Friday, March 27, 2015 9:55 am
THE National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has again expressed concerns over the increasing spate of violence stemming from the current political situation of the country as well as the desperation of some major political actors.
Chidi Odinkalu, the chairman of the NHRC, at a press conference in Abuja, said the visit of the commission to states like Lagos, Kaduna and Rivers showed a frightening level of violence that must be immediately resolved for peaceful elections.
The NHRC in its 13 February pre-election violence report and advisory earlier showed that 58 pre-election killings had occurred at that period. were recorded.
Since then, Odinkalu said the number of pre-election violence and complaints had increased from 10 to 30 adding that this was partly as a result of the resort to self-help by major political actors.
He lamented that the commission’s finding showed that some politicians deliberately arm and empowerment ethnic militias and gangs and that this had increased importation and utilisation of small arms and light weapons; increased substance abuse and psychotropic substances, among others.
“Visits to the states confirmed the assessments in the report and advisory. Certain patterns were very evident from these locations, which predispose them to a potential for significant election-related violence.
“In Kaduna, Lagos and Rivers states, the state governments made allegations of the use of violence or threats of violence as an instrument of coercion by the opposition party in the state.
“All the institutions, entities and communities whom we consulted with affirmed that hate speech was at unprecedented levels and nearly all warned that the level of such hate now presents a clear threat to national cohesion, irrespective of the outcome of the elections.
“In Rivers and Kaduna, in particular, we received very credible indications that PVCS may have been “bought wholesale” by politicians or communities and indications that the practice of ‘community voting’ could seriously endanger both plans for credible elections and the safety of staff engaged to organise or administer them.
“These are on a level that must be taken seriously by both INEC and the security agencies.
“In all the locations, the parties suggest that the accords signed between the parties to promote issued-based campaigning and refrain from violence had broken down almost irretrievably. There is mutual suspicion and lack of good faith between the parties,” he said while calling on candidates to refrain from sponsoring election violence.