Elections 2019 Updates

March 7, 2019

Fear of voter apathy heightens in Lagos ahead March 9 polls


All Progressives Congress (APC) party supporters rally as they celebrate the re-election of the incumbent president and the leader of APC, in Kano on February 27, 2019. – Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said his re-election was “free and fair”, after his beaten rival denounced the results as a “sham” and promised a legal challenge that could dominate politics for weeks. The 76-year-old one-time military ruler’s victory was confirmed late on February 26, 2019, after rescheduled polling blamed on logistical difficulties. (Photo AFP)

Lagos – Some eligible voters in Lagos State may shun the March 9, Governorship and State House of Assembly elections due to fear of attack by thugs.

Area Boys fight over the alleged distribution of money for votes at a polling unit in Alagomeji-Yaba in Lagos on February 23, 2019. – Nigerians voted for a new president after a week-long delay that has raised political tempers, sparked conspiracy claims and stoked fears of violence. Some 120,000 polling stations opened from 0700 GMT, although there were delays in the delivery of some materials and deployment of staff. (Photo by STEFAN HEUNIS / AFP)

A cross section of traders at the popular Lagos market, Alaba International, said on Thursday that following the attack on some of their members during the Feb. 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections, they were not likely to participate in Saturday’s elections.

Mr Chima Achike, spokesman of F line in the market, said though majority of them were eligible voters, they would not, however, want to risk their lives for any election.

“Our people were attacked in the last election for expressing their rights to vote for a candidate of their choice by political thugs who perceived that they were voting against their own choice candidates and party.

“Instead of going out to vote on Saturday, our members that I spoke with have expressed indifference about it, citing the Feb. 23 incident as reason,’’ he said.

The traders’ spokesman, who condemned election violence and voter apathy, however, said that there was no general circular from the market leaders and associations for people to stay away, but response and opinion of traders were tending towards political apathy.

In his remark, Mr Augustine Chiduele, an electrical equipment merchant, said that one of his relations escaped being lynched by the whiskers during the national polls.

“Although it was strenuous for me to cast my vote during the Feb. 23 election, now that violence has been added to the whole thing, it is no longer fun to vote,’’ Chiduele said.

NAN reports that the commissioner of police in Lagos State, Mr Zubairu Muazu, had assured all ethnic and law abiding social and economic groups in the state of their safety.

Muazu, however, warned those he described as initiators and distributors of fake news to stop causing unnecessary tension.

He said that the command had provided adequate security for all persons in Lagos State.

“Let me re-emphasise that Lagos State is peaceful and Lagosians are peace-loving people.

“There is no tribe or community under threat in any part of the state. Our patrol and surveillance are intensified.

“We have reviewed and redoubled our strategies to ensure a peaceful conduct of Governorship and State House of Assembly Elections come March 9.

“I call on Lagosians to support the police to serve them better by being vigilant and report any suspicious movement or persons to the police,” Muazu said.

NAN also reports that the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has expressed concern over the low turn-out of voters recorded in the state during the Feb. 23 elections; going by the number of registered voters in the state.

While appealing to people to come out enmass to cast their votes on March 9, Tinubu, however, cautioned against election violence. (NAN)