With just five days to the Presidential and National Assembly Elections, 23 people believed to be supporters of various political parties were killed in political-related violence in Kwara, Imo, Oyo, Delta and Sokoto states, Blueprint’s findings have revealed.
As a measure towards stemming the tide of political violence, the Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee caused presidential candidates of All Progressives Congress(APC) Muhammadu Buhari, that of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Atiku Abubakar and some others to sign a peace accord.
By the accord, the leaders and their various supporters had agreed to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner before, during and after the general elections.
Similar pact was signed at the state level where party leaders and the governorship candidates pledged non-violent conduct in the pre and post-election periods.
Investigations revealed that about seven people were killed in politically-induced violence in some parts of Imo state.
For instance, a traditional ruler at Mgbee in Orlu local government was killed during one of the primaries in the local government area, early last year.
Some days later, Blueprint further gathered that assassins murdered an APC local government chairman in Ideato North local government, Hon Eburuaja, while another party chieftain was reportedly murdered same period.
Also, last month when the state hosted the wife of the president represented by Mrs. Dolapo Osibanjo, there was a clash between loyalists of the APC governorship candidate in the state, Senator Hope Uzodinma and those of Uche Nwosu and Governor Rochas Okorocha on one side.
An unconfirmed report said two women loyal to Nwosu were reportedly murdered during the fracas.
Similarly, Governor Rochas Okorocha, while leading a campaign for his senatorial bid as well as Nwosu’s governorship bid at Oguta local government area Saturday, was confronted by two men. They were said to have been gunned down by security agents.
The governor was reportedly whisked away by his security team in the face of mounting tension.
In the wake of the confusion, more than 15 cars were destroyed by hoodlums while about 10 women supporting Nwosu were believed to have been abducted
And from Delta state, one of our correspondents reported that about four persons were reportedly killed while over 20 others were injured as suspected political thugs loyal to both the APC and PDP clashed in Effurun, Uvwie local government area of the state penultimate Sunday.
In Ilorin, Kwara state, two persons, including a seven-month- old baby were reportedly killed following series of attacks and reprisals that followed.
Although the tension generated by the hot contest for power appeared doused by security measures put in place, the two leading political parties in the state — the APC and the ruling PDP –– have continually accused each other of perpetrating violence.
Not too long ago, political thugs went on rampage destroying property worth several millions of naira in some parts of Ilorin.
Although, the police had yet to confirm the number of casualties in the incidents, the two parties said their members were killed in the separate attacks.
A PDP chieftain and Chairman, Local Government l Service Commission, Hajiya Sarat Adebayo, said the seven-month-old baby died following injuries sustained during the January attack on the Agbaji home of Senate President Bukola Saraki in Ilorin.
Similarly, the APC also said one of its members was killed while five others were injured in the attack believed to have occurred same day.
While normalcy returned to the state capital, the orgy of political violence seems to have moved to Kwara North.
Penultimate Saturday, some youths in Okuta, Baruten local government area of the state pelted the campaign train of the PDP damaging windscreen and glasses of two cars, with some people sustaining minor injuries in the attacks.
And to avert the recurring political violence in the state, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed banned political street rallies even as he set up special task force to ensure the maintenance of law and order in the state.
PDP alleges conspiracy
Irked by the situation, the PDP accused the security agencies of complicity in the attacks.
State Chairman of the party, Engineer Abdulrauf Kola Shittu said at a press conference organised by the Conference of All Political Parties (CUPP) that the attacks on the party’s campaign train ought to have been averted by security agencies.
He said the PDP wrote and got permission to embark on its campaign in Baruten Emirate but shocked that members of the APC also came out same time and attacked their campaign train.
We are not desperate for power — APC
But APC Campaign Council has said the party has no hands in acts of violence perpetrated in any part of the state.
Director General of the Campaign Organisation Abdulfatai Yahaya Seriki, stated this during a courtesy visit on Chairman, Kwara state council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Malam Umar Bayo Abdulwahab.
“We are here to form synergy, to know more on how to make Kwara one of the best in the country. I’m happy Nigeria is taking a new shape because there is a belief that young people are capable of taking over.
“But we must let you know that against the shenanigans going round that we are not desperate and we will not be. All we are telling Kwarans is that enough of underdevelopment,” Seriki said.
However, there is some relative peace in Sokoto as both the PDP and APC have so far recorded violence-free campaigns.
Notwithstanding, they suffered some casualties following the loss of four of their members in separate auto crashes.
Blueprint reported that for the first time under the current political dispensation, Sokoto witnessed violence-free campaigns as at the time of this report.
It was gathered that this might not be unconnected with the recent clampdown on political thugs (popularly called area boys) by security agencies with the active support of the governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
Security personnel were drafted to strategic places to maintain peace and order across the state.
But campaign rallies of both parties recorded two deaths each in separate auto crashes.
While two APC supporters died in the convoy of President Muhammadu Buhari during his campaign rally in Sokoto Wednesday, 24 January, a PDP supporter lost his life under a similar circumstance along Bunkari –Wamakko — Sokoto road after the party’s gubernatorial campaign flag-off at Binji town.
Similarly on Tuesday 15 January, a PDP supporter in Wurno town was killed by stray bullet from a vigilante during the party’s governorship rally.
But details of his death were not revealed to newsmen by the state police command.
And from Oyo state, it was gathered that no fewer than five people were killed since the Independent National Electoral Commission lifted the ban on campaign by political parties.
Also, scores of people sustained various degrees of injuries including gunshots arising from violence at campaign rallies across the state.
Our investigations revealed that as at present, the political violence in the state was recorded during campaign rallies at Jobele when the African Democratic Party (ADC) governorship candidate, Senator Olufemi Lanlehin and his campaign team were attacked by some gunmen forcing the candidate and his team to hurriedly put off the rally.
Few days after the Jobele incident, the campaign team of PDP was attacked at Ojo area of Ibadan while returning from Oyo town, during which a member of the party sustained gunshot injury.
Also, the campaign team of the ruling APC governorship candidate, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, together with Governor Abiola Ajimobi was attacked by gunmen in Igboora with three people, including a motorcycle mechanic feared dead.
Similarly, another person was reportedly shot dead through a stray bullet in Omi-Adio area of Ibadan suburb while the APC campaign team was on their way back to Ibadan.
Also, in Ogbomoso, suspected supporters of the ruling APC and the ADP clashed leaving about 10 people injured.
However, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Adekunle Ajisebutu said the command only had record of the motorcycle mechanic who was killed in the Igboora violence.
In a related development, Anambra state also had its fair share of political violence which however did not lead to loss of lives.
Blueprint correspondent reported that apart from the violence that characterised various party primaries early last year, there was no significant political violence since campaign kicked off in the state.
Most pronounced in this regard were the All Progressives Grand Alliance and PDP national and state assembly primaries.
For instance at Ekwusigo, Nnewi North and Nnewi South APGA primary, one of the aspirants, Barr Nsofor was reportedly beaten half dead with wounds on his head.
A similar incident happened at APGA primary at Orumba North and Orumba South Federal poll primary.
Some aspirants, including a serving lawmaker, Hon. Romanus Ugochukwu was allegedly beaten and wounded, but the police would not confirm same.
At APGA Awka South I and Awka South II House of Assembly primaries at different hotels in the capital city, some aspirants and party delegates were pushed or scared away from the venue with guns and other dangerous weapons
At Ekwulobia township stadium, during the Anambra South Senatorial primary for APGA, party delegates were also scared away, with Bianca, widow of Odumegwu Ojukwu wounded amidst heavy gunshots at the venue.
Some thugs came in and voted the eventual winner, Nicholas Ukachukwu.
PDP also had its fair share of the violence during the primaries.
And unlike the violence that characterised the party primaries, there was some level of decorum since the campaign started.
A major feature of the ongoing campaign is the defacing of posters by various political interests.
Similarly, there were reports of collapse of campaign podiums involving APGA and PDP candidates at Njikoka local government area.
Also, there was a report Thursday that Uche Ekwunife and Sylvester Okonkwo (both Senatorial candidates of PDP and APC for Anambra Central) engaged in war of words at a campaign/meeting of Catholic Church women where candidates were invited to tell church members what they had for them.
The incident happened at St. Mary’s Catholic Church Awka.