In the ongoing Nigeria elections, there have been reports of various incidents of violence and malpractice. Two recent incidents in Lagos highlight some of the challenges faced by voters and the authorities in ensuring a fair and peaceful electoral process.
Firstly, a party agent was arrested in the Oshodi area of Lagos with a large sum of money – N3.2 million in cash. According to reports, military personnel on patrol had received a distress call about voter harassment by thugs and were en route to investigate when they intercepted some individuals at a polling unit. One of the party agents was carrying a bag that caught the attention of the military personnel, who demanded to know its contents. After some hesitation, the agent opened the bag to reveal a large amount of cash in naira notes. The agent’s identity has been withheld.
Secondly, a woman who identified herself as a ward leader in the Ejigbo area of Lagos was arrested along with a herbalist on the Isolo/Egbe road. Military personnel received a distress call reporting a voter whose skull had been broken by a thug, and while attending to another call at the Borokini hall on the same axis, they flagged down a tricycle with three passengers. The woman claimed she was on her way to her ward in Ejigbo, while the other two passengers said they were going to vote. However, when the two men were searched, one of them was found to be wearing knitted charms around his waist. Upon further inquiry, the woman admitted to hiring the services of the herbalist and the other passenger to accompany her to her ward. All three were taken into custody by the military.
These incidents highlight the challenges faced by authorities and voters in ensuring free and fair elections in Nigeria. The use of cash and other forms of inducements to influence voters is a common practice in many parts of the country, and the presence of thugs and other violent elements can intimidate voters and disrupt the electoral process. The use of charms and other forms of spiritual protection by some voters also adds another layer of complexity to the situation.
The authorities have a responsibility to ensure that the elections are conducted in a peaceful and fair manner, and to take decisive action against any individuals or groups who engage in malpractice or violence. Voters also have a role to play in upholding the integrity of the electoral process by refusing to be swayed by inducements or threats, and by reporting any incidents of malpractice or violence to the relevant authorities. Only by working together can Nigerians ensure that their democracy is strong, vibrant, and truly representative of the people’s will.