Bloody Democracy: 520 killed- Police

2011-06-02
THE SUN Newspaper- Francis Awowole-Browne

The post-election violence which erupted in some parts of the north claimed the lives of 514 civilians and six policemen. The Inspector General of Police (IGP) who gave the grim details yesterday said 75 civilians were injured, 165 churches and 53 Mosques, 444 vehicles and 1,442 houses were either burnt or destroyed.

The police boss who spoke at the 2011 general elections review organised by Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) said 22, 141 were displaced, 45 police properties, 16 government properties burnt and 987 shops were burnt.
Also speaking, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega attributed the post-election violence to dashed hopes of some elements as a result of the credible nature of the elections.
The INEC boss said perpetrators of the crisis were angry because they felt their candidates should win and it turned the other way.

He said these were people who had thought that the credibility and perfection of the general elections were enough to give them victory and therefore reasoned that their candidates must win. The IGP said the development was regretable as the Force lost six of its men in the violence, especially in Kaduna and Niger states. The IGP who was represented by Assistant Inspector General of Police, Mr. Felix Ogbaudu, described the development as worrisome.

According to the top cop: “Our country, Nigeria, is plagued by a number of bad cultures and added to this is a large army of uninformed, illiterate, gullible, unemployed, angry and ignorant youths who are willing tools in the hands of political mischief makers. “The bad cultures, which have in no small measure fueled violence are culture of impunity, arrogance, insincerity, selfish rather than selfless service, gross impatience, gross indiscipline, greed, the end justifies the means, cutting corners and many more of such vices.”

However, he defended the police for not being able to curb the violence, saying, “the police have been accused of not living up to expectations in containing the massive and spontaneous riots in some of the states, especially Kaduna... “The questions one may want to ask are: was the police expected to open fire on the thousands that took to the streets, (ii) even if they had to, did they have sufficient arms/ammunition to do so, (iii) was that line of action desirable knowingly fully well that at the end of the day, the police will be accused of being trigger happy and violating people’s human rights, (iv) would that have engendered a smooth conduct or continuation of the elections?
“We must note that it takes so little to destroy but so much to build. We must also learn to control our temper and never allow our temper control us; if we do, we will surely regret our actions and end up in places we never bargained for or will not like.

“We will need to be more proactive, sharpen our intelligence gathering network and deploy more in subsequent elections. Motorised patrols should be intensified and anti-riot squads placed on standby.” The theme of the gathering chaired by the former Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mohammed Uwais was: “Experience sharing, lesson learnt and the way forward.” The INEC chairman who admitted that the elections were not perfect, said the criticism from some people were just because they lost in the elections.

Said he: “I regret to say in my view that a lot of post-election violence that we have seen, to a large extent, can be attributed to what I call crisis of expectation.“I think so many people expected the election to be so credible, so perfect that in that perfection and credibility it is their candidate who will win and once their candidate did not win it was no longer credible and perfect and that I think would have explained to a large extent some of the post-election violence.” He added: “Of course, we cannot underestimate the role of other larger systemic issues of poverty, ignorance, illiteracy, unemployment and so on.”

Jega further said: “Some of the major challenges had to do with operational and logistical preparations. There were complaints about INEC staff in terms of their relations with voters during the registration but in general there was improvement in attitude and professionalism with regards to the conduct of the elections.“We have learnt a lot of lessons, which we believe can be consolidated in the future in terms of bringing further improvement.

“I think we also learnt some lessons in terms of managing expectations. It was quite clear to us after the inauguration of the commission that the expectations of Nigerians were very, very high. indeed. And it was a big challenge for us to be able to satisfy those expectations.“When we realize that all these expectation were very high, that Nigerians were expecting the most perfect election, I tried to disappoint them by saying look, we can’t have a perfect election but we will do our best and we will bring remarkable improvement.

“We also know that there were so many Nigerians out there who were skeptical and never thought that there was going to be a good election any day and once I started saying it wouldn’t be perfect, they said he has started finding excuses, preparing for failure.” For a more perfect election in future, the INEC Chairman said the Commission has started the process of 2015 by studying the challenges encountered in the last exercise.



 

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