Inspector General of Police (IGP) Usman Baba has accused state governors of aiding political violence in their states saying that not less than 52 cases of politically-motivated violence have been recorded across 22 states since September 28, 2022.
The IGP also accused some state governors of encouraging political thugs and sub-national security outfits under their control to disrupt seamless and statutorily guaranteed campaign activities of parties or candidates with opposing political views.
Speaking during his opening remarks at a meeting with national security and intelligence agencies and leadership of the 18 registered political parties and other stakeholders on Thursday, in Abuja, the police boss said :
“This meeting became expedient following a noticeable trend within the national political space which, if not promptly addressed, could evolve into a potent threat to not just our national security but the electoral process.“Drawing from the experiences of the past, electoral violence both in the process leading to an election as well as the fallout of elections has always constituted the most dangerous threat to our democracy.
“Political violence manifests in three forms. First is violence that is targeted at the personnel and assets of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as recently witnessed in Ogun and Osun states “The second form of political violence manifests in form of inter-party intolerance and violence which often become particularly pronounced during campaigns, elections, and post-election phases.
“It is on record that not less than 52 cases of such politically-motivated, intra and inter-party violence have been recorded across 22 states since the official commencement of campaigns for the 2023 general elections on September 28, 2022.
“Most of the recorded violent incidents or threats often result from political extremism, misinformation, intolerance, wrong political orientation, hate speeches, incitement, and, most importantly, the desperation of strategic actors within the political field who often place their parochial political ambitions over and above national security interests and our nation’s stable democratic order.
“Even more worrisome is the fact that just about a month ago, the aspirants in the 18 political parties publicly made a firm commitment to the nation to maintain peace and abide by rule of law and the Electoral Act in their political activities with the signing of the Peace Accord on September 29, 2022.
Cases of political violence are increasingly being reported across the country ahead of the 2023 general elections.
At a recent Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Electoral Security (ICCES) meeting, the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, recently disclosed that the country had witnessed 52 cases of electoral violence in 22 states in one month.
On 9 November 2022, the campaign caravan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, was attacked in Maiduguri, Borno State. A similar fate had earlier befallen the party in Kaduna State. In October, there was an assault on Labour Party supporters in Nasarawa State at a rally, which resulted in bodily harm to some of them. On 9 November 2022 suspected hoodlums set on fire the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
There were also regular reports of candidates being denied the use of public spaces like stadia for campaigns, town halls for meetings, destruction of campaign billboards, and defacing of posters.