Report predicts violent elections, minister allays fears
Lara Adejoro, Ademola Adegbite and Solomon Odeniyi
A report prepared by SBM Intelligence has revealed that there are early signs that the forthcoming general elections will be characterized by violence.
The report came at a time when the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, assured stakeholders that the elections will hold as planned.
The PUNCH reports that the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had on Monday raised the alarm that the elections risk cancellation or postponement if there is no improvement in the security challenges being witnessed across the country.
Yakubu, who was represented by the Chairman of the Board of Electoral Institute, Abdullahi Zuru, at the validation of election security training resources in Abuja, had said, “If the insecurity is not monitored and dealt with decisively, it could ultimately culminate in the cancellation and/or postponement of elections in sufficient constituencies to hinder the declaration of election results and precipitate a constitutional crisis.”
According to the report by SBM Intelligence, no fewer than 57 cases of electoral violence were recorded nationwide between January and December 2022.
It added that at least 27 people were killed while three were abducted during the incidents.
The report partly read, “Between January and December 2022, at least 57 incidents of politically-motivated violence in the country have left about 27 people dead.
“The 2023 general elections take place in about seven weeks. Early signs have shown that the violence that has characterised previous elections is set to beset it, especially because of the current security climate.
“Nigeria faces a plethora of different and sometimes strikingly similar security crises. In the North East, the Boko Haram insurgency rages on, with bigger problems for the military as it now fights a more formidable enemy–the factional Islamic State West Africa Province.
“It is amid these challenges that the elections will hold in February and March.”
The report stressed that there might be a run-off in the federal elections owing to the insecurity in some parts of the country.
It also said that the situation might rub off on the credibility of the election as well as the legal proceedings after the polls.
The Conflict Research Network, West Africa, also hinted the Federal Government and security agencies that terrorism will threaten the forthcoming elections in north-eastern part of the country unless proactive measures are taken.
This was part of the recommendations given at the Conflict Research Network, West Africa Research Colloquium webinar themed: “Nigeria Decides 2023: Conducting Elections in Context of Political Violence and State Fragility.”
While speaking on the topic, “Election amid Terror: Terrorism and the 2023 Elections in Nigeria’s North East”, Babayo Sule of the Department of International Relations, Federal University of Kashere, Gombe State and member of research network, said improved security of lives and property before the elections in northeast will encourage people to come out to vote.
Minister allays fears
Meanwhile, speaking in Abuja at the 17th edition of the present regime’s scorecard series, Mohammed insisted that the elections will hold as planned.
The Information minister said, “Let me use this opportunity to respond to inquiries from the media over a widely circulated report, credited to an INEC official, that the 2023 general elections face a serious threat of cancellation due to insecurity.
“The position of the Federal Government remains that the 2023 elections will be held as planned. Nothing has happened to change that position. We are aware that INEC is working with security agencies to ensure that the elections are successfully held across the country.
“The security agencies have also continued to assure Nigerians that they are working tirelessly to ensure that the elections are held in a peaceful atmosphere. Therefore, there is no cause for alarm.”