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Group Raises Alarm Over Spates of Political Violence In South East Nigeria.

By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja

The Incident Centre for Election Atrocities (ICEA) has raised concern over the rising cases of political violence particularly in South-East Nigeria as well as other parts of the nation’s demography.

The Group in its monthly tracking of hate speech and election atrocities in Nigeria, for January 2023 stated that the political violence in Nigeria, particularly in the southeast, is a cause for concern and is largely under-reported.

“The Pre-election incidents, such as the destruction of INEC facilities, are likely deliberate attempts by desperate politicians to instill fear and disrupt the elections. The government needs to take steps to address the increasing wave of insecurity, protect the public and ensure the integrity of the 2023 general elections”

Recalling attacks on Politicians and other Politically Exposed Persons, the Report recalled that a bomb had hit the convoy of a former Governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim on January 2, causing the death of three police officers and a paramilitary official. on January 8, 2023, Hon. Sunkanmi Obisesan, the Chief of Staff to the Osun State Speaker was attacked by gunmen in Ifofin, Ilesa. On the same January 8, gunmen attacked the APC Presidential Campaign office in Ilesa, Osun, it added

The Report added that a former Edo State House of Assembly member, Festus Edughele was abducted in Edo State on January 9, 2023, Gunmen bombed Ihiala Local Government Headquarters in Anambra State which housed the administrative block of the council, INEC office, Health Office department, NYSC, Education department and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Office   on January 12, 2023 resulting in the death of three people.

Gunmen attacked the residence of the spokesperson of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) in Imo State on January 14, 2023, killing four people. A wife and 6 children of the District Head of Mutumbiyu, Sani Muhammad, a second-class chief in Jalingo, Taraba state were abducted at their home on January 19, 2023, the Report added

Mr. Sale Yakubu, a Councillor in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State was killed on January 19, 2023, by a yet-to-be identified gunman.

The month of January saw numerous attacks on politically exposed individuals, with at least 15 abductions (including 1 Police Officer) and at least 30 killings (including 11 security personnel) excluding security agents. There were also at least 6 attacks at political campaign rallies.

A Catholic Priest, the Catechist of St. Monica Catholic Church, Ikulu-Pari, Kefas Ishaya in Chawai Chiefdom of Kauru, Kaduna was abducted on January 19, 2023, in an attempted attack on Rev Fr Joseph Shekari, who was not in his residence at the time of the attack.

They further recalled a twin explosion that rocked the campaign rally of the APC at the Rumuwoji Playground in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on January 19, 2023. Further noting that one person was killed and many others injured when gunmen invaded a rally organized by the PDP at Ward 7 Ewu community in Esan Central LGA, Edo on January 20, 2023, among several others, the Report revealed

The ICEA noted that as the 2023 elections approached, political tensions are rising and leading to verbal confrontations and violence. The spokespersons of the Presidential Candidate of the All-Progressive Congress (APC) and that of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were engaged in a heated exchange, and their followers and supporters took the verbal war to social media.

There were accusations and counteraccusations between the Governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Senator Magnus Abe, and the Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Nyesom Wike.

Furthermore, supporters of two political leaders, Hon Ferdinand Dozie Nwankwo of APGA and Senator Uche Ekwunife of PDP, were involved in a physical altercation on January 7, 2023, which highlights how the heated language of the political elites is inciting violence between their supporters.

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