50 killed in presidential, NASS polls, says NHRC
NBA urges acceptance of election results
FROM the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) came yesterday a revelation that about 50 people were killed during and after last Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections. Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has appealed to all stakeholders in the elections to respect the wishes of the Nigerian electorate and accept the results of the elections when announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). In a statement issued by the Chairman of NHRC, Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, the commission applauded the Nigerian people for remaining undaunted in the face of challenges during the electoral process.
He noted that the voting process was not without some challenges, including pockets of violence and security breaches. Odinkalu said from different parts of the country, there have been incidents, reports and allegations of various forms of violence, including some reported attacks by extremists in some parts of north eastern Nigeria designed to frustrate the exercise. He disclosed that acts of violence resulting in fatalities had been reported in Akwa Ibom, Borno, Bauchi, Edo, Gombe, Lagos, Osun, Rivers, and Yobe states.
“At the end of yesterday, the number of persons reported killed in these attacks and incidents was over 50. This number includes one state legislator, a community leader and two ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) allegedly killed in an extremist attack in Gombe State, as well as the killing of an ‘asset’ of the Nigerian armed forces in Rivers State.
“There were also reported cases of injuries from politically-motivated violence in Edo, Ekiti, Imo, Lagos, and Kano states as well as allegations of snatching of ballot boxes, card readers and related election materials in some states, including Akwa Ibom, Benue, Gombe, Imo, Niger, and Rivers,” the NHRC said. According to Odinkalu, there were also isolated but very worrying reports of arson attacks on assets of INEC and of the Nigeria Police in parts of the Niger Delta. The commission also noted that widespread availability of small arms and light weapons in some parts of Akwa Ibom, Imo, Delta, Rivers, and Benue states.
Odinkalu commiserated with the families of those who lost their relatives but said that those who killed them should be held accountable. His words: “All acts of election-related violence must be condemned unreservedly. The affected families and communities deserve our condolences, compassion and support. “In particular, we condemn the killing of and attacks on uniformed personnel of the security agencies as well as the killing of INEC staff. Those responsible must be held to account.
Such political violence dishonours the high sense of civic pride, sacrifice and co-existence showed by Nigerians throughout this period. “The right to life remains the foundation of all human rights, including the right to vote.
Election violence undermines both the right to life and the right to vote.” The commission called on INEC and politicians not to tamper with collation of election results in order to ensure that the election is not followed by violence. “Now that the voting is over, the best guarantee of a violence-free election is a credible count and collation. This is the statutory responsibility of INEC.
“The tabulation of results from 150,000 polling units and voting points is a demanding logistical operation. It is also usually the most difficult phase of any election process. It is natural for citizens and communities to be anxious. “This is also where conscience and patriotism beckon on all the political parties, political leaders, communities, citizens and institutions to do the right thing: we must all patiently support the INEC in delivering on this task,” the NHRC said.
The NBA, in its interim post-election statement by the President, Augustine Alegeh (SAN), congratulated Nigerians on the largely peaceful conduct of the elections held on March 28 and 29 in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory and expressed the hope that lessons learned from the polls would guide INEC in its preparations for the governorship and House of Assembly elections scheduled to hold on April 11, 2015. According to NBA, the voters turnout for the elections on both days was relatively impressive, but still a far cry from the number of voters in the register. “We observed a large number of female and aged voters at the elections. There were reported incidents of under-aged voters at some polling units. “The voters conducted themselves in a commendable manner.
Voters waited patiently for INEC officials who arrived late and generally remained peaceful and orderly throughout the elections,” the association noted. On the hitches of the card reader, witnessed during the election, the NBA observed that INEC officials were responsive to complaints and were able to rectify some of the problems. s
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