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2023 polls: APC supporters suppressed, Igbo, non-Yoruba voters in Lagos – US report

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2023 polls: APC supporters suppressed, Igbo, non-Yoruba voters in Lagos - US report

A 2023 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Nigeria released by the U.S. Department of State has narrated how supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) suppressed Igbo and other non Yoruba voters in Lagos.

The report also shed light on various irregularities and challenges faced during the country’s 2023 elections which produced Bola Tinubu as president.

“Many independent observers assessed the results of the presidential, legislative, and state-level elections during the year reflected the will of voters, despite reports of voter suppression and vote buying, campaigning at polling stations, lack of ballot secrecy, violence, and intimidation. During the March 18 state election in Lagos, All Progressives Congress (APC) supporters reportedly intimidated and suppressed voters in Igbo-dominated areas, which Labour Party presidential candidate and ethnically Igbo Peter Obi won in the February 25 national election,” the report said.

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“Viral videos on social media showed APC supporters in Ojo threatening to attack ethnic Igbo voters presumed to be pro-Obi. In Eti-Osa, APC supporters also attacked journalists and, in some cases, shut down voting and prevented non-Yoruba voters from accessing polls. They similarly destroyed property and physically blocked voters in Amuwo-Odofin. According to videos posted on social media, police officers were present but failed to respond to attacks. There was no evidence that alleged perpetrators were arrested or prosecuted.”

The report which looked into various areas of abuse of citizens by state and non state actors, highlighted the persistent underrepresentation of women and marginalized groups in Nigerian politics.

It said, “Participation of Women and Members of Marginalized or Vulnerable Groups: The national average of women’s political participation in Nigeria was 6.7 percent in elected and appointed positions. Civil society organization observers noted religious, cultural, and economic barriers contributed to fewer leadership opportunities for women in major parties and government.

“A gender-based violence survey of the 2023 elections conducted by the NGO ElectHER said religious and cultural barriers such as double standards, blackmailing, and media smear campaigns were actively used against women politicians. Media outlets stereotyped women politicians as “promiscuous” or “cunning” and in some cases refused to cover their campaigns allegedly on the orders of opposition officials and candidates. In addition, the law criminalizing LGBTQI+ free association and assembly effectively prevented openly LGBTQI+ persons from running for office.”

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