Ijaw group urges security agencies to curb political violence in Rivers
Benjamin Okaba, president of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), has decried the eruption of political violence in parts of Rivers as campaigns for the February 25 and March 11 general elections hot up.
The Ijaw socio-cultural group called on security agencies to halt the electoral violence in the state and arrest and prosecute the perpetrators before the growing insecurity gets out of hand ahead of the polls.
“We also urge the federal and state security agencies to immediately curtail these dastardly acts from escalating to a free for all and total anarchy,” he said.
Mr Okaba added, “They should also investigate the incidents of political violence and destruction that had been recorded in different parts of Rivers State so far with a view to prosecuting the perpetrators and sponsors if any.”
Mr Okaba made the call while briefing journalists at the Ijaw House, Yenagoa, on “the disturbing violent incidents in some parts of Ijaw land, particularly in Rivers State”.
“Some of these acts of violence have been targeted at individuals with a view to snuffing life out of them, while others have sustained varying degrees of injuries and properties destroyed,” he said.
Mr Okaba listed the Accord Party governorship candidate, Dumo Lulu-Briggs, and his Social Democratic Party (SDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) counterparts, Magnus Abe and Tonye Cole, as victims of recent violent attacks by armed political thugs in different parts of Rivers in recent times.
He said reports indicated that the campaign trains of these governorship flag-bearers had been brutally ambushed and their political rallies violently disrupted, with some narrowly escaping death.
Mr Okaba described the incidents as worrisome and maintained that all eligible candidates could seek the electorate’s votes.
Mr Okaba noted that INC strongly condemns these severe acts of electoral violence perpetrated in Rivers, describing them as barbaric, unacceptable, reprehensible, inhuman and anti-democratic.
“The INC reiterates that no part of the Ijaw territory will be made a killing field and battleground for shedding of blood by desperate politicians who want to swim in the blood of Ijaw people to ascend to power.
“We advise the Rivers State Government to wake up to its sacred responsibility and play its constitutional role of protecting all lives and property, including those in the opposition party.
“It is a constitutional obligation the government cannot and should not shy away from. Rivers State and, indeed, Ijaw land deserve peace before, during and after the 2023 elections.”
The Ijaw leader also advised all candidates contesting the forthcoming elections at all levels to play by the rules of the game and shun acts inimical to a decent electoral process, stressing that “election is not war, and it is not won by hook or crook.”