Following the re-emergence of ethnic-militia groups including the Oodua Peoples Congress, Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra and some ex-militants in the Niger-Delta, a nongovernmental organization has warned of the threats they pose to Nigeria’s general elections.
Cleen Foundation also called for close monitoring of alternate security arrangements by various state governments. It identified the civilian joint task force assisting the Nigerian military in the battle against Boko Haram in the north-east of the country, hunters’ group in Adamawa as examples of such alternate security arrangements to be watched.
Oodua Peoples Congress and the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra have called for the removal of Attahiru Jega, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The groups are believed to be working for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Stating this in the 10th edition of the foundation’s election security threat assessment report, Cleen said the leadership of MEND and OPC had reportedly agreed to work together in the event of any premeditated violence against the South-South and South West during the general election.
“While both MEND and OPC presents significant security risks in the south-south and south west respectively, collaborations between them could generate tension and possibly trigger violent conflict in both zones comprising 12 states,” Cleen said.
It noted that a lack of effective command control structure, a clearly defined membership render the groups helping the military in the North East problematic. It said the absence of a regular code of ethics and guideline regulating their activities had led to frequent complaints about the groups’ alleged abuse of human rights.
It said the groups could possibly align with certain political forces to gain electoral victory while also identifying perceived partisanship of security institutions, electoral manipulation and vote rigging, Boko Haram insurgency as key risk factors for violence and disruption of the elections.
“For instance, it is on record that the Borno state government is funding and kitting the civilian JTF from its inception,” Cleen Foundation said. “The group has been spotted severally in the campaign rallies held by the ruling APC in the state. In Adamawa, local hunters who have fought off the Boko Haram many times may have been supported by both the ruling PDP and the opposition APC especially through assistance received from former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar. In both instance, it is almost impossible that these groups would likely not be partisan during elections especially the March 28 and April 11 polls that are likely to be keenly contested.”
Cleen foundation aslo identied Benue, Nasaarawa, Niger, Plateau, Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Taraba, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Bayesa, Rivers, Delta, Lagos, Ekiti, Oyo Abia and Ebonyi as “red violent hotspots’ during the election and therefore called for adequate security measures in these states.
Hate speech by politicians was also strongly condemned as it urged the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria and the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission to sanction media organizations publishing advertorial with hate speeches while also stressing for the need for strict adherent to the Abuja Accord on violence-free elections.