The Confluence State of Kogi was the cynosure of all eyes prior to, and on November 16, 2019. That a gubernatorial election would be conducted in the State on that day was a fait accompli. But on that day, the wishes, hopes and aspirations of the electorate in the state were brazenly truncated and viciously dashed. Their inalienable right to choose who govern them in the next four years was usurped by political desperadoes, ragamuffin and ‘charlatans’.
During the election, there was spectre of electoral violence unleashed on hapless voters by political thugs. The mantra of free, transparent, credible and peaceful election was nowhere near Kogi. Also, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s assurance that the election would be a hitch-free exercise became stillborn.
Security agents, especially police officers, were accused of either colluding with thugs to steal ballot boxes or actively participated in the disruption of polling units. The response to these allegations by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Ibrahim, that the men in police uniform, who colluded with thugs to perpetuate violence and prevent voters from exercising their franchise were fake policemen is not good enough. It is the responsibility of real policemen to ensure that the alleged fake policemen were apprehended and prevented from messing up the electoral process.
It is not only the behaviour of the security agencies that have been questioned in the violence that engulfed the state during the election. The integrity, competence and impartiality of INEC has also been eroded in the public eye. The declaration of results in many violence-riddled areas questions INEC’s involvement in the heist witnessed in the state.
There were reported cases of inducement and intimidation of INEC officials during ballot counting and collation of results. The implication of the disappearance of INEC officials who had to abandon election materials in the midst of violence was never addressed.
A prima facie examination of the results declared buttressed this point. In Okene Local Government Area, for instance, the PDP recorded 139 votes against APC’s 112, 762. This is incredible when the result of the election is compared with the performance of the party in previous elections.
Finally, it is disheartening that the key political actors have down played the grave violence that characterised the election. Politicians must work to keep the peace in the aftermath of the controversial poll.
Those aggrieved should resort to the courts to seek redress. But for now, Nigerians are calling on the security agencies to ensure a thorough investigation of the malpractices during the elections and bring the perpetrators to book.
Khadijah Saleh, Ahmadu Bello University, Zari . firstname.lastname@example.org