POLITICAL VIOLENCE AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION IN NIGERIA (2007-2015)
1.1 Background to the Study
Democracy in Africa without any shadow of doubt has become associated with violence even with the slightest provocation. Violence has gone beyond African countries. It is a global phenomenon. It has become something that is used by groups seeking power, by groups holding power and by groups in the process of losing power (Anifowose, 1999). Scholars are of different opinions on whether to consider violence as objective or subjective on what to include or exclude as violence, and on how to classify the various forms of violence. The outcome of this made scholars to come up with many forms of violence. It is not restricted to the political sphere alone. It cuts across every aspect of human existence. This means that political violence is just a subset of violence. It takes many forms including: kidnapping, assassination, arson, thuggery etc. This shows that we are in a violent world and the tendency to be violent increases by the day. Violence has no territorial boundary. It is as universal as it predates modernity. For instance, Ekiran (2006) notes that both the Biblical and Quaranic accounts of creation and the events that followed in the Garden of Eden particularly Adam and Eve’s refusal to obey God’s simple instruction, amounts to violence of a sort.
Rejection of a superior’s injunction is tantamount to violent behavior; because the word violence has its roots from violation or infringement. So when one violates or infringes on a laid down principle, it amounts to violence. Therefore violence can be described as an unruly behavior perpetrated to express anger and dissatisfaction over some social issues which the perpetrators felt have affected or likely to affect them in one way or another (Ekiran, 2006). It is an aggressive behavior which more often than not involves physical combat which could inflict bodily injuries on both perpetrators and innocent people. It is an ill wind that blows no one any good.
According to IFES Reports (2007), there were 967 incidents of electoral violence in the 2007 elections. Cases of abduction and kidnapping, murder and killing ̧ protest, disruption, intimidation and physical attack and well as poster defacing all featured in the incidents. 300 people were killed on issues relating to 2007 elections. The General Elections of 2007 were of monumental importance as it marked the first time in the history of elections in the country when civilian to civilian transition has ever taken place .It was a situation that the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, described as a ‘do or die affair’. The whole electoral processes were that of State Houses of Assembly, National Assembly, Gubernatorial and Presidential Offices. Even though the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) meticulously and zealously planned for these elections, the election days witnessed confusion and all manner of electoral mal-practices such that INEC’s preparedness was brought to question. Results from the entire exercise were probably the most contentious and most lingering (Yaqub, 2007). Long after the events, there were still litigations after litigations. The elections were annulled in certain states of the federation while in others, results remain controversial. This was so because those who emerged victorious did so through irregular activities that is, rigging and violence. The elections conducted in Plateau State cannot be said to have occurred without electoral violence. The events which trailed the Gubernatorial Elections in Plateau State form the focus of this research.