Thursday, 8th June 2023

Nigeria’s election as point and kill

By Emmanuel Onwubiko
28 February 2023   |   3:32 am
Some days before the presidential election of February 25, 2023, I was awoken by a chat informing me of the possibility that the election may not be taking place in seven Local Government areas of Imo State.


Some days before the presidential election of February 25, 2023, I was awoken by a chat informing me of the possibility that the election may not be taking place in seven Local Government areas of Imo State. The Senior Director of the headquarters of the independent National Electoral Commission, who brought this sad tale, also tasked me to find out why this is so. The Director expressed shock, consternation and disappointment that the insecurity in the South east of Nigeria has been allowed to degenerate and is now a hydraheaded monster. The person expressing this worry is not even Igbo Speaking but he is genuinely concerned about what has gone on for two years now in the Igbo heartlands.

I admit from the word go that there is no justifiable reason on why election should not take place in the 21 local government Councils of Imo State both on Saturday 25th February 2023 being the Presidential and National Assembly poll and Gubernatorial poll coming up sometimes in March, exactly on March 11th 2023.

This is so because for populations in a chunk of the entire local councils in Imo State to be denied their Constitutionally guaranteed civil and political rights to vote, it therefore means that the Country’s military and the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari have surrendered to the whims and caprices of agents of instability and destabilization. It was said before that government is the wielder of the most overwhelming force of controlled violence. But to see the unfortunate degeneration of Nigeria into a huge ungovernable spaces in which armed terrorists are permitted willfully by the Central government to operate and kill at will, represents the most significant act of treachery tolerated, incubated and waged by members of the powers that be.

The fact is that for a Nation to actually and practically beat her chest and say that it has sovereign authority over a geopolitical entity, it can do so with certainty when the armed forces under the direction of an effective political leader can guarantee territorial control.

The Armed Forces of Nigeria and President Muhammadu Buhari therefore should be made to give account should this unfortunate scenario happen and the electoral umpire actually fails to conduct election in 7 local Government Area of Imo State.

Be that as it may, it is so obvious that the military and police have actually failed to be on top of the situation of widespread insecurity and killings that have escalated in the South East of Nigeria since the last two years when President Buhari ignited this climate of unease and insurgency by picking and detaining the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.

Besides, the tempo of the violent killings and attacks of government and private housing assets, keeps increasing as soon as there is a landmark negative development regarding the prolonged detention of the IPOB leader and thousands of his supporters by the military, police and the Department of State Service (DSS).

With the brazen disregard of the court of Appeal, Abuja, judgment freeing Mazi Nnamdi Kanu after all the charges of terrorism slammed on him by the Federal government led by Muhammadu Buhari, an erstwhile military despot, the rate of targeted execution of individuals in the South East by fringe groups purporting to be advocating secession from Nigeria, escalated.

So, by his actions and inactions, it is fair to state here that President Buhari, is responsible for the violence in the South East I want to say right away that there is no justification for the spate of killings. No amount of injustice by President Buhari should justify the kind of destruction and killings that some armed non State actors and even State actors have unleashed on the South East thus making politics a point and kill adventure.

Aside from the Universal fact that politics is expensive, indeed very costly, what is now very burdensome is the fact that politicians who are desperate for the spoils and privileges of office in Nigeria’s kind of parasitic politics, have now started paying killers to assassinate any strong rival they perceive as a huge threat.

Many politicians have paid the supreme price only for aspiring to be elected in the different capacities either within their states or to gain seats in the National Assembly in Abuja, which is obviously the most juicy legislature in the whole wide World. One issue that motivate the competitive type of politics is that politicians in Nigeria see their election as opportunities to Rob the Country of her resources and amass illicit wealth.

For instance, the law makers at the National Assembly of Nigeria are the highest paid anywhere in the world including even in the developed western societies like Britain and the USA. Politics in Nigeria has always been winners take all, but there is now a new dimension making it a point to kill adventure. The following killings have taken place:

The Labour Party (LP) candidate for Enugu East Senatorial district, Oyibo Chukwu, has been killed and burnt to ashes by his assailants. Oyibo, a lawyer, was said to have been attacked while returning from a campaign trip in the Agbani area.

It was gathered that he was burnt inside his vehicle, and three persons were suspected to be with him in the vehicle. However, it could not be confirmed how many of the occupants were killed. Information about the attack was made known by the Labour Party in Enugu State.

It was also gathered that the All Progressives Congress (APC), governorship candidate in the state, Uche Nnaji, was also attacked at the spot where Oyibo was killed. The Labour party’s House of Assembly candidate in Onuimo Imo State was earlier killed by assassins.

The incident happened at Mr Eleghu’s country home in the Umucheke community of Onuimo council. The assassins, set his home ablaze after killing him and also burnt down his vehicle and other valuables.

Some weeks back, an LP women leader in Kaduna Victoria Chintex was killed.

Gunmen have equally targeted offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission in the South-East state in the past months. The most recent one which happened a few days back claimed some lives. But INEC said critical materials were not destroyed in the incident. “This is the third attack on the Commission’s facilities in Imo State in less than two weeks following the earlier attacks on our Orlu LGA office on Thursday 1st December 2022 and Oru West LGA office on Sunday 4th December 2022.”

To be continued tomorrow

Onwubiko is head of the Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria and was National Commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria.