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 expectingto get replacement for the destroyed card readers from neighbouring Rivers andCross River states, where he said his colleagues had promised to giveassistance. Apart from that, he said the national office in Abuja had alsoassured 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 clearwho were behind the attack on the INEC office and the palace of Tom. Residentsclaimed that those who attacked the palace were kitted in Nigerian armyuniforms, adding that they also took away the corpse of the casualty of theattack. Photos of the attack showed bullets holes in walls and ransack ofrooms, apparently in search of the traditional ruler, as some residents andchiefs claimed. But authorities at the local army formation promised to investigatethe allegation.

However, Human Rights WritersAssociation of Nigeria (HURIWA), a non-government organisation had in statementon Friday implored the military authorities to call military men in the stateto order. HURIWA said that some federal appointees were intimating people ofthe state as they went about with armed military men. Lieutenant-General TukurYusuf Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff is yet to respond to the allegation byHURIWA.

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