Rising Electoral Violence Cases Frighten CNPP
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has expressed concerns over the spate of attacks on facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and campaign rallies across the country.
Nigerian heads to the polls in February 2023 to elect a new President, governors and lawmakers.
Ahead of the general elections, there have been pockets of violence at political rallies, with attacks on politicians and their followers becoming rampant, in a few cases, leading to death.
In a statement issued on Monday, CNPP feared that the exercise is under threat despite assurances by relevant stakeholders, including INEC, that the poll would not be shifted.
The group, in the statement signed by its Secretary General, Mr Willy Ezugwu, warned that “unless political thugs were treated as enemies of the state, the ongoing attacks on political opponents would gravely endanger the credibility of the 2023 elections.”
“Despite the recent matching orders to the security agencies by President Muhammadu Buhari, which was reiterated by the National Security Adviser (NSA) to the President, Mr Babagana Monguno, to the effect that the President has given the go-ahead to all security agencies to deal decisively with individuals or groups trying to prevent peaceful conduct of the 2023 general election, the hope of a violent free electioneering campaign may be dashed.
“Our major fear is that from the records of the federal government, as revealed by the NSA that Nigeria recorded 52 acts of political violence across 22 states in one month, between October 8 and November 9, 2022, there seems to be gross inaction on the part of security agencies, particularly the Nigeria Police Force to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of this violence.
“Worse still, after the recent emergency meeting of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja, Nigerians have seen nothing but inactions by security agencies in preventing or arresting and diligently prosecuting perpetrators of the ongoing electoral violence and their sponsors.
“Every lover of Nigeria and her future knows that, as far as violent attacks on political opponents and opposing political parties in states is concerned, the situation is becoming alarming as one of the elementary security measures is crime prevention.
“For instance, last week, there was a suspected politically motivated assassination of Victoria Chintex, the Labour Party women leader in Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna State, who was reportedly killed last Monday after gunmen invaded her residence and shot her.
“At the weekend, there were reports that the Labour Party’s rally in the Lakowe town area of Lekki, Lagos State, was visited with violence by suspected political thugs allegedly sponsored by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the area.
“In November, suspected APC supporters attacked supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubarkar, in Maiduguri, Borno State, just as on October 17, suspected thugs also disrupted the campaign train of the PDP in Kaduna State.
“In the same month of October, some supporters of the APC in Oyo State were reportedly injured in Ibadan during a campaign rally when some hoodlums in some vehicles allegedly launched an attack on the crowd.
“In Ebonyi State, a State Government sponsored security outfit, Ebubeagu, has been severally reported to have been unleashing against political opponents of the APC leadership in the state, among other several incidents of political violence in other states across the country”, the CNPP recalled.
“If truly President Muhammadu Buhari has given his directive through the NSA to all the operational intelligence and law enforcement agencies to ensure that the 2023 elections are held in an atmosphere devoid of any rancour, as the NSA has disclosed recently, why are we not seeing security agencies discouraging political thuggery in the country?
“We, therefore, call on all political party leaders at all levels to restrain their supporters both online and offline from carrying out violent activities against oppositions.
“This has become imperative as retaliations and counter-attacks by victims of the ongoing violence could degenerate the issues and worsen the current security situation in the country.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari, who was said to be extremely pleased with the outcome of the results of elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states to ensure a repeat of such performance in 2023, both by INEC and all security agencies, including the anti-graft bodies because an election is not war”, the CNPP stated.