Millions of Nigerians will be trooping out in mass Saturday, Aprill 11, 2015 to various polling centres across the country to exercise their franchise in the gubernatorial and states House of Assembly elections.
Hopefully, Nigerians, at home and in diaspora and members of the international community are hopeful that the exercise will be free, fair, credible like the Presidential and National Assembly polls held two weeks ago.
Analysts and concerned stakeholders have beckoned on Security agencies, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, not to leave any room for chaos following the possibility of outbreak of violence in some states that have been tagged flashpoint states.
During the polls on Saturday, March 28, 2015 tension was not only high in these states,there was outbreak of violence in some of them. These states are Rivers, Edo, Anambra, Ekiti, Kaduna and Imo.
Before the Saturday, March 28, 2015 elections, series of threats and voilent prone campaigns have been running high in Rivers State especially between the incumbent Governor Rotimi Amaechi and political rival Barrister Nyesom Nwike who is also the Gubernatorial candidate of the People’s Democratic Party. The state has been embroiled in political crises culminating in street protests, demonstrations, assassinations, attacks and counter-attacks on politicians. On the day of the election, the state lived up to its billing as supporters of the two major political parties in the state, All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic unleashed violence on one another resulting to the loss of lives of 12 members of the APC, including a monarch whom was murdered alongside with his two children allegedly by thugs working for the PDP. The PDP vehemently dismissed this claim. also on the same day, the aggrieved supporters of the APC came out in mass and mounted road blocks in protest of alleged misconduct from the Independent National Electoral Commission in the state.
According to reports from Sun online, the presence of heavily-armed security officers at the INEC office did not deter the protesters from laying siege to the electoral body’s office while calling for the conduct of fresh polls and removal of the state ’s INEC Resident Commissioner who they accused of bias.
They also demanded justice over the killing of some of its members. There were also reports of sporadic shootings in Ozuaha community in Ikwere LGA by political thugs who barricaded the road into the town, and in the process opened fire on a team of policemen and military police escorting NYSC members to polling units.
In Anambra State, the scenerio was not different. There were reports of squabbles between thugs working for different political parties in the state. In Awka, there were reports of hijack of vehicles conveying election officials, and materials, and assault on some members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
According to Human Rights Watch, one of the groups that deployed observers to monitor election in the state, thugs not only hijacked ballot boxes in the full glare of security officers, perceived political opponents were also one of the victims was the brother of a PDP chieftain in Achalla who was shot by unidentified gunmen. Following people’ s alleged discontentment with the conduct of INEC officials who were accused of having been compromised, INEC offices in Onitsha North, Onitsha South, Nnewi South and a local government office block in Awka North, Anambra were set ablaze.
Ekiti State replicated the same situation. There were violent confrontations between PDP and APC supporters. APC supporters accused the state governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose of using state machinery to suppress and intimidate APC members. But rather than being cowed, APC members resisted resorting to violence. To avoid being caught in the crossfire, many residents stayed indoors after voting, while others stayed away from polling centres.
In Kaduna State, violence was also reported to have occured in several communities as angry voters burned down government buildings following rumour that attempts were being made to tamper with the electoral process to favour the ruling party, PDP. Soldiers also clashed with angry voters in some parts of the metropolis.
At the end of the exercise, 21 lives were officially acknowledged to have been lost to violence, even though other sources revealed that the death toll could be higher.
Following this development, analysts have pointed out the need for INEC and the security agencies to take pro-active measures to forestall violence in these states. Other states in this category of flashpoint states include include Abia and Lagos states.
Abia state’s Governor Theodre Orji has been alleged to have a hand in the forging of the Senatorial election results and bribery of some INEC officials in order to sway votes in his favour as he was contending to become a Senator alongside his son who hopes to be voted in Today being Saturday, April 11, 2015 as a member of The House of Representatives. The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Progressives People’s Alliance (PPA) screamed and petitioned foul play, contesting the credibility of the senatorial result.
Lagos State is also heating up due to a careless statement made by Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos state where he threatened to annihilate igbos in Lagos state if they dont support and vote his preferred candidate.
We are ernestly waiting to see what will transpire in Lagos state.
In a move designed to ensure that there was no breach of peace, police authorities announced the deployment of 16 Assistant Inspector Generals of Police to 16 states to supervise the Saturday, April 11, 2015 gubernatorial election. These are states deemed to be volatile. These states include Abia, Kwara, Ogun, Kaduna, Rivers, Oyo, Bauchi, Imo, Edo, Lagos, Plateau and Sokoto states.
Expressing the resolve of the Police to maintain law and order, Assistant Iinspector General of the police Tunde Ogunsakin, who was deployed to Rivers State, assured Nigerians that there was no cause for alarm.
I pray Nigeria is peacefull today and after today. I also recommend that election defaulters should be brought to book and face the tune of their music.