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In Sokoto, politicians scare residents with toxic campaigns

There is fear among the residents of Sokoto State over the forthcoming  governorship election in the state due to inciting utterances by some political leaders.…

There is fear among the residents of Sokoto State over the forthcoming  governorship election in the state due to inciting utterances by some political leaders.

The political atmosphere in the state has been tense following the utterances,  accusations and outright condemnation   that greeted the presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.

It would be recalled that the elections  were marred by violence, resulting to the cancellation of results from over 400 polling units, thus making it impossible for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare winners of the parliamentary elections in the state to date.

According to the National Commissioner of INEC, Major General Modibbo Alkali, who led a 4-man team to supervise election in the state, after the suspension of its substantive Residential Electoral Commissioner,  Dr. Nura Ali, for his alleged complicity,  INEC is still reviewing the results and would make its decision known soon.

It was gathered that candidates and their parties used political thugs to disrupt the election process at polling units where they perceived defeat because of the INEC guidelines, which allow for the cancellation of election in places where violence erupted.

There were reported cases where thugs dispersed voters and destroyed ballot papers and boxes.

At Bazza area in Sokoto North Local Government Area, political thugs were said to have attacked and injured several voters and destroyed voting materials.

A resident of the area, Muhammad Bazza, told our reporter that the violence was instigated by politicians who envisage defeat of their parties at the polling units.

A resident of Shuni LGA, Isa Abubakar, also narrated how supporters of a particular political party in the state disrupted the process at several polling units in his area.

“We were voting peacefully and in orderly manner when all of a sudden some thugs came and dispersed us with dangerous weapons. They destroyed some ballot papers and went away with some, including ballot boxes,” he said

PDP, APC trade blames

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have blamed each other for the violence during the election.

The PDP, at a press conference addressed by its chairman, Alhaji Bello Goronyo, condemned the security arrangement put in place during the election.

“The just conducted presidential and parliamentary elections was a clear example of how some people do not wish the state good.

“The fallout of such unprovoked violence and disruption of electoral process by well-armed sponsored thugs had led to cancellation of over 300 polling units across Sokoto State resulting in the disenfranchisement of over 400,000 eligible voters from participating genuinely in the election,” he said.

The chairman called on law enforcement agencies in the state to live up to their constitutional mandate of guaranteeing peace and order in both the re-run and governorship elections.

He advised INEC to urgently fine-tune the re-run election in all the affected polling units so as not to disenfranchised anybody.

Reacting, the APC  called on security agencies to investigate incidences of destruction of ballot boxes and bring the perpetrators and their sponsors to book.

“Apart from the security agencies, who we believe have a full dossier of what transpired on the election day, even the ordinary citizen in Sokoto State is aware of what happened and which party is guilty,” the APC’s chairman, Isa Sadiq Achida, said.

“Our abiding principle is one man, one vote. Elections are supposed to be won through voting and not through post-election manipulations at collation centres or the use of violence to scare away eligible voters,” he said.

Gov. Tambuwal’s instruction to PDP members causes stir

The atmosphere was further worsened after Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal instructed members of his party to “arrest and tie up’’ any person who attempted to cause trouble at their polling units.

He gave the instruction at a stakeholders meeting of the PDP held at the International Conference Centre, Kasarawa.

The governor also ordered them to detain that person throughout the period the election lasted.

The governor’s directive was met with  criticism with governorship candidates of ADP, LP, NNPP and SDP, condemning what they called “misguided utterances’’.

The candidates, who addressed journalists, said the governor’s directive was capable of inciting violence and lawlessness in the state.

“It is very sad to note that prior to these utterances, acts of lawlessness including snatching of ballot boxes, use of locally made weapons and intimidation were recorded during the last  presidential election.

“We therefore, wish to appeal to the law enforcement agencies and INEC to be more vigilant in monitoring the activities of all politicians and their supporters without fear or favour and act  appropriately whenever necessary,” they said.

Also reacting, the main opposition party in the state, All Progressives Congress (APC) accused Governor Tambuwal of inciting PDP members to cause mayhem in the forthcoming governorship and state assembly elections.

The state’s chairman of APC, Isa Sadiq Acida, called on various security agencies in the state to put Tambuwal on their watchlist because his recent political utterances “have become worrisome as they are calls for violence”.

He advised the youth, irrespective of their political affiliation, to shun violence and  not allow selfish politicians to use them.

Bafarawa, Wamakko joined fray

It appears that, the current political development in the state has rekindled the rivalry between former Governor Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa and his predecessor, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko.

Bafarawa is the father of Sagir Bafarawa, the running mate of the PDP governorship candidate.

In a short audio clip posted on Facebook by his media aide, Yusuf Dingyadi, Bafarawa accused Wamakko of shunning the peace accord which he personally initiated.

“I feel it is imperative for me to talk on the current development in our state. I am not doing this for my own benefit but for the overall benefit of our people.

“We are approaching the governorship election and politicians are turning our state to a battlefield because of their utterances and activities.’’

He said having realised the tensed atmosphere in the state, he had contacted the Commissioner of Police and the Director of DSS on the need to invite him  and former Governor Wamakko to sign a peace accord.

He said however, when Wamakko was contacted by the two officials he declined to come.

“I don’t know his reason for not coming to sign the peace accord as a leader of APC in the state.

However, Wamakko denied knowledge of the peace accord, saying Bafarawa was lying as there was never such  a thing.

In a video clip posted on Facebook by his Special Assistant on Media, Bashar Abubakar, he said what Bafarawa posted was not true.

“Even this morning, the Commissioner of Police and the Director of DSS were in my place. They came to apologise to me over the purported peace accord which never existed.”

Similarly, the police and the DSS have issued a joint statement disassociating themselves from the purported peace accord.

Sultan, clerics wade in 

Meanwhile, the Sultan of Sokoto Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III and clerics in the state have called on political leaders in the state to sheath their swords for the interest of peace.

The sultan, who summoned all the governorship candidates and leaders of their political parties to his palace, was said to have cautioned them to fear God and desist from over heating the polity.

At the closed door meeting, the monarch was said to have reminded them that power comes only from Allah.

Also, the Muslim Solidarity Forum Sokoto, an umbrella body for imams, scholars, preachers, Islamic organizations, Islamic centres and Sufi orders in the state, has called on all political leaders to desist from making inflammatory statements.

It appealed to security agencies to act according to the law.  It also called on the youths not allow themselves be used to cause chaos in their communities.

Police read riot act

The Sokoto State Commissioner of Police, Useini Gumel, has ordered for the arrest of political thugs, their sponsors and those who come to negotiate their release.

He gave the order at the launching of operation “Kule Chas”, a joint operation aimed at curtailing political thuggery in the state on Friday.

The commissioner directed his officers to arrest anybody who came to negotiate the release of political thugs.

“The operation involves the military and unlike the police, the military’s rule of engagement is to subdue anybody found wielding weapons,’’ he said.

He called on the general public to collaborate with the security agencies to rid the state of political thugs.

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