Rise and rise of political thugs
‘Why we do bidding of politicians’
Thugs, as some politicians told us, are a “necessary evil” in Nigerian politics. Unofficially part of the parties, they do the dirty work during campaigns, and serve as the perfect foil to intimidate opponents and their supporters. But oftentimes, things go very wrong and turn violent, and sometimes d+-eadly clashes break out. Like the recent one on Saturday, October 6, at the House of Reps primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) election for the Federal capital Territory (FCT) in Kuje. It was marred by violence,
leading to arson, committed by thugs. The story can be said to be worse around the country, with varying degrees of nastiness. Kano
From September 1, 2018 to date, a total of 273 political thugs were arrested in Kano State, police spokesman SP Magaji Musa Majia confirmed, saying that 205 out of the figures had been convicted, with 57 awaiting trial. He added that 40 suspected political thugs identified through cameras at various locations will be pursued and arrested in due course.
Majia said in addition, police had held series of meetings with various stakeholders including management of media houses, personnel of Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), chairmen, secretaries, youth and women leaders of all political parties, as well as local political advocates locally known as Sojojin
Baka with a view to enlighten them on the need to promote peace and harmony within political circles. Lagos
In Lagos State, it is open knowledge that politicians draw whatever thuggery service they require from transport unions, and cult confraternities. Also, recruiting political thugs in Lagos is an easy task: In many corners lurk legions of youngsters, unemployed and seeking survival by all means. A politician, who didn’t want to be mentioned, told Daily Trust Saturday that to disrupt a rally, a politician only needs to give about 20 thugs, wielding guns, cutlasses and cudgels, N2,000 each. All the hoodlums require is money for drugs and a meal. Sometimes, the politician supplies the guns, which are hardly returned to him after any political operation. One hoodlum in the Mushin area of Lagos boasted he
could get our correspondent a good gun for only N10,000. Rivers
Political violence had in the past dotted Rivers political landscape, and electioneering campaigns, and the elections proper, had in the past been marred by killings of political opponents. The APC in the state has claimed that more than 1,000 of its supporters were killed in politicallymotivated violence in the state between 2014 and 2015. This remains unverified however.
Political violence was prevalent in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA of the state. Between 2014 and 2015, scores of residents were killed. The area was controlled by a notorious cultist, Don Wanye, until he was killed by security agents early this year.
In the 2016 rerun election for both the House of Reps and the Senate, scores died in political violence that erupted. A youth who attempted to
stop some thugs from snatching ballot paper was shot. Gombe
‘Kalare’ thugs have for a time been a nightmare for the people of Gombe State, especially residents of Gombe metropolis and its suburbs. They started as a youth wing during political campaigns, when politicians hired and armed them to provide some kind of security.
However, their activities in Gombe became more pronounced towards the build-up to the 2003 gubernatorial elections, when the then candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Muhammad Danjuma Goje was trying to wrestle power from the then governor, late Abubakar Habu Hashidu of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
However, with the return of
politicking ahead of the 2019 elections, activities of the dreadful miscreants are resurfacing in the state.
On September 15, 2018 at Kumo, headquarters of Akko LGA, innocent passersby including a policeman, were attacked and injured with cutlasses and sticks, following a disagreement between rival Kalare groups while sharing money given by a politician, during the buildup of the just-concluded primaries.
Gombe’s Commissioner of Police, Mr Shina Tairu Olukolu, on September 18 paraded about 15 other suspected Kalare thugs arrested during a raid. According to the police, between October 2017 and August 2018, a total of 160 suspected thugs were arrested and prosecuted by the command. Kogi
The activities of political thugs across Kogi State appear to have heightened with the electioneering period already underway. During the just-concluded primaries conducted by the various political parties across the state, there were reported cases of political thugs attacking and intimidating political opponents in the contest.
During the House of Reps primaries for Ankpa/Olamaboro/ Omala, one of the aspirants, Mr Ben Adaji alleged that political thugs loyal to a top government official attacked him and his agent in the presence of security personnel.
Adaji was not alone, as there were reports of intimidation and harassment by political thugs during the primaries held in West, Central and Eastern Senatorial district of the state.
During the August 11, 2018 House of Representatives by-election for Lokoja/Kogi-Kotonkarfe, there were widespread reports of thugs invading polling units to disrupt the electoral process.
In Lokoja, voting was disrupted at Paparanda Polling Unit in Ward B and ballot boxes and electoral materials snatched by thugs who allegedly invaded the area in company of some security agents. It was on record that two persons died, and others were injured.
Early this year, thugs invaded the chambers of the Kogi State House Assembly in Lokoja and unleashed mayhem on lawmakers, forcing the assembly to end its proceedings abruptly.
Kogi State is regularly in the news for one incident of political thuggery or the other. Sokoto The stakes in Sokoto State seem higher this time around, as there appears to be political friction between a political godfather and his former godson. While former Governor Aliyu Wamakko of the APC will fight to retain his grip on the state, Governor Aminu Tambuwal has chosen the PDP as launching pad to assert firm control.
Political thugs were seen brandishing dangerous weapons at the gatherings of major political parties in the state despite the presence of armed security operatives.
According to the spokesperson of the Sokoto State Police Command, DSP Cordelia Nwawe, the command had from 2017 to date arrested 232 political thugs.
She added that 109 of them were charged and convicted last year, while the remaining who were arrested this year, including two women, were arraigned before the competent court of jurisdiction.
The worrying trend is not an exception in Benue State, as instances where they disrupted meetings or other activities abound. There have been several cases of thuggery, even in the just-completed political primaries across the 23 LGAs of the state.
Police spokesman, DSP Moses Yamu, said only one person was arrested in Kwande, with a pistol, with the case under investigation.
But activities of political thugs had on Thursday, October 4, caused pandemonium and disrupted an ongoing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary election for the Benue South senatorial district at the Aper Aku Stadium in Makurdi. The National and State Assembly primaries of the PDP had barely commenced with accreditation of delegates when trouble started as some people had allegedly disagreed with the list of delegates from three local government areas of the district.
The affected delegates were still arguing, when suddenly hoodlums at about 7:30pm began to fire guns, a situation which security operatives had a difficult time bringing under control.
Sequel to that, the exercise earlier failed to hold in Otukpo, the senatorial headquarters of the Idoma nation, before it was relocated to Makurdi. Similarly, some aggrieved aspirants of Social Democratic Party (SDP) in had reason to call for the immediate cancellation of its primary elections, even before results were declared. They alleged that there was snatching of electoral materials by hired thugs, and others.
In Makurdi, Senator Joseph Akaagerger, alleged that as a result of the thugs’ activities, elections were not held in some of the areas which made up the Benue North East senatorial district.
In April, at least two people lost their lives after thugs capitalised on the bitter rivalry between two warring politicians and fought during an APC expanded Benue south senatorial caucus meeting held in Otukpo.
Recently, at Governor Muhammadu Jibrilla’s declaration rally in Yola, Adamawa State, a group of armed thugs robbed several motorists including a senior DSS officer, a police sergeant of their phones. They brandished daggers and knives, near Ribadu Square, the venue of the rally for the governor’s reelection around 3:00pm when the crowd was dispersing, attacking vehicles and forcing their victims to surrender valuables.
One of the victims, Salma Tahir, said the robbers stopped her tricycle and asked the passengers to surrender their mobile phones.
Eyewitnesses reported that a team of DSS personnel later mobilised to the scene in pursuit of the culprits and succeeded in arresting at least two persons, with one of the suspects fatally injured by the security personnel.
Police spokesman Habibu Musa said one of the stolen mobile phones had been recovered from a suspect who was helping the police in their investigation.
Before the recent governorship primaries, youths suspected to be supporters of Governor Muhammadu Jibrilla had attacked the private office of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation during a meeting of Dimas Ezra faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that had been pushing for direct primaries in Adamawa. One person sustained injuries while vehicles were destroyed.
A senatorial aspirant, Ibrahim Waziri, said the person who conveyed the thugs had been identified and he believed the hoodlums were working for the governor. Reacting, Dickson Martins, a Special Assistant to the governor, dismissed the allegation as baseless and an effort to smear the governor’s reputation.
With 2019 elections approaching, the dreaded ‘Shila Boys’, a notorious gang of phone-snatchers comprising mainly of teens, may find jobs around politicians, thereby increasing the tendency of armed thuggery.
In Zamfara State, political thugs are known as ‘True Way Boys’, and are becoming more visible recently. They are reportedly being employed by politicians to intimidate opponents, brandishing machetes, ready to use them. Some of them are said to have internal squabbles which have resulted in bloody infighting. They also engage in brazen phone theft, mugging, and other crimes.
In Gusau metropolis, areas such as Tullukawa , Birnin Ruwa, Dogon Dabino, Bakin Silma , Kongo, Hira Da Kwaddi, Hayin Malam Ibrahim, Gadar Baga, and Sabon Fegi, are notorious for harbouring thugs. Last Week, two people were hacked with machetes beyond recognition by thugs at Hayin Malam Sani.
A resident, Sani Umar, said there are areas in Gusau where he would not be willing to stay even if given free accommodation.
Earlier, Zamfara State police had denied allegations that they set such thugs free on request of politicians. The state command, through spokesman SP Muhammad Shehu, said in view of the forthcoming 2019 elections, they have re-strategized. He said they are having regular interface with members of inter-agency committee on elections security and police deployment and adjustment to cover all the 147 wards of the 14 LGAs.
But going by recent headlines, political thuggery remains in full force, and at its most violent.
Saturday, October 13, 2018
This file photo shows some political thugs recently arrested by the Kano State Police Command, after a major violent incident.Political thugs