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The use of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria's election: An assessment of the 2019 general elections in Benue State

  • KolaDaisi University, Ibadan-Nigeria
ISSN 2787-0308 (ONLINE)
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The use of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria’s election: An
assessment of the 2019 general elections in Benue State
Princely Agu Agidi
Department of History
Benue State University, Makurdi, Nigeria
Asor Gbamwuan
Department of History and Diplomatic Studies
Kola Daisi University, Ibadan, Nigeria
The study analyses the 2019 general election in the Benue State of Nigeria looking
at the challenges that characterised the electoral process. To effectively carry out
this assessment, the paper made use of both primary and secondary materials,
while the approach was historical, narrative, analytical, and descriptive. The study
built its analyses on Small Arms Demand theory, and Failed State theory to drive
home critical points for scrutiny. The study unveils that during the 2019 general
elections in Benue State, desperate politicians sponsored and supplied thugs with
SALWs to distort the electoral process. This problem led to the cancellation of
election results in four council wards of Tiv extraction, while the gubernatorial
election was declared inclusive. To stem this tide, the paper suggests a collective
fight against the proliferation of SALWs in Nigeria; discouraging 'god-father and
god-son' partisan politics, provision of youth empowerment programmes, and the
adoption of an electronic voting system.
Keywords: Small Arms, Light Weapons, General Election, Politics, Benue State
Elections are the trademark of democratic governance; they serve as a medium
through which there is peaceful transition and legitimisation of a new
government in any democratic setting. Unfortunately, the history of elections in
Nigeria is synonymous with electoral violence. Nigeria has had its general
elections since 1959 and 2019 despite various military interventions that
truncated the electoral and democratic processes.1 Scholars, election observers,
and political analysts have variously justified some of the causes of electoral
violence in Nigeria. Gbamwuan, Kwarkye, Yusuf,2 among others have noted the
peculiar character of the Nigerian politicians to ‘win or die’ in course of election
hence the inevitability of electoral violence in the Nigerian state. To Sisk cited in
1 First, R. (1970). Power in Africa. New York: Pantheon Books. Omoigui, N.
Nowamagbe. ‘Special Branch Report: ‘Military Rebellion of 15th January 1966".
accessed on 15-03-2022.
2 Gbamwuan, A. (2013). ‘A History of Post-Election Violence in Nigeria since 1979’, M.A.
Thesis, Department of History, Benue State University, Makurdi. Kwarkye, S. (2019). ‘Roots
of Nigeria’s Election Violence’, Relief web. Accessed on 23-03-2022. Yusuf,
M.I. (2019). ‘Electoral Violence in Nigeria: Disentangling the Causes’. Research on
Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol. 9, No. 10.
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Yusuf3, election violence must be understood in the ‘context of democratization
or political change in which violence occurs; the political economy of state
power and the nature and patterns of political mobilization; the political
economy of state capture; and the electoral system, integrity of electoral
administration, and effects of violence management efforts such as peace pacts
and security-force performance’. Sisk4 justify the fact that electoral violence in
Nigeria is a consummation of various political and socio-economic reasons, and
this justifies why elections become 'Do or Die' affairs.
From 1959 to the fourth democratic dispensation a good number of electoral
violence has been recorded. For instance, Anifowose5 recorded the 1964 and
1965 western election crisis, and the Tiv crisis of 1963 and 1965 which all
contributed to the collapse of the First Republic in 1966. These conflicts
recorded the official deaths of 153 people out of which 64 were killed by direct
police combat. In the 1983 general elections, Oyo and Ondo witnessed the
toughest violence. This story has been captured elaborately by Yoroms6 in the
following sentences:
In Ondo state, the Federal Electoral Commission (FEDECO)
declared Chief Akin Omoboriowo of NPN as the elected
Governor. However, a counter announcement was made over
the state radio by the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN)
pronouncing Adekunle Ajasin as the true winner. The latter
allegedly went around Akure, the state capital in an open van
calling on his supporters to come out and defend their votes.
In Oyo State, Chief Bola Ige and Sam Mbakwe of Imo state
both held press conferences and radio broadcasts threatened
that if NPN went ahead to rig that election as planned the
wives of those who helped them will become widows and
their children orphans. Indeed both Oyo and Ondo states
experienced monumental violence that eventually led to the
collapse of the second republic
The story of electoral violence was the same in 1993 with the annulment of the
Presidential election presumed to have been won by Chief Moshood Abiola, and
his running mate Ambassador Babagana Kingibe. The post-election violence
that emerged led to the death of several people, while nationwide protests,
industrial strike action, and civil disobedience, in the final analysis, drove
3 Yusuf, M.I. (2019). ‘Electoral Violence in Nigeria: Disentangling the Causes’. Research on
Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol. 9, No. 10.
4 Sisk, T.D. (2012). “Evaluating Election-Related Violence: Nigeria and Sudan in
Comparative Perspective”, in Bekoe, D.A. (ed). Voting in Fear: Electoral Violence in Sub-
Saharan Africa. Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace Press.
5 Anifowose, R. (1982). Violence and Politics in Nigeria: The Tiv and Yoruba Experience, Nok
Publishers Enugu.
6 Yoroms, G. (2019). 'Electoral Violence, Arms Proliferation and Electoral Security in
Nigeria: Lessons from the Twenty Fifteen Elections from Emerging Democracies'.
Unpublished Conference Paper, Department of Political Science, Bingham University, Karu,
Nasarawa State. Accessed on;
content/uploads/2019/02/Conference-Paper-by-Gani-Yoroms1.pdf. P. 17.
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General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida out of power.7 The resurgence of
democratic governance in 1999 witnessed numerous incidences of electoral
violence leading to the death of hundreds of thousands of people. Bakare8
reported how the 2011 election claimed over 800 lives over three days in
Northern Nigeria and displaced 65,000 people. Alao9 corroborated this
argument which summarises the incidences and fatalities of the 2019 general
election in Nigeria in the following way:
North Central: 23 incidents, 111 people killed, North East: 16
incidents, 146 people killed, North West: 20 incidents, 172
people killed, South East: 7 incidents, 14 people killed, South-
South: 59 incidents, 120 killed; and South West: 36 incidents,
63 killed when the incident and fatality numbers are phrased
on a state-by-state basis, Benue, Borno, Kaduna, Rivers and
Zamfara, lead the casualty figures. From an analysis of the
period of study which covers a period of 127 days, about
15% of all incidents, and 20% of all fatalities occurred on
Election Day.
From the forgoing narratives of electoral violence in Nigeria, the use of Small
Arms and Light Weapons (SALWs) is not out of place. The use of lethal weapons
made some people have no interest in Nigerian politics.
Therefore, this paper is a stock-taking exercise on the 2019 general electoral
violence in the Benue State of Nigeria with the use of SALWs. The study is a
radical departure from the avalanche of historical documents on electoral
violence in Nigeria including the works of Albert (2007); Aniekwe and Kushie
(2011); Animashaun (2008); Babarinsa (2002); Ettanibi (2004); Abiola and
Olaopa (2008); Tamuno (2003); Sisk (2012); Gbamwuan (2013) Yusuf (2019);
Kwarkye, (2019) et cetera.10 The above studies look at the causes, nature,
7 Olowojolu, O. et al., (2019), Trends in Electoral Violence in Nigeria. J. of Social Sciences
and Public Policy, Vol. 11, Number 1, Pp. 37-52. Olowojolu, O. (2015), ‘Ethnicity and
Religion: Key Indicators in Nigeria’s Electoral System’, International Conference on Social
Sciences, Istanbul, Turkey.
8 Bakare, T. (2018). ‘Boko Haram Releases Kidnapped UNIMAID Lecturers’, in the Guardian
Newspaper, accessed on;
unimaid-lecturers/. 09-03-2022.
9 Alao, A. (2021). ‘Electoral Violence in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic: Implication for
Democratic Development’. Journal of Administrative Science, Vol.18, Issue 2. pp. 335-336.
10 Albert, I.O. (2007). Reconceptualizing electoral violence in Nigeria, In I.O. Albert, D.
Marco and V. Adetula (Eds). Perspectives on the 2003 Elections in Nigeria. Abuja: IDASA
and SterlingHolding Publishers. Aniekwe, C.C. and Kushie, J. (2011). Electoral violence
situational analysis: Identifying hotspots in the 2011 general elections in Nigeria (A Report
Submitted to National Association for Peaceful Elections in Nigeria (NAPEN), Abuja,
Nigeria. Animashaun, M.A. (2008). The 2007 elections and the imperative of electoral
reform in Nigeria. Covenant Journal of Business and Social Sciences, 1 and 2, 123-141.
Babarinsa, D. (2002). The house of war. Lagos. Tell Communication Publishers. Ettanibi,
O.A. (2004). Elections as Organized Crime: Nigerian Experience. Paper presented at the
Centre for African Studies Seminar, at the University of Cape Town, on May 12. Abiola, A. G.
& Olaopa, O. R. (2008). 'Economic Development and Democratic Sustenance', in Ojo, E.O.
(ed.) Challenges of Sustainable Democracy in Nigeria. John Archers. Tamuno, T.N. (2003).
“Historical Antecedents of Political Violence in Nigeria”, in Jega, A.M; The Sun Newspaper,
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dynamics, and impact of electoral violence in Nigeria, while adequate attention
has not been given to Benue State. Also, the above studies did not focus on the
use of SALWs as a factor for electoral violence in Nigeria hence the potency of
this study filling the existing vacuum.
A Note on Conceptual Thrusts
An election is a process of choice agreed upon by a group of people. It enables
them to select one or few people out of many to occupy one or several authority
positions. This process of choice usually involves rules and regulations designed
to ensure a certain degree of fairness and justice to all concerned.11 Therefore it
is the modern form of recruitment of personnel into offices and it is deemed to
be a very crucial aspect of the democratic process irrespective of the type of
democracy that is practiced. It is in light of this argument that Iyayi12 affirms
that; ‘Election provides the medium, by which the different interest groups
within the modern nation-state can take and resolve their claims to power
through peaceful means". Elections, therefore, determine the manner and
methods by which changes in the social order may be brought about. We must
not reduce the process of election to the act of voting alone as Transition
Monitoring Group (TMG)13 has pointed out in ‘Do the Votes Count? Final Report
of the 2003 General Election in Nigeria’ thus:
…elections are a complex set of activities with different
variables that act and feed one another. It can be defined as a
formal act of collective decision that occurs in a stream of
concerned antecedent and subsequent behaviour. It involves
the participation of the people in the act of electing their
leaders and their participation in governance. Elections are
not necessarily about Election Day activities although it
forms an important component. It encompasses activities
before, during, and after elections. It includes the legal and
constitutional framework of elections, the registration of
political parties, party campaigns, the activities of the
electronic and print media in terms of access, it includes
campaign financing and the activities of security agencies and
Lagos: January 9th. Sisk, T.D. (2012). “Evaluating Election-Related Violence: Nigeria and
Sudan in Comparative Perspective”, in Bekoe, D.A. (ed). Voting in Fear: Electoral Violence in
Sub-Saharan Africa. Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace Press. Gbamwuan, A.
(2013). ‘A History of Post-Election Violence in Nigeria since 1979’, M.A. Thesis,
Department of History, Benue State University, Makurdi. Yusuf, M.I. (2019). ‘Electoral
Violence in Nigeria: Disentangling the Causes’. Research on Humanities and Social Sciences,
Vol. 9, No. 10. Kwarkye, S. (2019). ‘Roots of Nigeria’s Election Violence’, Relief web.
Accessed on 23-
11 Gbamwuan, A. (2013). ‘A History of Post-Election p.16.
12 Iyayi, F. (2004). ‘The Conduct of Elections and Electoral Practices in Nigeria’, A Paper
Delivered at the MBA Conference in Abuja on 24th August.
13 Transition Monitoring Group (2003). ‘Do The Votes Count? Final Report of the 2003
General Elections in Nigeria’, Abuja Transition Monitoring Group.
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the government in power. It includes the authenticity and
genuineness of the voter's register; it includes the
independence or lack of electoral agencies and organs. It
includes the liberalism or otherwise of the political process
in the country and the independence of the adjudicating
bodies of elections.
However, in Nigeria elections have become a 'do or die affair', as Obasanjo14
asserts: ‘We fight, and sometimes shed blood to achieve and retain political
power since for us in Nigeria, the political kingdom has for long been the
gateway to the economic kingdom'. The foregoing statement captures the
content and context of political thuggery and violence in Nigeria and Benue State
in particular. The statement demonstrates how blood is being spilled for
political power in this area against the tenets of democracy. The use of thugs in
Nigerian politics has not only led to the waste of human resources, but has also
resulted in the death of able-bodied men who might have been useful in the
future, and political apathy. Elections should therefore embody the ethos of a
true democracy. There should be the legal equality of all the electorates existing
side by side with their freedom to choose which of the political aspirants to
represent them, while the candidates as well should exercise their freedom of
speech to represent their views to the electorates. There should be the freedom
of the press to disseminate information. This is because of the divergent views
they expressed on electoral issues, especially on the qualities of the political
aspirants and the breadth of the news they reported at this time. Election, in
essence, typifies the democratic process, hence the abolition is often interpreted
as the abolition of democracy.
Electoral violence
Electoral violence is a global challenge, especially in those emerging
democracies of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Fisher cited in Adesote and
Abimbola15 defines electoral violence as an organized activity that seeks to
determine, delay, or otherwise influence an electoral process through threat,
verbal intimidation, hate speech, misinformation, physical assault, forced
protection, blackmail, and destruction of property or assassination”. In a similar
position, Ogundiya and Baba16 see electoral violence as all sorts of riots,
demonstrations, party clashes, political assassinations, looting, arson, thuggery,
kidnapping spontaneous or not, which occur before, during, and after elections.
Reinforcing the above definitions, Birch and Muchlinski17 unanimously assert
Electoral violence is a coercive force, directed towards
electoral actors and/or objects, that occurs in the context of
14 Obasanjo, O. (2002). ‘42nd Nigeria Independence Anniversary National Broadcast’ in Tell
Magazine, October 14, No 41, pp. 50-51.
15 Fischer, J. (2010). “Electoral Conflict and Violence: A Strategy for Study and Prevention”.
Washington, D.C: International Foundation for Election Systems, p.141.
16 Ogundiya, S.I. and Baba, T.K. (2005). ‘Election Violence and the Prospects of Democratic
Consolidation in Nigeria’.
17 Birch.S. and Muchlinski, D. (2018). ‘Electoral Violence Prevention: What Works?’Journal
of Democratisation, Vol. 25, p. 2.
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electoral competition can occur before, during, or after
elections and it can target a variety of actors, including
candidates, activists, poll workers, election observers,
journalists, and voters.
Electoral violence generally takes place at three stages, namely; pre-election,
election proper, and post-election. In all these stages, there is often a conflict of
interest arising from the dissatisfaction of the participants in the electoral
process. The result of such conflicts lead to instability, chaos often characterized
by the destruction of lives and property. Most times, the jobless youths are the
perpetrators of such violent acts, while the contenders sponsor and ensure that
destruction is coordinated and carried out. In the final analysis, the participants
in such conflicts bear the brunt, be it death, injury, enmity, or even
Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALWs)
The Encyclopaedia Americana Vol. 2518 tries to give a separate definition of this
concept. The book argues that Small Arms are “firearms whose calibre is not
greater than 79 inches (20mm). There are few exceptions, but generally, Small
Arms can be carried in the hand in combat’. North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) conceives Small Arms as the crew's portable direct weapons of less than
50 mm. This includes the secondary capacity to defeat amour and helicopters.19
The preceding definitions are not far apart from each other, they attest that the
destructive magnitude of small arms is limited to some extent, using different
ranges in millimetres to explain their point for the point of emphasis. SA is also
referred to as handheld small calibre firearms, usually consisting of handguns,
rifles, carbines, short guns, manual, semi-automatic, and full-automatic weapons,
and man-portable machine guns.20
On the other hand, the meaning of Light Weapons (LW)
according to the ECOWAS Report of the Panel of Government
Experts21 is: Light weapons are weapons that are portable
arms designed to be used by several people working
together in a team such as heavy machine guns, portable
grenade launchers, mobile or mounted; portable anti-
aircraft cannons; portable anti-tank missiles launchers;
mortars with a caliber of less than 100mm.
The conceptualization of SA and LW is intertwined, probably because the
understanding of what constitutes these categories of weapons has undergone
18 Encyclopedia Americana,(1995) Vol. 25, p.44.
19 ECOWAS Convention on SA and LW, 2008. Audu, B.J. (2014), “Proliferation of Small
Arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria: Implications on National Security”. In Osakwe, C.C.C.
et’ al, Nigerian Defence and Security, Kaduna: NDA, p.348.
20 See https://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/small=Arms, Accessed 24-03-2022.
21 ECOWAS Report of the Panel of Government Experts, 1997.
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some technological changes due to the dynamics of technological development.
Concerning the above matter, Honwana, and Lamb22 jointly opined that:
There seems to be a lack of consensus in the literature for
identifying a small arm as opposed to a standard
conventional weapon. This has led to the formulation of an
alternative concept 'light weapons which emphasize a more
technologically sophisticated category. However, despite the
emergence of the concept of the light weapon defining small
arms still lacks clarity and even the distinction between
'small arms and light weapons' is a matter of debate. There
seems to be a certain amount of uncertainty as to where
small arms end and light weapons begin or whether there is
an overlap between the two.
No matter what has been said by scholars of Military History, International
Relations, Strategic Studies, Security Studies, agencies, and policy analysts, it
should be noted that both of these weapons serve as destructive agents thereby
posing a serious threat to Nigeria’s national security.
A Theoretical Review on the Examination of Small Arms and Light
In their study, Jurgen and Muggah23 propounded the theory of Small Arms
Demand. They contended that the demand for the use of SALWs is anchored on
motivation and means of getting them, thus:
The ultimate expression of the demand for small arms
acquisition is governed by the interplay of motivations and
means. In the extreme, a surfeit of means will not result in
arms acquisition if accompanied by an utter lack of motive;
conversely, the highest degree of motivation will not result
in acquisition if the means as broadly defined as we
propose are lacking. Both aspects must join for a choice to
be made, for demand to be expressed, and for acquisition to
take place.
To demonstrate the efficacy of this theory, Jurgen and Muggah24 drawn
examples from countries that experienced wars, and apartheid systems like
Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, and Brazil where there was a
demand for the use of SALWs. Buttressing the theory of Small Arms Demand,
22 Honwana, J. and Lamb, G. (1998), “Small Armed Proliferation and Drug Trafficking in
Southern Africa”. Paper Presentation at the Centre for Conflict Resolution, University of
Cape Town, South Africa.
23 Jurgen, B. & Muggah, R. (2006). Completing the circle: Building a Theory of Small Arms
Demands. Journal of Contemporary Security Policy Volume 27, Issue 1: Future directions
in small arms control.
24 Jurgen, B. & Muggah, R. (2006). Completing the circle: Building …’p.36.
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Idehen and Subair25 isolated some of the factors that often necessitated the
demand and motivation for the acquisition of SALWs to have included: The
activities of law enforcement agents whose job has to be accomplished with the
use of SALWs; the increasing number of conflicts (communal conflicts, ethno-
religious conflicts, farmers-herders conflicts, non-state actors like terrorist
groups, bandits, militants, kidnappers, notorious criminals, cultists, et cetera);
the volatile security situation culminating to its privatization; the crude nature
of the Nigerian politics, and issues of governance which is characterised by
leadership failure. All these and other related factors accentuated the demands
for SALWs in the Nigerian political arena.
However, Jurgen and Muggah's thesis did not adequately address nor answer
the question of why there is the circulation of SALWs in Nigeria. In advanced
countries, there are tight laws and regulations that undermine the circulation of
such weapons in a given state. Nigeria also has welcomed the UN Programme of
Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in SALWs in all its
aspects, which took place in New York in 2000.26 The conference provided a
rare opportunity for the UN to raise public awareness about the need to control
the spread and misuse of SALWs in Nigeria. Domestically, in 2000, the
administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo set a National Committee on the
Proliferation and Illicit Trafficking of SALWs which was inaugurated in May
2000, in Abuja.27 The committee was charged with the responsibilities of
unravelling the sources of arms in illegal hands and gathering information on
the extent of proliferation and trafficking of SALWs within and around the
borders of the country. Similarly, in 2009 President Umaru Musa Yar'adua
established the National Task Force to Combat illegal importation and
Smuggling of Goods, Small Arms Ammunition, and Light Weapons (NATFORCE).,
which was inaugurated in June 2009.28 NATFORCE was given the power to
control arms by arresting those found guilty of the offence in the country. Also,
there is in place a Task Force in the 12 zones of the federation to recover illegal
weapons.29 It is being manned by an appointed officer of the Nigeria police with
obligations to control the proliferation of arms in the country within their
jurisdiction among numerous other majors. However, there are a lot of SALWs in
the country, and this calls for the investigation of the theory of the failed state.
25 Idehen, R. O. and Subair, A.A. B. (2021). The Proliferation of Small Arms and Light
Weapons: A Re-Emerging Threat on Nigeria’s National Security’. In International Journal
of Management, Social Sciences, Peace and Conflict Studies (IJMSSPCS), Vol.4 No.2 June.
26 Alimba, C. (2017). ‘Controlling the Proliferation of Small Arms in Nigeria: Emerging
Issues and Challenges’, In Global Journal of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol. 5, No.
10, p.44.
27 Atoyebi, O.A.(2003). Ethnic Militia Groups, Public Security and Police Role in Nigeria.
Paper Presented at S.A.S.A Congress, South Africa, 29th June- 2nd July.
28 Ben-Ze’er, E. (2010). ‘Imposed Silences and Self-Censorship: Palmach Soldiers
remember 1948’. In Ben-Ze’er, E; Ginio, R; & Winter, J. (eds). Shadows of War: A Social
History of Silence in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
29 ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, 2008.
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The failed state thesis as coined by Robert30 is ‘when states are consumed by
internal violence and cease delivering positive political goods to their
inhabitants’. To Anyanwu31, a failed state is perceived as having failed at some of
the essential responsibilities of a sovereign government. This means, that such a
state is unable to hold its social and political structures which are rather
characterized by failures. Common characteristics of a failing state are when a
central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control
over much of its territory, non-provision of public utilities or services,
widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of
populations, and sharp economic decline. Nigeria has exhibited these attributes;
Boko-haram terrorism, banditry, secessionist movements, and communal
violence are lucid features of a failed state like Nigeria. Others are
unemployment, hunger, poverty, and diseases, which all stimulated the youths
to take arms and commit criminal activities. The youths are also cheap and
available tools in the hands of the politicians to commit electoral frauds
including electoral violence.
Political Parties and Political Contenders in 2019 General Election in
Benue State
Benue state is in North-central Nigeria with an estimated population of about
four million people. The state was created in 1976 and has the Tiv, Idoma, and
Igede as major ethnic groups and their languages spoken predominantly.
Politically, there are three Senatorial Districts in the state namely; Benue South
for Idoma and Igede, Benue North-West, and Benue North-East for the Tiv. The
state also has twenty three LGAs out of which nine has been occupied by the
Idoma and Igede, and fourteen by the Tiv. The state is a hotbed for electoral
violence since 1976 as a result of multi-party system practiced by the Nigerian
State.32 Therefore, during the 2019 general election, Nigeria has ninety one
political parties registered by INEC to contend for elective posts. In Benue State,
the major political parties that featured gubernatorial candidates were the
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which produced Dr. Samuel Ortom/Benson
Abounu in a competitive primary election.33 The All Progressive Congress (APC)
produced Hon. Barrister Emmanuel Jime/Samuel Ode, while other remaining
twenty-nine smaller political parties variously produced their desired
candidates. For example, the Peoples’ Redemption Party (PRP) featured Hon.
Pastor Frederick Ikyaan Lanshima, Social Democratic Party (SDP) featured Hon.
Hwande Stephen Terungwa, Labour Party (LP) brought in Hon. Barrister Angya
Paul Tavershima, All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) showcased John
Aondohemba Tseayo, African Democratic Congress (ADC) featured Tyohemba
Simon Korape, and Action Democratic Party (ADP) featured Jim Okewu et
30 Robert, R. (ed.) (2000). When States Fail: Causes and Consequences, Princeton: Princeton
University Press, pp.302-318.
31 Anyanwu cited in Gbamwuan, A. (2013). ‘A History of Post-Election… p.19.
32 Gbamwuan, A. (2013). ‘A History of Post-Election Violence in Nigeria since 1979’, M.A.
Thesis, Department of History, Benue State University, Makurdi.
33 Mercy Corps (2019). Will Nigeria’s 2019 Elections Be Peaceful? Warning Signs of Political
Violence and International Preventative Action Needed. Available on;
01/Nigeria_Elections_Brief_January_2019.pdf. Accessed 01-05-2022.
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10 ,
cetera.34 At the level of the senate, PDP featured Hon. Patrick Abba Moro who
represented Benue South, Rt. Hon. Gabriel Suswam, represented Benue North-
East, and Hon. Emmanuel Yisa Orker-Jev represented Benue North-West. The
APC, another powerful political party in the State featured their senatorial
candidates including Senator Dr. George Akume for Benue North-West, Chief
Mrs. Mimi Adzape Orubibi for Benue North-East, and Hon. Stephen Lawani for
Benue South.
At the level of the House of Representatives, PDP favoured candidate for
Ado/Obadigbo/Opkokwu Federal Constituency was Hon. Francis Agbo while
APC took Hon. Michael Unogwu and three other contenders in other political
parties. For Apa/Agatu Federal Constituency, LP produced Godday Samuel,
while for PDP was Adamu Entonu and 7 other candidates from other political
parties.35 In Buruku Federal Constituency, PDP featured Hon. Kpam Sokpo while
APC show-cased Hon. Joseph Ityav and other ten candidates in other political
parties. In Gboko/Tarka Federal Constituency, APC's favourite candidate was
Hon. John Dyegh, while that of the PDP was Hon. Bernard Nenger with seven
other contenders. In the case of Guma/Makurdi Federal Constituency, the
contest was between PDP’s Hon. Benjamin Mzondu and APC’s Hon. Conrad
Utaan and eight other candidates form other political parties. Coming to Gwer-
East/Gwer-West Federal constituency, the heated contest resided with PDP’s
Hon. Mark Gbillah and APC’s Hon. Victor Torsar together with the other seven
party candidates.36 For Katsina-Ala/Ukum/Logo, Hon. Richard Gbande was for
PDP, Hon. Solomon Wombo for APC, and with other seventeen candidates.
Konshisha/Vandeikya Federal Constituency produced Hon. Barrister Hemen
Hembe in APGA, and Hon. Dorathy Mato in APC and with other eleven
candidates from other parties. Also, Kwande/Ushogo had Hon. Robert Tyough in
PDP, Hon. Benjamin Wayo in APC and eleven other contenders. Furthermore,
Oju/Obi Federal Constituency, APGA featured Hon. David Ogewu while PDP
Produced Hon. Samson Aja with other eleven party candidates. Finally, in
Otukpo/Ohimini Federal Constituency, APGA produced Hon. Blessing Onuh,
while PDP on the other hand produced Hon. Egli Ahubi and eleven other party
Coming to the level of the State Assembly, the following candidates emerged
victoriously in their various political parties as captured in the Concise
Newspaper38, thus:
34 See Independent National Electoral Commission Report on Benue Elections. Available
35 See Benue INEC, 2019.
36 See Benue INEC, 2019.
37 See Benue INEC, 2019.
38 Karrem, B. (2019). ‘Benue State: Full List Of 9th House Of Assembly Members Plus
Parties’, in Concise Newspaper, 4th June. Available on;
list-of-9th-house-of-assembly-members-plus-parties. accessed 24th, 04-2022.
ISSN 2787-0308 (ONLINE)
11 ,
Hon. Agnes Uloko (Ado, PDP), Hon. Edoh Godwin (Agatu,
PDP), Hon. Abu James (Apa, PDP), Hon. Bunde
Torkuma (Buruku, PDP), Hon. Agaibe N (Gboko East, PDP),
Hon. Terna Achir (Gboko West, PDP), Hon. William
Marange (Guma, PDP), Hon. Agbatse Geoffery (Gwer East,
PDP), Hon. Chemetyo Damian (Gwer-West, PDP), Hon.
Agbidyeh Akute (Katsina-Ala East, APC), Hon. Orban
Terungwa (Katsina-Ala West, APC), Hon. Dyako
Tavershima (Konshisha, ADC), Hon. Tertsea Gbishe (Kwande
East, PDP), Hon. Sugh Abanyi (Kwande West, PDP), Hon.
Yagba Victor (Logo, PDP), Hon. Kwaghzer-Kudi
Thomas (Makurdi-North, APC), Hon. Terwase
Aondoaka (Makurdi-South, PDP), Hon. Onche Peter (Obi,
PDP), Hon. Peter Enemari (Ogbadibo, PDP), Hon.
Christopher Adaji (Ohimini, PDP), Hon. Ogbu Otumala (Oju I,
APC), Hon. Okanga Okponya (Oju II, PDP), Hon. Anthony
Agom (Okpokwu, PDP), Hon. Odeh Baba (Otukpo/Akpa,
APC), Hon. Michael Audu (Adoka/Ugboju, PDP), Hon.
Mngutyo Bem (Tarka, APC),Hon. Thomas Mlanga (Ukum,
PDP), Hon. Abass Akoso (Ushongo, PDP), Hon. Ucha
Dominic (Vandeikya-Tiev, PDP), and Hon. Uba
Titus (Vandeikya-Kyan, PDP).
Generally, the contest in the 2019 general election was tough looking at the
calibre of people that were in the election race. For example, at the gubernatorial
level, the incumbent Governor of Benue State Dr. Samuel Ortom was in the race
for PDP. The APC featured Hon. Barrister Jime, the former Speaker of the Benue
State House of Assembly in the Third Republic, and a man whose political party
was in corridors of power at the federal level. Another powerful contender for
the Senate was Hon. Dr. George Akume, two times Governor of Benue State
(1999-2007), three times Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2007-
2019), a former minority leader in the House of Senate, god-father to numerous
Benue politicians, and the founder of APC in Benue state and North-Central at
large. Another big-time politician in the 2019 Benue politics for Senate seat was
Hon. Patrick Abba Moro, former minister of interior during President Goodluck
Jonathan's administration. Also, Rt. Hon. Gabriel Suswam, the two times Federal
House of Assembly member (1999-2007), and two times Governor of Benue
State (2007-2015) was also in the contest.39 Lastly, was Senator Barnabas
Gemade, former PDP National Chairman, and two terms Senator of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria (2011-2019). As an African syndrome, the 'Do or Die Affair'
was not out of place in the contest arising from the verbal and body language of
most of these politicians hence the accumulation, and distribution of SALWs to
the jobless Benue Youths. Arising from this fact, the National Peace Committee
convened political parties and their presidential candidates to sign two peace
accords. The first, signed on Dec. 12, 2018, committed the candidates to running
issue-based campaigns. The second, signed on Feb. 13, 2019, committed the
39 CLEEN Foundation (2015). Electoral Violence Risks in the 2015 Gubernatorial Elections.
A Policy Brief, Election Security Brief 012.
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12 ,
candidates to respect the outcome of the elections.40 Despite these accords,
politically motivated violence rose and political actors used increasingly
inflammatory language as Election Day approached as shall be seen in course of
the analysis of these events in the proceeding sections.
Pre-Election Violence in 2019 General Election in Benue State
Any electoral violence which occurs before Election Day is simply referred to as
pre-election violence. According to Alao41 Pre-Election Day violence can occur
in three critical aspects of voter registration, campaign, and party primaries.
This indeed was the scenario in the Benue pre-election process in 2019. It has
been observed that the stage of the primary election can also trigger electoral
violence on the day of the election proper or in the aftermath of the general
election.42 At the close of 2018, INEC brought out the general election timetable
which stipulated party primaries from 18th August to 7th October 2018. The
roughness of political campaigns started with the party primaries. In PDP for
example, twelve aspirants kindly contested for the primaries while other
political parties adopted a consensus strategy to resolve their issues. Dr.
Tivlumun Nyitse, a top contender in the PDP primaries recounted the root of this
challenge for the party:
… Nine out of the 12 members of Benue State PDP who are
hoping to become the state’s governor in 2019 met with
Ortom, who recently defected from the APC to the PDP, and
is seeking to get the PDP ticket to be elected for a second
term in office at the meeting, Ortom told the PDP
governorship aspirants that he had the intention to run for a
second termWe told him he was welcome and that he
should toe the line. Ortom can’t eat there (APC) and come
back to also take other people’s food. These people have
laboured so hard and remain committed to the party till
now. I don't know what the national leadership of the party
is thinking about the candidature of Ortom but we in PDP in
Benue would not allow any decision not palatable to stand.43
The emergence of Ortom in the final analysis as the PDP Gubernatorial candidate
pushed dissatisfied aspirants to cross-carpet to other political parties with their
supporters and also put a stiff opposition to PDP during the period of the
40 IRI/NDI (2019). Nigeria International Election Observation Mission Final Report,
Available on;
18_final_nigeria_eom_report.pdf. accessed, 26-04-2022.
41 Alao, A.A. (2021). 'Electoral Violence in Nigeria's Fourth Republic: Implication for
Democratic Development, in Journal of Administrative Science Vol.18, Issue 2. Available
online at Accessed 25th 04-2022, pp. 324-325.
42 Albert, I.O. (2007). Reconceptualizing electoral violence in Nigeria, In I.O. Albert, D.
Marco and V. Adetula (Eds). Perspectives on the 2003 Elections in Nigeria. Abuja: IDASA
and SterlingHolding Publishers.
43 Charles, J. (2018). ‘We Won’t Step Down for Ortom, 12 PDP Aspirants Insist’. Available
accessed 29-04-2022.
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13 ,
electioneering campaigns. Mercy Corps (2019) was more forthcoming when
they observed that; 'Disagreements over candidates in the primaries created
animosities within parties. Aggrieved candidates are likely to use violence and
intimidation as election tactics during the campaign period as well as around the
declaration of results'. We shall revisit this issue in the next section of this paper.
The scheduled 90-day campaign periods began on 18 November and 1
December 2018 for federal and state-level elections. The campaigns were
characterised by intimidation, abusive songs, and so forth. Both APC and PDP
crafted some derogatory political songs to tarnish the image of each other. One
of the APC song versions of the attack on the incumbent governor, Dr. Samuel
Ortom is captured by Tsavmbu44, and it goes:
Tyô yam oo! me vaa sha ciki u Tiv. Jugu Dajo Kanshio fatyô
ga. Tor Dajo oo! Benue a de saan ze oo! I na se Jime. Mvaan
ciki u Tiv, mo m vaa ci u tar wam. George Akume oo! Mo mfe
tar je or hemba tom sha Ikyu ior ga ka hiin yam je ne oo!
Mpine salary ii? Ior kpem oo! U ngu governor u er nyi? M ii
ikyon deli anieni Ior kpem oo!
Translated in English below:
My people oo! I will lament for Tiv.Jugu Dajo “Incapable”
(governor) can’t do anything. King Dajo oo! Let Benue not
perish oo! Let’s vote for Jime. I lament for Tiv. I lament for
my nation. George Akume oo! I have never known someone
to excel in People’s deaths. This is my first-time oo! I ask
about salary? My people have died oo! (response). What
have you done as governor? I have buried eight hundred
corpses, My people have died oo! (response).
The song captures the dilemma of the Benue people by the PDP-led government.
The composer alleged that the significant achievement of the PDP government
was burying people en mass who were killed by the Fulani herdsmen in Benue
State. This according to the APC is not an achievement. Another APC derogatory
song against PDP led-government as documented by Tsavmbu45 is reproduced
Chris Dura Aondo oo! U pine capital u Benue U kela faga
Dura. Anema dugh, kera ka Makurdi ga. Buhari ka una kende
tativ ve tôô. Hingir gbimin tyô i vaan ye. Benue oo! Nyaregh
yasev yen China ve! Jime oo! Emmanuel Jime va oo! Ior
mbela ka ior I China oo!
Translated in English as
44 Tsavmbu, A. A. (2020). ‘The Phenomenon of Hate Speech in Tiv Oral Literature: AStudy
of Selected Political Songs of Mikel Mfater Kaha (El Stuffy)’ unpublished paper,
Department of Languages and Linguistics, Federal University, Dutsinma, Katsina State,
Nigeria, p. 7.
45 Tsavmbu, A. A. (2020). ‘The Phenomenon of Hate Speech...’ p. 10.
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14 ,
Chris Dura Aondo oo! If you ask for the capital of Benue You
will no longer know, Dura. Umbrellas (PDP) removed it: no
longer Makurdi. When Buhari provides anything, the PDP
snatches. Darkness prevails. That’s why people are crying.
Benue oo! Our money has gone to China! Jime oo! Emmanuel
Jime come oo! Those (PDP) people belong to China oo!
The above song again captures how the PDP led-government failed to pay
salaries, pensions, and gratuities despite huge monthly allocations, bailout
funds, and London Parris Club funds among other monies gotten from the
federation account by the Benue State government. Although, PDP also made
their songs composed against APC contestants cum supporters. The songs
spread misinformation on the social media, print, and online publications have
brandished false casualty figures as well as circulation of various footages of old
and inaccurate propaganda videos.46 It is on this basis that a coalition of the
news organisation in Nigeria collaborated with the United Kingdom-based First
Draft to cheek-mate such kinds of false information online come into force.
Whether they were able to achieve this goal is another topic for intellectual
engagement. The implications of the above stem from their potency in
generating political violence in Benue State in the 2019 general elections.
Arising from the above background, the pre-election violence in Benue State
took various dimensions like the destruction of campaign vehicles, posters,
billboards, and campaign offices, attacks of opposition supporters, and so forth
with the use of SALWs. For example, in the Sankera Axis of the state
(Logo/Ukum/Kastina-Ala LGAs), a notorious criminal Mr. Terwase Akwaza
(A.K.A. Gana) recruited a good number of criminals who were heavily armed
with SALWs. Those notorious criminals were cheap tools in the hands of
desperate politicians in the State to perpetrate electoral violence. Besides,
Gana’s wife was also in the race for the State House of Assembly under the
auspices of APC. Some sources also established that Gana god-fathered Hon.
Agbidyeh Akute who represented the APC in Katsina-Ala East constituency.47 To
install his wife and Hon. Agbidyeh Akute as some sources established, Terna
Iornem48 asserted that; Gana was so upset that he stopped some politicians for
daring to participate in the 2019 election’. He also stressed that; Gana’s men
during the 2019 general elections decided who among the politicians from
Makurdi and Abuja to come home to exercise their franchise’. Richard
Ternumum49 reinforces that; ‘what they did during the 2019 elections was that a
few days to the polls, they sent messages to their sponsors’ perceived political
foes to stay clear or they would regret coming home’. Therefore, the Sankara
Axis became a hotbed for pre-election violence leading to the deaths of local
politicians in the State.
46 Roby, C. (2008). ‘Nigeria’s Brewing Pre-Election Violence’, in Democracy and Governance,
available on;
brewing-pre-election-violence-92804. accessed 28-04-2022.
47 Uja, E. (2018). ‘Police Nab Benue Assembly Member’. The Nation Newspaper, 23rd
October, Available on;
member/. Accessed 30-04-2022.
48 Oral interview with Terna Iornem, interviewed in Kastina-Ala Town on 30-04-2022.
49 Oral Interview with Richard Ternumum, Interviewed in Katsina-Ala Town on 30-04-
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15 ,
Issues, Problems, and Challenges on the Days of the General Elections in
Benue State
The circumstances that surrounded the 2019 general elections in Nigeria and
Benue State, in particular, were tension-ridden for political participants and
observers. The first challenge was the Independent National Electoral
Commission's (INEC) unclear decision to postpone the elections scheduled to
the detriment of the electorates. Originally, the general election was scheduled
to hold on February 16 and March 2 for the Presidential/National Assembly and
Gubernatorial/State Houses of Assembly respectively. Preparations were on top
gear when INEC broke the sad news of the election shift a few hours to the
commencement of the exercise. The INEC boss, Professor Mahmood Yakubu
pointed out logistic problems as a justification for the postponement of the
scheduled general election, thus:
In preparing for the 2019 general elections, we have come
face-to-face with the realities of conducting such an
extensive national deployment of men and materials in a
developing country like ours…It is therefore not unexpected
that such a tremendous national mobilisation of men and
materials will encounter operational challenges and we
have had our fair share of such challenges… There have been
delays in delivering ballot papers and result sheets for the
elections which are not unusual Unfortunately, in the last
week flights within the country have been adversely
affected by bad weather. For instance, three days ago, we
were unable to deliver materials to some locations due to
bad weather Apart from these logistical challenges, we
also faced what may well attempt to sabotage
our preparations. In a space of two weeks, we had to deal
with serious fire incidents in three of our offices in Isiala
Ngwa South Local Government Area of Abia State, Qu'an Pan
Local Government Area of Plateau State, and our Anambra
State Office at Awka Faced with these challenges, we
initially thought that we only required a maximum of 24
hours to resolve the logistics issues involved and complete
our deployment for the election.50
The new dates announced were February 23 for the Presidential/National
Assembly, and March 9 for the Gubernatorial/State Houses of Assembly
respectively.51 Although, the implication of this action were region as recounted
by several Observer Missions including; low voters turnout and apathy,
confusion over the duration of the candidate and party campaign, loss of public
50 Babalola, A. (2019). ‘Rescheduled Election Date and the Law’. Vanguard Newspaper of
20th February. Available on;
election-date-and-the-law/. Accessed 01-05-2022.
51 Awofeso, O. (2020). ‘Observers Report and the 2019 General Elections in Nigeria: A
Focus on Electoral Violence and Lessons for Future Elections’. In Global Journal of Political
Science and Administration Vol.8, No.4. p. 24.
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16 ,
confidence in INEC sincerity of purpose, additional costs for the government,
Observers and Nigerian electorates who travelled from far distances to cast their
votes in their constituencies.52
he second issue was the unceremonious suspension of the Chief justice of the
Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen barely three weeks before the general
elections. To the government, the decision was due to the failure of the Chief
Justice to openly declare all his assets as a public servant. However, many
political analysts, foreign government officials, and Nigerian electorates smelt a
rat.53 Thirdly, was the refusal of President Buhari to give assent to the bill which
seeks to amend vital aspects of the 2010 Electoral Acts in December 2018
because the timeframe was very close to the election period and too short for
INEC to successfully implement them. The general opinion of most Nigerians
was that the bill if passed into law would enhance transparency and
accountability in the 2019 general elections. Therefore, these pending issues
were a time-bomb that led to irregularities in the general elections in 2019 in
On the day of the elections, sponsored thugs used different kinds of SALWs to
distract the electoral process in some LGAs including Ado, Tarka, Gboko, Ukum,
Gwer-East et cetera. In Ado LGA, the Nation Newspaper54 captured this scenario,
Leaders of the PDP in Apa Ward, Ado LGA of Benue State
have appealed to the State Police Commissioner over the
alleged assault and intimidation of their members during the
March 9 governorship election by soldiers on the orders of
one Agbese Philip. It alleged that Nelson Ogbu, Comrade
James Oche, Emmanuel Aboh, Ogbu Ogaba, Innocent Egegwu,
Susan Onmonya, Kingsley Onmonya, Otse Unazi, Udah Okibe,
and the entire PDP Ward executives in the ward were
harassed, intimidated by the soldiers led by one Corporal
Echo Omerigwe alias Tension. According to the petition
signed by their lawyer M.S. Agaku, the soldiers also
intimidated innocent voters who were sympathetic to the
PDP, adding that Agbese who brought them, bragged
publicly that they were assigned to him by the Chief of the
Army Staff (COAS) Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai.
Agbese Philip claimed to be a consultant to the Nigerian Army as such accrued
the authority and capacity to violate the electoral process with impunity. In a
similar view, the Mbalon ward in Gwer-East LGA, Yandev North ward in Gboko
LGA, and Manger II ward in Tarka LGA witnessed different degrees of electoral
violence leading to cancellations of votes. The CDD West Africa, an Election
52 Awofeso, O. (2020). ‘Observers Report and the ..’p. 24.
53 See NCS Situationroom Report, (2019), p.4.
54 The Nation Newspaper (2019). ‘PDP Accuses Soldiers of Brutality, Electoral Violence in
Benue’ Available on
electoral-violence-in-benue/. Accessed 30-04-2022.
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17 ,
Analysis Centre (EAC) that deployed observers to 17 politically charged and
violence-prone battleground states for the election made a brief twit of this
development on their Twitter handle @CDD West Africa,55 thus:
Armed hoodlums razed down a Roman Catholic primary
school in Aya containing electoral materials meant for
Mbalom ward in Gwer East Local Government Area of the
state. However, no election official was hurt. Also, in the
Manger II polling unit of Mbanyagber registration area in
Tarka local government area which has 538 registered
voters and a youth corper was taken, hostage. In the
Registration Area Centre (RAC) at Yandev North in Gboko
LGA, election officials were attacked twice. The number of
registered voters affected by the disruption is 8,437.
In line with this report, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Dr. Yilwatda
Nentawe cancelled all the election results in the affected LGA and insisted that:
The election in Mbalon is rescheduled because of the
burning of electoral materials by thugs while in Yandev
North and Manger II wards the elections will be rescheduled
because our electoral officers were held, hostage56.
The rescheduled election was for governorship and state house of assembly in
four affected council wards. While the governorship election was declared
inconclusive in Benue and other election volatile states like Rivers, Kano, Sokoto,
Plateau, Bauchi, and Adamawa.57 The supplementary elections in these states
especially in Kano and Benue turned out to be a war rather than an election.
Thugs were sponsored by brandishing and unleashing all forms of SALWs
against any perceived opposition of the constituted authority in the respective
states.58 For example, in the Ukum LGA supplementary elections, Chito the
headquarters of the Azendeshi council ward was disrupted by the alleged APC
militia. Dura59 again captured this story succinctly:
Youths in the early hours of Saturday overpowered security
personnel and disrupted the supplementary election in
Chito the headquarters of Azendeshi council ward, in Ukum
LGA of Benue state. The rampaging youths were alleged to
55 See the Twitter Handle of CDD West Africa @CDDWestAfrica.
56 Dura, P. (2019). ‘INEC Reschedules Elections in Parts of Benue over Electoral Violence’.
In Vanguard Newspaper, May 19th. Available
one-vote/. Accessed 30-04-2022.
57 Sule, B., Adamu, U.and Sambo,U. (2020). 'The 2019 General Election in Nigeria:
Examining the Issues, Challenges, Successes, and Lessons for Future General Elections'.
International Journal of Social Sciences Perspectives, Vol. 6. No. 2, p. 110.
58 Sule, B., Adamu, U.and Sambo,U. (2020). ‘The 2019 General Election…’ p.110.
59 Dura, P. (2019). ‘INEC Reschedules Elections in Parts of Benue over Electoral Violence’.
In Vanguard Newspaper, May 19th. Available
one-vote/. Accessed 30-04-2022.
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18 ,
have attacked the Independent National Electoral
Commission, INEC, officials, PDP agents, and observers after
which they snatched all the electoral materials meant for the
election, and burnt them thereby disrupting the entire
process in the area. The member representing Ukum state
constituency in the Benue State House of Assembly, Mr. Paul
Biam alongside, the Commissioner for Industry, Trade and
Investment, Kachina Merga, Adviser to the State Governor
on Revenue and Taxation, Mr. Jerome Zaye who were agents
of the PDP in the area were all attacked by the irate alleged
APC youths.
From the forgoing stories and testimonies, the 2019 general election in Benue
state was not devoid of violence using SALWs. It should be noted that Politicians
quipped the jobless youths with SALWs which they used in disrupting the
electoral process in some of the few places cited in this paper. It has been on
record that there were over 350 million illegal SALWs in Nigeria during the
period under review.60 On this note a retired Commissioner of Police and former
spokesman of the force, Frank Odita cited in Olafioye61 lamented that:
The crop of politicians a country has at any given time
dictates what happens. In the past, Nigerian politicians were
not as ambitious as we have now. The issue of wealth was
not a major issue. A good number of them wanted to serve
then and we could see patriotism written all over them
The truth is that the present-day politicians are different
from the politicians of those days. So we need a new
orientation for everybody to understand that life is precious
and sacrosanct. You don't just carry arms because you want
to win an election.
Benue State politicians like their counterparts in the Nigerian state have
acquired massive SALWs to kill, intimidate, and oppress their political
opponents hence politics is a big time business in the state. The use of SALWs
created political apathy with serious implications for democracy and good
Conclusion and Policy Options
The 2019 general election in Benue State was characterised by electoral
malpractices and violence. The competition was majorly between the PDP and
APC who had strong Benue politicians that wanted to maintain their political
relevance in the schema of Benue politics. To accomplish this purpose, the use of
SALWs was their available option hence most of them knew that they could not
60 Daily Trust Newspaper (2018). ‘350 Million Illegal Weapons In Nigeria, FG Laments’.
Available on;
Accessed 01-05-2022.
61 Olafioye, O. (2018). ‘2019: Concerns Mount Over Arms Proliferation’. In the Sun
Newspaper, 4th November. Available on;
concerns-mount-over-arms-proliferation. Accessed 01-04-2022.
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19 ,
win votes even in their constituencies. The use of SALWs is a clear
demonstration that Nigeria is a failed state which has nothing to offer after over
two decades of tortuous democratic resurgence. To move out of this mess and
achieve credible, transparent, and violent-free elections in Nigeria, the following
strategies must be adopted:
Firstly, the federal government in conjunction with other tiers of government
should fight the proliferation of SALWs to reduce the high level of its circulation
in the country. In line with this fact, a National Commission for the Prohibition of
Illegal importation of Small Arms, Ammunition, and Light Weapons and other
related matters should be established as already done by other west African
countries. For this to be successful, every meaningful Nigerian citizen must
resolve to report cases of stockpiling SALWs to the constituted authorities.
Therefore, all hands must be on deck to fight the proliferation of SALWs which is
a potent weapon for truncating the very essence of the electoral process in
Secondly, the politics of god-father and god-son has been the problem of
electoral violence in Benue State since 1999. When a god-father imposes a
candidate for an elective post, he ensures that his candidate wins the election
either by hook or by crook hence the financial kickbacks that come thereafter.
Therefore, it is the opinion of this study that Benue state politicians should stop
seeing politics as a lucrative business that instils into them the spirit of a 'do or
die game'. Rather, they should have a new orientation that the electoral process
is a civilised way of exercising one's franchise, and also an avenue to seek an
elective post to serve our fatherland selflessly. With this kind of mindset, the
issue of god-son and god-father will be over. A situation where god-fathers
recruit the jobless youths and armed them with SALWs would be out of place.
After all, this kind of strategy has made certain parts of Benue State volatile as a
result of ‘use and dump thugs’ in previous elections in the state hence
Thirdly, the youths who are ‘engine room’ for electoral violence in Benue State
and Nigeria at large and should be given a new orientation. This is the point
where academia, faith-based organisations, the clergy, traditional rulers, and
parents have very crucial roles to play. They should collectively discourage the
youths from their infamous parts in the electoral process. They should make the
youths ponder why politicians' sons and daughters are not involved in any
electoral violence in the state. This kind of new orientation could only be
achieved when the youths are empowered through job creation and engagement
in Medium and Small Scale Businesses or enterprises among others. Finally,
INEC should adopt new methods of conducting elections as it is done in
advanced countries. Through the use of information and communication
technology, INEC can adopt a partially electronic voting system, especially in
Nigerian towns and cities. This as well will reduce such issues as snatching of
ballot papers, vote-buying, and attacks on the Nigerian electorates who resolve
to exercise their franchise.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
The 2019 General Election is another milestone and a watershed in the efforts of Nigeria towards democratisation. It has been the six consecutive times that General Elections are successfully conducted in the Fourth Republic which has been unprecedented in the history of the country. This work investigated the major issues, challenges, successes and lessons learnt from the Election. It is notable that elections in Nigeria for over fifty (50) years remain a warlike affair and the phenomenon seem to be continuous despite the long experience of democratic practice in the current Republic. The research used both primary and secondary sources of data analysis. The primary sources consist of participant observation, data from the electoral body; the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and reports from observers and civil societies that directly participated in the exercise. The secondary sources include books, journals, internet and other existing literature on the subject matter of study. The data obtained were analysed and discussed using a qualitative approach method where themes and sub-themes were identified and discussed analytically. The research discovered that the 2019 General Election was heralded with several issues, various challenges and some level of success and that there are lessons that are learnt from the process for future General Elections' conduct in the country. The work recommends among other suggestions that for a better General Election in future in the country, some observed avoidable mistakes must be taken care of immediately and that the success part should be strengthened to ensure effectiveness.
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