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Politicians Are Escalating Violence In Kogi State Ahead Of Elections — CDD

Popular election monitoring group, The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has said violence is being planned ahead of the upcoming governorship election in Kogi State.

The group revealed this in a recent statement.

According to them, politicians are working towards disrupting the November 16 election.

CDD added that it could be a bloody electoral process.

The statement read, “Our findings from the observation of the pre-election environment point to a very volatile political environment, characterised by fierce rhetoric, threats of violence and actual incidents of violence,”

Less than 48 hours to November 16, 2019, Kogi State Governorship election, political actors have failed to de-escalate the tension, which had been building up in the State. Unfortunately, this has set the stage for what could be a very bloody electoral process, if urgent action is not taken to address the situation. It is disheartening that political gladiators across the partisan divide have shown no apparent signs of refraining from using vitriolic rhetoric capable of inflaming passions, which could result in dire consequences for voter confidence and turnout and the credibility of the entire process.

At the CDD Elections Analysis Centre, we believe the credibility of an election does not rest exclusively with happenings on the polls or outcome of the elections. To us, equally crucial is the nature of the environment heading into the polls, and mainly how it contributes to the unfettered participation of all stakeholders, especially political contestants in the process. Leveraging on its network of accredited observers, grassroots organisations and journalists, CDD has been keeping a close watch on developments in Kogi State ahead of the November 16 vote.

Our findings from the observation of the pre-election environment point to a very volatile political environment, characterised by fierce rhetoric, threats of violence and actual incidents of violence. A case in point is the recent attack on the State Secretariat of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), whose governorship candidate, Natasha Akpoti is one of the only three women contesting for the governorship election. CDD further observes that such vicious political attacks in the State are capable of also discouraging marginalised groups, especially women from participating in the political process and particularly from contesting for political office.

Long term observers tracking early warning signs of violence capable of undermining participation and overall voter confidence have flagged cases of violent physical attacks between supporters of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Attacks have also been recorded during campaign rallies and party activities. And there are reports of women being intimidated from voting in the election.

According to the Kogi State Conflict Scan Analysis recently released by Search for Common Ground (SFCG), Dekina and Ankpa LGA have recorded the highest number of violent attacks among party members and supporters. For example, on October 19, 2019, a party supporter was shot dead in Ayingba during one of the political party rallies. The number of deaths recorded in Anyingba and Ankpa communities is seemingly alarming. The conflict analysis also points to a rise in the use of political thugs to perpetrate violence, as this was recorded in Dekina, Ankpa, Olamaboro, Omala, and Idah LGA. CDD notes with dismay reports of the stockpiling of arms and other dangerous weapons by rival political camps. In this regard, CDD notes recent arrest of a chieftain of one of the major parties on allegation of illegal possession of firearms. Equally disturbing is the rise in politically motivated attacks on candidates, the destruction of property of political contestants, as well as threats of reprisal attacks by rival political camps.

At the last count also, the threats of violence and actual incidents of violent disturbances, including the condemnable arson on the party secretariat of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) could have the effect of making voters stay away from the polls. In the face of these threats and actual manifestations of violence, it is our considered position that the security agencies empowered by the constitution and other extant laws should no longer stand by and watch the perpetrators go scot-free. If in the build-up to the election, thugs mobilised by partisan actors are allowed to go on the rampage, the implication is that on Election Day, they will consider the inaction of the security as a green light to use more violence to subvert the electoral process. It is therefore unacceptable that there have been few arrests made by the security agencies.”

   
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