Violence may mar April polls- TMG

2011-03-19
THE PUNCH Newspaper- Chux Ohai

The Transition Monitoring Group has raised the alarm over the danger posed by political violence to the April general elections.



In a statement signed by its chairman, Mr. Mashood Erubami, which was made available to SATURDAY PUNCH on Friday, the group observed that the actions and utterances of some politicians contesting in the elections so far, ran contrary to the wishes and aspirations of the electorate.



The TMG said that while the electorate looked forward to the fulfilment of their yearning for good governance in 2011, the politicians were only interested in settling old scores and thwarting all the efforts being made by the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct credible elections in the country.



The TMG said, “Reports have shown that political and sectarian violence, rather than tolerance and good reasoning, have assumed a frightening dimension in the country during the build-up to the 2011 elections.



“Unfortunately, the Federal Government has been indifferent to the cases of political violence nationwide.



“Apart from that, by treating those arrested for criminal actions against law abiding citizens and opposition parties with kid gloves, the government has openly encouraged partisanship and shown that it is business as usual.”



The group warned that those who profit from political violence and the attendant confusion would stop at nothing to achieve their aims by sustaining the rise in cases of brutal killings and violence against individuals and the opposition.



The statement read, “It is clear that some politicians are exploiting the lack of interest on the part of the Federal Government and failure by the police, as well as other law enforcement agencies, to douse the current tension in the country as an opportunity to scare away genuine voters from polling centres on election day.



“There are disturbing and widespread reports of violent attacks on presidential convoys, sitting state governors, as well as disruption of political campaigns.



“It is most tragic and disturbing that most of these atrocities and killings reportedly took place in the presence of police officers or they were perpetrated by people alleged to be in police uniforms.



“What this means is that violent crime has been elevated to the point of absurdity. Even bombing has become an official licence to some people who kill and maim in the name of politics.”



The TMG said that security personnel posted to observe elections had failed to take the necessary action to put a stop to the constant threat to life and property.



It said that the silence of those in charge of the nation’s security, in the face of the rising spate of political violence, and their lack of will to contain the situation was proof of an imminent breakdown of law and order, as well as an indication that the government had failed to fulfil its obligation to protect the people.



Urging the police and other law enforcement agencies to rise to the challenge, the TMG said, “The perpetrators of electoral violence must be arrested and prosecuted immediately, in accordance with electoral laws and the constitution of the land.



“The police must intensify intelligence gathering and proactive crime detection and prosecution now and during elections.



“Police and security services must begin the training and retraining of their junior and senior officers, as well as review and reinforce institutional mechanisms to ensure full impartiality in the conduct of officials in charge of electoral duties during the elections.”





 

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