Political thugs rule the scene
Last month, members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers [NURTW] the chamber of the Ondo State House of Assembly and beat to a pulp lawmaker who had impeached their speaker, Mr Bamidele Oleyeloogin and his deputy, Mr Iroju Ogundeji. Armed with machetes, axes, cudgels and sticks, the NURTW members led by their Chairman, Jacob Adebo reportedly descended on anyone and attacked lawmakers as well as Assembly staff, journalists and security agents.
The attack on the Ondo Assembly occurred after suspected thugs reportedly killed one Abu Kalhu, fondly addressed as Baraden Sunnah, who was said to be a supporter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Sokoto State. Witness accounts had it that the thugs, numbering 40, were brought to Kofar Kade where the residence of the deceased was located in two Hilux vehicles around 9pm. They blocked all the routes leading to the residence while some of them went straight to his house, called him outside and stabbed him to death.
Earlier in July this year, thuggery assumed a bizarre dimension as the Taraba State Commissioner of Police David Akinremi was reportedly attacked by irate youths in Tudun Wada area of Jalingo. The state’s police Public Relations Officer, ASP David Misal, told newsmen in Jalingo that the commissioner had gone to the area with a team of officers to restore normalcy, following reports of youths unrest, only for him to be stoned on the head. The commissioner was rushed to the hospital where he was treated and later discharged. Elsewhere in Rivers State, political violence has been an enduring landmark on the state’s landscape. Electioneering campaigns and even elections proper in the oil rich state had been characterized by maiming and killing of political opponents leaving it with what an analyst described as “Rivers of Blood.”
In Lagos, politicians routinely engage thugs from transport unions and cult confraternities. One security analyst said, “Recruiting political thugs in Lagos is not a difficult task as legions of youngsters seeking employment lurk everywhere…” such incidents all over the country have raised concerns for security of lives and property of Nigerians as the 2019 general elections rapidly approach. In Kano State for instance, state police command spokesman SP Magaji Musa Majia said 273 political thugs were arrested from September 1 to November this year. He said 205 of them were convicted with 57 awaiting trial. Another 40 suspected thugs identified through cameras at various locations in the state would be pursued and arrested, Majia said.
Widespread use of political thugs by politicians to intimidate opponents and molest voters is one the biggest security threat to the upcoming elections.