626 killed during 2019 Nigeria elections — Report

Voters queuing to cast their votes at ward 102, Adereti, Olode village, during the Osun State Governorship Re-run Election on Thursday (27/9/18). 05168/27/9/18/Timothy Adeogodiran/ICE/NAN
FILE PHOTO: Voters queuing to cast their votes at ward 102, Adereti, Olode village, during the Osun State Governorship Re-run Election on Thursday (27/9/18). 05168/27/9/18/Timothy Adeogodiran/ICE/NAN

An estimated 626 persons were killed across Nigeria in the six months between the start of the election campaign and the commencement of the general and supplementary elections, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room has said.

The electioneering campaigns began in October 2018 while the last of the elections were held in March.

The Coalition observer group disclosed this on Tuesday at the released of its final report on the 2019 general election in Abuja.

The group said the number increased compared to the 106 killed in the 2015 general elections.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 23, while governorship and state assembly elections were held on March 9.

Supplementary elections in five states were also held in March.

The organisation in its report on the elections listed the numbers of deaths per the six geopolitical zones in the country.

”Situation Room is deeply worried about the spike in politically motivated killings in the period leading up to the elections,

”At least, 626 people were said to have been killed between the start of the campaign in October 2018 and the final election in March 2019, ” the coalition observer group said.

According to the report, the North-west region recorded the highest number of deaths with 172 killed during the elections, while the North-east followed with 146 fatalities.

Also, the report revealed that the South-south and North-central had 120 and 111 fatalities respectively.

Sixty-three people were killed in the South-west, while 14 were killed in the South-east.

The organisation also revealed that Benue, Borno, Kaduna, Rivers, and Zamfara led with the highest casualties during the elections.

PREMIUM TIMES had reported election violence in states like Benue, Ebonyi, Imo, Lagos, Kano, Rivers and Akwa Ibom.

Only a few of the perpetrators of the violence were arrested by security agencies who seemed overwhelmed.

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Rivers State has been notorious for electoral violence since 2011. There were also reported attacks on National Youth Corps Service members in Etche local government. the casualty included soldiers who engaged in shootouts with armed political thugs.

According to a report by the Rivers Commission of Inquiry, a monthly average of 19 killings occurred in the state in election violence between November 2014 and April 2015.

The commission instituted by Chibuike Amaechi, the former Rivers State governor, noted that out of the 97 allegations of killings it received, 94 of them occurred between November 15, 2014, and April 11, 2015.

Apart from killings that occurred during the 2019 polls, there were also many incidents of ballot box snatching, assaults, abductions, and harassment.

Also, the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) in its 2019 election report published on PREMIUM TIMES in June, said about 150 people were killed in election-related violence in different parts of the country.

”The elections became increasingly marred by violence and intimidation. This harmed the integrity of the electoral process and may deter future participation.

”Around 150 people died in election-related violence during the campaign period and over the election days. INEC reported attacks on its offices, and also fatalities, abductions and sexual assault against its officials.” the EU report stated.

The report said besides the number of killings, the elections at both the federal and state levels witnessed problems such as thuggery, rigging and vote-buying. While the federal elections witnessed a voter turnout of 35.6 per cent, the state-level elections saw an even lower turnout.

“The inability of the political parties to play by the books contributed in no small way to heating up the polity during the elections,” it said.

The organisation, however, suggested that INEC and security agencies should ensure accountability for acts inimical to the integrity and credibility of the polls especially individuals complicit in the burning of INEC offices, election materials, snatching of ballot boxes and other electoral offences.

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