Halting the orgy of electoral violence particularly in oil producing states

March 14th, 2019

Analysis of flashpoints during the just-concluded general elections shows that the oil producing states recorded highest forms of violence. In Rivers State, people suspected to be military officers had caused mayhem in parts of the state during the presidential elections. At the gubernatorial elections, they brazenly halted the collation of results at the state’s headquarters of the Independent Na­tional Electoral Commission (INEC).

In Bayelsa state, the story is not quite different. People in military uniforms equally carried out lots of infamy against the constitution of the land and successfully brought about series of deaths, blood and sorrows. Same scenario played out in Cross River State. In the state, security operatives de­scended on the people and brazenly thwarted their resolve to exercise their franchise and left series of agony and pain on the people.

Situation in Imo State is not different. Several reports of how men in uniforms shamelessly desecrated their uni­forms and engaged in open violation of the Constitution and the Electoral Act, have been reported. Ditto with Abia state, where the story was not different. It was all impunity by uniform personnel, who came in primarily to ensure the political will of the people never took shape.

In Edo and Delta States, the level of violent attacks on the civil populace on a civic act that otherwise should not invoke any forms of infamy, were recorded. The story from Lagos State, which has also joined the league of oil producing state is not different. It was only Ondo state that was spared the orgy of violence linked to the military and the police.

In the hinterland states of Nasarawa, Taraba, Plateau, and Benue, the stories were somewhat similar to occurrences in the Niger Delta region. Citizens who had come to exercise their franchise were shocked that agencies that should pro­vide security for them turned out to be their biggest head­ache.

At the northern fringes of the country, particularly in Kano, Sokoto, Taraba and Bauchi, similar sordid encoun­ters were witnessed, leading to questions as to whether the security agencies protect life and property or destroy same.

At the last count, no fewer than 50 persons met their untimely death during the elections. Of this number, no less than one-half were perpetrated by people in uniform. Unfortunately, the police and the military, whose uniforms the perpetrators of these heinous crimes wore, have main­tained that the perpetrators were fake. But, their accus­ers insist they were economical with the truth. In some instances, like what obtained in Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States, the various state governors had raised the alarm and in fact had mentioned names of senior uni­form officers whom they claimed were plotting to do the very act that took place during the elections; however, their early warnings were confined to the refuse bin.

The question has always been: why are elections partic­ularly in the oil producing states very volatile and a matter of life and death? And the simple answer is tied to high level corruption in the country. Corruption is the elixir that fuels electoral violence. Political gladiators who com­promise the security agencies or ordinary thugs and hired murderers do so because of the dirty pecuniary gains they make. As far as they are concerned, it does not matter how they get there, what is important is that the end should justify the means.

And so, after the election, the welfare of the citizenry is not the primary consideration. With the oil producing states receiving additional 15 per cent collective revenue from the federation account and with no discernible anti-corruption agency able to track their corrupt tendencies, it becomes a matter of life and death to who occupies the Government House in those places. And election-after-election, we face recurrence of election related brigandage and we don’t give a damn on the losses recorded. This is quite unfortunate and The AUTHORITY seriously con­demns this I-don’t-care-less attitude exhibited nationally. And since it has been established that unbridled corrup­tion is the elixir fueling high level electoral violence, why then should the Independent Corrupt Practices and Oth­er Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as well as the Police Anti-Fraud Unit still dragging in their anti-corruption pursuits? These agencies are funded through the tax-payers money and they are about the most funded institutions of government. It therefore defies logic that huge sums of money still find their ways to private pock­ets through acts of corruption, yet these agencies still claim they are upbeat in their assignments.

With what happened during the last general elections, The AUTHORITY is of the strong opinion that the roles of the military and the police during election are matters that should not be glossed over. They require forensic analysis and cock-sure implementation of the recommen­dations arising from such probes.

If our democracy must be strengthened and if Nigeria must shift away from its present economic doldrums, then concerted efforts must be put in place to ensure that acts of corruption especially at the oil producing and other states are reduced to the barest minimum. Accountants, Auditors, so-called SERVICOM and Anti-graft departments of the various ministries must be properly equipped to track the resources of government. And where dereliction is noticed, appropriate sanctions must apply.

The AUTHORITY believes issues of electoral violence are cankerworm that must not be allowed to exacerbate. It must be halted and stringent punishment meted out to per­petrators and their sponsors no matter how highly placed. It is incumbent on the President Commander-in-Chief must rise to the occasion and take these concerns seriously. Elec­toral violence is in fact the worst form of corruption and should not be allowed to fester in our polity.

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