NHRC scores elections high, cautions against violence | Independent Newspapers Limited
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NHRC scores elections high, cautions against violence

Posted: Apr 10, 2015 at 11:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chukwudi Nweje (Lagos) and Joe Nwankwo (Abuja)


Ahead of Saturday’s Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has scored the 2015 transition elections high, noting that the number of post election causalities reduced from a four digit figure of over 1000 in 2011 to two digits of 60 in 2015.  The commission which stressed that loss of lives during the electoral process is unacceptable noted that since the return to democracy in 1999 that the electoral process has improved with every election. He therefore cautioned politicians to eschew violence during and after the governorship and state assembly elections on Saturday, noting that President Goodluck Jonathan’s concession of defeat helped avert violence. The commission urged politicians to borrow from Jonathan’s conduct and equally accept the outcome of the coming elections.

Speaking at separate sessions in Lagos and Abuja, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, chairman of the commission and Prof. Bem Angwe the Executive Secretary cautioned politicians against engaging in acts of violence capable of breaching the peace noting that the Commission was prepared to ensure the prosecution of any person that breaches the rights of Nigerians to exercise their civic rights.

Speaking in Lagos during a media chat with journalist Odinkaluo listed some hotspot states that security agencies needed to amount surveillance around to prevent possible degeneration into violence. He listed the states to include Bayelsa State in the South South, Imo and Abia States in the south East and Ekiti State in the South West. Others include Benue in the North Central and Bauchi State in the North East.

Angwe who spoke in Abuja when he received a petition from the All Progressives Congress (APC), Konshisha Local Government of Benue State against Governor Gabriel Suswam over allegations of intimidation and the burning down of the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the area, Angwe said that the Commission is saddled with the responsibility of guaranteeing the rights of all Nigerians irrespective of tribe, religion or political affiliation.

His words” I want to use this opportunity to on behalf of the NHRC which is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring the protection of all Nigerians irrespective of their religion, ethnicity or party affiliation and when these are violated we have extra judicial mechanism to ensure that there are remedies for such violations. We are always very happy when people who rights have been abused refrains from taking the laws into their hands.

“Before the Presidential elections was conducted we had issued out an advisory against violence, we have always maintained that the NHRC would not hesitate to invoke its powers that any person that engages in the violations of the rights of Nigerians is brought to book. The Federal Government of Nigeria is committed to taking its place in the comity of nations where the respect of the rights of its citizens reigns supreme. We would investigate these allegations, we would ensure that any person against whom a prima facie case has been established in any way would be brought to book. These allegations are very weighty as you have fingered the Governor of Benue state, you must be willing to prove your allegations of face the consequences of your actions” he added.


Angwe said that “We would constitute a high powered team to go to Konshisha local government to investigate the allegations. I urge you to remain law abiding and peaceful and avoid taking the laws into your hands, there would no hiding place for anybody that seeks to stop Nigerians from exercising their democratic rights to elect their leaders.

In the petition by the APC Chairman in Konshisha Local Government Area, Gbaden Anula he accused the Governor of instigating the thugs that burnt down the INEC office in the area which the security agencies have failed to act on.

According to him” preliminary reports by our supporters in the APC revealed that upon gathering that the PDP had lost the three elections in Koshinsha, the Presidential, Senate and House of Representatives, Governor Suswam instructed one Mathias Byuan, a known thug who works for him and goes about with police protection to burn down the INEC office and destroy the results.

“Security agencies attached to the INEC office barely managed to whisk away the results before the offices was set ablaze. This is not the first time that Suswam’s people will resort to arson for political gain. Upon losing a councilorship election in Koshinsha in 2009, the same said thugs of Governor Suswam, in broad day light, burnt down the Konshisha Legislative Chamber. I made a petition to the Inspector-General of Police who ordered an investigation. Arrests were made and some of the culprits were detained but the Governor intervened and set them free. The case file is still at the police state criminal investigation department in Markurdi.

He listed Mathias Byuan, Moses Shirsha, Andrew Andera, Surr Aboh, Timothy Gungul, Victor Saa, Godwin Ayongur, Aondohemba Akinde, David Agbadu and Moses Gbev as the people responsible for the burning down of the INEC office on March 29,2015.

He called for a speedy action to forestall further destruction of lives as according to him “Governor Suswam has at private places threatened and boasted to bring mayhem upon Benue all in the bid to win the governorship elections for the Peoples Democratic Party. The same governor has threatened even INEC staff particularly the Resident Electoral Commissioner, that his security in Benue State is not guaranteed.