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Senate condemns election violence

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Senate has condemned the rising spate of election violence in Nigeria and urged the Police to always expeditiously arrest and prosecute perpetrators of electoral violence in the last elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States.

The resolution was passed during its consideration and adoption of a motion of urgent public importance, entitled, “Curbing electoral violence in Nigeria”, sponsored by Senator George Sekibo (PDP Rivers State) during plenary.

The upper legislative chamber also urged the National Orientation Agency, NOA and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to carry out a detailed campaign against electoral violence in subsequent elections in the country.

It further condemned the spate of election related violence in Nigeria, just as it observed a minute silence in honour of all those who lost their lives in the recent electoral violence in Bayelsa and Kogi during the governorship and senatorial elections.

Contributing, the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP Abia South), expressed concerns that the security agencies had not practically arrested those who perpetrated violence in the Bayelsa and Kogi elections, with a view to prosecuting them.

He also noted with concern that the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies were busy dishing out lies and propaganda on the arrest of the killers of the PDP woman leader in Kogi, warning that if nothing was done to the killers, it would encourage others to replicate the act in future.

“Few days ago, elections held and we had also had to go and condemn especially the post elections violence that even led to the burning alive of PDP woman leader in Kogi state, which has led to wide spread condemnation everywhere.

“Resort to violence at every point can never be countenanced by any democrat. The point of democracy is contestation of ideas and then letting the people have the ability to be able to make choices and those choices should be reflected on the ballot box and not choices that will be foisted on the people through violence.

“I have listened very carefully to what the sponsor of the motion, Distinguished Senator George Sekibo, has said. I don’t agree with the last part of the motion which says” let’s just leave the National Orientation Agency and INEC to do something.

“That is not the point; the point is that people have been known and seen to perpetrate violence and nothing has been done to them.

“Once nothing is done to somebody, once nobody pays the price for criminality of this nature, it only creates further violence and so what we should also add there is that the law enforcement agencies must be up to task.

“The husband of the woman that was killed in Kogi has identified those who killed her wife and till today nothing has been done to them; all that we have been hearing is all manner of excuses for that.

“Where there is now a pattern if you don’t curb it through the use of enforcement, you will only see that pattern continue to grow and we would want to urge all the legal instruments that can be used in this country to be able to curb electoral violence today,” he stressed.

Similarly, the Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya (APC Kebbi South), urged for enactment of a law that would effectively help curb electoral violence in the country, tasking politicians to disregard party affiliation and jointly find solution to the problem.

His words: “the issue of electoral violence has been with us for a long time since the emergence of this Republic in 1999. The specter of violence and its attendant consequences is one of the unhealthiest events in the country, and for which I believe that all of us politicians irrespective of the various parties we belong to, have a responsibility to address and to curb, otherwise we will all become victims.

“So, there is the need for us to urge the security agencies to really do their jobs. They should arrest and bring to book the perpetrators of the dastardly act, who are known.

“It is important if the minority leader and myself can come up with a by-partisan bill to look at the punishments for electoral violence, and see how we can raise a law to effectively tackle electoral violence because electoral violence knows no partisanship. All politicians on all sides are guilty.

“This violence started from the beginning of our democratic journey but it’s getting worse by the day. Of course there were pockets of this violence in other republics but there were not as terrible as what we have today. If we don’t curb this phenomenon, it’s going to be dangerous for our country”.

In his remarks, President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, described the motion as timely and very important, saying that no party is free from the blame over electoral violence.

He charged all politicians to turn a new leaf and join in the campaign to enlighten the electorate to come to the understanding that, as well as see politics as a game of ideas.

Lawan also insisted that the security agencies should arrest and bring to justice, all those that caused mayhem in the last polls in Bayelsa and Kogi, arguing that people must pay the price of their actions.

“The Minority Leader and the Senate leader spoke the minds of all of us here. No party is free from this blame, and it is for us politicians to continue to enlighten our people to face politics as a game of ideas.

“I believe that those who perpetrated violence especially in the last elections in Bayelsa and Kogi should be apprehended and prosecuted. I believe that this is the way to go; people should pay the price of their actions”, he said.

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