The violence that marred the just concluded rerun parliamentary national and state assembly elections in Rivers state got all Nigerians talking. There have been several criticisms accompanying the exercise form concerned Nigerians, especially those that are not politically affiliated. Naij.com associate editor, Vincent Ehiabhi, in an exclusive interview with Barrister (Dr) Anthony Orunkoya, beamed the search light on some of the crucial factors militating against a peaceful and smooth conduct of election in the country.
Can you introduce yourself so that Nigerians can know you?
I am Barrister (Dr) Anthony Orunkoya, the National President of Movement for Survival of Democracy and Africa President of World Alliance Against Terrorism, Violence and Inhuman Treatment.
What do you think of the violence that accompanied Rivers state rerun elections?
Our groups monitored elections in the past in Nigeria and we took pain to also monitor the recent rerun election in Rivers State. It is really shameful that at this age our politicians and even some electorates allow themselves to be used and subscribe to violence.
Barrister (Dr) Orunkoya Barrister (Dr) Anthony Orunkoya at his apartment during the interview.
Why is there so much violence in the South-South region during elections?
Political public offices or positions are so attractive in Nigeria hence everybody wants to occupy such positions at all cost. The violence that played out in the rerun election in Rivers State is indeed a reflection of the decay in our society. There is high decline in moral value.
Brother now kill brother, sister now sell sister for politics. No more moral conscience. For a little naira youths are ready to kill for politicians who do not care for their future. As a result of the agitation for resource control in past, the Nigeria South-South youths took to arms and many militant groups were formed. These groups were empowered by politicians with arms which they use for smuggling crude oil and protecting their local territories on the high sea even as they agitate for resource control.
Premised on the afore stated, the youths in the South-South region of Nigeria most especially Rivers State have easy access to arms, hence it was easy for them to unleash terror at the behest of their political godfathers.
The leadership of PDP and APC are to be blamed for the violence that characterized the rerun election in Rivers State. The two major political parties threatened violence before the election through their conduct and utterances. By their utterances they prepared the ground for violence.
How can the law effectively curb election violence? I strongly suggest that our criminal code should be strengthened and make political violence felonious offence. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Barrister (Dr) Anthony Orunkoya Barrister (Dr) Anthony Orunkoya revealed what caused Rivers state rerun election violence.
How can the government stop election violence, before, during and after elections?
The federal government security agencies were not proactive enough to checkmate the violence. It is my opinion that political public offices or positions should be made less attractive. The huge salaries and allowances attached to such offices should be cut off.
Those that could not achieve anything in their private lives suddenly become millionaires upon occupying public positions. People are desperate to occupy public office because they see it as easy road to wealth. Politicians who make public statements to incite violence should be banned from politics.
The Nigeria police should be strengthened through recruitment of more officers and proper training most especially in areas of political violence control.
There should be more efforts in educating the people on electoral matters. INEC and other agencies should synergize in that regard. INEC has a department charged with that responsibility but that department is not active. The various federal and state government agencies on public enlightenment need to do more work to educate the electorates.
What is your advice to residents who live in violent prone areas during elections?
I advise those who live in election violence prone areas to be vigilant and report suspicious movement to the police because the police and other security agencies can only work with information. What advice do you have for INEC against subsequent elections? INEC should be neutral in the conduct of election.
Attempt by INEC officials to manipulate election process in favour of a candidate often trigger violent reactions from electorate. INEC should also improve in its planning, logistics and execution of election.
In recent times INEC has displayed ineptitude in execution of elections. INEC officials and sensitive electoral materials often arrive late to the polling units, electoral officers also compromise their positions, election often start late and most electorates’ names are usually not found in voters register.
These seemingly ineptitude on the part of INEC are factors capable of causing electoral violence and to a very large extent also triggered the violence in Rivers State rerun election.
Culled from Naij
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