The armed security forces of Nigeria are likely to face some severe sanctions from the United Nations bordering on issues of extra-judicial killings during the February 23, Presidential and National Assembly elections. But, that will depend on an independent investigation by the world body.
The legal team of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is already perfecting a damning petition to that effect to the UN and other global democratic institutions on the role of the military and the killings of citizens during peace time.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, made this known in Abuja as Benue State continued to bleed from attacks by herdsmen. The latest took place in Agage community of Gwer West Local Government Area of the troubled PDP state where over 16 persons were feared dead.
Special Adviser to the state governor on Security, Paul Hemba, a retired Army Colonel, who confirmed this said that information from the Local Government Chairman, Francis Ayaga, indicated that 16 farmers were killed in the undying mayhem in the state by herdsmen.
According to Hembe, the police could only account for seven bodies after visiting the scene of the attack.
However, farming communities in parts of Benue have in recent times come under attack by the rampaging herdsmen, leading to the loss of many lives and destruction of properties, forcing thousands of residents to seek refuge in internally displaced people’s camps in the state capital, Maiduguri, and surrounding towns.
Though the attacks seemed to have been brought under control, especially towards the end of 2018, following the deployment of a military task force, Operation Whirl Stroke to the area, there are reports of renewed attacks in some areas, including Logo, Guma, Gwer West and Agatu Local Government Areas with some of the attackers alleged to be in military uniform.
Some two weeks ago, 17 people were reported to have been killed in Agatu council, which the state government condemned. The media aide to the governor, Terver Akase, had said that the attack came shortly after Governor Samuel Ortom raised an alarm that ‘’some persons for political reasons were planning to unleash armed herdsmen on innocent Benue people, to create fear in the people for political gains.’’
Commander of the Operation Whirl Stroke, Adeyemi Yekini, a Major General, also confirmed the attack but could not state the casualty figure.
In the mean time, Ologbondiyan who is still claiming that the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, won the election, alleging that his mandate was ‘’stolen’’ with the aide of soldiers, pointed out that the national caucus of the party has resolved to support Atiku in his resolve to contest the declaration of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari, by the Independent National Electoral Commission as the winner of the election at the tribunal.
According to him, ‘’Caucus commended Nigerians for refusing the harassment, intimidation and militarisation of the electoral process and participating in the elections but noted that the mandate that was freely given to our candidate was stolen and as such the party and the candidate jointly resolved to go to the tribunal and to see it through to the end of what is permissible within our legal system to get back our mandate on behalf of Nigerians.
‘’Caucus further noted the role of the military in the February 23 elections and resolved that we will report the action of the military through a petition to the United Nations as well as other global democratic institutions on the role of our military in the February 23 elections.
‘’Caucus also reviewed the situation in Kano State particularly as it concerned the court decision that the PDP should organise a fresh rerun for its governorship candidate and noted that an appeal had been filed against the judgement and we will continue to study and follow the situation as they arise.’’
While alleging that the Buhari presidency and the APC had been intimidating Atiku, his acquaintances and personal lawyer, he added that the South-South geopolitical zone had been militarised because APC was allegedly plotting to rig the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections.
Continuing, he said, ‘’Caucus further raised issues about the harassment, intimidation and the cajoling of our members on the plot by the Buhari presidency as well as the APC to intimidate Atiku and the resolve of the PDP to go to court by insisting, blackmailing and saying that he should not go to court. We insist that our party and our candidate have resolved to seek legal redress on the stolen mandate.’’
PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, has already said that if the UN and other relevant world bodies failed to sanction the military, there might be no elections again in the country.
Secondus who was speaking during the opening session of the caucus meeting, raised the alarm that there might be no election in 2023 if the military continued to participate during elections as they were allegedly used during the February 23 elections.
He said the alleged involvement of the military in the elections was undemocratic and unconstitutional, pointing out that the PDP was committed to going to the tribunal to contest the purported electoral victory of President Buhari.
While urging INEC to ensure that this Saturday’s elections were free, fair, transparent and credible, he said, ‘’it is surprising that the National Peace Committee had allegedly kept silence over the alleged intimidation and harassment of Atiku, his acquaintances and some PDP stalwarts.
‘’On February 23, 2019, how will history judge you (Buhari)? How will the next generation judge you? In fact, there may not be election in 2023, it may just be announcement because if you have the military on your side, you do not need the people, you do not need to campaign. All you need to do is to put the figure on election day and announce. Is that what is going to happen again on March 9?
‘’We appeal to the authorities especially our professional military men and women that this has never happened before. They must have a rethink. If they want to participate in politics, they are free to do so. I think it happened in Thailand where the military and civilians can contest and share offices. If our constitution is changed to contain that, it is a happy development but whereas the constitution says they are not part and parcel of the process, is that what is going to happen on March 9?
‘’The son-in-law to our presidential candidate was arrested without justification; he has been detained and has not been released (there were indications that he has been released). His personal lawyer has been detained and the leaders of our country are keeping quiet; the Peace Committee is keeping quiet. Everyone here is keeping quiet.’’
Apparently unshaken, the Presidency has been saying that there is no cause to worry that they are ever ready to meet Atiku and the PDP in court to defend the outcome of the February 23 presidential poll.
APC had similarly said last Thursday that she was ready for Atiku and will meet him in court to defend the results of the poll.
A factional National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, had while reacting to Atiku’s threat, said the APC was ready for him, insisting that Buhari defeated the PDP standard bearer clearly, and that INEC could not have acted otherwise by declaring the President the winner of the poll.