Pre-election violence continues unabated in Benue south

On Thursday lastweek, some armed thugs attacked the campaign train of the President of the Senate, David Mark on his way to Igumale, the headquarters of Ado local government Benue State.

According to the Director of Publicity of David Mark Campaign Organisation, thugs ambushed the train at the outskirts of Igumale forced the convoy of the senate president Mark to detour to another local government.

The following day, a man identified to be the driver Lawrence Onoja, the Action congress of Nigeria’s (ACN) senatorial candidate, was beaten to death in Ibadan Street, Otukpo, by men suspected to be supporters of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) over accusations of tearing off the party’s posters.

Earlier in the month, Mr. Onoja was attacked and escaped with bullet wounds in his arm. Accusation fingers were quickly pointed at the senate president but he denied any involvement in a statement by his special adviser on media, Kola ologbodiyan.

The senate president described the allegation as “an old trick” by the ACN candidate to win external sympathy.

“Onoja must stop this old trick of assassination attempt by submitting himself to the electorate in Benue South. The serial lies being told by Onoja and his co-travellers have absolutely nothing to do with me or my campaign. Neither will that translate to votes for him in Benue South” Mark said in March 9th statement.

“Since that incident, Otukpo has not known peace,” a resident who do not want his name mentioned said. “We live in fear because you hear gunshots almost every day.”

Residents of the Otukpo, home to both the senate president and his rival, allege that both the ambush and the killing of Mr. Onoja’s driver were retaliatory attacks from supporter of both parties. The people of Otukpo link the violence to the growing animosity between the senate president and his rival.

Although both the senate president and his rival have condemned the violence, politically motivated killings, arson and destruction of opponent’s bill boards and posters has continued, unabated in various parts of the Idoma land.

Last week, Amnesty International released a report saying that at least 50 people have been in pre election violence since July last year.

The human rights group said Nigerian authorities have failed to bring suspected perpetrators to justice, or to prevent further human rights abuses. The report added that investigations are infrequent and often inadequate. “Hardly anyone has been convicted for the killings.”

The senate president also admits the authorities are not doing enough to cub the violence and has called  on the security operatives “to rise up to the challenge.”

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