As the 2023 general elections draw closer, various intrigues and reactions have trailed party rallies with supporters being attacked in parts of the country. In this report, the Police vowed to deal with sponsors of violence before, during and after the elections.
It should be noted that attacks on campaign rallies of political parties is against the spirit of the peace accord signed by all the political parties, organized by the National Peace Committee, led by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, and the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Sokoto State, Matthew Kukah.
Some Political analysts believe that, most candidates who are in the Presidential or Governorship race now resort to recruiting political thugs and street urchins and using them to attack the supporters of their opponents. This have ostensibly dampened the spirit and morale of party supporters.
In Lagos, Kaduna, Oyo, Enugu, Rivers, Kebbi and Borno States supporters of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Labour Party (LP) have been attacked and or either blamed for sponsoring thugs.
However, in Niger state youths restiveness and other clashes according to analysts might degenerate to political rivalry.
The youths who are politically divided have strong support for their parties but because of the tight security by the Police in Niger State led by the Commissioner of Police, CP Ogundele Ayodeji, they have not had any opportunity to clash.
Recently, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Usman Baba stated at a one-day Stakeholders Summit in Abuja on Addressing the Influence of Money on the 2023 General Election that concerted efforts are being made by the Nigeria Police as the lead Agency in electoral security management to ensure that the 2023 general elections is hitch free.
Baba who was represented by Assistant Inspector General of Police, Operations, Bala Ciroma said already, some political thugs have been arrested and are being prosecuted in courts.
According to him “we will ensure that the Police X-Squad, intelligence officers and investigators are moved to the field during political rallies to identify with precision, persons encouraging and perpetrating violence”.
He added that “the police is ready to deal with sponsors of violence before, during and after the elections”.
In Lagos State, our reporter gathered that, the leading All Progressives Congress (APC) was fingered in sponsoring thugs who are attacking opposition parties and causing mayhem during rallies.
A Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Eti-Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State, Olaniyi Akinyemi was attacked by political thugs allegedly sponsored by the ruling APC.
The attack which occurred close to the Ikota shopping complex saw people scamper for safety as soon as the incident occurred.
It should be recalled that on Tuesday 25th October, three persons were reportedly injured after suspected political thugs attacked the campaign train of the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State, Olajide Adediran, popularly known as Jandor.
When Journalists arrived at the scene, Mr. Olaniyi Akinyemi’s shattered vehicle was still at the scene of the attack.
According to an eyewitness who pleaded anonymity, the attackers blocked Mr. Akinyemi, shattered his vehicle windows, dragged him out and started pouncing on him.
The witness who stated that there were at least three attackers described the fearful incident saying, “the attackers dragged him out of his vehicle and started beating him and stomping on him, and when people began to gather at the scene, they, (attackers) sensing being outnumbered, jumped into their vehicle, and left the scene”.
According to the eyewitness, Mr. Olaniyi Akinyemi who is also the Assistant Secretary of the PDP in Eti-Osa local government area was later rushed to a nearby hospital by a good Samaritan with the help of sympathizers.
Commenting on the incident, Chairman of the PDP, Lagos state, Phillip Aivoji decried the frequent attacks members of the Party have suffered in the hands of the ruling APC and called on security agencies to do more to protect members of the opposition.
Accordingly, he said “we are in the period now where political parties sponsor thugs to attack, intimidate and even murder political opponents, the police should do more to protect members of the opposition parties.
“Politics should not be this bitter, we are being systematically targeted and intimidated into submission and we will not give up. We are ready to take over and free Lagos state from over two decades of misrule by the All Progressives Congress.
“The people are wiser now and are so ready to kick the APC out of Lagos state for good.”
It was reliably gathered that the thugs that attacked the campaign train were shouting APC while shooting sporadically and using dangerous weapons.
The PDP Publicity Secretary in the State, Hakeem Amode, called on the Lagos Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi, Area Commander of Police in the Eti-Osa to do everything possible to fish out those behind the attack.
Also, he confirmed the attack in a statement, saying several members of the party and some journalists sustained injuries.
One of the journalists, he stated, is in critical condition in an undisclosed hospital while those injured are being treated.
In October, after his campaign rally was attacked in Kaduna State, leaving many people injured, the campaign trail of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, was allegedly attacked in Maiduguri in November by suspected thugs, resulting in the hospitalisation of no fewer than 74 persons.
Atiku, who took to his twitter handle, further called on President Muhammadu Buhari to call on all parties to call their supporters and members to order and to ensure that campaigns are safe.
He said, “I have just received emergency reports of attacks on @OfficialPDPNig supporters by thugs sponsored to scuttle the ongoing PDP campaign rally in Kaduna State. This is undemocratic and against the Peace Accord all parties signed up for just a few weeks ago.
In Oyo State, it was alleged that scores of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), members were attacked thereby causing pandemonium.
Confirming the attack in a statement, Yekeen Olaniyi, the media aide to Senator Teslim Folarin, described the attack as the height of lawlessness, brigandage and provocative capable of heightening the tension in the state.
Earlier this month (December), suspected armed thugs in Lakowe town area of Lekki, Lagos it was alleged unleashed terror on some Labour Party supporters who were holding a sensitisation rally in the area at the weekend.
Chairman of the Labour Party in Lagos State, Kayode Salako, has condemned the recent attack and continued intimidation of the party’s supporters. He said, “The Labour Party and Peter Obi’s Campaign Organisation are a democratic movement and no member should be molested”.
In Kebbi State, Labour Party also lamented that thugs attacked and burnt the food vending business of the Woman Leader of its Presidential Campaign Council, Mrs Florence Ibrahim’s in November due to her uncompromising position with the PDP.
Chief Spokesperson of the LP PCC, Yunusa Tanko in a statement in Abuja, on Friday condemned the 25th November 2022 attack on its members in Kebbi State.
Suspected Gunmen numbering about four, two Sundays ago, attacked members of the Labour Party (LP) who were holding a meeting in Awgu Community, Awgu Local Government Area and Umuida, Enugu-Ezike, in the Igbo-Eze North local government area of Enugu State who were set for rally. Enugu State.
In Rivers State, suspected political thugs swooped on a team of supporters of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party leaving three persons including Udochukwu Nwakpala who was allegedly shot and Nnamdi Nwogu, Coordinator of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council in Omuma Local Government Area were reportedly pasting campaign posters in Eberi community seriously injured and currently receiving medical attention in an undisclosed hospital.
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