A Plea Against Politically Motivated Killings And Violence In Nigeria

A Plea Against Politically Motivated Killings And Violence In Nigeria
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The number of lives and properties that politically motivated violence and killings have consumed since 1999 when Nigeria returned to democratic government remain countless, and the degree of trauma that has been inflicted upon many due to the loss of their beloved or belongings may never heal. I was not motivated to share this piece despite the spate of deadly attacks linked to politics, and which I have monitored on mass media for years.

Some weeks ago however, a young man was lamenting the assassination of his intimate friend, Akinpelu Gbadamosi, and instantly I found the reasons to investigate the matter from him. Without hesitation, he narrated the ugly incident and I discovered the country remains in the shackles of some politicians who will do everything possible to eliminate anybody they have labelled their “unhealthy rival or foe.”

According to KZ (the popular name he loves to be called), it was like a drama but the masterminds have written and mastered their script well before acting it. In 2015 before the general elections, his friend’s father, Mr Akinpelu Kayode (a 63-year old politician) was assassinated and everyone knew that his death was orchestrated by political opponents but the police could only do a little to investigate the matter despite the family’s insistence on unravelling histheir father’s death. Some months later, Akinpelu Gbadamosi (a son to the late Akinpelu Kayode) also noticed that some people were trailing him, and he fled to Togo. After five years there, he decided to return home but he was shot dead in June 2021 by those suspected to have killed his dad. He was aged 27, and the police have not apprehended anyone in connection with this killing. I screamed  having been filled with indignation after this narration, and no amount of consolation was enough to quench KZ’s trauma and grief as he vowed not to partake in politics no matter how glamorous it looks in Nigeria.

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How this nation reached the level of having murderous and violence-laden actors in its political sphere may not be new to many people especially the historians and public affairs analysts, but the increase in such dastard acts day-by-day calls for multifaceted solutions. For remembrance, since 1999, many prominent politicians and individuals have been murdered, and series of political violence have been witnessed without concrete arrest and justice.

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For instance, Chief James Ajibola Ige (the then Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation and a strong candidate of A.D) was murdered in December 2001 in his home in Ibadan; the same way Marshall Sokari Harry (the then Vice-Chairman of the largest national opposition party, ANPP) was also assassinated in March 5, 2003. On February 8, 2003, a senatorial candidate of ANPP, Ogbonnaya Uche from Imo State was shot in his home, and on his hospital bed, he mentioned politicians as those behind the act before he died two days later. In the same state on February 22, 2003; Theodore Agwatu, a Principal Secretary to the Imo State Governor was shot and killed.

In September 2002,  Barnabas Igwe, (the then chairman of Anambra State Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, and Abigail Igwe, his wife) were brutally shot dead in Onitsha fter the attackers had laid ambush for them. Reports have it that the killings were politically motivated as Barnabas had received several death threats as an unperturbed critic of the government then.  Eng. Funsho Williams from Lagos State, and Ayo Daramola from Ekiti State, were PDP gubernatorial aspirants in their respective states before they were killed on July 27, 2006 and August 13, 2006 respectively. Another gubernatorial candidate from Ogun State, Dipo Dina of AC was also murdered on January 25 2010.  Others who have paid the supreme sacrifice for being a politician or party loyalist include Jesse Arukwu, (ACO), Ogbonaya Uche (ANPP), A.K Dkkibo (PDP), Odunayo Omobolanle Olagbaju (AD), Chief Chukwudi Okafor, Modu Fannami Gubio (ANPP), Olatoye Temitope (Sugar) among other.

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Just in the last days of September 2021, Anambra state where a governorship election has been slated for November 6, 2021 witnessed many politically motivated killings. Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwokenagu, a ward chair of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, was killed in Nnobi, near Nnewi, Anambra State. The man was said to be one of the chief campaigners for the APGA gubernatorial candidate, Prof Charles Chukwuma Soludo. In February 2021, Soludo declared to run for the governorship race, but he escaped death on March 31, 2021 when gunmen attacked him. Three of his police escorts were killed. Lately, Dr Chike Akunyili was shot dead along his driver and police escort at Nkpor junction, Anambra State while returning from an event organised by the University of Nigeria Nsukka Alumni Association, UNAA, Onitsha branch in honour of former Information and Communication Minister, and NAFDAC boss, Dora Akunyili who was Chike’s wife. One report said he might have been mistaken for a politician.

In terms of violence, it was reported that between April and May, 2003 when the general elections were conducted, more than 100 people were murdered in election-related violence with other hundreds injured across 20 out of the 36 states in the country. However, an international organisation that specialises in monitoring conflict in Nigeria reported 280 deaths, and over 500 injuries in the eight-week period of elections in Nigeria.

What about the vandalism and burning of campaign offices, cars, and other properties in the name of political rivalry? Such acts have wasted billions of naira. The truth remains that many brilliant, energetic, good-minded politicians and party stalwarts have been eliminated in their prime just like Mr Akinpelu Kayode and Akinpelu Gbadamosi. Should we then continue doing this as a nation in the 21 century? Have we heard of such in developed countries where we brag we are imitating their federalism or form(s) of government?

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The next general elections are expected to be held in 2023, and it will be awesome if we do not experience what we had in the past. This requires appealing and acting against politically motivated killings and violence are parts of the ways to make people like KZ change their minds to participate actively in politics. One sure bet way to achieve that is by using multiple approaches. The National Orientation Agency, the mass media, the state and federal Ministry of Information, and allied ministries should embark on a massive campaign against political killings and violence. The religious leaders should preach love, peace and unity to all.

The state and federal governments should equip the police, DSS, army and the allied agencies with modern tools and train them more on intelligence gathering. The customs should kindly work more and combat arms smuggling into the country. Relatedly, the justice department across the nation should impress Nigerians by making justice prevail no matter who does the nasty deed(s). Importantly, the Nigerian youths need empowerment, employment, sensitization against political violence and killings, and all these should not be acted out promptly. Individuals need to be vigilant, safeguard their neighbours, help the security agencies in their intelligence gathering, and be resolute not to be part of those acting to bring Armageddon down.

 Olumuyiwa A. Kehinde writes from University of Zululand ,South Africa

Aljazirahnews


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