2023 Polls: Lagos, Rivers Lead In Voter Suppression Incidents – NHRC

  • Records 22 incidents of hate speeches
  • Notes bomb attacks in Kaduna, Benue

BY EDMOND ODOK – With the echoes of this year’s general elections still reverberating across the country, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has unveiled the list of states where it officially documented records of voter suppression.

In a clear departure from submissions by the Nigeria Police urging Nigerians to produce evidence of alleged violence against some accused persons during the polls, the Commission listed states where the electoral infractions were recorded to include Lagos, Rivers, Imo, Ebonyi and Bayelsa.

Similarly, the Rights Commission indicated that its officials also recorded 22 incidents of hate speeches during the elections.

The NHRC’s Project Coordinator of Mobilising Voters for Election, Hilary Ogbonna, who presented the report to journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, also highlighted the high level of human rights violations associated with the elections.

Ogbonna stated that the NHRC has already swung into action in terms of launching “investigations into hate speech committed before, during and after the elections.”

According to him, during the March 18 polls, voter suppression was recorded in Lagos, Rivers, Imo, Ebonyi, and Bayelsa among other states, while specifically stressing that; ”The right to freedom of association were violated in Ebonyi and Lagos, Right to Dignity of Human Person in Lagos, Edo, Delta, Benue.”

He also said; “The right to participation was also violated in Lagos, Oyo, Rivers while voting related killings were recorded in Ebonyi, Kano, Lagos, Borno.”

Making reference to the situation room documentation, Ogbonna explained that available records indicated that there were two bomb attacks in Benue and Kaduna states during the March 18 gubernatorial and State Assembly elections.

Furthermore, the Project Coordinator disclosed that 75 facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were attacked with incidents of about 130 unknown gunmen and bandits recorded by the Commission.

Offering further insights on the Commission’s documentation, Ogbonna said there were three reports on political intolerance with the killing of six law enforcement agents during the presidential and National Assembly elections that took place on February 25 as well as the governorship and State House of Assembly elections held on March 18, 2023.

The Project, organised in partnership with the United Nations Human Rights Resident in Nigeria, Ford Foundation and the Legal Defence and Assistance Project, was inaugurated by the Commission on October 17, 2022.

On that occasion, the NHRC’s Executive Secretary, Mr Tony Ojukwu (SAN) had indicated that the Project was set up as part of efforts to tackle voter apathy in the country ahead of the 2023 general elections. – With additional reports from NAN

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