PLATEAU: Isolated Cases Of Political Killings And Calm Atmosphere
RIGHT from the outset, Plateau State is not known for political violence. This informed the state’s appellation of “Home of Peace and Tourism.” When democratic governance returned in Nigeria in 1999, hate campaigns, hate speeches were unknown to the Plateau people until the state lost its innocence in 2001 not to political violence, but to extraneous religious violence and colouration which is still staring the state in the face up till date.
This must be understood from the background that since all these dangerous and violent clashes took place, none had been linked to politics. The problem has been between the so-called settlers and the indigenes as it was claimed that the non-indigenes were overreaching themselves by trying to bite more than they could actually chew.
However, the political bitterness came to the fore in the state on Sunday, February 15 when the police in the state confirmed the gruesome murder of an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain in the state, Mr. Samuel Doro in Barkin Ladi local government area.
The trauma caused by his assassination had hardly died down when on February 18, some gunmen attacked and killed the Deputy Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of Sop Ward in Riyom Local Government Council, Solomon Mwadvwang and his daughter. Barkin Ladi and Riyom councils share a common boundary.
In spite of these killings, election campaigns in the state are overtly devoid of bitterness and character assassination of political opponents.
In the state, all the political parties, especially the four major parties that fielded gubernatorial candidates met and signed a peace accord that their campaigns will be without hatred and bitterness before, during and after the elections.
A lecturer in the Department of English, University of Jos, Blessing Vou Dakat, is worried that these political killings could take place despite the peace accord entered into by all the political parties, the PDP, APC, the Labour Party (LP) and the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
Dakat advised the political parties not to see elections as a do or die race.
“It is God that gives power to whoever He chooses and they should accept that and carry on the attitude that election is not a do or die affair. Whether you win or lose, it is not the end of life. Life continues. So, there is no point disrupting peace or taking innocent lives simply because one has to be in power.
“And sometimes the blame does not lie with the political parties, but we the supporters or followers of such political parties. They tend to take things beyond limits and so they do things that even whoever is the flag bearer of that party is not aware of in the name of wanting that person to be in power.”
According to her, those vying for positions and those followers who constitute the bulk of the electorate should shun violence, embrace peace and stop any behaviour that may disrupt peace so that there could be a peaceful election, “so that we can have a better Nigeria for ourselves and for our future.”
Dakat further posited that the flag bearers have a say, to a large extent, when it comes to the behavior of the electorate “because it depends on what they tell the electorate when they have meetings with them or when they are campaigning. They should stop this hate campaign where they tarnish the image of fellow flag bearers in another party and stop inciting their followers.
On his part, an APC chieftain in the state, Chief Emmanuel Mangni, said that there was no trace linking the assassinations to party politics, saying that those assassinations are only isolated cases.
“Society is highly complex. These victims might have axe to grind relating to businesses or land disputes or something like that and because it happened in the heat of electioneering people are quick to link it to politics.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of Plateau State Police Command, Deputy Superintendent Abuh Emmanuel, said that the police in conjunction with other security agencies have plugged all the necessary loopholes to ensure that there is nothing like political killings in the state again.