- The violence that occured during a bye-election in Ekiti state is still generating reactions
-Election monitoring group, Yiaga Africa, says the violence recorded in the southwest state is unacceptable
- The group further lamented over what it described as the desperation of political actors in the country
Civil society group, Yiaga Africa, has condemned the reported violence which occurred during the Ekiti bye-election on Saturday, March 20.
In a statement sent to Legit.ng and signed by its director of programs, Cynthia Mbamalu, Yiaga Africa described the lack of restraints by opposing political parties as despicable and antithetical to the democratic rules of credible elections.
Part of the statement read:
“The unleashing of mayhem on the process, which resulted in the death of Nigerians performing their civic duty and gunshot wounds sustained by an NYSC member and a female police officer at their duty post, was an assault on democracy and the sanctity of life.
“Yiaga Africa condemns in its totality this onslaught on the election in Ekiti East state bye-election and the violence that has cost us innocent lives. No citizen deserves to die in the course of exercising their civic right and performing their civic responsibility.
“The desperation of political actors to capture power, by all means, remains a threat to our electoral democracy. It is embarrassing to watch our political class violate the electoral laws with impunity and utmost disregard for the sanctity of life and good practice.
“No democracy can thrive if politicians circumvent the rule of law, deploy violence, and other rigging tactics to win elections at all costs.”
The group commended the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to suspend the process indefinitely, noting that credible elections cannot be conducted under a chaotic atmosphere.
Yiaga Africa further called on INEC and the Nigeria Police Force to immediately investigate the cause of the mayhem and prosecute everyone guilty.
The group further tasked security agencies to live up to their responsibility of protecting voters, voting materials, and electoral officials before, during, and after elections.
Legit.ng had earlier reported that the exercise turned violent and nearly claimed the life of a sitting senator.
Thugs invaded Senator Olujimi's Ward 7, Unit 7 polling centre just about three hours into the electoral process to choose a replacement lawmaker for Ekiti East Constituency one.
The police have yet to release an official statement on the incident or to identify the officer who was allegedly killed or the other two victims of the vicious attack.
Legit.ng also reported that INEC suspended the exercise indefinitely following the violence that characterised it.
INEC's leadership made its decision known through Festus Okoye, its national commissioner and chairman of information and voter education committee.
Jerrywright Ukwu is an Abuja-based senior political/defence correspondent at Legit.ng. He is a graduate of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos and the International Institute of Journalism in Abuja. He is also a member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists. He spends his leisure-time reading history books. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.