Stabbed, beaten, and fined: Ordeal of a Lagos resident during the 2023 governorship election

THE Lagos State gubernatorial election took place on Saturday, March 18 2023 to elect the Governor of Nigeria’s commercial capital. It happened simultaneously with the State Houses of Assembly election and 27 other governorship elections nationwide.

Read also : Electoral violence in Lagos: Tales of agony, pain ring loud

The election was postponed from its original date of March 11 to March 18.

The Presidential election earlier on February 25 saw the Labour Party (LP) candidate, Peter Obi, winning the state with a slim margin.

According to the State Returning Officer, Adenike Oladiji, Obi garnered 582,454 votes, while Tinubu, who later won the presidential election, secured 572,606 votes.

The fear of who will win the governorship election in Lagos generated a lot of controversy and created anxiety and panic among many residents.


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The three major candidates in the contest were the incumbent Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Jide Adeniran of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the Labour Party (LP) 

Lagos State Governorship Election Candidates
From left to right – Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, Abdul-Azeez Olajide Adediran and Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Weeks before the election, the atmosphere was filled with tension; supporters were seen throwing jabs at one another.

Introduction of Oro cult 

A few days before the election, news of some traditional rulers trying to scare people with the Oro cult emerged. Reacting to the reportsthe traditional ruler of the Ikate-Elegushi kingdom in Lagos state, Saheed Ademola, assured that the festival would not affect the governorship election.

His media aide Temitope Oyefeso stressed that the restriction of movement for the Oro rites in the kingdom would commence on Wednesday, March 15 and end on the eve of the election, Friday, March 17.

“The restriction of movement for the Oro rites in the Ikate-Elegushi Kingdom, Eti-Osa is from Wednesday to Friday; Election Day is not included.

“This clarification is necessary for those peddling falsehood as to the motive for the rites. The peace and progress of our land is the responsibility of all of us, and we must be alive to this responsibility,” Oyefeso said.

The LP governorship candidate Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour (GRV), described reports that the Oro Cult festival would hold during the election as an attempt to disenfranchise voters.

The election day arrived, and despite the security fears, many voters went out to exercise their franchise. However, it ended with a sad tale for some.

One such individual is *John Kadiri (not his real name), who resides in Lagos.

The indigene of Lagos, surrounded by two of his daughters when The ICIR visited, said he had never been humiliated as he experienced after the governorship election.

Picture of Husseini after the attack
Picture of Kadiri* after the attack

Kadiri, who spoke in Yoruba, claimed he is not a politician but supports the PDP because a one-time party governorship candidate, the late Funsho Williams, once picked his relative as a deputy governorship candidate.

He claimed there was no trouble during the presidential and governorship elections in his area apart from little skirmishes that saw some military men chasing some boys.

“There were a few skirmishes, and the soldiers came. We enjoyed ourselves; the election went well,” he said.

But trouble started for Kadiri on the night of Sunday, April 19, a day after the election, when he heard a heavy knock on his door a few minutes before midnight.

According to him, he opened the door because he could recognise the voice at the door. With only a wrapper tied around his waist, he went out to see the people looking for him.

Healing scars of Mr Husseni's wound Picture by ICIR 16/04/2023
Healing scars of Kadiri’s wound  Picture by The ICIR 16/04/2023

“The Kabiyesi wants to see you now,” they told him.

He asked them, “At this time of the night?”

He then pleaded, “Let me quickly put on something,” a request he said they rejected.

“They insisted I must go with them like that immediately. I was tying only a white wrapper and holding a torchlight. Since I had a clear conscience, I said ok, let’s go,” he said.

Kadiri said that shortly before getting to the palace of the Oniba of Iba, Sulaimon Adesina, he felt a sharp pain in his back; his captors had macheted him.

Oniba of Iba Ekun, Adesina Sulaimon Raji courtesy of Kabiyesitv on Facebook
Oniba of Iba Ekun, Sulaimon Adeshina. Courtesy of Kabiyesitv on Facebook

He narrated, “I was tying only a white wrapper and holding a torchlight. So as we were going, when we almost got to Hajji, suddenly someone struck me with a cutlass on my back. I looked back and shouted, ‘This boy, why are you stabbing me?’ By this time, my white wrapper was already soaked in blood.

“We kept going, I thought the Kabiyesi was waiting somewhere, but as we went, the team leader instructed one of the boys to blindfold me. 

“He held my hands until we got to the palace.”

Mr Husseini's back after the attack
Kadiri’s back after the attack

He said that immediately they got to the traditional ruler’s palace in Iba Town, he heard the voice of the Kabiyesi saying, “It serves you right. A whole me the King of the town, I begged you, I pleaded with you, but you refused and went to gather Igbo people to vote against me on election day. You also invited soldiers to chase my boys into the swamp; what if they died?”

Kadiri said he replied to the King that he had no hand in inviting the soldiers.

He added that at that point, the traditional ruler, surrounded by some of his chiefs and his biological father, became furious and called him a liar.

“He ordered his boys to deal with me; cutlasses and sticks were used on me. I was seriously beaten,” he alleged.

At this point, Kadiri started crying. It took the intervention of one of his daughters and this reporter to console and calm him down. 

“See where they stabbed me. I prostrated; I was crying. I said what was my offence? I have never been dealt with like this in my life before.

“Without committing any offence. I did not collect any kobo from him. This Sule Maito, he has never done anything for me, but he was oppressing me,” he cried.

Fined for not obeying the King’s order to vote for a particular party

Kadiri said apart from being beaten; he was also given a list of items to bring to the palace after he was beaten and stabbed.

“After this, he gave me a list of items I must buy to appease him.”

The list seen by The ICIR includes a bag of Garri, 10 litres of oil, two white rams, four cartons of Schnapp drink,  and a tax of N200,000.

The daughter interjected during the interview, saying, “They told my dad if he can’t find a surety to stand for him, he should be thrown into the river.”

“Somebody stood for me on that day; he is the [a *neighbour]. He lives behind me. This is my hospital card; my file is in the hospital,” Kadiri said.

He also showed The ICIR the handwritten surety signed by his *neighbour.

Explaining later how the father got home that night, Kadiri’s daughter added that they took her father to a *hospital after the incident.

“We took him to *hospital, his friend dropped him at home, he called him on the phone, and he got back around 2 or 3 am”, she said.

The ICIR also sighted Kadiri’s hospital card. 

Rumour of ‘Operation you must win your territory.’

A Lagos resident, Christopher Olalekan, who said he witnessed electoral violence in the Igando axis of the state, said he heard the rumour that many traditional rulers and politicians had been instructed to do everything to win their polling unit.

“The way they were all acting and behaving, you will know something has happened. The rumour came out that most of the Obas and politicians have been instructed to go and win their polling units at all cost, so I am not surprised by the level of violence,” Olalekan said.

Although this claim cannot be substantiated, a resident, who gave her name simply as Chidinma and claimed to be a victim of electoral violence in the Okota area of Lagos, said a councillor confessed to her that because he lost his polling unit in the presidential election, he had been mandated to win it at all costs in the governorship election.

“At my polling unit at Okota Oshodi/ Isolo Balogun Ward 034, the councillor on the street told his thugs and some of us that he failed to deliver his constituency during the presidential election and that if he failed again in this governorship, they would demote him,” she said. 

However, an APC supporter in Badagry, Bashiru, dismissed all the talks about ‘Operation you must win your polling unit.’ According to him, all the talks about electoral violence were mere fabrications concocted by the opposition.

“I don’t believe in that because why didn’t that work in the presidential election?” he asked.

Adeshina reacts to allegations

Iba is a semi-rural town located in the Ojo local government of Lagos state.

A check by The ICIR showed that the traditional ruler (Oba) of the town Adeshina is also the chairman of the Lagos State Parks committee.  In October 2022, he asked committee members to mobilise widespread support for the election of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC for President and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for governor of Lagos State.

Reacting to the allegation levelled against him in a telephone chat with The ICIR on Thursday, June 8, Adeshina denied the accusation and claimed that as a king, he does not involve in skirmishes with anyone.

“Who said so? With my calibre, I will go and beat somebody? the King asked.

When told that the victim said he did not participate physically in the incident but sent some boys to deal with him, the Kabiyesi said, “I don’t understand what that person is saying. There is nothing like that in this Iba Town. The election was in March, and who won has won; that’s the main thing. Who do I want to fight with? We are all one; I am a king; I can not play tribalism. I don’t have a problem with anybody at all.”

We saw people being prevented from voting – Election Observers

Commenting on the attack of voters in Lagos, the head of the election programme of the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), Paul James, said observers deployed by the group saw people being prevented from voting because they did not look like indigenes of the community,

“This violates the freedom of association by the provision of the constitution, especially if these persons have satisfied the legal process of being electorates in the states they are domiciled.

“Also, you will see politicians are beginning to weaponise electoral violence.

“The build-up to the elections was overheated; you could see the rhetoric everywhere was heated up,” James said. 

He feared that if issues like this persists, people would begin to stay off and not participate in elections.

To reverse the trend, James said people must be engaged, “The engagement we need to start early. We must begin to enlighten people on offences associated with electoral violence because, most time, people are ignorant. Ignorance should not be an excuse, though,” he said.

Lagos Police declined to comment.

Several attempts to get the view of the spokesperson of the Lagos State Police Command, Benjamin Hundeyin, including a request to meet with him in his office for an interview on the issues raised, were unsuccessful. 

After so many attempts to get him to speak on the matter, he responded with a message on Wednesday, April 26, saying, ” I decline doing that interview.”

Further efforts were made to find out why he was unwilling to talk about the matter, but he kept mum.

Meanwhile, The ICIR reported on March 27 that the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba met with senior police officers to discuss the high degree of violence recorded during the 2023 general elections.

The meeting, which appraised security measures implemented during the polls, was held at the Goodluck Jonathan Peace Keeping Centre, Force Headquarters, Abuja,

Lagos Police Spokesperson, Benjamin Hundeyin
Lagos Police spokesperson, Benjamin Hundeyin

Senior officers in attendance included Deputy Inspectors-General of Police (DIGs), Assistant Inspectors-General of Police (AIGs), and Commissioners of Police (CPs).






     

     

    The meeting agenda included a general review of the elections, electoral offences and suspects detained during the elections, as well as reported and recorded cases of police misconduct.

    The publicity secretary of the Labour Party, Bunmi Odesanya, commenting on the role of security agencies during the election, said only the military worked efficiently while other security agents watched on.

    “Aside from the military, all other security agencies watched as violence was unleashed on supporters of other political parties. The mayhem unleashed on opposition parties’ supporters by APC thugs on 18/03/2023 was unprecedented in the history of Nigeria. The police, the principal security agency for elections, stood by and did nothing to stem the mayhem,” Odesanya stated.

    NOTE: Names of people or places with asterisk were deliberately changed or omitted to protect sources. 

    A reporter with the ICIR
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