Has the Signing of Peace Accord Curbed Violence?


Despite the signing of the peace accord put together by the National Peace Committee in September 2022 by the various political parties and their candidates, the preparations for the forthcoming general election have continued to  witness assassinations of political opponents, attacks at campaign rallies, destruction of billboards of opposition candidates, denial of political parties venues for their rallies and other acts of violence,  Ejiofor  Alike writes

To ensure the peaceful conduct of political parties, their candidates and supporters before, during and after every general or off-season election, a peace accord was put together by the National Peace Committee (NPC), co-led by a former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd); Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar II; Cardinal John Onayeikan; Bishop Hassan Kukah and other eminent statesmen, shortly before the 2015 general election.

The peace accord, which has become a permanent feature of Nigeria’s electoral process, boosts efforts at ensuring free, fair and credible elections in the country.

Before every general election or off-season governorship election, political parties, and their candidates are mandated to sign this peace accord to commit to a peaceful conduct. Though the signing of this agreement has stopped the signatories from directly promoting acts of violence before, during and after elections, it has not stopped their supporters and agents from unleashing violence on the opposition parties.

 With the caliber of eminent statesmen who put together the accord, party officials and their presidential and governorship candidates who sign the agreement cannot afford to be seen as violating the terms of the accord. But many of these candidates still give subtle backing to their supporters who unleash violence on the rival parties.

Ahead of this year’s general election, 18 political parties vying for elective positions had in September 2022 signed the agreement.

All the chairmen and presidential candidates of the 18 registered political parties signed the peace accord under the guidance of officials of the NPC at a ceremony in Abuja.

However, while the presidential candidates of 17 other political parties  signed the agreement along with the national chairmen of their parties,  the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, was represented by APC vice presidential candidate, Alhaji Kashim Shettima.

Among the political parties and presidential candidates present at the  peace accord signing ceremony were the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, that of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Peter Umeadi; Labour Party, (LP) candidate, Mr. Peter Obi; and the APC candidate, Tinubu, represented by the vice presidential candidate, Shettima.

In his goodwill message at the event, President Muhammadu Buhari had expressed worry at the politicians’ recourse to personal attacks, insults and incitement by politicians in the build-up to their campaigns.

He enjoined all Nigerians, political parties, politicians, security agencies, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and all stakeholders to ensure that Nigeria was placed first above regional and sectional claims.

Despite the signing of the accord, the ongoing preparations for the elections have witnessed assassination of candidates and party leaders, destruction of billboards, attacks on campaign rallies by sponsored hoodlums, denial of opposition parties the venues for their rallies and other acts of violence. While these acts of violence cannot be traced to one political party or candidate, the greatest victims of these atrocities are the political parties that do not control any state in the country.

Though the Abdulsalami-led NPC may not have the statutory power to sanction culprits, it has strong influence to prevail on the appropriate authorities or the highest level of the political authority to initiate criminal proceedings against the violators.

These acts of violence are being perpetrated across the states controlled by the different political parties.

Thugs had earlier this month attacked the convoy of Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State at the state capital while he was returning from the PDP campaign Silame in Wamakko Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.

The attackers reportedly threw stones at the convoy, striking the front windscreen of the governor’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity’s SUV and also piercing the rear screen of the following official SUV of the Permanent Secretary in charge of the governor’s protocol.

In Enugu State controlled by the PDP, for instance, gunmen had in September 2022 attacked members of the LP who were holding a meeting in Awgu community, Awgu Local Government Area of the state.

The gunmen, numbering about four, were said to have stormed the venue of the meeting in three motorcycles and shot sporadically causing the party members to flee.

In October 2022, four gunmen in two motorcycles disrupted another Labour Party’s meeting at Umuida, Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of the state.

They set a car, tricycles and motorcycles ablaze in the process.

The APC-controlled state of Borno also witnessed violence in November 2022 when about 74 persons were allegedly hospitalised, while over 100 vehicles were vandalised as hoodlums from different political parties clashed when Atiku stormed Maiduguri for his campaign rally.

In the APC-controlled Kaduna State, the women leader of the Labour Party in Kaura LGA of the state, Mrs. Victoria Chintex, was gruesomely murdered in November 2022 by gunmen, who invaded her residence in Kaura.

Sponsored hoodlums had in October 2022 invaded and disrupted the PDP rally in the state.

A renowned political economist, Prof. Pat Utomi said landlords in the APC-controlled Lagos State were not renting houses out to LP to use as party offices. 

Utomi, who made this disclosure in an exclusive interview with an online news platform, said, “In Lagos State, you cannot put up a poster. If you want to rent a house, for the Labour Party, the landlord will say he doesn’t want APC people to come and burn down his house. You put up posters, they are torn within minutes.”

Indeed, suspected APC thugs in the Lakowe town area of Lekki had unleashed terror on some Labour Party supporters who were holding a sensitisation rally in the area last month.

Two supporters of Obi had narrowly escaped being lynched at the Oshodi motor park in Lagos, for being in possession of the party’s flags.

In APC’s Imo State, the LP candidate for Onuimo Local Government Area in the state House of Assembly, Mr. Christopher Elewu, was shot dead in his home in December 2022 by suspected assassins.

In Rivers State controlled by the PDP, suspected political thugs had in early December 2022 attacked the residence of Senator Lee Maeba in the GRA, Phase 3 axis of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Maeba, who is a supporter of Atiku, is the chairman of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council in Rivers State.

Atiku has a running battle with the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and the disagreement is believed to be responsible for the attack on the former senator’s residence.

The thugs reportedly destroyed about five cars, including a jeep.

As if the incident was not enough, Wike later sealed the Atiku’s campaign office in Port Harcourt.

Political actors should put pressure on the NPC to check these excesses, otherwise the peace accord will lose its relevance.

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