Human Rights Watch (HRW) has on Monday revealed a report concerning the 2019 presidential election that brought President Muhammadu Buhari back into office for his second term as Nigeria’s President.
The HRW report comes in few months after Buhari (APC) defeated his closest counterpart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar in the presidential elections.
Naija News understands that the HRW in its report revealed that the elections were marred by political violence, some of it by soldiers and police officers.
HRW in its report released on its website called on Buhari to take concrete steps to address the widespread political violence.
The report noted that the election period included persistent attacks by factions of Boko Haram terrorist group in the northeast.
In part, the statement noted as thus: “The national and state elections in February, March, and April 2019 contributed to the general insecurity across the country. The politically related violence reported in many states was in contrast to the relatively peaceful 2015 elections that brought Buhari into his first term in office. According to a report by SBM Intelligence, which monitors sociopolitical and economic developments in Nigeria, 626 people were killed during the 2019 election cycle, starting with campaigns in 2018.
“Kano state, in northwestern Nigeria, has the highest number of registered voters in the country. Rivers state, in the Niger Delta, receives the largest share of crude-oil-based national revenue, representing significant electoral value to any political party. The history of elections in both states is replete with violence by state security agencies and criminal elements.
“Human Rights Watch focused its research on both states in view of projections and reports of violence during the 2019 elections. Despite police claims of increased security measures to ensure peaceful voting, there seems to have been little or no police response to reports of threats and acts of violence by hired political thugs and soldiers against voters and election officials, Human Rights Watch found.
“Voters and election officials said that policemen either fled or stood idly by, fueling allegations of complicity, as perpetrators stole election materials, disrupted voting, and harassed voters. Witnesses said that the police also shot live rounds of ammunition and used teargas to disperse people protesting voting disruptions.
“Witnesses said that after a soldier was killed in the town of Abonnema, in Rivers state, on election day, soldiers shot at residents, killing an unknown number of people. They also carried out sweeping arrests and arbitrarily detained several people.”
“The soldiers were on a rampage, shooting at anyone around,” said a 37-year-old man who witnessed the episode. “As I made my way to flee, I saw people dive into the river, many with gunshot wounds. The next day I saw three dead bodies riddled with bullets floating in the water… I heard many more bodies were later recovered from that river.”