Nigeria has recorded no fewer than 315 cases of electoral violence between January 2014 and May 2022.
The incidents led to the killing of at least 350 persons, including state actors and politicians. During the period under review, no fewer than 51 persons, mainly Independent National Electoral Commission officials and ad-hoc members of staff, were kidnapped.
The Technical Lead of Managing Conflict in Nigeria, a European Union-funded programme, Prof Ukoha Ukiwo, disclosed these at a virtual colloquium by Conflict Research Network West Africa, themed, ‘Conducting elections in the context of political violence and state fragility,’ on Saturday.
Ukiwo said, “There have been 315 incidents of violence related to elections that occurred in 34 states in 2014 and May 2022. 350 persons were killed- 21 state actors; 325 civilians and 4 politicians. Also, 51 persons, mostly INEC officials and ad hoc members of staff, have been kidnapped.”
According to him, from the trends monitored by his organisation, there have been connections between armed violence and political violence in the country since 1999.
He added, “It is clear that there is some kind of connection between mobilisation of armed groups and violence particularly linked to election circles. Starting from the violence perpetrated by members of the Odua Peoples’ Congress, an ethnic militia group, before and after the 1999 elections, the electoral-related violence by the Niger delta militants in the 2003, 2007, and 2011 elections, vigilante groups in the South-East in 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections, JAS and ISWAP in North-East Nigeria in the 2015 and 2019 elections and the unknown gunmen in the South-East since 2021.
“All these are pointers to the fact that conflict by groups with political agenda against the state has always set the tone for electoral violence in Nigeria.”
The Director, CORN West Africa, Tarila Ebiede, said the country could not go into a crucial election with the different forms of insecurity being witnessed. He, therefore, urged the authorities to swiftly put in place measures to curb violence, before, during, and after the election to prevent the country from being plunged into a deep insecurity challenge.