Editorial: The PHALGA constituency 3 bye-election violence is a poor rehearsal for 2019

When terrifying footages of the violence that characterized the now suspended August 18 PHALGA Constituency 3 Bye-election began trickling in on social media, commenters felt they were jokes.

Earlier on, two hours before the now infamous videos made their ways into our consciousness, a theportcitynews correspondent had reported of shootings at various polling units in Mile 1 involving security personnel attached to some political heavyweights.

Although movements were restricted, these politicians found their way around, aided by security agents and moved from one polling unit to another, disrupting electoral processes, contravening the promise made by the state’s commissioner of police that the police will remain neutral during the exercise and ensure maximum security of voters. They failed.

While theportcitynews considers the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to suspend the bye-election wise, it will be wiser if the culprits in this electoral malpractices are brought to book and sanctioned in accordance with the law of the land, unless perhaps, Nigeria has become a lawless country where anything goes.

Theportcitynews equally considers the accusations and counter-accusations from both the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressive Congress, APC as diversionary. This is due to the fact that what transpired during the bye-election was nothing but a poor rehearsal for the 2019 and should not be allowed to stand.

It is a poorly written script that mirrors into what will eventually play out in 2019. The All Progressive Congress in a broadcast, blamed the state government and INEC for colluding to rig the bye-election hours after INEC had described the election as shameful.

The PDP was not left out in the blame game as the party in a statement, said that the police colluded with the APC to subvert the will of the people.

In all the blame game, there seems to be no call for an inquiry into what happened and how best to prevent future occurrences. The party elected officials who were seen in that domain during the bye-election should be taken into account about their interest in an election that took place in a place not known to be their constituency.

Their unwarranted interventions blocked the ability of the electoral umpire to effectively discharge its duties.

There have to be consequences for such actions, for such electoral impunity if we are to make progress as a people, as a state and as a country. If conducting election into one constituency would be this violent as exhibited on August 18, what will the 2019 general elections look like?

This also shows that the presidential directive for the overhaul of the Federal Special Anti-robbery squad has begun to fail even before it started as members of the unit led the assault on several fronts that disenfranchised voters and rendered the process void.

Theportcitynews calls on the inspector general of police to investigate allegations that members of the SARS were used to subvert the wills of the people. All other security agencies that were used to disrupt the bye-election should also be investigated and where they are found wanting, appropriate sanctions should be meted out.