The 2019 election has since commenced and results are trickling in. Those who have been declared winners are celebrating while losers are counting their losses. But those who will forever remain in pains and agony are the people who have lost their loved ones as a result of the violence that trailed the election across the various states.
According to reports, many people were killed in Rivers and Akwa Ibom. And in Bayelsa, there were reports of sporadic shootings in parts of the state.
During the 2015 governorship election in the state which was won by the present governor, Seriake Dickson, different parts of the state were turned to war zone. Many people were killed as staccato gunshots resonated from the creeks and the riverine communities the oil rich state.
Places like Ekeremor, Southern Ijaw, Nembe, Brass and Sagbama local government areas were like battle fields. The home of the Minister of State for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri in Ekeremor main town was under siege on the day of the election.
In southern Ijaw, ex militants engaged themselves in serious gun duel as they tried to hijack electoral materials for their respective paymasters, thereby putting the lives of innocent electorates in jeopardy, as unlucky ones were hit by stray bullets. The same situation was recorded in Nembe local government area where thugs snatched ballot boxes for their sponsors.
Before the commencement of the 2019 general elections, the state police commissioner, Mr. Aminu Saleh had raised the alarm that there were a cache of illegal arms in the hands of individuals in the state ahead of the polls. He also expressed worries over the rate cult activities in all parts of the state which may cause a threat to the conduct of the elections. Indeed, the forecast of the police officer was accurate as the elections were marred by violence in some parts of the state with deaths recorded.
For insurance, deaths were recorded in Southern Ijaw on Saturday during the elections. Notable among the victims of last Saturday elections is a photographer attached to the state Government House, Mr. Reginald Dei who was hit by bullet as gunmen went about shooting and maiming people in southern communities. Dei who was initially reported dead is now battling with his life in a hospital in Yenagoa.
Unfortunately, these happened after the various stakeholders had signed to maintain peace in their domain, during the elections. This is as worrisome as it is disgusting.
Our position is that the police should go beyond forecasting danger and informing the citizens of how many guns were in possession of individuals but put a permanent stop to illegal possession of arms. Politicians should see elections as a game and not a do-or-affair. Those who allow themselves to be used by politicians to perpetrate electoral violence should desist forthwith. They should know that electoral violence has no place in the development of any state but only brings about retrogression, pains and lamentation.
Moreover, the various governments should ensure adequate security before, during and after electoral processes in the state. The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC should always allow for a level playing ground for all political parties. Electoral violence is an offence. As the nation prepares for the last part of the election in the next two weeks, the law should therefore take its full course whenever one is caught in the act. This way, our electoral processes can be devoid of rancour and acrimony.