UNTOLD VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA’S POLITICAL SPACE.
the menace of political violence in the nation in recent years through killings, bombings and armed clashes between supporters of rival political factions has assumed a perturbing dimension.This violence forms part of the broader pattern of violence and abuse that is inherent in the country’s political landscape.
Prior to the 2003 presidential election, for instance, precisely between the months of April and May, 2003, statistics has it that more than 100 people were killed in election-related violence, with many badly injured. As early as December, 2006, international organisations monitoring conflicts in Nigeria warned that the use of thugs by politicians has not abated.
The Nigeria press has reported at least 70 incidents of election-related violence across the 36 states of the Nation.
Between November and March 2007,the Nigeria press reported attempted assassinations of Nigerian politicians, party officials and other individuals who were directly linked to various political activities.
The two most notorious killings in mid 2006 included the murder of the Peoples Democratic Party Gubernatorial Aspirant in Lagos State, Funsho Williams and Ayo Daramola in Ekiti State.
In Ondo State, the spate of political violence and attacks have been on the rise too. In September 5th, 2016 and February 2017, a seasoned and Grassroots Politician from Ifedore Local Government Area of the state, Hon. John Adebola Oni was attacked by political thugs suspected to have been sponsored by his co-contestants. This was shortly after he declared his intention to contest for the position of the local government chairman. Prior to the attack, there had been series of threats to his life via text messages and phone calls. He was however lucky to have survived the attack as he was rushed to a private hospital where he was admitted and treated. Before this, his Oke Aro residence in Akure was attacked with valuables worth hundred of thousands of naira destroyed and some taken away. He was again lucky to have escaped the second attack as he was not at home as at the time of the ugly incident. These series of attacks prompted his relocation to Lagos where he temporarily sought refuge before his eventual departure for the United States in August 2017. He could have relocated to Ibadan or Port Harcourt at that time but the security challenges in those areas too cannot be underrated.
However, threats to his life continued when he returned to Nigeria in October of 2017. He was thereafter advised by friends and associates to permanently relocate to the United States.
Despite this geometrical rise in political violence in the country, it appears the government has done little to address its primary root cause which is the impunity enjoyed by the political actors who orchestrate it. Our electoral acts include provisions that specifically criminalise any action that impedes the smoothness of political activities, through violence, including the use of hired gangs. These provisions however are not stringent enough and not being adequately enforced too.
As long as political violence remains uncurbed in Nigeria, we will continue to lose a large quantum of our best brains as they continually flee abroad for safety and in search of brighter prospects.