Released on 28/01/19
This is the seventh edition of Niger Delta Watch 2019.
In the last week, campaigns picked up in all of the states without a noticeable increase in violence or clashes. A theme this week in all of the project states has been vote buying, of which there has been a significant amount, with increasingly large sums of money shared with community members by political parties
In Rivers, political parties have been travelling to communities, demanding their supporters and members to show their voters card. While the All Progressive Congress (APC) and other parties are embarking on low key campaigns, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has been crisscrossing the State campaigning for votes.
In Bayelsa, there was a cult clash in Yenagoa LGA, leading to a number of fatalities. There were also issues involving youths; in one incident they disrupted a campaign rally, while in another they attempted to chase out candidates of the APC and PDP from the community.
There are continuing simmering signs of tension in Delta State, with the persistent destruction of opposition’s billboards and posters, but only limited incidents of clashes. Voters also accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of giving out registered voter information to the PDP.
In Akwa Ibom, concern remains high about the preparations of both major parties (APC and PDP) for violence around the polls, but campaigning has remained normal over the week in review. There was a reported attack on INEC officials in Ikot Abasi. There are concerns that reported cash payments to suspected cult group leaders could increase their access to resources and create new conflicts between the groups, leading to more violence in the coming weeks.
This week, we examined incidents relating to electoral violence since the start of the project in the project states. Based on our data, the most electoral violence so far has occurred in Port Harcourt, which has also had the highest number of reported fatalities related to electoral incidents since the start of the project in November 2018. Rivers State has also had more election-related fatalities compared with Delta and Bayelsa. In Delta, our data shows that Ndokwa West LGA has also been a hotspot for violence.
In terms of types of electoral violence, violence against civilians has been the most prevalent. This has included kidnap and murder of the opposition on both sides, of which there have been numerous incidents in Rivers. Battles have mostly been linked to cult rivalry, which has been an issue in Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers. Cult groups are often linked to political parties and carry out attacks during election time on groups supporting the opposition. There have been few reported election-related violent incidents involving women.
This week, social media analysts analysed the activity of politicians with a strong presence on social media. Those that emerged were Rivers State Executive Governor, Nyesom Wike (PDP); Former Governor of Rivers State and Federal Minister of Transport, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi (APC); PDP member Rene Omokri; and ex-president and PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
As elections approach, social media is more active around political topics. New pages are being created every day and discrediting campaigns will be stronger in the weeks to come. It will be important to pay attention to false messages around election day and other aspects that may influence people’s opinions.
Read the report in full.