Political Violence: My memo to the 22-wise men
I came on vacation to my country, Nigeria, from Canada where I reside. The vacation lasted from mid-March to late part of April, most periods of which I spent in my home state, Akwa Ibom. I spent the rest period in Lagos and Abuja before going back to Canada, my base. I have just read that the Presidency has inaugurated a 22-man probe panel to investigate the post-election violence that spontaneously rocked some northern states after the April 16, 2011 presidential poll. The panel is also selectively saddled with the responsibility of investigating the pre-election violence in Uyo where, particularly, the President Jonathan Campaign office together with a private school and many vehicles parked at the Akwa Ibom State Secretariat were torched. Good as the idea of the panel seems, one wonders why it was set up with selective assignment on pre-election violence in Akwa Ibom state alone when there were other pre-election incidents of violence in other states. The panel should have also been saddled with the task of probing these other ones including the recurrent killings in Plateau, Borno and Bauchi states because Governor Jonah Jang once told the nation that the recurring incidents in the state were politically motivated. Anyway, if the presidency had restricted the panel's task to the post-election violence that took place in the north a day after the presidential poll, it would have been understood, but stretching it further to single out the Akwa Ibom pre-election violence is highly suspect. It is common knowledge that the Uyo incident was a premeditated incident ignited by the restriction placed by the government in power to the effect that no other political party in the state must be allowed to campaign in Annang land and when ACN did their campaign convoy was attacked on their way to Ikot Ekpene (an Annang land). The reprisal attack offered the PDP supporters the opportunity to join in inflicting unprecedented destruction on official, private and common property of the people of the state, and more lives were wasted in the process. All this was calculated to incriminate the opposition in the state, preparatory to the election proper hence if the incident is sincerely and deeply investigated both the Ikot Ekpne and Uyo violence could implicate the ruling party (PDP) which was desperate to return to power at all costs. These and similar puzzles should agitate the minds of the 22-wise men before they are accused of having a preconceived agenda based on what seems to be biased terms of reference. Some of the crucial questions about the Akwa Ibom violence are: Why were the vehicles at the State Secretariat Uyo parked for upward of three months without distribution? Was there any plan to allocate the vehicles (cars and tricycles) before the incident and then a rethink? How could it be that the heavy security presence including armoured cars at the gates of the State Secretariat overpowered by any mob? What effort did they make to scare off the mob? Did they kill anyone? Why did Governor Akpabio rush an arrangement with the Police to point accusing finger at the opposition? Did the Governors' Forum, in paid advertisements, not promise to provide a level playing ground for all parties participating in the election? Why did the Akwa Ibom government pass an instruction that no political party other than PDP should be allowed to campaign in Annang land? Why did the government in Akwa Ibom rush to enact a retrospective law when it saw that its arrangement with the Police to charge ACN's Senator Akpan Udoedehe with treason has failed? Senator Udoedehe was said to have shot at Akpabio in two places (Uyo and Ikot Ekpene) simultaneously! How possible? Is the Governor omnipresent? If all this pre-election crisis was not premeditated to give the opposition a bad name, why is it that among the 36 state police commissioners only the Akwa Ibom State Police Commissioner Mr. Felix Uyanna was not affected when the IGP Mr. Hafiz Ringim reassigned his colleagues across the country? These are critical questions that demand proper answers. If a probe is to be carried out at all it should be done properly else it would look like a set-up aimed at witch-hunting a particular group of individuals. People still believe that among the panel members, there are some men of integrity who will be willing to call a spade a spade but needless mentioning their individual names here. Suffice it however to say that there is this rumour making the round that Akwa Ibom's pre-election violence was included in this probe agenda so that an effective distraction can be created to divert the attention of the people and thus allow the unconscionably rigged governorship election to stand. If that is exactly the purpose of the panel we shall see but I am hoping it is not.
Dr. Edet Iniodu,
40 Oak Hill Boulevard,