Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has lamented that the 2023 general election has remained under threat despite assurances by relevant stakeholders, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies, saying the spate of political violence requires drastic measures by all security agencies, especially the Nigeria Police Force.
The CNPP in a statement issued on Monday by its Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, warned that “unless political thugs were treated as enemies of the state, the ongoing attacks on political opponents will gravely endanger the credibility of the 2023 elections.”
The CNPP lamented that “despite the recent matching orders to the security agencies by President Muhammadu Buhari, which was reiterated by the National Security Adviser (NSA) to the President, retired Major General Babagana Monguno, to the effect that the President has given the go-ahead to all security agencies to deal decisively with individuals or groups trying to prevent peaceful conduct of the 2023 general election, the hope of a violent free electioneering campaign may be dashed.
“Our major fear is that from the records of the federal government as revealed by the NSA that Nigeria recorded 52 acts of political violence across 22 states in one month, between October 8 and November 9, 2022, there seems to be gross inaction on the part of security agencies, particularly the Nigeria Police Force to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of these violence.
“Worse still, after the recent emergency meeting of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja, Nigerians have seen nothing but inactions by security agencies in preventing or arresting and diligently prosecuting perpetrators of the ongoing electoral violence and their sponsors.
“Every lover of Nigeria and her future knows that, as far as violent attacks on political opponents and opposing political parties in states is is concerned, the situation is becoming alarming as one of the elementary security measures is crime prevention.
“For instance, last week there was a suspected politically motivated assassination of Victoria Chintex, the Labour Party women leader in Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna State, who was reportedly killed last Monday after gunmen invaded her residence and shot her.
“At weekend, there were reports that Labour Party’s rally in the Lakowe town area of Lekki, Lagos State, was visited with violence by suspected political thugs allegedly sponsored by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the area.
“In November, suspected APC supporters attacked supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubarkar, in Maiduguri, Borno State, just as in October 17, suspected thugs also disrupted the campaign train of the PDP in Kaduna State.
“In the same month of October, some supporters of the APC in Oyo State were reportedly injured in Ibadan during a campaign rally when some hoodlums in some vehicles allegedly launched an attack on the crowd.
“In Ebonyi State, a state government sponsored security outfit, Ebubeagu, has been severally reported to have been unleash against political opponents of the APC leadership in the state, among other several incidents of political violence in other states across the country”, the CNPP recalled.
“If truly that President Muhammadu Buhari has given his directive through the NSA to all the operational intelligence and law enforcement agencies to ensure that the 2023 elections are held in an atmosphere devoid of any rancour, as the NSA has disclosed recently, why are we not seeing security agencies discouraging political thuggery in the country?
“We therefore call on all political party leaders at all levels to restrain their supporters both online and offline from carrying out violent activities against oppositions.
“This has become imperative as retaliations and counter attacks by victims of the ongoing violence could degenate the issues and worsen the current security situation in the country.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari, who was said to be extremely pleased with the outcome of the results of elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states to ensure a repeat of such performance in 2023, both by INEC and all security agencies, including the anti-graft bodies because election is not war”, the CNPP stated.