had left the service and that at no time were
they ever course mates.

He wondered why people would want to
malign his character, just because he had
decided to “fly straight.”
He advised politicians, ‘‘to concentrate on
what is expected to be done within the
framework of the law and Independent
National Electoral Commission (INEC)
guidelines for elections.
‘‘I joined the customs service as a graduate,
while Dr. Jonathan joined as a School
Certificate holder. He left the service around
1977 to go to the university. I also went to
the university in the same year and after
graduation, I joined the service, while he did
not return to the service.
‘‘The first time I met him was when he was
the vice president and we never had any
close relationship. I was retired prematurely,
seven years before the mandatory year. If he
was my close friend and he was the vice
president, wouldn’t he have helped me to
stay in service?’’ he queried.
On the violence that greeted the
governorship polls, Kpagih said that people
should look into the root causes of the
violent clashes, instead of looking for
scapegoats to heap blame on.
‘‘What keeps baffling me is the fact that up
till now, nobody is talking about the arms
and ammunition that were used to wreak
violence on the people. Nobody is looking
into how the arms got into Southern Ijaw and
who brought them into the area.
They were freely deployed into the
communities and nobody is talking about
those things,’’ he added.

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