MANAGING Conflict in Nigeria (MCN), a European Union-funded programme, has said that no less than 350 persons had been killed in electoral violence across the country between January 2014 and May 2022.
MCN technical lead, Ukoha Ukiwo, stated this on Saturday during a virtual colloquium organised by the Conflict Research Network West Africa.
Ukiwo noted that Nigeria had also recorded no fewer than 315 cases of electoral violence in the said period.
According to him, no fewer than 51 persons, mainly Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials and ad-hoc members of staff, were kidnapped during the period.
Ukiwo said, “There have been 315 incidents of violence related to elections that occurred in 34 states in 2014 and May 2022. 350 persons were killed – 21 state actors, 325 civilians and 4 politicians.
“Also, 51 persons, mostly INEC officials and ad hoc members of staff, have been kidnapped.”
Citing different cases of violence, Ukiwo noted that there had been connections between armed violence and political violence in the country since 1999.
He said, “Starting from the violence perpetrated by members of the Odua Peoples’ Congress, an ethnic militia group, before and after the 1999 elections, the electoral-related violence by the Niger Delta militants in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections, vigilante groups in the South-East in 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections, JAS and ISWAP in North-East Nigeria in the 2015 and 2019 elections, and the unknown gunmen in the South-East since 2021.
“All these are pointers to the fact that conflict by groups with political agenda against the state has always set the tone for electoral violence in Nigeria.”
Speaking, also, the director, Conflict Research Network West Africa (CORN West Africa), Tarila Ebiede, expressed concerns about continued insecurity even as the country prepares for the 2023 general elections.
Ebiede said the country could not go into a crucial election with the different forms of insecurity being witnessed.
He urged the relevant authorities to swiftly put in place measures to curb violence – before, during, and after the elections – to prevent the country from being plunged into a deep insecurity challenge.
President Muhammadu Buhari had warned that any political party that promotes violence ahead of next year’s elections would be seriously dealt with.
Security agencies had also been given instructions to deal with any group or institution planning to disrupt the polls.
The president had also directed all security agencies, through the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), to ensure that elections are held in an atmosphere devoid of rancour.