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2019 Elections: Death of 626 Nigerians unacceptable ~ Stakeholders

by on May 24, 2019
 

Nigerians across the country have described as most unfortunate and condemnable the death of over 600 Nigerians during the just concluded general elections.

This was at stakeholders gathered to undertake a review of the security challenges arising from the elections.

At the event held in Enugu were the General Officer Commanding 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Abubakar Maikobi, the Enugu State Commissioner of Police, Sulaiman Balarabe, the Enugu State Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, civil society organizations, the media, among others.

Various speakers at the Forum blamed the rising cases of violence on politicians, their supporters, as well as security operatives.

The event was at the instance of SBM Intelligence and Gatefield Nig. Ltd, in collaboration with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, OSIWA.

While kick-starting deliberations, Cheta Nwanze, the head of Research, SBM Intelligence lamented the high scale violence which trailed the elections.

In the group’s report presented to the stakeholders, it was disclosed that “thuggery, influenced by politicians and political parties, protest, election fraud, violence in battleground areas and vote buying impacted on the outcome of the elections.

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“Same can be said for terrorism, especially in the North-eastern States of Yobe and Borno, and the activities of security agencies in some contentious States.”

While blaming low turnout of voters partly on the fatal clashes recorded in the months leading to the elections, SMB said “there were 161 verified incidents, which resulted in 626 deaths within the period between 16 November, 2018, the official start of the campaigning and the day of elections.”

The South-south recorded the highest incidents of violence, (59), while the North-West had the highest number of fatalities (172), with the South-East recording the least incidents of violence and fatalities, 7 and 14, respectively.

It concluded that by voters’ admission, “the 2019 general elections in Nigeria were greatly flawed. Some of the blame adduced to INEC’s shoddy preparation for the elections, some electoral officers’ willingness to participate in fraud and politicians’ lack of sportsmanship.”

In his remarks, the GOC, said the military were highly professional during the elections, even at the face of provocation by some overzealous politicians and their supporters.

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He called for an attitudinal change on the part of the politicians, who should strive to see political office as a call for service and not a do-or-die affair.

Similarly, the Enugu State Police Commissioner, Balarabe attributed the peaceful elections in Enugu State to synergy among the various security agencies.

He said “based on the training we received prior to the elections, all the security operatives involved in the exercise knew their job and it was carried out with utmost professionalism devoid of bias. There was a complete synergy among all the security agencies in the State and that is why we had a violence-free exercise in Enugu State.”

Meanwhile, in one of the presentations at the Forum, entitled “Root Causes of Electoral Violence during the 2019 Elections”, Dr. Maurice Ogbonnaya, from the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPPS, said with the wild scale violence and manipulations, “young people are losing hope in the election system. They do not believe that the election represents the voice of the people.”

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Ogbonnaya added that “elections ought not to cost the life of any Nigerian. Even if it is one person, it is a loss too many.”

Dr. Freedom Onuoha of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, toed same line, blaming the political tensions on the over-concentration of power and resources at the centre.

Onuoha, a lecturer at the Political Science Department, said power and resources should be decentralized, adding that “security chiefs would always do the bidding of the man at the helm of affairs in other to not just retain their positions but attain higher ranks.

On his part, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Anambra State, Nkwachukwu Orji, who also made presentations at the event identified major challenges during the elections to include “insufficient assessment of trouble spots; unavailability of deployment information; insufficient number of security agencies; poor response to situations, late of deployment of senior officers, among others.

A communique is being expected at the end of the 2-day Forum.

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