Sixty-two chairmen of political parties under the umbrella of Forum of chairmen of political parties have indicted the Nigerian police, Army and politicians of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP ) of fueling violence and masterminding other electoral misconducts in the just concluded Kogi and Bayelsa Gubernatorial elections.
The forum made the submission in Abuja, at a news conference, saying the polls were setback from the gains made in ensuring a free and fair electoral process.
Prior to the November 16th governorship elections, there were reported cases of violence with the Social Democratic Party’s Governorship candidate in Kogi, Natasha Apoti allegedly assaulted by political thugs.
The suspected thugs during the signing of the Kogi Peace Accord were said to have overpowered the security posted at the venue and allegedly assaulted Apoti.
It was reported that it degenerated to the police firing tear gas canisters which practically ended the programme as people had to rush out of the hall including the Inspector General of Police, I and the INEC Chairman.
‘The Theatre of War‘
According to the spokesperson of the forum, Kenneth Udeze, “the APC and PDP political deployed their hired thugs to disrupt voting, collation, destroy the electoral materials and in many instances cart away the materials to unknown places from where they contrived figures. Some INEC staff were abducted along with the materials and must have obviously been made to sign off the results which were declared.
He alleged that despite thousands of security personnel deployed to Kogi and Bayelsa, thugs allegedly played a major role in determining those that were eventually declared winners of the elections at the polling units.
He added that there were no reports of any arrests made neither did the Police attempted to polling day by the police to stop the gun-wielding thugs who stormed many polling centres.
“Suspected thugs in the two states completely took over the following Local Government Areas; Okene, Adavi, Okehi, in Kogi State and Southern Ijaw, Nembe in Bayelsa State, while the PDP thugs took over Dekina, Sagbama in Bayelsa State and Ajaokuta Local Government Areas in Kogi State”.
“Men in Police uniforms were seen aiding thugs to carry ballot boxes and other materials from the centres and abducting polling staff. The 35,200 Policemen deployed to Kogi State were all either standing by watching or were active participants guarding the thugs to carry the election materials and disrupt a hitherto peaceful and well-organized process”.
The Nigerian Army was also criticised over its alleged role in the disruption of the polls.
‘We condemn particularly and in very strong terms the involvement of the Nigeria Army in the election. It does not speak well of the Army to have its personnel shown in viral videos aiding political thugs to hijack ballot boxes. This is the third time the Army is getting involved in elections from a compromised position. It was in Ekiti 2014 and Rivers 2019 Governorship elections that they were used to carry out election rigging and this trend must stop’
The umbrella of the forum of chairmen of political parties expressed disappointment in the Inspector-General of Police, who had claimed that those who disrupted the poll in Kogi were fake policemen.
The IGP was also criticised for “not checkmating, arrest or prosecute the “fake police” who allegedly disrupted the election adding that the police boss should also explain why the 35, 000 Policemen in Kogi were helpless and could not stop the thugs.
The way forward
The party chairmen concluded that the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa have only succeeded in making it “all more difficult for political parties to mobilize Nigerians to come out and vote as the people are seriously disillusioned following the outcomes”.
They called for an urgent conclusion of the process of the amendment of the Electoral Act, the introduction of electronic transmission of results from the Polling Units to a central database and electronic accreditation figures. These they believe will reduce electoral violence and ensure that humongous figures are not generated.