from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – A SPATE of killings and kidnappings, attacks on convoys as well as violence in general have cast doubt on Nigeria holding credible polls later this month.
Political temperatures are high as the West African country prepares for the February 25 elections, much to the worry of human rights groups.
Amnesty International has appealed to authorities to ensure that presidential and national assembly elections must be free from further violence and intimidation and effective measures must be in place to protect all participants and prevent human rights violations, said.
“The desperation of political actors during election campaigns, expressed recently through cases of incitement, as well as attacks on campaign convoys and individuals in some states, is unacceptable,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“The failure of the authorities to bring to justice those responsible for deadly violence during previous elections has created an atmosphere of impunity and emboldened others,” Ojigho said.
There has emerged a pattern of gender-based violence as some females have been reportedly threatened with rape designed to intimidate or prevent them from voting.
Amnesty International has documented the killing of political office aspirants allegedly by their rivals, attacks on convoys and journalists.
“These violent incidents are deeply worrying and may have implications for the general human rights situation before, during and after the elections,” Ojigho said.
“The authorities must stamp out any potential impunity by ensuring that these incidents are investigated and that those responsible are swiftly brought to justice in fair trials.”
Africa’s most populous country (219 million), has history of violent polls but stakes are higher this time considering this exercise will unlike previous ones not be a two-horse race.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) face a showdown with the Labour Party (LP) and New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
Their presidential candidates are Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso respectively.
The African Union (AU) is deploying a 90-member Election Observation Mission headed by former Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta.
– CAJ News