from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE spate of deadly political violence despite assurances by relevant stakeholders is dashing hopes of free and fair elections in Nigeria.
Polls are scheduled for February in the continent’s biggest nation by population, over 200 million people.
Last week, unidentified gunmen shot dead Victoria Chintex, Labour Party women leader in the northern Kaduna State after invading her residence.
It is suspected to be a politically motivated assassination. Chintex’s husband was wounded during the attack.
This past weekend, unknown thugs allegedly sponsored by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), perpetrated violence at a Labour Party rally in the commercial state of Lagos.
Late November, suspected APC supporters attacked supporters of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubarkar, in the northeastern Borno State.
Suspected APC thugs also disrupted the campaign train of the PDP in Kaduna.
October was also violent.
Some supporters of the APC in the southwestern Oyo state were injured during a campaign rally when some hooligans in some vehicles launched an attack on the crowd.
The feared Ebubeagu, a state-owned security outfit, is wreaking havoc in the south east, mainly the state of Ebonyi.
There, it has been accused of unleashing violence against opponents of the APC.
Records of the federal government, as revealed by the National Security Adviser (NSA), disclosed that the West African country recorded 52 acts of political violence across 22 states in one month, between October 8 and November 9.
“There seems to be gross inaction on the part of security agencies, particularly the Nigeria Police Force to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of these violence,” lamented Willy Ezugwu, Secretary General of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP).
CNPP, the umbrella body of all registered political parties and political associations in Nigeria, is concerned that violations recur despite assurances by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies.
President Muhammadu Buhari has also called on 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,” Ezugwu said.
“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,” Ezugwu said.
Polls are predicted to be a two-horse race between APC and PDP.
Led by ex-PDP governors, Peter Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso, the Labour Party and New Nigeria Peoples Party are projected to offer stiff competition in what will most likely be the fiercest election in the nation’s history.
For the presidential poll, Buhari is ineligible because of term limits. Former Lagos mayor, Bola Tinubu, is the APC candidate.
– CAJ News