By Saxone Akhaine and Murtala Adewale
A coalition of civil society groups and youths organisations yesterday in Kano and Kaduna states staged peaceful walk against political violence before, during and after the elections.The campaigners in Kano, whose subject was ‘Vote Not Fight” carried placards with various inscriptions as “Election no be war,” “Vote don’t fight,” “Say no to election violence, no to election rigging.”
They commenced the movement from Murtala Mohammad Way and terminated it at Bompai headquarters of Kano Police Command. Delivering their protest message to the Commissioner of Police, Rabiu Yusuf, coordinator of the groups, Maryam Garba, said the peaceful walk was essentially targeted against the use of youths for political violence.Responding, Yusuf assured that the police would arrest and prosecute any electoral offender, adding that no body is above the law.
The coordinator lamented that Nigerian youths had been rendered irrelevant due to high rate of unemployment, only to be used as tools in the hands of politicians to perpetrate electoral malpractice.
Similarly, Kaduna State Police Commissioner, Ahmad Abdulrahaman, while addressing the agitators, pledged police transparency and uprightness in the conduct of security operatives during the polls.He disclosed that the Nigerian police, under the leadership of the new Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed are a different police, whose motto is rule of law.
He flayed the attitude of politicians toward elections, describing some of them as primitive and acting like children who are still learning.
Garba had expressed concerns that while youths must take responsibilities for their actions, government must also ensure that there is conducive atmosphere to guarantee free, peaceful and credible elections in the country.The groups also challenged the police to be neutral in handling political matters, and provide adequate security to protect INEC officials and electorate.
They said: “We the youths are today standing against violence during and after elections. We also reject the use of youths by the selfish politicians to carry out this crisis and render our future useless. “Despite the high population of youths, which constitute about 60 per cent, the government has continued to marginalise us and mortgage our future.”
The groups urged the police provide a level playing ground to all the political parties and prevent electoral malpractice.
Yusuf further explained that officers and men have been trained on civil relations management and rule of engagement, and assured that the electorate would not be unduly molested while exercising their civic right.Also, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state said the commission is working with security agencies to adequately protect INEC officials and materials.