Abuja – The National Human Rights Commission(NHRC) says no fewer than 58 people have been killed in election- related violence in 22 states from Dec. 3, 2014 to date.
Chairman, Governing Council of the Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, made the revelation on Friday in Abuja while representing a report entitled; ‘’Pre-election Report and Advisory on Violence in Nigeria’s 2015 General Elections’’.
Odinkalu said that within 50 days from Dec. 3, 2014, the commission had confirmed 61 incidences of election violence with the majority of the cases recorded in three key economic and politically significant states.
‘’In Lagos, we have tracked at least 11 incidences producing 22 dead people for each incident, an average of 2 people killed over a span of just 52 days.
‘’In Kaduna State, we have three incidents and nine killings; Rivers has six incidents, including the detonation of explosives and attacks on courts.”
He said; ‘’this degree of pre-election violence is unacceptable, we have seen too much blood and this must be stopped’’.
According to him, if this continues, it will lead the country into more trouble and so this is more than a report, it is an advisory because it calls on all the leaders to rise to the challenge.
He said the political leaders must send a message loud and clear to their teeming supporters that the forthcoming election was not a call to battle but a contest between brothers and sisters.
‘’On March 28 and April 11, Nigeria will for the 5th time in 16 years and the 8th time since independence in 1960, undertake the closest and most competitive election in its 54-year history.
‘’This is an advisory addressed to Nigeria’s leaders, politicians, communities, citizens and friends. It explains why the country must turn the page on a long and worsening history of election violence,’’ the NHRC’s governing council chairman said.
Odinkalu also said that the commission had received 10 petitions for adjudication in relation to election-related violence.
He said that the commission had established an Election Violence incidence Centre (EVIC) to enable it collate information on election violence and seek intervention where necessary or ensure accountability.
According to him, the commission will not hesitate to mention the names of anybody found instigating or perpetrating electoral violence.
‘’If we continue on that trajectory, this report demonstrates that it will not only endanger Nigeria and the human rights of its citizens but the peace and security of an entire region.’’
According to him, if elections are not violence free, we will be inviting the International Criminal Court into the affairs of our country.
He further said that Nigerians must be able to vote in peace, as the right to vote was a human right and citizens, through the exercise of their right, conferred legitimacy on their government.
The Executive Secretary of the commission, Prof. Bem Angwe, had earlier said that the commission was determined to ensure that Nigerians of voting age were able to exercise their franchise in peace.
Angwe had also appealed to Nigerians to support the commission in its determination to ensure that the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians were met. (NAN)