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Report: Nigeria

Nigeria election campaign marred by violence

Attack in Gombe, northeast Nigeria, after President Goodluck Jonathan's visit, 2 Feb.
Attack in Gombe, northeast Nigeria, after President Goodluck Jonathan's visit, 2 Feb. Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde

Thursday is the final day of campaigning before presidential elections in Nigeria on Saturday. The National Human Rights Commission has recorded sixty deaths related to pre-election violence since campaigning began in November. Last month two people were killed by gunmen and explosives detonated at an opposition All Progressives’ Congress rally in Okrika, River state. RFI’s Rosie Collyer filed this report from Port Harcourt.

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There are hundreds of people ambling along on Abacha street with red, white and green umbrellas, the symbol of the Peoples’ Democratic Party.

They are making their way to the campaign headquarters of the PDP’s governorship candidate, Nyesom Wike.

There is a United Nations white 4X4 parked in the compound and Nyesom Wike explains why: "So the message from the United Nations is that they want peaceful elections, they want free and fair elections, and they want an election that is violence-free".

The PDP is the ruling party at the federal level, but the APC runs River state.

State governor Rotimi Amaechi was an ally of President Goodluck Jonathan, but he defected to the opposition two years ago.

Amaechi and President Jonathan’s wife, Patience had a public falling out a few months before.

The bomb and gun attack at the opposition APC rally last month took place in the home town of Patience Jonathan. So far no arrests have been made.

But the national spokesperson for the Nigerian Police Force, Emmanuel Ojukwu insists that officers are better-equipped than ever to avert election related-violence.

"This time around we have trained our personnel,” he says. “We have properly motivated them as to what is expected of them in a peaceful democratic election process".

The courts have been closed in River state for almost a year due to a dispute over whether the Chief Justice should be appointed at a state or federal level.

Holding people accountable for election-related violence is currently impossible here.

 

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