The SING Foundation monitored news released by the British High commission to Nigeria, expressing concerns about the gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections in Rivers state. It will be recalled that we had observed the unusually high inflow of military personnel into the states of the Niger Delta on the eve of the election. We had equally reported on the excesses of the military personnel against some opposition figures and innocent citizens of Rivers state prior to the Election Day, when raids were conducted in several parts of the state.
On actual Election Day the tension was especially palpable as the men and officers of the military were involved in all sorts of misconduct and illegalities ranging from trying to prevent voting in certain areas, snatching ballot boxes in some places, interfering with the collation process and denying observers and party agents access to collation centers. That the unarmed civilians especially women, had to resort to standing their ground against the army speaks volumes about the fact that the men of the army did not keep to their sworn neutrality in political matters, even when a judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria has given a clear judgment that the military has no role to play in elections management.
While we commend the British government for speaking up for Nigerians at a time when the rest of the international community have chosen an eerie silence, we like the popular Oliver Twist, ask for more. We demand for more firm action to be taken against the characters behind this needless wanton violence against the people of Rivers state, at a time when they were taking lawful actions to reaffirm their belief in the Nigerian project. Those behind these acts of violence, however highly placed they may be, must be told in no uncertain terms that they cannot jeopardize the continued corporate existence and progress of Nigeria as a sustainable and stable society, considering the refugee crisis an unstable Nigeria would unleash on West Africa the world.
The United Kingdom must immediately initiate the processes for effecting travel bans and visa revocations against those remotely or closely involved in this despicable and condemnable act of aggression against the people of Rivers state and the rest of the Niger Delta. The United Kingdom should demand from the Nigerian government who deployed those soldiers to act in the lawless manner they did in Rivers and other states of the Niger Delta and what sanctions have been meted to them. We equally call on the rest of the international community and other friends of Nigeria to rise up and stand to be counted with the Nigerian people, by condemning this despicable act that runs in direct contravention of all things democratic and civilized.