Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Wednesday, expressed concerns that the desperate presidential ambitions of All Progressives Congress candidate, Bola Tinubu; and his counterpart in the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar are fueling pre-election violence across the country.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, asked Independent National Electoral Commission and security agencies to map out tight strategies for stopping electoral violence as the nation approaches the D-day in 2023.
The group also called on INEC to caution Tinubu and Atiku against making inciteful and hate speeches during campaigns, saying divisive statements should not have a place in Nigerian fragile politics.
Recall that in July, Tinubu, after saying becoming Nigeria’s president is his life ambition, at a rally for Governor Gboyega Oyetola, said Peter Obi’s Labour Party and others will labour till death.
Likewise, Atiku told his followers not to vote for Yoruba or Igbo candidates but only him. An ally of Atiku, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State also threatened that Nigeria will collapse if Atiku does not win the 2023 presidential election or if APC wins.
Commenting, Onwubiko 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 campaign officially begun 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 because 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 is crucial for Nigeria’s future but politics is not a do-or-die affair. Those beating the drum of war should be retrained.”