Nigerian politics marred by violence and poor electoral system

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As normalcy gradually returns to Nigeria’s northern city of Jos after three days of violence that claimed over 300 lives, the umbrella Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has asked the federal government to set up a judicial commission to investigate the causes of the crisis.

Opposition parties are also calling for the resignation of Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau, of which Jos is capital, and the Ministers of Defence and Police Affairs as well as Service Chiefs for failing to prevent the violence, which has also left hundreds wounded and displaced thousands.

Armed troops deployed to the city by the federal government are patrolling the streets to maintain order.

The violence started a day after Thursday’s municipal elections in the state and quickly snowballed into an ethnic and religious violence that pitched Muslim against Christians.

“This latest blood letting and carnage linked to the last local government elections is a sad commentary on our electoral process and an indictment of our politicians and the political class who still view elections as a do-or-die affair.

”Despite world wide outrage at the performance of Nigeria’s electoral system, the current crisis is yet another sad reminder that our present crop of political leaders are not ready to build a fair electoral system,” the NLC said in a statement.

It added: “In the light of the high volatility of Jos given the history of tense contest for power in the past, we wondered why adequate security was not provided in the period before and after the elections.”

Chairman of the opposition All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, whose party supporters in Jos launched the violence following rumours that their candidate in one of the 17 councils had been rigged out, called on Jang, and the Ministers of Police Affairs and Defence to resign from office for negligence and their inability to nip the Jos crisis in the bud.

“We all read how the Minister in Mumbai in India resigned over the terrorist attack in his home country for failing in his duties. We in the ANPP are equally calling on Governor Jang to resign with immediate effect for gross negligence of duties.

“The Governor is the Chief Security Officer in his state and should therefore take absolute responsibility for the carnage where over 300 people lost their lives and properties worth billions of naira were destroyed by the rioters,” Ume-Ezeoke told newsmen Monday.

In a similar call, the National Chairman of Citizens Popular Party (CPP), Maxi Okwu, called on the governor and the Service Chiefs to resign for failing to prevent the Jos crisis.

Another opposition party, the Action Congress (AC), has called for the cancellation of the results of the polls, which were swept by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

On Monday, President Yar’Adua stopped the planned inauguration of the newly-elected officials of the municipal councils by the state governor, describing the action as ‘insensitive’.

Plateau, with a delicate ethnic and religious mix, is not new to violence.

Between 2001 and 2004, hundreds were killed in ethnic and religious violence that forced the federal government to declare emergency rule in the state.

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