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Voters, INEC officials, other casualties of 2023 elections

Violence is one of the frequent features of Nigeria’s electoral process before during and after elections. The reasons for the violence vary. It can be…

Violence is one of the frequent features of Nigeria’s electoral process before during and after elections.

The reasons for the violence vary. It can be an attempt to neutralise opponents or used to undermine opponents’ ability to mobilise supporters and perform at the poll.

Sometimes the motive is to manipulate or delegitimise the electoral process. The tactics include assaults, assassinations, kidnappings and bombing.

Daily Trust highlights some of the casualties of the just concluded elections.

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Rarara’s house set on fire

Barely an hour after the declaration of the winner of the Kano state governorship election, some thugs set the residence of the ace political singer, Dauda Kahutu Rarara, on fire.

Rarara was at the centre stage of the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign, singing at various rallies while the electioneering lasted.

According to an eyewitness, who is also a resident of the area, Yusuf Abdullahi, the thugs invaded the house and started destroying valuables before setting the house on fire.

Three killed at NNPP office in Kano 

The Kano State Police Command confirmed the death of three persons when political thugs burnt the campaign office of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) House of Representatives candidate of Tudunwada/Doguwa Federal Constituency.

According to the police spokesman, Abdullahi Kiyawa, the incident occured on Sunday, February 26, at about 4pm when collation of results was ongoing at the INEC office in Tudunwada Local Government Area.

House Majority Leader, Ado Doguwa, was remanded in prison in connection to the murder, but was later released on bail.

INEC official hit by stray bullet 

In Cross River state, an ad-hoc staff member of INEC, Miss Glory Effiom Essien, was hit by a stray bullet after some gunmen opened fire while she was in a boat heading for Bakassi on election duty.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Cross River state, Prof. Gabriel Yomere, who confirmed the incident said the victim was treated at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH, thanking God that the bullet didn’t touch her spinal chord.

Lagos woman stabbed

In Aguda, Surulere, Lagos, a woman, Mrs Jennifer Efedi was stabbed on her face by thugs who disrupted the voting process. The political thugs who were armed went about snatching ballot boxes, attacking voters and preventing those suspected to be opponents from voting.

INEC officials kidnapped in Kogi 

In Kogi, about 100 INEC officials and adhoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) while on their way from Kupa North and South Wards to the Constituency Collation Centre in Lokoja were kidnapped by armed hoodlums at about 2am on Sunday, March 19 at Obajana junction which is less than 20km from the state capital.  About 90 of the abducted staff were later rescued by the police.

Three of the rescued victims who were injured during the rescue operation were taken to the Federal Medical Center, Lokoja for treatment. Other victims are still in captivity.

Six persons killed in Benue 

No fewer than six persons were killed while many were injured in Benue State during the governorship and state House of Assembly elections. Security personnel were said to have shot dead six persons in Gboko area of the state for allegedly snatching ballot boxes.

The six persons, who were killed at different locations by the security personnel, stormed polling units to snatch ballot boxes.

Two killed in Edo

The election violence in Edo State claimed the lives of Festus Idahosa, 33, and Mrs. Elizabeth Owie, a 43-year-old mother of three.

They were killed when political thugs stormed their polling units where they had gone to exercise their civic rights during the presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.

Attacks on journalists 

Some journalists covering the elections across the country were also attacked by thugs. The Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development in its post election incidence report said journalists were attacked in many states, especially during the governorship and state house of assembly elections.

“The Press Attack Tracker has confirmed increased attacks on journalists during the gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections in the 28 states of the country. The record of attacks at the elections was mostly carried out by political thugs, security operatives and INEC officials in various areas across Nigeria including Lagos, Rivers, Kano, Ogun, Borno, Edo, Benue, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Sokoto.

“It is deeply disturbing by the reports of denial of access to polling units and collation centres and harassment of journalists by security operatives, INEC officials, and political thugs in several locations across the country, including Lagos, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, Kano, and Sokoto,” CJID stated.

In its report on Februrary 25 presidential and legislative elections, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), called for thorough investigations into electoral violence and prosecution of those found culpable.

“Investigations into voting day violence, and those involved in voter suppression and vote buying should be thorough and result in convictions where proven.

“Political parties must take more seriously their commitments to peace laid out in the National Peace Accord by reigning in thugs acting at their direction,” CDD said.

Dr Kabiru Adamu, a security management and intelligence executive, said to prevent violence, three things need to be considered.

He said, “First, ensure that the non-state actors are either arrested and prosecuted or where they resisted, force can be used against them as our constitution and law provided for.

“Second is to ensure that those offenders, politicians and their supporters who engaged these non state actors and incite violence are arrested and prosecuted.

“Third is to ensure that the security and law enforcement agencies that are meant to provide peaceful environment for the elections to take place are handed in such a manner that they do their work and where they failed to do their work let there be consequences.

“In locations where videos showed clearly some security agents not acting when some of these non-state actors were doing political violence, we need to act upon them.

“Another thing we need to do is the server space, I know we don’t speak a lot about the server space but it plays a role. So misinformation, propaganda and incitement happen actively within the server space so we need to strengthen security too within the server space to prevent server security threat from occurring.”

Editor’s Note: The picture in this story is used for the purpose of illustration 

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