The Forum of Chairmen of Nigerian Political Parties has indicted security agents and politicians over alleged violence and other electoral fraud witnessed during the just concluded governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.
The forum also called for an urgent perfection of the ongoing effort to amendment the Electoral Act in order to introduce electronic voting and transmission of results straight from polling units to a central database and electronic accreditation of figures to forestall the recurrence of inaccurate and bloated voting results.
The forum gave this position on Monday during a press briefing in Abuja after a review of the conduct of the elections in the two states.
Kenneth Udeze, chairman, Action Alliance, while addressing journalists at the event which had in attendance over 60 party chairmen, including Perry Opara, National Unity Party (NUP) and Adamu Takai (Advanced Congress of Democrats), noted that political party chairmen, after reviewing the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections, have come to the emphatic and categorical conclusion that the election was a serious dent on the progress made so far in enshrining free and fair elections in the country.
Udeze said: “The failure of the elections was not caused by administrative lapses or inefficiency of the INEC, but by the treasonable actions of security agencies (the Nigerian army and Nigeria police) that compromised the process and aided political thugs to disrupt the entire exercise and carted away electoral materials.”
Speaking further, Udeze stated that despite the thousands of security personnel deployed to Kogi and Bayelsa for the elections, it could be stated that thugs had a field day, particularly in Kogi State where their activities played a major role in determining who was eventually declared winner.
He decried a situation where there were no reports of any arrest that were made on polling day by the police to stop the gun-wielding thugs who stormed many polling centres.
“Collation centres were made inaccessible to duly accredited observers and agents of other political parties except those that were allowed by the thugs while over 35,000 policemen watched helplessly and haplessly.”
He said chairmen of political parties who were sponsors of candidates for the elections desired free and fair elections, the security agents did not live up to their expectations.
“The Forum of Chairmen of Nigeria Political Parties also concludes that the role of security agencies, particularly the Nigeria police and the Nigerian army, during the November 16th governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states were largely reprehensible.
“Men in police uniforms were seen aiding thugs to carry ballot boxes and other materials from the centres and abducting polling staff”, he said.
The 35,200 policemen deployed to Kogi State were all either standing by watching or were active participants guarding the thugs to carry the election materials and disrupt a hitherto peaceful and well organised process.
He noted that it was disheartening to hear the Inspector General of Police announce to journalists that the police got intelligence about the plans of politicians to sew police uniforms but rather than announce what the police did to checkmate these criminals and even arrest them for possible prosecution, he announced that the police made tags for identification of their officers.
According to him, he did not announce anything else that the police did. He has since not announced the arrest of any of the persons he referred to as fake policemen who were on rampage and heavily dented the credibility of the election.
“The Inspector General still owes Nigerians a lot of explanations on why the 35, 000 policemen in Kogi were helpless and could not stop these thugs.”
He alleged that security agencies colluded with the political thugs and that the collusion was at the highest levels of the security hierarchy.
The Forum further explained that it was following from the review that it resolved and demanded as follows: that security agencies were to blame for the failure noticed in the Kogi election, the killings, maiming, and destruction of property.
The Forum urged the Federal Government to set up an inquiry into the circumstances that led to the over running of 35, 000 policemen by a motley crowd of political thugs.
“The GOC who compromised his men should also be investigated and appropriate punishment meted out to all who are found wanting,” he said.
The Forum also demanded that the Inspector General of Police be investigated to ascertain whether truly 35, 000 policemen were deployed to Kogi State as the activities of the thugs did not support the fact that they should have that number of policemen, adding that the investigation should also unravel the quantum of allowances approved for the police and to whom they were actually paid.
In the same vein, the Forum noted: “The blanket blame on INEC for the failure of elections is inapplicable in this situation as the commission discharged its duties while the security agencies failed the people of Kogi and Bayelsa. We absolve INEC and we indict the security agencies for the failures of those two elections,” he said.
The Forum further noted that Nigerian politicians seemed not to have learnt any lessons from the happenings of 1983 which led to the collapse of the 2nd Republic in 1984.
“The arbitrary use of federal force and the loss of confidence in the courts led people to seek all sorts of self-help which culminated in the overthrow of that administration by the military.
“All the indices which led to the fall of that Republic are here again staring us in the face and still being orchestrated by politicians.
“It is clear to us that Nigerian politicians seem not to have learnt anything; in fact, Nigerian politicians have not learnt anything from our history. The desperate quest to compromise institutions of state must be condemned,” spokesman of the forum stated.
Police Arrest Six Over Killing Of Kogi PDP Woman Leader
Meanwhile, police on Monday said they have arrested six persons over the killing of Kogi PDP woman leader, Achejuh Abuh.
This is coming less than 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday ordered investigation into the killing of the 60-year-old woman, who was the PDP woman leader of Ochadamu ward in Ofu Local Government Area of the state.
She was reportedly burnt to death in her house by political thugs loyal to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) during the just concluded governorship poll in the state. Her house was set on fire, while she was inside.
According to Kogi State police spokesperson, Williams Aya, a deputy superintendent of police, “Six suspects have been arrested while investigation was still ongoing.”
It would be recalled that President Buhari had on Sunday ordered investigation into the heinous murder of Achejuh Abuh.
The president’s directive is coming exactly one week after the gruesome murder which has received widespread condemnations across Nigeria.
President Buhari, in a statement on Sunday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, decried whatever could spur anyone to take the life of another human being, particularly a woman, who was burnt to death in her home in the most gruesome manner.
President Buhari has, therefore, charged all security agencies involved in the investigation to do a thorough and expeditious job on the matter so that justice could be served without fear or favour.
“We must learn to behave decently, whether during elections or at other times.
“No life should be taken wantonly under any guise, and the fact that this reprehensible act occurred two days after voting shows primitive behaviour, which should not be accepted in a decent society,” the president said.
The president, while sympathising with the family of the deceased, vowed that the law would catch up with the malefactors, and that justice would be done.
Any descent to barbarism, as was visited on the PDP woman leader, President Buhari said, had gone out of the realm of politics and was pure criminality and bestiality.
“Such evildoers must be brought to justice, irrespective of whatever allegiances they hold,” the president stated.
Late Abuh was reportedly killed in one of the most grisly post-election attacks in her resident by people alleged to be celebrating the victory of Governor Yahaya Bello, minutes after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the Kogi gubernatorial election result penultimate Monday.