By Bolaji Buhari
#TrackNigeria: A group, Coalition Against Electoral Violence (CAEV), has called on the relevant authorities to ensure that perpetrators of violence in the general elections are punished.
The Convener of the group, Mr Olufemi Lawson made the call at a news conference on Wednesday in Lagos.
The news conference was called by the coalition in conjunction with Save Bayelsa Group and Save Niger Delta Group.
Lawson said electoral violence was inimical to the growth of democracy as it undermined the conduct of credible polls.
He said that electoral violence was a threat to lives, urging the Federal Government and relevant agencies to deal decisively with offenders to serve as deterrence.
The convener described the violence that had characterised political campaign rallies ahead of the general elections as disturbing.
Lawson said the killings and destruction that had marked some political gatherings in the country lately signalled that some people might be out for trouble in the elections.
He urged the relevant authorities to take proactive steps to stop such people from causing mayhem during the elections.
“This clarion call becomes inevitable at this point, as we have come to the realisation, that elections should no longer be seen as wars, and that whoever engages in the destruction of properties and lives of our people, during the election period, is made to bear the consequences of his or her actions,’’ the convener said.
Lawson said the coalition had analysed security situation in Bayelsa State ahead of the elections and that there was the need to tame the “storm waiting to be unleashed on the people “.
He said the state had always witnessed electoral violence perpetrated by some elements and sponsored by unscrupulous politicians.
Lawson pointed out that residents in the state would not forget in a hurry the unimaginable level of violence unleashed on the state by such people in the last governorship election.
He emphasised the need for a proactive action to avert a repeat, regretting that perpetrators of the violence had yet to be made accountable for their actions.
The convener said that during the last elections, the world witnessed an unimaginable height of violence unleashed on the innocent people of the state, leading to deaths, with properties of immeasurable value destroyed.
“Aftermath of that ugly event, our coalition took it upon itself to embark on a post-election assessment of the situation which eventually led to the production of our detailed report on the mayhem.
“To our utmost disappointment, nearly three years after the report was submitted to the relevant authorities, none of them has taken it upon itself to act on the report, which detailed atrocities and extreme rights violations in the election,’’ he said.
The convener said the report captured audio and visual recordings and testimonies of the victims of the violence in Southern Ijaw Local Government and other parts of the state.
Lawson said there was the need to revisit the report and punish culpable persons to serve as deterrence, and save the state violence in the coming elections.
Also, speaking, Secretary of the Coalition, Mr Isaac Atani, urged people of Bayelsa and indeed all citizens to steer clear of violence in the coming elections.
Atani urged them not be used by desperate politicians to destroy their future and that of others. (NAN)