The Joint Action Civil Society Committee decries and totally condemns the violent conduct of the Kogi and Bayelsa states gubernatorial elections of November 16, 2019, and calls for the diligent investigation and persecution of all perpetrators of violence and other forms of electoral malpractice.
Prior to the elections, the Committee had released a statement condemning incidents of pre-election violence, and emphasized the need for political parties, security agencies and the government to ensure peaceful and violence-free conduct of elections in both states, through respect for the rule of law, human rights, and strict adherence to the prescribed electoral laws and regulations. Our statement had also issued an early warning to all stakeholders of the types and levels of violent incidents that might undermine the elections.
In spite of this, the gubernatorial elections in both states were a shameful show of undemocratic affairs, characterized by thuggery and a brazen disregard of stipulated electoral processes and the rule of law. All of these in spite of the 35,000 security personnel deployed to these states.
We also note with dismay that despite multiple news reports on the high degree of violence in both states, President Muhammadu Buhari’s first reaction was jubilation, and consequently, a mild condolatory statement expressing ‘sympathy’ for the families of “those who had lost their lives” in the course of the elections. We are concerned that the death of Nigerians, who had been extrajudicially and violently killed while exercising their civic duties has been trivialized as just “losing their lives”. It is important to emphasize that the deaths recorded were due to the inefficiencies of the government and security agencies in the performance of their constitutional responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of every Nigerian citizen, and a failure to provide a conducive environment for the exercise of their civic rights.
We commend the Police for the efforts they made towards ensuring justice, by investigating and arresting suspected killers of Mrs. Acheju Aboh, the Peoples’ Democratic Party Women Leader who was burnt alive in her home. The security agencies must however not stop there. They must diligently investigate and prosecute every person alleged to have participated in any form of electoral malpractice or violence.
As we await the supplementary and rerun of the elections in certain senatorial districts of Kogi state scheduled for Saturday, November 30 2019; we call on the Federal Government to:
1. Live up to its primary responsibility of protecting lives and property and promoting the welfare of all who live in Nigeria by ensuring maximum security of electoral officials, electorates and observers.
2. Take clear and measurable steps to end the impunity that has trailed electoral violence by ordering for a full investigation to expose and bring the perpetrators of electoral violence to justice.
3. Order a full investigation into the alleged presence of ‘fake police’ and recommend way to forestall future occurrence
4. Ensure the effectiveness of security agencies in the exercise of their roles towards ensuring a peaceful, violence-free election in Kogi state.
5. Ensure that security personnel are held accountable for breach of peace in areas where they have been deployed to function.
6. All functions must be exercised with respect for human rights and the rule of law.
We call on the political parties and actors to be civil in their actions, desist from hate speech and inciteful statements; and to uphold the rule in their quest for justice for perceived electoral anomalies.
Thus, we urge residents of Kogi state to be law abiding and eschew violence in the rerun of senatorial election in their state.
Finally, we reiterate that the credibility of elections is sacrosanct and that true democracy can never be fostered through violence.
Jerry Jallo Adeolu Kilanko
For The Joint Action Civil Society Coalition