Fears of Violence Threaten Governorship Elections

The low turn out for the governorship and national assembly elections across the country may be due to the pockets of violence at the different states days to the polls, some on the eve of the elections. For instance, aside from the attack on the palace of Ateke Tom, a former militant leader in Rivers State, during which one person was killed, there was also the report of the burning of a local office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. The fire incident at the Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of the state started around 2:00 am on Friday.

the attack on the palace of Ateke Tom
the attack on the palace of Ateke Tom

The security staff there did all they could before firefighters arrived, but they lost some very sensitive election materials to the fire. The most important of these materials are card readers. Mike Igini, the state resident electoral commissioner said the attack will not affect the conduct of polls there.

According to him, he was expecting to get replacement for the destroyed card readers from neighbouring Rivers and Cross River states, where he said his colleagues had promised to give assistance. Apart from that, he said the national office in Abuja had also assured him that it would send back up , in the event that he did not  get enough support from the states.

As at press time it was not clear who were behind the attack on the INEC office and the palace of Tom. Residents claimed that those who attacked the palace were kitted in Nigerian army uniforms, adding that they also took away the corpse of the casualty of the attack. Photos of the attack showed bullets holes in walls and ransack of rooms, apparently in search of the traditional ruler, as some residents and chiefs claimed. But authorities at the local army formation promised to investigate the allegation.

However, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), a non-government organisation had in statement on Friday implored the military authorities to call military men in the state to order. HURIWA said that some federal appointees were intimating people of the state as they went about with armed military men. Lieutenant-General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff is yet to respond to the allegation by HURIWA.

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