Fear Over Insecurity as Violence, Voters Apathy Characterize 2019 Nigeria Elections

Daniel Whyte
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Different institutions, civil societies, among others, have decried the preponderance of violence and insecurity in Nigeria, Sadly, the nation still has not witnessed a reduction in the perpetuation of evils and hatred which inevitably foster or escalates into violence.

Out of the multifarious challenges that have besieged the Nigerian nation over the years, the issue of insecurity has proved a serious and lethal threat of dismantling the foundations of peace and faith in the state with which a nation naturally exists. Aside Boko Haram and similar terrorist groups, other circumstances of violence in the country have either been fuelled by political actors or been influenced by, and/or affiliated to politicians for some electoral reasons.

In essence, Nigerian political actors due to their do-or-die political sentiment have advertently or inadvertently forged conflict and violence as the divisive basis with which they penetrate or affect the Nigerian political landscape. Over the years, Nigeria has witnessed the death of a number of citizens in electoral violence, pre-election violence or conflicts fueled by politician’s rhetoric of hate and division.

There has been different cases of ethnic hostility or ethno-religious crisis, attack by thugs, vandalism of election materials among others which often marred the successful conduct of peaceful and credible polls in the nation. The February 23 Federal and most especially, March 9’s Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections are no exceptions.

Contrary to the assurances of violence-free election by the electoral commission, the just concluded state elections was sadly characterised sordidly by electoral violence which climaxed in the loss of lives of some Nigerians. It should be recalled that the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General, Tukur Buratai raised the alarm over the disruption of the 2019 elections by politicians by employing mercenaries to carry out assassination among other divisive devices.

The army chief also hinted on how politicians intended to use political thugs as well as existing ethnic crisis to ride to victory, although, he said the army also has toughened to weather the storm of disruption of the election. However, these assurances have not prevented the reenactment of electoral violence characteristic of Nigerian elections.

Despite a deplorable low voter turnout which may be intrinsically linked to the fear of violence in most parts of the country, there were still several cases of electoral violence. As culled from THISDAY newspaper, “no fewer than seven people were feared killed in Rivers State Saturday as low voter turnout marred elections in the state”.

Similarly, although no life was lost, however, election couldn’t hold in some parts of Ebonyi state as a result of incidences of violence. “Some heavily-armed suspected political thugs invaded three registration area camps (RACs) some parts of Ezza North local government and set ablaze the commission’s sensitive materials in the early hours of Saturday”, Vanguard report reads.

In like manner, reports of widespread violence has led to the suspension of electoral process in Rivers state. According to the press statement signed by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, and published on its official twitter handle, “based on reports from our officials in the field, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has determined that there has been widespread disruption of elections conducted on the 9th day of March, 2019 in Rivers State”.

“These initial reports suggest that violence occurred in a substantial number of polling units and collation centers, staff have been taken hostage and materials including result sheets have either been seized or destroyed by unauthorized persons”, it further reads.

The REC in Ogun state has also alleged the abduction of electoral officials in Ogun state. Similarly, elections have been rescheduled in Shinkafi LGA in Zamfara due to growing insecurity.

As culled from a Premium Times report “Shinkafi Local Government Area is one of the areas in Zamfara State suffering from attacks by armed bandits. About 30 local businessmen returning from a market where killed in the area last week”. Among others, reports also show that two persons were killed in Obosi area of Anambra state during the elections, as well as in Ondo state.

Also, INEC postponed elections in parts of four Benue LGA due to incidences of electoral violence which includes burning of electoral materials for Mbalom ward in Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue in the early hours of Saturday by armed hoodlums.

Atop all these incidences of violence, growing tension brews in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo state over the killing of Honourable Olatoye Temitope Sugar by suspected political thugs at the collation centre at Elesu, Ward 13, Lagelu Local Government Area of Oyo state.

To add to this growing tension, less than 24 hours after the federal lawmaker, Temitope Olatoye died, another person has reportedly been shot dead. “The victim was reportedly killed by a bullet from the rifle of a police officer in Ile Tutun, Ibadan South East Local Government Area”, a Premium Times report reads.

No fewer than 10 persons were reportedly killed.

In Ebonyi State, suspected thugs attacked the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ezza North local government area, setting it on fire. Reports from Rivers State said a former Chairman of Andoni Local Government Area, Mrs Emilia Nte, was feared killed at Egindem by gunmen suspected to belong to the same gang who, in the February 23 elections, murdered another former Chairman of the LGA, Mowan Etete, and three others.

In Delta State, suspected thugs hijacked voting materials

while officials of some parties were injured in some parts of the state. Masked man set ablaze electoral materials at Usagbe Primary School, Ogbido in Etsako Local Government Area of Edo State.

Other highlights of the elections include the seizure of two cars reportedly conveying ballot papers in Kano State while the governorship candidate of a major political party in Benue State was reportedly caught with a bag full of cash.

In Zamfara State, the APC was reportedly not on the result sheets for the polls.

INEC attributed the development to court rulings on the internal crisis in the state chapter of APC.

In Enugu State, the police confirmed the killing of a local election observer by stray bullets fired by a policeman to disperse a group of protesters.

Reports from Katsina said two security agents were killed while 20 electoral officials were abducted. It was the same tragic situation in Ondo State where two persons were confirmed dead following a failed attempt to attack a collation centre in Oba Akoko in Akoko South-West area of the state.

The police said 20 hoodlums had been arrested in connection with the incident. Meanwhile, reports from Bauchi State said Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar lost his polling unit to the PDP candidate, Bala Muhammad, in yesterday’s elections.

All these reaffirms the deplorable spate of insecurity and violence in the nation and the government needs to do more in eradicating or reducing violence to the barest minimum thereby ensuring peaceful coexistence across the nation.


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