5th July, 2010
In a city as big as Lagos, Nigeria, cases of electoral violence are not uncommon.Â Thuggery and hooliganism had been the order of the day in previous elections with the police and other security agents finding it difficult to stem the tide of violence.
Killings and maiming of innocent people, burning of polling booths, stealing of electoral materials and other ills have been the lot of Nigerian politics.Â Most of those recruited for thuggery by politicians to unleash violence were mostly members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, members of the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN, social miscreants a.k.a. area boys and students of higher institutions, among others.Â They had become thorns in the flesh of people living in the Lagos metropolis and beyond.
As the 2011 election approaches, there is no doubt that unscrupulous politicians within the Lagos metropolis have started recruiting thugs to unleash mayhem on political opponents and voters who may not want to vote for them.
In a bid to nip such occurrence in the bud, the RTEAN, in collaboration with the State Security Service, SSS, organised a one-day forum in Lagos to sensitise members of the union on the need to ensure that they do not become tools in the hands of politicians.
Hundreds of executive members of RTEAN gathered at the Centre for Management Development, CMD, Magodo, Lagos, Nigeria to listen to the SSS on the fate that await them if they allow themselves to be instruments of electoral violence in the coming election.
They were also warned to stay off campaigns for any politician before 90 days to the election. They were also warned against the use of force or violence whether directly or indirectly during political campaigns, and they are expected to provide useful information to the SSS on people suspected to be carrying out debilitating acts.
On the election day, Johnson Ade, Assistant Commissioner, State Security Service said no union member was expected to transport polling materials without due authority; destroy ballot papers or be in possession of polling materials; transfer of voters’ card or be in possession of more than one card; use siren or megaphone; impersonate another person for the purpose of voting; act in a dastardly manner; loiter around after voting and to avoid giving or receiving gifts from politicians or take advantageÂ for the purpose of influencing the voting system.
On the post-election period, union members were warned not to convey groups involved in violent protests or engage in clashes with political opponents. They were also warned to shun any act that might breach the peace of the society.Â â€œWe must ensure that we put in our best to ensure that the next election is successful and we can only do this by ensuring that we all play our parts very well as the future depends on us. We donâ€™t want crisis in the coming elections; give us information on time about people who want to foment trouble,â€ said Ade.
RTEAN Â President, Lagos State, Mr. Muhammed Musa said the forum became imperative so as to ensure that members do not fall into the deception of politicians in using them to perpetrate acts inimical to the development and progress of the state.
â€œThe danger we have in Nigeria today is that political leaders who want to contest give cutlasses to people and use them as agents against other political opponents, while the politician will be at home safe with his family. As a result of this, we want to create awareness to let our people know that there is danger going into thuggery, assassination and others.
â€œLet our members know the danger of allowing themselves to be used.Â The Bible or the Quran goes against thuggery.Â We collaborated with the SSS to sensitise our members on their expected roles in the coming elections,â€ he stated.