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Bayelsa/Kogi Elections: Human rights must be protected – Amnesty Int’l

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Amnesty International has urged the Nigerian government and relevant authorities to protect people from violence and ensure full respect for freedom of expression as well as a peaceful assembly at the gubernatorial elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.

The global human rights body said there had already been several instances of violence in relation to the poll.

Amnesty International noted that instances of violence at election campaign rallies in both Bayelsa and Kogi states had painted ‘grim picture of political parties on a do-or-die approach to elections’.

So it called for the electorate’ protection from violence before, during and after the election.

The body urged the government to assure citizen’s freedom of expression as well as a peaceful assembly and association during the electoral processes.

“The election-related violence in Bayelsa and Kogi states is deeply troubling and, if not urgently addressed, will undermine respect for human rights throughout the election period,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

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“Amnesty International has received reports of supporters of some politicians violently targeting political opponents, real or perceived. The authorities must stamp out any potential impunity by ensuring these incidents are investigated and that those suspected to be responsible are brought to justice.”

The report also noted that political parties and candidates have been accusing each other of plotting to use violence during Saturday elections.

”In Bayelsa state, reports say at least two people were killed, while in Kogi state there were reports of violence especially in Lokoja and other parts of the state”, it read partly.

The human rights group asked Nigerian authorities to put in place measures to ensure that politicians and their supporters were not infringed on human rights. They must make clear that there is zero-tolerance for human rights violations and that anyone suspected of wrongdoing will be brought to justice, it added.

“Politicians inciting violence in Bayelsa and Kogi must be fished out and made to face justice. Political parties and candidates must publicly condemn any advocacy of hatred or incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

“The authorities must also ensure that international and national civil society groups and agencies that will monitor the elections are able to do so in safety,” it said.

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