At least 58 Nigerians have so far died in election-related violence ahead of general polls that have been rescheduled for March 28 and April 11, a report released by Nigeria’s human rights body said Friday.
The report on pre-election violence, compiled by the National Human Rights Commission, said that in the past 50 days, 61 incidences of election violence occurred in 22 states with 58 people killed.
The incidences of violence, the commission said, were captured from all the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria.
“The world believes that Nigeria is going to eat itself up because we are going for an election, we must show we can do things differently. We don’t want our election administrators killed, we don’t want our voters killed, and we don’t want our politicians killed,” said Chidi Odinkalu, the chairman of the human rights body, at the presentation of the report Friday.
Mr. Odinkalu said the scale of the 2015 pre-election violence is alarming because Nigeria has never experienced such. He said all electoral officers, security operatives and everyone who would be participating at the elections must be insured.
Presenting the 80-page document, the human rights chief said the footprints of possible election violence are already visible in three states across Nigeria.
The three states are Lagos, with 11 incidences and 22 persons killed; Kaduna with three incidences and nine people killed; and Rivers with one incidence and at least six deaths.
The report will be distributed to the lawmakers, past leaders, party chairpersons, and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Odinkalu said.
The report came a day before the previous schedule of the presidential election. The polls were moved to March by the Independent National Electoral Commission, amid security concerns.
Mr. Odinkalu said the commission will reach out to the two leading presidential candidates — President Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu of the All Progressive Congress – to do an audio recording preaching peace during the election.
“This election is between brothers and sisters; it is not a war. We want to hear the voice of President Jonathan, we want to hear the voice of General Buhari together and this recording will be launched before the elections,” Mr. Odinkalu said.
He said the political leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the APC, Adamu Muazu, and John Oyegun, must give commitments to peace on television stations, social media and through telephones.
Mr. Odinkalu called on politicians, civil society organizations and all Nigerians to support the Independent National Electoral Commission in the discharge of its duties. He said any recommendation should be forwarded to the team in the most professional manner.
Mr. Odinkalu said Nigerians, political leaders and their candidates must learn to disagree and manage their disagreements, adding that by doing so, the people who lost their lives in election violence, will be honoured.
He said the commission through its Election Violence Incidence Centre will be monitoring hate speeches through the election period, calling out parties or candidates who get involved in hate speeches, calling out candidates who do not indulge in sending out messages against violence and also making a report available after the general elections to the general public.
“We want to be fair, but we cannot abdicate; we have no other country except Nigeria. I don’t want on my watch as chair of the NHRC for any Nigerian to end up in the Hague,” he said.