The SING Foundation wishes to express the gravest concerns over reports of violence being meted on certain political figures in the Niger Delta by security agencies. It will be recalled that we had called attention of the entire world to the ominous trends we had seen in the region and the dangers it portends for the continued corporate existence of Nigeria as a united entity.Our observers in the field, during the presidential elections of 23rd February, 2019, brought toour notice the unusually high presence of military personnel in the Niger Delta and the palpable fear this generated among the people. Our observers also reported that some military personnel provided cover for thugs and mercenaries to foment violence, hijack election materials and prevent voters from exercising their franchise in many parts of Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states. The media in the last few days has been flooded with images of the people of Abonnema, in Akuku Toru Local Government area of Rivers state fleeing for fear of attacks by soldiers.The SING Foundation can also confirm the invasion of the homes of some notable politicians in in Omuma, Gokana, Ikwerre and other Local Government Areas in Rivers State on the night of Thursday 7th March 2019, just less than 48hours to the Gubernatorial and State Assemblies elections by Men of the Nigerian Army. The News of the invasion and the manner with which the operations were carried out is already causing fears among the people living in those communities on their safety during the elections on Saturday.It is worrying that the security agencies have chosen to act in a brazen manner to unleash violence against the very citizens whose taxes keep them running. While we do not in any shape or form discountenance the importance of security and law enforcement in a society, we are worried that the rules of engagement do not point towards a desire to deliver justice in a professional, open and transparent manner that is above board.We condemn this new normal in its entirety and call for immediate withdrawal of military personnel from security functions that are purely policing ones. We condemn the silence of the Federal Government over the avoidable loss of lives in these elections and their failure to reassure the survivors of their safety or even to provide relief for those who have suffered losses. The Federal Government has shown itself to be unbothered about the sanctity of citizens exercising their rights as enshrined by the constitution they swore to defend.
Democracies are sustained by popular participation and the poor number of voters that come out to participate ought to be a source of concern to a nation that is confronted with a number of security challenges such as kidnapping, insurgency, terrorism and banditry among others that have left our country with a lot of ungoverned spaces. We call on the politicians to be on notice that no attempt to prevent the people from exercising their freedoms overtime can become the norm and there are historical references to support this position.We are concerned that institutions of state, which ought to display an unequivocal neutrality, have come to bear the semblance of instruments in the hands of government officials. This is also a call to the international community who cannot afford to stand aloof at a time such as this, but must begin to explore diplomatic and international legal options to deploy against those who seek to unleash violence against the hospitable and peace loving people of Nigeria, especially in the oil rich Niger Delta.
Idris-Etanami UsmanExecutive DirectorThe SING Foundation
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