In this report, we examine the spectre of violence which greeted the 2011 general elections and how some innocent Nigerians, including members of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, who were drafted to assist the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in the conduct of the elections, lost their lives.
When the brother to Governor Modu Sheriff of Borno State, Goni Mustapha Sheriff, was killed by members of the Boko Haram, just before the elections, Nigerians thought the worst had come. Sheriff was of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and the election was going to be no more than a coronation for him. This is a state where ANPP has held sway since 1999.
He was hacked down. ANPP, all but insinuated that the killing was done by agents of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, even after Boko Haram leaders claimed responsibility. Welcome to political assassination pre-2011 elections. This was late last year. But the worst was yet to come.
In March, when violence made a downward transit from Borno State in the North-East geo-political zone to Akwa Ibom State in the South-South geo-political zone, the spectre of violence became magnified.
In less than three hours, 200 new vehicles along with about 500 motorised tricycles were burnt. This was a reprisal attack for a rumoured killing of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, gubernatorial candidate in the state. Lives were also lost.
Then, ACN members in Ogun State decided to turn against one another. In a clash of individuals over nomination processes which some considered unfair, thugs invaded the party secretariat in Abeokuta, the state capital, to vent their spleen. It was so bad that the SSS in Ogun had to compile a list of politicians who were requested to sign an undertaking that there would be peace in the state
And, if Nigerians thought they had seen the worst, more shocking acts were to play out immediately after the presidential election of April 16, 2011: The killing of innocent Nigerians by rioters in some states of northern Nigeria, especially members of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, who were drafted to assist the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The corps members were butchered like animals by rioters. They have since become known as the ‘NYSC 10’. The 10 corps members are Adewumi Paul (Ekiti), Okeoma Okechukwu Chibudom (Imo), Ukazeone Amsalem Chukwunonyere (Imo), Olawale Tosin (Kogi), Akonye Ibrahim Sule (Kogi), Gbenjo Ebenezar Ayotunde (Osun), Adeniyi Kehinde Jelil (Osun), Anyanwu Agnes (Imo), Okpokori Obina (Imo) and Adohe Elliot (Bayelsa).
One of the 10 families included a widow, Mrs Tessy Adowei, and four children of the late Mr Adowei Elliot, from Bayelsa State.
President Jonathan has since compensated the family members. When the family members visited Aso Rock Presidential Villa on Tuesday, May 10, Jonathan said: “In demonstration of our gratitude for the supreme sacrifice that they have paid in the service of Nigeria, I have decided that each of the 10 families of these gallant young men and women will receive a token monetary compensation of N5 million.
In addition, each of the families which has an unemployed graduate who is a direct sibling of the deceased could forward the names of such persons to the Director-General for processing for automatic employment in the Federal Civil Service. With regard to those who suffered varying degrees of injuries, additional to my earlier directive that the State Governments take charge of their medical bills, the Federal Government hereby guarantees each of them automatic employment on completion of their National Service.
But these gestures are not meant to compensate for the lives lost or for disabilities suffered. They are our way of demonstrating the nation’s appreciation for the great sacrifice which these young patriots have made in the national cause”.
The killing of innocent Nigerians followed the pattern of declared results of the presidential election which pointed to the possible victory of the incumbent president against Muhammadu Buhari of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC. In Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Adamawa and Taraba States, mayhem was unleashed leading to the deaths of innocent citizens.