Senate condemns security breaches in Kogi, Bayelsa governorship polls

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• Tasks police on arrest, trial of women leader’s killers
• Reps probe violence as official admits crisis was beyond INEC

The Senate yesterday condemned the violence that rocked the November 16,2019 governorship elections in Kogi And Bayelsa states.

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Without recourse to party leanings, the upper legislative chamber, called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to arrest and prosecute the killers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Women Leader in Kogi, Mrs. Salome Abu.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan stated that no political grouping should be absolved of blame, advising politicians to always enlighten their followers on playing politics as a game of ideas.

The condemnation was sequel to a motion on curbing electoral violence sponsored by George Thompson Sekibo (Rivers East).

Contributing, Senate Minority Leader, Enyinanya Abaribe, said violence was an anathema to a true democrat, noting that democracy was founded on contestation of ideas where the electorate are offered with choices.

He said: “Choices should be reflected on the ballot box, not choices that are now going to be forced on people through violence.”

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Abaribe urged the identification and sanctioning of the perpetrators, stating when nobody is punished for aggression, it could only breeds more impunity.

The lawmaker went on: “So, what we should also add there is that the law enforcement agencies must be up to task.
“The husband of the woman who was killed in Kogi has identified those who killed his wife in that dastardly act but nothing has been done till today.”

He canvassed a legal instrument that criminalises electoral violence nationwide.

In his remarks, Senate Leader Yahaya Abdullahi expressed concern over the orgy of killings during campaigns and elections proper, wondering why the unsavoury development has remained with the country’s body politics since the return of civil rule in 1999.

“The spectre of violence and its attendant consequences is one of the most unhealthiest events in our politics for which I think all politicians irrespective of party affiliations should address,” he added.

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Seikibo had sued that election, an integral part of democratic process that allows the citizenry determine freely who should lead them periodically at every level of government, should be free, fair and peaceful.

In a related development, the House of Representatives has ordered the immediate investigation of the security breaches, including the alleged presence of fake police officers in the two affected states.

Adopting a motion jointly moved by Toby Okechukwu and Solomon Bob at plenary presided over by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, the green chamber resolved to constitute a Joint Committee on Police Affairs, Army, Justice, Electoral Matters and Human Rights to probe the incidents with a view to averting future occurrences.

Okechukwu, while leading debate on the issue, said it beat his imagination that despite the massive deployment of 66,241 security personnel, the elections still witnessed such magnitude of bloodshed.

Also, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Kogi, Prof. James Apam, admitted that the high-scale violence was beyond what the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) could control.

He stated this yesterday in Lokoja at a stakeholders’ meeting ahead of the Kogi West senatorial and Ajaokuta federal constituency reruns holding this weekend.

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