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Body bag: TMG cautions against incitement as Nigerians go to polls

The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has expressed concern over the recent statement made by Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai that international observers who allegedly interfere…

The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has expressed concern over the recent statement made by Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai that international observers who allegedly interfere in Nigeria’s elections have death awaiting them as such people would be returned in body bags.

The organisation’s Chairperson, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, in a statement Friday said that it is disheartening that such inflammatory rhetoric could be used to justify attacks on many well-meaning international observers who have come to support Nigeria’s democratic process.

“No matter the premise of Governor El-Rufai’s discussion on the issue of interference or intervention, the implied threat of people leaving in body bags, is totally unacceptable to the vast majority of peace-loving Nigerians.

Whether the immediate outcome of his rhetoric is what he intended or not, violent imageries such as “body bags,” which the governor deployed in his commentary could be used by perpetrators of electoral violence,” Akiyode-Afolabi said.

According to her, elites like El-Rufai, who have many options for escape will not be the victims when the unplanned effect of such rhetoric capable of inciting violence, snowballs into a crisis, which could undermine peace and security, before, during and after the polls.

She said that apart from the fact that such unguarded statements could incite violence, thereby undermining the integrity of the elections, they could also affect participation by the electorate, especially excluded and marginalized groups, including women and people living with disabilities.

She said that the extant electoral laws frown against all forms of incitement, citing Section 128 of the Electoral Act, 2010 provides a fine of N500, 000 or a prison term of 12 months, or both for anyone inciting others to act in a disorderly manner.

“TMG therefore calls on the relevant government agencies including the security agencies, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to investigate and document these kinds of comments, which constitute infractions on the electoral laws. This we believe should be done with a view to holding to account those who incite violence of any kind all through the electoral process,” she said.

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