I was offered money to rig Bayelsa polls, says INEC chief



• ‘My life is under threat’
• REC denies personal relationship with Jonathan

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 candidate. 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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  • Gladys Hero

    We need more of Kpagih in this country…not only is he a ma of intergrity but also a real man who stood his grounds aginst all odds!. Just very few persons would come out boldly to say they reject money offers that were thrown at them.

    • ND.pikin

      His integrity will guide and protect him day and night, the change campaigners have failed in Bayelsa this time of their devilish act against the peaceful people they’ve been oppressing ever since, even though they knew what’s is going on.

    • Amass a

      Kpagih is one of corrupt INEC officers in Nigeria . He is only trying to put himself out of what he has committed. Kpagih need to satisfy the person who gave him job after he was retired prematurely.

    • Emmanuel Igechi

      We need more of kpagih?
      Someone who is still concealing the person who bribed him?
      We don’t need people like him.
      We need those who gives the complete true story.
      Right now am lost. Tell me who bribed him, is it APC or PDP?

  • ebi

    He couldn’t have just mentioned only southern Ijaw, when he knows so well that arms and ammunition, violence and thuggery was present in most of the other LGAs too, especially Sagbama and Ekeremor. One can never successfully hide their bias.
    So the same man that believes if he had a person relationship with the vice president he wouldn’t have retired when he did, is the one that is claiming Mr.Integrity? How come we never heard people representing a candidate/party tried to bribe him until he was accused by the APC to be biased and supporting PDP/GEJ? Now he saying it’s same people that are threatening his life.

    • ND.pikin

      My guy use your head, Hausas and Yorubas would never had this problem with their elections. Why are we selling ourselves because we’re supporting someone without considering the fact that the same person imposing threats to his own people he wants to govern? Is APC Ijaw party? All Hausas and Yorubas are APC, and we’re still subscribing to be slaves to these criminals.

      • Jumah

        Where was the PDP party first delivered? In the North!!! Have you now stolen or kidnapped the party from its parents?

        • Amass a


        • musa aliyu

          He is right. PDPigs is no longer existing in the North; it is left drifting for them to anchor.

      • Amass a

        Can you tell Nigerians how many Ijaw people joined in forming PDP. PDP is not an Ijaw party. Stop deceiving the Ijaw people. You are among those bring sentiment in to every little thing. Obj, Yar’Adua where all PDP president. Are they Ijaw people. Use your head.

      • ebi

        You are the one that need to use your head. What’s the correlation between bayelsa elections and all these ethnic groups? I really don’t like mixing political parties and ethnic groups, especially state elections. But just to enlighten you, since 2007 the ACN/APC have fielded 3 ijaws respectively for Governor of Rivers State, Prince Tonye Princewill, Abiye Sekibo and recently/currently Peterside Dakuku. This is a state that the riverine ijaws have been marginalised for a long time. Should I remind you that this same period the PDP had Omehia/Ameachi and Wike all from Ikwerre- upland of Rivers State. Or should I also remind you that without the yorubas in the south West Jonathan wouldn’t have won the 2011 elections? Because we all saw how Ribadu lost even at the strongest holds of his then party ACN. My point is focus on other things and stop aligning Ijaw with parties. Everybody ethnic group(major ones) have benefited one way or the other from both parties, so that’s not an issue.

        • Okafor

          The Ijaws in Rivers state deserve the position but those you mentioned are of the wrong party. The state is a PDP state. Amaechi out of selfish ambition dragged some of his followers to APC, without getting approval from those who elected in the first place. That was waywardness and he has to be shown how to behave in future elections

      • Emmanuel Igechi

        So, PDP is ijaw party?
        And so ijaw was born in 1998.
        Think with your head before writing.

    • ZINNI

      This your comment is very shameful indeed,if you know where the Arms are in all 7 Local government councils tell the world,so that the military or any relevant agency could arrest them,Bayelsa belong to the Bayelsans,not PDP,Or APC,NEITHER Hausa/fulanis nor the Yorubas who are bent on remote controlling you Guys.ask for a free and fair leadership,not inordinate ambition.

      • Amass a

        Your comment is the one that is shameful. Mind you Senator Lokpobiri was well attacked at Ekeremor that AIT narrated the story in its news item showing how the security operatives battled to save the situation. There was no election in Ekeremor but the said REC accepted the notorious result even though a lot of petition where thrown in. We are aware that it Was Dr Jonathan that made him REC and he is working hard to at least satisfy him as a mark of appreciation. Bayelsa REC is bias .

        • You failed to mention the attack on the Acting PDP chairman’s house in Brass.Did he vote? Of course no.Because he and three others were rescued by the navy.The Police commissioner refused to come to their aid.Try to be balanced in your view.

      • ebi

        Na wa o! Shebi I said it already and named the worst hit areas. All I wanted was him being the REC to acknowledge that too, but he made it seem as if it was only southern Ijaw, despite the petitions and evidences on media.

    • Solomon Aruwaje

      Half illiterate is a more than HIV, you need more education , because the writer is trying to express the closeness b/w him and GEJ as people like claims

      • ebi

        You are the half illiterate here. So it makes sense for a supposed Noble man to say he is not close to Jonathan else he wouldn’t have retired when he did? Is that not saying he is open to and in support of nepotism? And will subscribe to it if he has the opportunity. Is that not corruption?

        • Solomon Aruwaje

          you need more education because you are still thinking link village people or someone without intent of education.

          • ebi

            I can assure you I am more enlightened and educated than you are. And the said education was acquired from reputable institutions around the world at all levels. It is even evident from the way you digress from the issue at hand but resort to name callings without even addressing the points raised.
            Learn to make your points without all sort of foul language, especially when it’s not necessary, else it will be seen as an avenue to hide your ignorance or inability to comprehend.

  • Objectivity View

    What stops you from mentioning names of those who tried to bribe you if your story is true? That’s the only way they will leave you alone, knowing everybody will suspect them if anything goes wrong.

    • musa aliyu

      But do you need be told that from his story of absolving himself from any relationship with jona, it is the APCs who tried the bribe gate/saga?

      • Emmanuel Igechi

        You see why Kpagih deserved to be flogged mercilessly?
        Some of you have started completing the story for him. He should tell us who bribed him.

  • John

    May God continue to protect you, Mr. Kpagih. We need more honest people like you in this crime-battered country. The enemies of truth though may run after you but their efforts will continue to fail in Jesus’ name. Amen.

  • Ebaah Odibo

    Who tried to bribe him to falsify the election results of; most importantly, Southern Ijaw LGA. Obviously, it is Timipre Sylva of APC who opposed the cancellation of the results there. The PDP had used this strategy to ‘carry go’ all these years. APC promised ‘change’. And what is the ‘change’ ?. Same old election rigging and thuggery. And some gullible Nigerians are still shouting ‘change’. APC = PDP, period!

  • ayo

    APC is an axis of evil and an evil affliction against this nation.

  • sammyo

    Thats the way of APC accuse and destroy the name of all law abiding citizen to get control of all government levels and turn it to empire of corruptions, what a farce of a country Nigeria has been turned to, ahahahahahahahah.

  • Babalakin

    I was offered money, any one can say that. it is only men of courage and substance that will say mr b offered me money

  • stan Emelogu

    I would have been surprised if the REC said nobody tried to bribe him. How long will it take Nigerians to have elections with no one crying to court? Around the world elections end with a handshake but in Nigeria every election ends in litigation, violence and loss of life. Why? Maybe we are hard wired to be dictators rather than democrats.

  • joahmed biu

    APC is an axis of evil. Period!