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Post-election riots " planned " ahead of time - Soyinka

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, on Thursday decried the post-election violence in some Northern states, saying it was "planned well ahead of time."



He described the killings that followed the riots as an 'unbelievable waste of lives,' and pointed out that they (killings) had further brought to the front burner, the concept of Nigeria.

The playwright spoke just as the 2 Division of the Nigerian Army said it had arrested more than 108 people in Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Delta, Edo and Kwara states during Tuesday's governorship and state assembly elections.

Election observers on the platform of Project 2011 Swiftcount had also on Thursday reported an upsurge of critical election-related incidents, including ballot snatching and violence during Tuesday's polls.

Addressing journalists at a news conference in Lagos, Soyinka lamented that the destruction of lives, especially during elections in the country had persisted because leaders have never prosecuted the perpetrators.

"There should be no arbitrary laws. One for the mindless mobs that are kept as executioners to be called up anytime. Boko Haram, for instance, is a product of complacence and complicity of leaders and past presidents who cultivate and appease them to stay in power," Soyinka said.

He said he was particularly appalled by the "glee with which the decimation of human lives" was carried out by rioters and the "sadistic satisfaction" which certain sections of the society received the revolt against their traditional rulers.

Wondering why "we call ourselves one Nigeria when we do not go to polls with the same mind," the renowned scholar argued that Sovereign National Conference could no longer be ignored.

SNC, according to him, will deal with various issues, including "the majority pay to minority lawmakers and other core issues that affect the Nigerian nation."

He said that it was regrettable that past leaders who ought to have made the SNC a reality reduced it to a banal level and opportunistic interpretations, including the argument that it was capable of dividing the country.

His words, "Why do we call ourselves one Nigeria when we do not go to polls with the same mind? The killings were done on a wrong foundation. In the end, they were carried out for nothing, fuelled by deliberate misinformation. The riots were planned well ahead of time."

Soyinka also lamented the killings of Nigerian Youth Service Corp members, saying that the scheme should have been inviolable to the rioters.

He stated that it was unfortunate that those who incited the crisis in the North were not remorseful, judging from their body language. Soyinka, therefore, charged President Goodluck Jonathan to find a solution to the crisis.

The playwright said, "I hereby charge President Jonathan on the SNC. This is not a matter of good luck. Good luck cannot carry you through a crisis. He has no choice but to tackle the problem in a comprehensive manner otherwise, I greatly fear for the continuity of this nation."

Soyinka also said that going by the figures available to him as a part of a monitoring group, Reclaim Naija, he believed that Jonathan won the April 16 presidential poll.

He said the reports he had, showed the elections went well in most places with impressive turnout, except for incidences of underage voting, ballot box snatching and pockets of violence.

Soyinka said "It is not my business to comment on the methods which include allegations of voter inducement etc. because I am dealing straight with figures from Reclaim Naija."

He also praised the people of Ogun State for "finally redeeming themselves from a fetish and thuggish government."

Soyinka added that Ogun people should not have tolerated the shutting down of the state assembly but had through the ballot, humiliated the 'oppressive mafia' that had ruled the state for almost eight years.

In Abuja, Project 2011 Swiftcount, said that 'critical election related incidents' during Tuesday's governorship and state assembly elections were highest in the South-East and South-South.

This was contained in an interim report made public by the election monitor in Abuja.

The First co-chair of the project, Dafe Akpedeye, said that 937 critical incident reports were received from its mobile observers deployed in 34 states of the federation.

Akpedeye said, "This is in an increase compared to 628 reports received during the presidential election. This situation, particularly in Delta, Akwa Ibom, Imo and Rivers states, pose a great threat to citizens' franchise.

"It set a negative template against the backdrop of a particular desire for credible elections in those states. The reported critical incidents were concentrated in the South South (more than 40%).

"Delta had a total of 178 total incidents, with intimidation and harassment being the topmost; Akwa Ibom recorded 161 incidents, with violence being in the majority; while Imo had 76 incidents reported, with violence being in the majority; while Imo had 76 incidents reported, with violence and intimidation leading the list."

The report noted that the most frequently reported incidents were intimidation or harassment, violence, vote buying/bribery, ballot snatching/stuffing, and illegal voting.

Meanwhile, the spokesman of the 2 Division of the Nigerian Army, Lt. Col. Omale Ochagwuba, has said that 108 suspects were arrested on Tuesday for election-related offences.

Thirty one of them , including a lady, were held in Olomi in Ibadan, Oyo State with live rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, dane guns, machetes, locally made pistols, axes, 27 cartridges and charms.

One Adesola, an Action Congress of Nigeria supervisor in Ibadan, said Ochagwuba was also arrested with vehicle marked Lagos HW 324 AAA for unauthorised movement and mobilisation.

The army division's spokesman added that 40 suspected thugs, who claimed to be railway workers, were arrested at Offa, Kwara State.

He said one Adebisi Kunle of Agowande was also arrested in Osogbo, Osun State with charms, a pistol with 11 live rounds of ammunition and an INEC voter card belonging to one Mr Aworemi Wale.

The remaining suspects, include 14 that were held in Ogun State; four in Delta State and seven in Edo State.

Ochagwuba said that all the suspects were handed over to the police for further investigation and prosecution.

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Comment by Moses K Tawose on May 2, 2011 at 8:47pm
Until those arrested are prosecuted with the law taken it rightful place it would remain a child play that Nigeria isn't serious.Some must be made as example for others that all this wouldn't be tolerated by the society no more.
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