The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies to caution the presidential candidates of All Progressives Congress candidate (APC), Bola Tinubu and his counterpart in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar against inciting electoral violence.
According to the group, the alleged desperation of both major contenders is fueling a series of pre-election violence across the country.
The group called on INEC to caution Tinubu and Atiku against making inciteful and hate speeches during campaigns, noting that such divisive statements should not have a place in Nigerian fragile politics.
Naija News reports that HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement issued on Wednesday, requested that INEC and security agencies map out tight strategies for stopping electoral violence as the nation inches closer to the 2023 polls.
HURIWA‘s reaction follows a series of attacks on campaign rallies and INEC facilities in recent times.
It would also be recalled that one of Atiku’s allies, the Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki had also passed comments like Nigeria will collapse if Atiku does not win the 2023 presidential election or if APC wins, as well as when Tinubu’s expression that being president was his life ambition.
However, Onwubiko noted that the level of electoral violence has gone to the roof of late after these inciting comments.
He said “Such vilifying and acerbic statements from the two top contenders show desperation. It is not surprising, however, that the level of electoral violence has gone the roof of late after these inciting talks by both Tinubu and Atiku, with INEC saying it has recorded over 50 cases of electoral violence just between September 28 when the campaign officially began and now.
“Some of these top contenders have a large army of motor park touts in Lagos notorious for electoral violence. What if any of these desperados loses? Will their violence-prone supporters take the result with equanimity?
“Won’t they commit organise arson given the fact that fuel is easily moved in Nigeria with jerricans by street urchins? Why shouldn’t state governments and President Muhammadu Buhari ban the use of jerricans to carry fuel this is a tool that can be used for pre and post-election violence. The killing of a PDP women leader in Kogi is still fresh.
“It is evident that the Nigeria Police Force can’t stop attacks on its offices and personnel are not equipped and capable of stopping election violence if these become massive in scale.
“INEC and security agencies must come up with tight strategies to stop election violence which may escalate given that hundreds of inmates in prisons have escaped and some have just been released. The electoral body must also not hesitate to caution or disqualify a candidate inciting the public. The 2023 general elections are crucial for Nigeria’s future but politics is not a do-or-die affair. Those beating the drum of war should be retrained.”