Thursday, June 8, 2023


The March 18 ‘thugnorship’ election

The March 18 ‘thugnorship’ election
March 20
09:11 2023

Nigerians actually thought the ballot snatching, rigging, and violence that took place during the February 25 presidential election was the biggest of such they will see, little did they know that the governorship and state house of assembly elections of March 18 would take them to another level of mental and psychological prostration.

Nigerians had no idea of the unprecedented malpractices that were to come. They thought the disappointment, the deaths, the disenfranchisement, the disturbances and distortions that happened during the presidential election would be prevented, and hopefully, the voice of the people would be heard, their votes would count and their lives safe. They expected better security this time, and better preparation and arrangement from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), they thought that the BVAS would work well without any excuses, and they looked forward to well-equipped and unbiased police personnel. Little did they know that something bigger, badder than the baddest was in the offing.

Days before the governorship election, there were threats flying from left, right and centre. People were warned to prepare for the worst if they dare to vote their conscience, it has to be what these thugs wanted. Videos of these threats were all over social media. Political leaders were aware, the police were aware, and everyone was aware.

In Abia state, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Tony Otuonye, allegedly threatened persons who stand in the way of his party’s governorship candidate, Okey Ahiwe.


Otuonye is the director-general of the Abia State Signage and Advertising Agency (ABSAA). He was reportedly arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) and nothing was heard again.

In Delta, we saw a video of Barrister Fred Ajudua, from Ibusa in Oshimili North LGA, asking certain voters in the state to stay away from polling units if they won’t vote for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party during the state election. He asked them to either vote for only PDP or not vote at all, attempting to deny them their right of choice.

Also, Musiliu Akinsanya, the Lagos State Parks Management Committee Chairman, also known as MC Oluomo, warned Igbos in the state, and by extension, any other person, who will not vote for the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the sitting governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to stay in their homes and must not come out. Many residents of the state, not just the igbos, saw his statement as a threat to their safety and a potential move to disenfranchise electorates.


As a follow-up to that statement, even though he later played it down, we all saw what happened. As early as 6am on election day, thugs in the form of town criers took to the street to sound the gong of potential danger and announce to residents that if they are not voting for a particular candidate, they should not bother to come out to perform their constitutional right. The thugs warned residents of the consequence that awaits if their orders are disobeyed.

A day before the election, police spokesman Muyiwa Adejobi spoke on Channels TV saying the alleged threat by MC Oluomo was a joke, and that MC Oluomo himself has come out to say it was a joke. Adejobi said since Oluomo has said it was a joke, we should all take it like that, and when we get to the bridge, we will cross it. As disheartening as this statement is, especially coming from the police, it clearly shows how handicapped the police were in this election. As a matter of fact, we all saw how far the MC Oluomo joke actually went on Saturday, and also how the police crossed the bridge when they got there.

Just like Lagos, the threat in Delta did not go without an outcome, there was violence in Evwreni, Ughelli North LGA, as thugs reportedly attacked INEC officials and wounded some youth corps members, destroying about three BVAS and other electoral materials in the area. As if that was not enough, three persons were reportedly shot dead and the house of a former chairman of the local government council, Chief Omene, was set ablaze by political thugs.

In Ebonyi state, a voter, Peter Nweke, was beaten to a coma by armed thugs who invaded the polling unit 10, Ogboji ward in Ezza North LGA. The thugs wielding AK-47 rifles chased voters away and burnt electoral materials. They left many people with injuries and trauma. Also in Enugu, there were reported cases of thugs invading polling units.


In Cross River state, one person, believed to be a member of the APC, was shot dead at Mbube community in Ogoja local government area for causing unrest at a polling unit. Also, thugs numbering over 30 reportedly burnt seven vehicles, which include four buses and three SUVs belonging to the PDP at the Okut-Ikang/Akpap axis of Odukpani local government area of the state.

In neighbouring Akwa Ibom, two persons were reportedly killed when thugs in five white Hilux vehicles stormed the INEC office in Ibiono Ibom LGA on election eve. Thugs also invaded the polling unit at Ntoedino ward 3, unit 005 in Obot Akara LGA where BVAS machines and other election materials sent to the polling unit were destroyed and voters were chased away.

In Rivers state, three persons were feared killed in Ogbakiri Community, Emohua LGA when armed thugs invaded Elibrada community, shooting sporadically. The three were killed after snatching ballot boxes and making an attempt to run away with them. Two other persons were reportedly killed during a heavy shooting at Bori, the headquarters of Khana LGA in the state when voters trooped out en masse to protest alleged irregularities.

Benue state was not left out as one man was shot dead allegedly by soldiers at a polling unit in Gboko South, Gboko local government area after he snatched a ballot box. In Taraba State, BVAS and ballot papers were destroyed by thugs in the Akate ward in Donga local government council. Armed with guns and other dangerous weapons, the thugs shot sporadically and left electorates scampering for safety.


In Busu, Lavun LGA of Niger state, thugs reportedly invaded the Gbadagbadzu polling unit, destroying ballot boxes and scattering the votes already cast. Also, a middle-aged man was shot dead in the Sauka-Kahuta area of Minna.

At ward 8, unit 6 in Eleja, Sagamu area of Ogun state, thugs numbering about ten on motorcycles stormed the polling unit, burnt ballot papers and boxes, attacked voters and left many seriously injured and hospitalised. There were similar reports in Itori-Odo in Abeokuta and Idowa, Ijebu Igbo among others.


With all these happening simultaneously across the country on one election day, many are beginning to agree that Nigeria is practising autocracy where these politicians have absolute power and are not willing to let go of power, the absolute power enjoyed by these politicians gave them the will to use whatever means, peaceful or otherwise to get and retain power. They care less how many lives were cut short, all they care about is to get and hold that position firmly by any means possible.

Shame on these desperate politicians, shame on illiterate young and old men who gave themselves as tools to be used by heartless politicians, shame on INEC for betraying the trust of Nigerians, and shame on security agencies who are handicapped in the face of broad-day-light attacks on citizens they were trained to protect.


What most people know is that politicians used to bribe the electorate to get their votes, they used to give food items and money to buy votes, but today, politicians are more daring, they now openly devise a more dangerous means to get what they want, they threaten electorates in broad-day-light, they use thugs to intimidate, beat up, harm or even kill voters. These thugs are not even afraid of any security personnel, they are not scared of showing their faces on camera, they don’t give a damn what the consequences of their actions are. They leave the electorate in fear, and in the end, they walk freely with no repercussions. This turpitude can only happen in a failed state.

Despite the looming dangers, police did nothing to prevent it, they looked on as Nigerians were attacked, harassed and intimidated. A security agency that saw all the glaring potential danger and threats to the lives of thousands of people, yet what the police said was ‘we will cross the bridge when we got there?’ What else could be more shameful and embarrassing?


Rather than being a day for the governorship and state houses of assembly election, March 18, 2023 would be remembered as a day for thugs’ carnival, a free for all day, a day when the law was suspended and the security agencies went on a holiday of some sort. It was an open day for thuggery, intimidation, harassment, threat and attacks on innocent citizens of Nigeria. It was a day voters were disenfranchised in the open without repercussion, it was indeed a terrible day that will go down in the history of elections in Nigeria.

If Nigeria must work for everybody, then everybody must be willing to make it work, including the thugs, their paymasters, INEC officials, the police, other security agencies, and Nigerians in general. Otherwise, the country may just keep suffering the same fate in the same circle for decades to come.

Israel Ojoko, a writer and content editor, can be reached via [email protected]

Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.


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