Violence erupts in parts of Nigeria over disputed local elections

Tuesday March 21 2023

Supporters of Nigeria’s People’s Democratic Party candidate Atiku Abubakar protest at Independent National Electoral Commission headquarters in Abuja on March 6, 2023 over the results of Nigeria’s 2023 presidential and general election. PHOTO | KOLA SULAIMON | AFP


Violent protests on Monday erupted in some parts of Nigeria over disputed results of gubernatorial and house of assembly representatives’ elections conducted on March 18 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). 

The local polls were held amidst acrimonious falling-out from the February 25 presidential poll won by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate Ahmed Bola Tinubu, 70, a former governor of Lagos from 1999-2007. 

Nigeria's President-elect Bola Tinubu

Nigeria's President-elect Bola Tinubu after receiving his election certificate from INEC in Abuja on March 1, 2023. PHOTO | OLUKAYODE JAIYEOLA | NURPHOTO VIA AFP

Nigeria’s commercial city of Lagos with more than 22 million people had been boiling since Sunday night when the indigenous Yoruba people embarked on protests against non-indigenous people whom they accused of trying to take over the state and calling it "a no man’s land". 

Most Lagos residents going to work on Monday morning were attacked while students were sent back home as schools were closed for fear of attacks. Shop owners closed by 5pm on Sunday evening, fearing the traditional masquerade (Oro) used in tormenting people. 

As at 8am on Monday, most street gates that usually opened by 5.30am for people to go on their businesses were still under lock and key. 


The protesters were particularly irked by the hoisting secession flags in strategic places in the city when Mr Peter Obi, a Labour Party (LP) politician, was declared to have won the state in the presidential contest.  

Read: Intrigues, upsets cloud Nigeria polls

The win apparently spurred overzealous kinsmen to deride the Yoruba people of southwest and vow "take over the state from the owners". 

Irked by the imbroglio, the Yoruba mobilised to install the incumbent governor, Mr Sanwo-Olu, for the second term, defeating LP candidate whom they suspected was an agent of the Nigerian easterners because of hisbelonging to both the Igbo and Yoruba stock. 

Though the indigenous Yoruba people won the Lagos poll, hoodlums have hit the streets burning properties and molesting non-indigenes, asking those who could not play along with their hosts to leave the city. 

“Don’t stay in Lagos and benefit from the leadership, infrastructure as well as the economy we built over time, yet carry resentment towards us. You threaten violence and de-market Lagos on social media. You have two options; behave or relocate,” an influential member of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Reno Omokri tweeted. 

Femi Fani-Kayode, a Yoruba APC politician and former minister of aviation, is in support of the Yoruba people and expressed deep concerns about attempts by the Ibo community in Lagos to take over their land. He praised the Yoruba people as civilised individuals who believe strongly in the ethos of peaceful-coexistence and integration. 

Read: AKINYEMI: Competence over tribe except in Nigerian polls

Aloy Ejimakor, the Special Counsel to Mr Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a secession group from the southeast Nigeria, urged Yoruba leaders to halt the anti-Igbo violence in Lagos State and termed it as a mini genocide. 

Less than 24 hours after the election results were announced in Kano State, Northwest Nigeria, its State Commissioner for Information and Internal Affairs Muhammad Garba on Monday imposed a dawn-to-dusk curfew to prevent hoodlums from causing chaos. 

The commissioner called on people in the state to remain indoors as security agents would not spare anyone or group bent on causing trouble.

INEC had declared Mr Abba Yusuf of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) winner of the Saturday’s governorship election in the state after beating the Deputy Governor Yusuf Gawuna at the poll. 

Hoodlums set the residence of a Nigerian political singer Dauda Kahutu Barara on fire. 

He was at the centre stage of the APC campaign, singing at various rallies during electioneering. 

“INEC suspended poll results announcement in Yola capital of Northeast Adamawa State to enable it properly confirm the authenticity of the figures from one Fufore local government area (LGA) after supporters of APC candidate hit the streets destroying properties and molesting residents,” Prof Mohammed Mele, an INEC state collation officer and Yakubu Ari, Adamawa Resident Electoral Commissioner (Rec) said on Monday after collation of results from 20 out of the 21 LGAs. 

Shortly before the shift, two agents of PDP and APC, urged INEC to ensure justice in the collation of the results before declaration. 

Security forces have been deployed to major roads in the state capital to ensure security following a protes in the metropolis after the adjournment. 

The road leading to INEC office has also been cordoned off.