from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, (CAJ News) – THE just-concluded governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections have driven a final nail into the coffin heralding the death of democracy in Nigeria, the world’s largest Black Nation.
This was billed as the largest democratic exercise in the continent but it finally descended into a tragic farce.
The battle for top positions is a matter of life and death.
Electoral officials have been murdered. Offices of the electoral management have been invaded and trashed. Agents of the anti-corruption agents have been brutalized amid a vote buying spree. Journalists have been harassed during their coverage.
With more than 93 million nationals registered to vote, the elections were billed to be the largest democratic exercise in the African continent.
This however degenerated into a major dent in Nigeria’s democracy, which the world lauded in 1999 to end decades of military rule.
Things went awry on election day, Saturday, and spilled over to the following day, bringing the vote counting exercise to an abrupt halt.
Elections were held three weeks after another chaos-riddled election to choose a president of the West African country.
The beleaguered Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) bungled the process and was under pressure to redeem its pride the past weekend but this time came under physical attack.
“Some of our staff were abducted, harassed, intimidated, hospitalized and in one case killed,” INEC stated late Sunday.
As the agency denounced the violence, audacious thugs armed to the teeth invaded an office of the INEC in the southeastern state of Abia and disrupted the poll exercise. The result from that state hangs in the balance.
This was merely an episode in elections degenerating into a hall of shame, amid uncertainty as to when the results will be announced.
Meanwhile, some operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are in hospital after a skirmish in the northern Abia state where they attempted to arrest a suspected vote buyer.
While the main suspect was arrested, his alleged accomplices pounced on the officials with an assortment of weapons.
Three operatives suffered varying degrees of injuries as the violent mob pelted their vehicles with stones, among other objects, as they drove away with the main suspect.
“The injured operatives are currently receiving medical attention while the suspect is in custody, pending conclusion of the investigation,” said Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC spokesperson.
EFCC personnel were not spared the violence that characterised the February 25 presidential elections. Some of its vehicles were damaged.
While Uwujaren lauded officers for exercising restraint under provocation, EFCC Executive Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, appealed to the public to desist from attacking his officers.
“Such action will no longer be tolerated,” Bawa warned.
Officers of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) also came under assault at the hands of criminals in the northwestern states of Katsina and Sokoto.
ICPC arrested four individuals suspected of vote buying in those states.
An officer of the ICPC, Rabiu Ibrahim, suffered a head injury after the hooligans hurled rocks at the agents.
ICPC had on the February 25 presidential elections arrested several suspected vote-buyers.
That election is still subject to court processes after opposition contenders rejected the election of Bola Tinubu as president, to succeed the term-limited Muhammadu Buhari, in power since 2015.
The main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP) of Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi respectively suspect foul play.
Rabiu Kwankwaso’s New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) is the dark horse.
– CAJ News