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ELECTORAL VIOLENCE IN WANNUNE AND ALIADE AREAS OF TIVLAND;

ANALYSING THEIR IMPLICATIONS FOR MEANINGFUL DEVELOPMENT IN THE


21ST CENTURY
A PROPOSED ARTICLE FOR PUBLICATION

By
GBAMWUAN, ASOR
07031273637
Email: a.asor@ymail.com
DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY, BENUE STATE UNIVERSITY, MAKURDI

&
ITYONZUGHUL, TERHILE THADDEUS
07068283767
Email: Ityonzughultt@yahoo.com
DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY, BENUE STATE UNIVERSITY, MAKURDI

ABSTRACT
This study is an investigation into the 2002 and 2006 electoral violence in
Wannune and Aliade Areas of Benue State respectively. For proper investigation
of these violent conflicts, the researchers made use of both primary and
secondary sources which were carefully analysed to achieve objectivity. Using
frustration-aggression and systemic hypotheses as parameter for elaborate
analysis, the research unveils that most electoral violence in Tivland are being
caused by the imposition of unpopular candidates on the electorates. In the final
analysis, the work recommends the Tiv intelligentsia to discourage politics of

god-fatherism and advocates proper institutionalization of democracy in


Nigeria. It also encourages the youths, the civil society groups, stakeholders and
traditional leaders to uplift our fragile democracy by fighting corruption that has
contributed to the failure of our democratic governance.

KEY WORDS: Election, Political Violence, Democratic Governance

INTRODUCTION
Political violence has not been uncommon phenomena in most of the worlds political
systems. This phenomenon is however more pronounced in developing countries where the
political office is also regarded as an industry. Nigeria as an entity belongs to this class of
countries. In Nigeria, political violence has been a constant feature of the countrys political
history: this plague particularly becomes rampant after independence for example, the 1964
Federal elections and the 1965 Parliamentary election violence in the Western Region. In the
Northern Region where Tivland was/is located, there was fierce political violence termed the
Nande Nande (House Burning) and Atemityou (Head breaking) of 1960 and 1964
respectively. These incidences of violence had their roots in the stiff opposition against the
ruling Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) which arose from the fact that the Tiv felt left out
of the allocations of the regional government such as high level appointments, the sitting of
industries and the distribution of the government patronage generally1.
The creation of Benue-Plateau in 1967 and Benue state in 1976 did not tackle election
violence hence 1979 and 1983 elections were characterized by abusive songs, while the
Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) supporters were brutally molested especially in the 1983
gubernatorial election2.

Generally speaking, 1983 campaigns created a great deal of

insecurity in Benue state in general and particularly in Tivland, lives and property were
unsafe as were personal reputations. However, the aborted Third Republic marked the free
and fair elections ever conducted in the history of the nation. In Benue State as well the
peoples aspirations were reflected to the mandate given to Rev. Father Moses Adasu of
Social Democratic Party (SDP). Although at national level, the annulment of Chief MKO
Abiolas election by the General Ibrahim Babangidas regime created upraising and violence
especially from the Yoruba axis. Some renowned Yoruba people who championed the course
were killed or sentenced to different jail terms by the duo of General Babangida and General
Sani Abacha regimes, thus the journey to democracy was truncated.3

The resurgence of democracy in 1999 did not defer from the 1960 and 1964 political
massacre in Tivland, hence the seed of political discord was sown during this time. The
germination of this seed of political discord was the 2002 electoral violence in Wannune, the
2003/2004 electoral violence in Kwande, the 2006 electoral violence in Gwer and the 2007
electoral violence in Buruku. Although our concentration in this study would be strictly
limited to Wannune and Aliade electoral violence in Tarka and Gwer Local Government
Areas. This is justify against the backdrop that, their implications gives a general picture of
havoc done in Kwande as well as Buruku and their attendant impediment for meaningful
development of Tiv society in this 21st century.
CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
The conceptualization of the key concepts is necessarily germane to the progress of this
work. Election and violence are conspicuously the key concepts on which the analysis of this
work will progress. An election is a process of choice agreed upon by a group of people. It
enables them to select one or few people out of many to occupy one or a number of authority
positions. This process of choice usually involves rules and regulations designed to ensure a
certain degree of fairness and justice to all concerned. Therefore it is the modern form of
recruitment of personnel into offices and it is deemed to be a very crucial aspect of the
democratic process irrespective of the type of democracy that is practiced.

It is in light of

this argument that Festus affirms that Election provides the medium, by which the different
interest groups within the modern nation state can take and resolve their claims to power
through peaceful means.5 Elections therefore determine the manner and methods by which
changes in the social order may be brought about. It is important that we do not reduce the
process of election to the act of voting alone as Akoye has pointed out thus:
elections are complex set of activities with different variables that act and feed
one another. It can be defined as a formal act of collective decision that occurs in
a stream of concerned antecedent and subsequent behaviour...Elections are not
necessarily about Election Day activities although it forms an important
component. It encompasses activities before, during and after elections. It
includes the legal and constitutional framework of elections, the registration of
political parties, party campaigns, the activities of the electronic and print media
in terms of access, it includes campaign financing, the activities of security
agencies and government in power. It includes the authenticity and genuineness
of the voters register; it includes the independence or lack of electoral agencies
and organs. It includes the liberalism or otherwise of the political process in the
country and independence of the adjudicating bodies of elections.6

However, in Nigeria elections have become a do or die affair, as Olusegun


Obasanjo asserts: We fight, and sometimes shed blood to achieve and retain political power
since for us in Nigeria, the political kingdom has for long been the gateway to economic
kingdom.7 The foregoing statement captures the content and context of political thuggery,
and violence in Tivland. The statement demonstrates how blood is being spilled for political
power in this area against the tenets of democracy. The use of thugs in Tiv politics has not
only led to the waste of human resources, but has also resulted in death of able-bodied men
who may be useful in the future, and political apathy. Elections should therefore embody the
ethos of true democracy. There should be the legal equality of all the electorates existing side
by side with their freedom to choose which of the political aspirants to represent them, while
the candidates as well should exercise their freedom of speech to represent their views to the
electorates. There should be the freedom of the press to disseminate information because of
the divergent views they expressed on electoral issues especially on the qualities of the
political aspirants and the breadth of the news they reported at this time. Election in essence
typifies the democratic process, hence the abolitions is often interpreted as the abolition of
democracy.
Violence on the other hand is considered as very great force in action or feeling-rough
treatment, use of bodily force on others especially to hurt or harm. 8 Thus Deng asserts that:
Violence depicts a situation of interaction involving two or more parties in which action in
pursuit of incompatible objectives or interests result in discord of varying degrees. 9
Reasoning from the same vein, Charles Tilly posits that violence is every forms of overt
behaviour such as protest, militancy, coercion, destruction or muscle flexing which makes the
observer to apprehend fear. 10
The frequent conceptualization of force and violence tends to confuse the distinction
between legality, legitimacy and specific acts. Often, force is taken to mean legal and
legitimate use of violence by a government for protection of the state while violence is
interpreted as illegal and illegitimate acts carried out by non-governmental individuals and
groups. Violence as Henry Bienen comments carries overtones of violating and we often use
violence to refer to illegitimate force.11 The state, according to Marx Waber, is the exclusive
source of the right to use violence all other individuals or associations may use it only to the
degree permitted by the authorities.
These views of violence are deficient on two grounds, first: the definition of violence as
illegitimate force introduces the debate about the proper scope of the authorities into the very
delineation of the phenomenon to be investigated. Second, it also suggest that the states use

of violence will always be used to the benefit of all concerned, and that it will be regarded as
legitimate by citizens especially if carried out through recognized and accepted channels. But
still a problem intrudes; how many of the citizens must consider the violence of the state as
legitimate? There is rarely total agreement on the assessment of any act of government as
legitimate or illegitimate. It is methodologically difficult to determine the point when the
states use of violence has moved from the legitimate to illegitimate. Because of this problem
of the conflicting conception of violence, our analysis will treat state violence only as a
causal explanation for the individual or the groups use of violence. Peoples disagreement on
what they will call violent, springs to an important extent from differences in political
perspectives. In most cases of civil violence, there is always a heavy involvement of the
police and soldiers which Charles Tilley describes as the most consistent initiators and
performance of collective violence. He notes that repressive forces do the largest part of the
killing and wounding, while the groups they are seeking to control do most of the damage to
property.12 Extrapolating from the above conceptual underpinnings, we argue in this paper
that; electoral violence is a state of instability or chaos often characterized by destruction of
lives and property, after elections has been conducted, this is as a result of the dissatisfaction
with the conduct and the outcome of the election results. Having done justice to the
conceptual issues, our search light of analysis would focus on theoretical underpinnings in the
next segment.
THEORETICAL ANALYSIS OF ELECTORAL VIOLENCE IN TIVLAND
For the purpose of critical appraisal of the causes and dimensions of post-election
violence in Tivland, Two theories would be considered for analyses here. These are; (a) The
Relative Deprivation, Rising Expectations and Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis; and (b)
The Systemic Hypothesis. 13
The frustration-aggression hypothesis originally developed by Dollard and his research
associate and later expanded and modified by other scholars including Yates and Berkowitz. 14
The central premise of this theory put simply is that aggression is always the result of
frustration. Given the requisite conditions, an individual whose basic desires are thwarted and
who consequently experiences profound sense of dissatisfaction and anger is likely to react to
this condition by directing aggressive behaviour at what is perceived as been responsible for
thwarting those desires, or at a substitute. The greater the perceived importance of the desires
and the more comprehensive the checking, the more vigorous the aggressive response.15

The second variant of the frustration-aggression theses is the notion of relative


deprivation, interpreted to mean a state of mind where there is discrepancy between what
men seek and what seems attainable. The greater this discrepancy, the greater their anger and
their propensity toward violence, for Gurr relative deprivation is a perception of thwarting
circumstances. According to him: When we feel thwarted in an attempt to get something we
want, we are likely to become angry, and when we become angry the most satisfying inherent
response is to strike out at the source of frustration.16 This in effect means that frustration is
no longer seen as the blockage of present goal directed activity but as anticipated frustration
engendered by discrepancies between what is realistically attainable, given the social context
and what is sought.
The third phase of this theory is anchored on revolution of rising expectations which
locates the genesis of violence in the feeling of dissatisfaction arising from the comparison
between what one expects, what one thinks and out to have or what one regards as ideal.
According to the expectation theory, it is hope not despair which instigates violent political
behaviour. Arising from the frustration-aggression thesis, the work argues that, the frequent
occurrence of post-election violence in Tivland is due to the dissatisfaction of the people over
the conduct of elections and electoral processes as demonstrated in Wannune and Aliade areas
of Tivland.
Another theory examined for elaborate analysis is systemic hypothesis. Scholars of
systemic hypothesis like Pothelm17 assumed that there is a paradoxical relationship between
modernization and political disorder, in which modernity produces stability and
modernization instability. On this view, nations are classified into three groups: modern
societies, traditional societies and modernizing ones. The latter are said to be passing through
the traditional stage to modernity. Generally, this period of transition is regarded as one that
entails an inordinate amount of strains, tension and crisis. It is suggested that modernization
produces a revolution of rising expectations and that since these expectations cannot be
consistently satisfied, the frustrated will scapegoat or transfer their aggression into violence
against perceived sources of frustration. Importantly, modernization intensifies conflict
especially over the distribution of scarce resources between groups and produces political
violence.18
The systemic hypothesis unfolds these contradictions, because Tivland is within the
bracket of the traditional and the modernization stages. As Pothelm rightly observes, this
stage is characterized by numerous economic, social and political problems. From socioeconomic dimension, there is high level of land dispute among the people, from 1991-2004

alone; C. Utov recorded over 33 cases of land disputes 19. From political dimension, partisan
politics in this study area has been characterized by serious contradictions spanning from
official manipulation of the electoral system by the political party in power to open
harassment, intimidation, abduction and in some instances imprisonment of opposition
citizens and candidates, gerrymandering of constituencies so as to create an uneven playing
ground for the opposition, deliberate omission of names from the voters register as well as
stuffing of ballot boxes. There are also numerous cases of imposition of candidates by the
government in power against the wishes of the people. The Wannune instance in 2002 serves
as a good illustration of this 20. Finally the study area has recorded high level of politics of
abuses especially in their campaign songs. Here too a lot of examples surface, some of which
includes the 1983 campaign songs tagged Disco 83 21 and Shor Changi in 201122. These
contradictions are necessary springboards for electoral violence as will be seem in course of
our analysis.
THE

2002

POLITICAL

VIOLENCE

IN

WANNUNE,

TARKA

LOCAL

GOVERNMENT AREA (L.G.A)


Tarka LG is carved out of Gboko LG during the late General Sani Abacha military
administration in 199623. The original inhabitants of this area are Mbakor, a Tiv ethnic
extraction of Jemgbar parental lineage. Very fundamentally, the Local Government is named
after senator (Dr.) JS Tarka, with its headquarters at Wannune. Wannune is strategically
situated on both sides of the Trunk A Federal High Way which pierces through the town.
Specifically, Wannune is located at kilometer 52 along the busy Makurdi-Gboko road in
Benue State with a land mass of about 60,000 square kilometer 24. Furthermore, Tarka Local
Government had three districts wards this includes; Mbajir, Mbalahan and Mbachoughul
which collectively sub-divided into 10 council wards. Mbalahan is larger in population
comprising of two district wards, Mbalahan and Mbajir. While Mbachoughul is smaller in
population and had only one district ward, Mbachoughul. The distribution of political
appointments and other dividends of democracy to the people of Mbakor are therefore based
on these factions.
It is an acceptable phenomenon that the people of Wannune unanimously accepted a
rotational system of electing their Local Government Chairman between Mbalahan and
Mbachoughul axis of Mbakor. This political calculation is anchors on the Tiv principle of Ya
Na Igbian, (eat and give your brother) which Wang asserts is a philosophy of fairness and

altruism, equity and responsibility.25 It is against this backdrop that Dr. Alagh John from
Mbachoughul axis of Mbakor emerged as the first Chairman of Tarka Local Government in
December 1996 to March 1997, a period of only 3 months. The second Chairman of the
Local Government came from Mbalahan axis in person of Iortyer Emmanuel. He was elected
on the platform of the Congress for National Consensus (CNC) in March 1997; however his
administration was truncated with the demise of General Sani Abacha in June 1998, a period
of just 1 year and 3 months. Based on the existing political calculation, the people of Mbakor
sang in one chorus that it was Mbachoughuls turn. As a result, Mr. Baver Dzeremo was
elected under the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the third Chairman of the
Local Government from 1999-2002, a period of 3 good years.
Going through this political calculation, there was no single reason for Mr. Baver
Dzeremo to come for second term. This is obvious because his administration was longer
than any other Chairman in Tarka local Government. Also for him to stage a comeback was a
violation of the existing principle of Ya Na Anigbian among the people. Furthermore,
Mbalahan political axis which had two district wards (Mbalahan and Mbajir) felt cheated
even with the principle of power shift; this is quite obvious from the fact that Mbalahan are
more populous and had more council wards than Mbachoughul. Against these contradictions,
Mr. Baver Dzeremo diplomatically liaised with Governor George Akume (who is also
Mbakor son from the Mbalahan political axis) to achieve his second term ambition. Governor
Akume as well acknowledged the fact that with Mr. Baver Dzeremo he would hold a firm
grip of Tarka Local Government since he was also nursing a second term agenda in 2003. It is
important to point out that apart from second term agenda, Governor Akume also felt that
since he was/is from Mbalahan axis as the Governor of Benue State it was wise for
Mbachoughul to maintain the seat of Chairmanship. It finally unfolds that Governor Akumes
ambition was more than this especially when it came to light after Mr. Baver Dzeremos
second term that; the Governor made his brother Mr. Akoom Dajo to succeeded Mr. Baver
Dzeremo as the executive Chairman while Mr. Idyer Akume was made as Ter Tarka (Second
Class Chief for Tarka) while he himself moved to the national assembly as senator
representing Benue North-West senatorial zone.
It is also obvious that Governor Akume did not openly pronounce the imposition of
Mr. Baver Dzeremos candidature. However, his actions revealed that he was using state
powers to frustrate Mr. Samuel Atsuku who contested with Mr. Baver Dzeremo on the
platform of PDP. According to Newsmate, before Mr. Samuel Atsuku could pronounce his

ambition to contest the Chairmanship election, he voluntarily resigns from work as the paper
notes:
he paid his mandatory three months salary in lieu of notice to the tune of #
73,668.00 on the 15th April, 2002. But even before this, Mr. Atsuku had by 1st April
2002 tendered his notice of voluntary retirement, which was also clearly approved
by his education secretary who he was directly answerable to, on the 11th April
200226.
However, instead of receiving a commendation letter alongside his discharge
certificate, Mr. Atsuku was handed a letter dismissing him from service with retrospective
effect from 25th March 2002 (back dated) against the backdrop that he was caught on several
occasions openly discussing violent politics, worst of it during office hours 27. Mr. Samuel
Atsuku sought redress of his inappropriate dismissal and redeemed it to continue with his
political race28. The New Times Newspaper establishes that during the PDP primaries, Mr.
Samuel Atsuku was disqualified by the internal screening committee of the party while Mr.
Baver Dzeremo was returned as PDP candidate. This compelled Mr. Samuel Atsuku to crosscarpet to the newly formed United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP) together with his relations,
contemporaries, well wishers and supporters enmass 29. The paper notes that Governor
Akume again used Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC) headed by Mr.
Audu Ikyetor to disqualify him. This according to the Truth Newspaper became a time bomb
ready to explode and only surfaced with an incident that led to tearing of PDP flag in
Wannune30. Mr. Atsuku himself did not advocate violence rather he took this case to
Makurdi High Court presided over by Justice Ejembi Eko to determine his fate when brute
violence became inevitable at Wannune.
What became the remote factor to Wannune political violence was the attack on Mr.
Iorvihi Ingyuran, a school teacher in Wannune cum Chairman Mbajir Community
Development Association by some members of the Military Wing Vision 200331. This
group serves as watch dog and update the governor about his tension laden Local
Government. Mr. Iorvihi Ingyuran reveals that he had actually gone on a visit to Asunkunya
with Mr. Uma Suemo and was heading back to Wannune on that fateful day unsuspicious of
the impending danger, they made a stopover at Mrs. Mnguenyis place by which time the
sponsored thugs which he identified as Hilehyongo Vembe, Aondoakaa Iorja, Liambee Ijir,
Angwa Kiridim, Terna Tarka and two others intoxicated themselves, drove in a Liteace Bus
and ambushed him at Akondo, a settlement along Makurdi-Gboko road. Approaching their
spot they shouted at him to stop. He sensed the danger and drove off. He was madly chased

by the thugs in their Liteace Bus and was asked to stop or be crushed to death. At this point
he abandoned his Motorcycle and took to his heels where he found refuge in Mr. Tor Atos
compound. The thugs ransacked the whole compound in spite of wailings and pleadings from
the occupants of the residence and neighbors. He was found in a kitchen squatting with a
basket on top of his head, they caught him, strip him naked and dragged him to the tarred
road and severely tortured him. Mr. Iorvihi Ingyuran maintains that, even among the thugs an
argument ensued as to whether or not he should be killed. Others argued that they were
instructed by the Governor to beat and kill him while others insisted that the Governor could
never have meant so.
In the final analysis, Mr. Iorvihi Ingyuran was later abandoned in chains; passers-by
came to his rescue and he was rushed to T.B.T. Hospital in Gboko. According to Newsmate
Magazine, this Military group sang victory songs back to Wannune that Or Kpough Akume
Yo Nan Dzua A I Ve. (He that dares Akume has received the consequence) 32 People who were
yet to know of the groups successful expedition in Asukunya watched and gaped at the
rampaging group in confusion. The group also drove to Mr. Iorvihi Ingyurans resident and
set it ablaze. That fateful day they set the house of Mr. Uma and a beer parlour at Zongo
believed to be patronized by Governor Akumes opponent ablaze. The Truth Newspaper
argues that Mr. Iorvihi Ingyuran got this punishment because he was found of buying beer for
UNPP supporters and also ushering derogatory words against some highly placed
personalities of the PDP fold in authority33.
The following day which was Wannune market day UNPP sympathizers received the
attack and murder attempt on their cohorts demanded for satisfactory explanation which
never came. This resulted into mass protest, metamorphosing into total chaos. The Newsmate
describes this incidence as a boxing ring where in display was a free for all fight. 34 The
crisis soon engulfed the entire village where several houses were set on fire
THE 2006 ELECTORAL VIOLENCE IN ALIADE, GWER LOCAL GOVERNMENT
AREA (L.G.A)
Gwer LG derives its name from River Gwer, it was created in 1976 from Makurdi LG.
It has a land mass of 2,400 square kilometres with a population of 163,647 and a growth rate
of 2.99% as the 2006 population figures indicates 35. The Local Government Headquarters is
located at Aliade immediately South of Makurdi, the Benue State Capital. It is boarded in the
North by Makurdi LG, Tarka LG in the North-East, Gboko LG in the East and Konshisha LG
in the South-East. Aliade, the Local Government Headquarters is a junction town linked by

three bitumen highways from the North, East and South-East parts of the country, thus
making transportation within the LG easy. It is also a semi-urban Local Government and is
inhabited mainly by the Tiv people although; there is a large presence of other ethnic groups
due to its semi-urban status, while the Igede people occupy the Akpachayi council ward.
Gwer LG had 13 Districts/Council Wards namely; Akpachayi, Aliade Town, Gbamecha,
Ikogbajir, Ikyonov, Mbabur, Mbaiase, Mbaikyu, Mbaikyaan, Mbalom, Mbasomaobo, Sough
and Uhee. It is also pertinent to mention that, the Gwer Traditional Council is headed by the
Ter Gwer (Second Class Chief) and is assisted by the District Heads and numerous Clan
Heads respectively.
Our investigation on the 2006 electoral violence in Aliade Town reveals that the
conflict itself was politically motivated and did not extend to any other mentioned council
ward. According to sources, there was peace and tranquillity in Aliade Town throughout
2006. However, this peace was truncated in December of 2006 following the eruption of
violent conflict that claims at least 10 lives36. The immediate cause of this violence was
traceable to the political tussle between Dr. Donald Ayargwer and Arch. Asema Achado, both
of thePDP over Gwer East State Constituency slot. According to the press release by the
Gwer Unity Forum, His Royal Highness (HRH) Chief Dominic Akpe, the Ter Gwer II wanted
Arch. Asema Achado as unopposed PDP flag bearer at the expense of Dr. Ayargwer. The
group claimed to have bitterly opposed this plan in a letter dated 16, October 2006 and
addressed to the Tor Tiv IV and the Tiv Traditional Council (TTC) alerting the Tiv Nation of
the ugly role being played by the Ter Gwer. The group claimed that they appealed to the Tor
Tiv Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula, the Tiv Traditional Council and the concerned stakeholders in
the unity of Tiv Nation to restrain Ter Gwer Chief Akpe from partisan politics in order to
avert a repeat of what happened to Kwande people in 200437. From available evidence, Ter
Gwer was using Arch. Asema Achado to fight Dr. Donald Ayargwer because of his personal
grouse with Mr. Emmanuel Ayargwer over a protracted legal battle of the Ter Gwer stool38.
Apart from this version, the Truth Newspaper asserts that Governor George Akume, Ter
Gwer HRH Dominic Akpe, Tyoor Aliade/Kbalar Chief John Munde and Chief Tyokula Gbor
masterminded the imposition of Arch. Asema Achado on the people of Gwer. The paper
elaborates that:
Governor Akume, through his uncle judge Kehem Dajoh (rtd) addressed Gwer
delegates at the residence of Torkula Gbor insisting that the Governor anointed
Achado for the position. Gwer Council Chairman Gabriel Kwaghshir and two of
Akumes Special Assistants, Mrs Ullam and Gusa were allegedly assigned by the
governor to ensure that Ayargwer was defeated. The Governorexpressed

displeasure with the people of Gwer for always rejecting him and his associates.
This the Governor termed humiliation whichhe was prepared and vowed never
to take again39.
From the above analysis, it is obvious that Dr. Ayargwer was the peoples choice, but politics
of imposition and godfatherism was seriously in place to frustrate his mandate thus giving
way to violence as rightly observes by Gurr: when we feel thwarted in an attempt to get
something we want, we are likely to become angry, and when we become angry the most
satisfying inherent response is to strike out at the source of frustration 40.
The remote cause of this violence is located in the PDP primary elections into the State
and National Assemblies conducted on 3rd and 4th of December 2006 in which Dr. Donald
Ayargwer emerged the winner of Gwer East State Constituency by a clear margin of 36 votes
(the results was released by the Benue State Electoral Panel on 5th December 2006). With
reasons not clear to the people of Gwer, the result was turned again in favour of Arch. Asema
Achado by the PDP Electoral Appeal Panel and was made public in the media report of Radio
Benue by 8.00 PM news on the 7 th of December, 2006. The PDP Electoral Appeal Panel
headed by Mr. Sola Aregbesola justifies their action through a press release published in the
Truth Newspaper and is reproduce below:
You will recall that primary elections into the State and National Assemblies
were conducted in the three Senatorial Districts Headquarters of our party PDP
between Sunday 3rd and Monday 4th December, 2006.
207 aspirants contested for the 29 seats of Benue State House of Assembly in the
primary elections. The results have been released by the Benue State Electoral
Panel on Thursday 5th December, 2006. Consequently, the State Assembly
Electoral Panel received 56 petitions from aggrieved aspirants within 24 hours
time limit after the official release of the results. A careful and painstaking review
of the petitions received by our panel had reached an advanced stage before the
announcement yesterday 7th December 2006, further directives from the PDP
National Headquarters on the results of the elections by the Chairman of the
Electoral Panel, Alhaji Iliyasu Dan Musa.
That announcement notwithstanding, the State Assembly Electoral Appeal Panel
in the exercise of the powers conferred on it by section 42 subsections C and
D of the PDP Electoral Guidelines for primary elections 2006, hereby
announce the following two (2) changes in the results of the Benue State House
of Assembly Elections released earlier by the Benue State Electoral Panel. Zone
A, Kwande East Constituency Hon. Simon Kwaghbulah and Zone B Gwer
East Constituency Arch. Asema Achado as been elected respectively (emphasis
added) 41
This contentious Radio Benue announcement became the springboard for violence in
Aliade Town between those that were jubilating for Arch. Asema Achado and protesters of

Dr. Donald Ayargwer42. The protesters were said to have blocked the Makurdi-Aliade Road,
the Makurdi-Gboko Road and the Makurdi-Otukpo Road. They also vandalized a beer
parlour belonging to Mrs. Shimenenger, pulled down all PDP flags, destroyed tables and
benches belonging to night food sellers that fateful night. Against this backdrop, the Assistant
Inspector General of Police (AIG) Zone 4 Mr. Declan S. Uzoma mobilized the police to clear
the blocked roads. However, the assigned officers went beyond the limit of their duty which
resulted to the death of two protesters and a police inspector Mr. Simon Nwabane. There was
reinforcement of police officers and sophisticated Armoured Cars, the police were also
directed to shot-at-sight at the defenceless and innocent civilian, an order resulting to
additional killing of 6 persons. The police were also guided by certain unknown individuals
to attack houses belonging to Dr. Donald Ayargwer sympathizers therefore making their
official assignment biased, suspicious and unpatriotic. In fact, this act was unlawful and calls
into question the role of the police in democracy. This is because their inclusion rather
complicated the entire violence bringing in further hardship to the people of Aliade43.
After the violence which lasted for two days, series of conflict resolution meetings were
held both in Aliade and Makurdi and a number of resolutions were taken. What again became
a source of worry was our inability to comprehend the rationale behind the arrest of Dr.
Donald Ayargwer after a conflict resolution meeting headed by Chief Security Adviser to
Governor Akume, Col. Edwin Jando (rtd) at the Government House Makurdi. Dr. Donald
Ayargwer was detained at the Police Criminal Investigation Department Headquarters
Makurdi while Arch. Asema Achado walked about freely. As a result of this, the
reconciliation yielded very little positive results.
ANALYSING THE REPERCUSSIONS OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE IN TIVLAND
Political violence has serious negative impact for meaningful development of Tivland
in this 21st century when nations of the world are clamouring for economic development in
the fast globalising system. First and foremost is the lost of human lives and properties that
can never be replaced therefore, impacting negatively on the Tiv economy. For instance, the
engagement of the youths in electoral violence and their resultant deaths create food
insecurity arising from the fact that they constitutes the most active segment of the working
population.
Politically, electoral violence spates numerous communal conflicts in Tivland thereby
intensifying and aggravating political misunderstanding between various clans which in
essence undermines the popular adage that in politics there is no permanent enemy but

permanent interest,. Furthermore, there is apathy of the Tiv electorate against the justifiable
basis that at the end of the process violence would erupt and their chosen leaders be
completely sidelined. From another dimension, it could be seen that those who actively
participated in Tiv politics became subject of attack during political violence. As a matter of
fact, experience has discouraged a lot of people for fear of unforeseen circumstance. For
instance in Tarka political violence, Adam Kende Plaza belonging to Hon. Baver Dzeremo
was completely razed to ashes44. While most of the houses destroyed in this violence belong
to the people that had a stalk in one political party or the other. This therefore creates fear in
the minds of most people to join politics resulting to marginalisation especially of the women
fork.
From the socio-cultural lenses, political violence has groomed a lot of jobless youths in
Tivland as militia. Those groomed as militia are exposed to the use of arms and set up their
courts and become their own judges and the jury at the same time. Apart from being exposed
to the use of arms, the jobless youths are also exposed to charms believed to give them body
protection or neutralize the effects of weapons. Some of those charms administered on the
youths during political violence are Gberkpugh (iron proof)which is a medicine believed to
give protection against all kinds of weapons such as gunshots, metal or iron attacks, arrows,
spears, machete etc. The youths are also exposed to Bende (charm belt) which is worn around
the waist. Bende users believe that it has the potency to assist one disappear from sight when
trapped in war or by an enemy. Furthermore, the youths are exposed to Dufu (invisible
charm) which serves similar purposes like Bende. It is believed by its users to assist one
metamorphose into a lower creature like a spider or a wasp and escape capture when
trapped45. Whether these charms are effective or not, it does not concern us here. What we are
trying to do is to capture the picture which this kind of exposure has rendered the youths in
Tivland. To begin with, it has given the youths who believe the charms unnecessary
confidence and therefore endanger their lives in political violence. Furthermore, political
violence in Tarka reveals that after the violence the youths who become militia indulge in
criminal acts such as rape, stealing, proliferation of small arms and weapons as well as
thuggery. A reflection of the activities of political thuggery in Tarka reveals that, Mr. Chion
Tyough was their gang leader and reported each bit of their activity to Hon. Terna Ashiga.
Members in this group were Aondoakura Iorja (pilot driver), Terngu Tsugh, Paapa Semaka,
Igbadoo Abuwa, Hilehungu Vembe, Azenda Nyion and Terseer Kidem causes terror for
peaceful co-existence of Tarka people and Tivland at large46. Some of the people who were
killed included Adzua Anyor Isholibo, Richard Adaa, Aondofa Nyiyongo, Iorvihishima Chia,

Antyerev Alfred, while Moses Iorlu took refuge in Makurdi, Umburga Gyakpo was forced to
decamp to PDP to save his life but also received serious beating for late coming to the
mainstream party while Simon Shange fled to Abuja. This makes democracy in essence
meaningless as observed by Alexis De Tocqueville that the mere execution of electoral
proceedings does not make a democracy, without the concomitant liberal freedoms and
human rights to accompany them, the idea of democracy becomes useless (emphasis
added)47.
Another fundamental impact of electoral violence in Tivland is the grave deterioration
of respect and honour for Tiv traditional rulers in recent times. Here again a lot of examples
present themselves for elaborate analysis. In Gwer, the palace of Chief Gafara Adawa the
District Head of Mbakyine was totally put to ashes. This implies that, traditional institutions
have completely lost its value thereby further aggravating lawlessness in Tivland. The
aftermath of the 2011 general elections is a clear demonstration of this where the Tor Tiv,
HRH Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkura became a subject of abuse in political songs. The extent
which political violence has down degraded the Tiv traditional institution calls for urgent
attention to reverse this trend otherwise the institution would not properly serve as the
custodian of Tiv values and an arbiter in conflict situations.
Women and children are another vulnerable segment of the Tiv society that suffers so
much during electoral violence. Women for instance suffers psychological trauma arising
from gun shots, rape, torture, death of their childrens and husbands, relatives, and other sorts
of humiliations. In this era of HIV/AIDS pandemic, one could imagine the total number of
women that might have contacted this deadly virus emanating from rape as a result of
electoral violence in Tivland.48 The rampart instance of rape arising from political violence in
Tivland undermines the 1979 Protection Rights adopted by the United Nations Convention on
the Elimination of all Forms of Discriminations against Women 49. Sadly enough, the violation
of women rights in times of political violence in Tivland has no consequences for the
perpetrators.
Children as well suffer varying degrees of deprivation such as; going to school,
malnutrition, food shortage and inadequate access to medical facilities. The loss of parents,
home and family income implies relocating to live with relations or even to fend for
themselves. This in the final analysis violates Article 5 of the African Charter on the Rights
and Welfare of the Child and Article 6 of the Childs Rights Convention 50. Children brought
up under difficult or challenging situation are subject to psychological trauma and could

easily lose their gifted talent. This does not auger well for the development of the Tiv society
in this 21st century.

CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS


This paper has painstakingly examined the causes and challenges of electoral violence
in Tiv society. Here attention has been given to the causes of electoral violence in Wannune
and Aliade LGAs of Benue State. It has been clearly seen that, the imposition of undesirable
candidates by Akumes led administration spate violence in these areas leading to lose of
property and so many lives. Arising from this established fact, this paper suggested a good
number of ways that could take Tiv nation and Nigeria at large out of this quagmire.
Firstly, there is every need to discourage politics of godfatherism in Tivland and
Nigeria at large. Here, the academia has a crucial role to play. The 21 st century academia
cannot shy away from this noble responsibility. They should re-orientate godfathers and
godsons on the grave consequences of this type of politics. The academia should let godsons
understand their leadership responsibilities of bringing development to the grassroots rather
than compensating godfathers in monetary terms. They should be orientated to understand
that godfathers have no concern for the general interest of the people in their political
strategies. This explains why there is lack of social amenities such as adequate medical
facilities, rural electricity, water supply, good roads among other things. The academia should
do this through organizing conferences, seminars, public lectures and active participation in
politics. Political godfathers as well should be given a re-orientation on the conception of
elders as practiced by the traditional Tiv political system where because of sensibility,
fairness and impartiality in the discharge of their duties, their views were scarcely contested
regarding leadership recruitment. With this development, politics could no longer be
considered as a means to an end. The commercialization of electoral offices would become a
thing of the past and assassination of aspirants to pave way for the victory of godsons would
be discouraged. There would be a community sense of interest where collectivity and unity of
purpose would be upheld against individualism and selfishness in the political system of
Tivland and Nigeria at large.
Secondly, there is need for proper institutionalization of democracy in Nigeria. This has
to begin with over-hauling the entire electoral process to achieve free and fair elections. The
work has identified frustration of the electorate through rigging, conniving with electoral
body/officials, hoarding electoral materials, falsification of figures. INEC has done their best

so far as 2011 general elections is concern. It has introduced the computerization of the voters
registration exercise through the Electoral Data Captures Machines and documentation of the
electoral process with the current information technology. INEC has also customized ballot
papers according to constituencies to minimize ballot paper stuffing and also introduced a
robust communication system to fasten the declaration of election result linking 776 LGAs to
36 States and Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Furthermore, INEC has introduced political
finance mechanism to reduce political campaign expenditure. This is aimed at stopping
wealthy politicians from hijacking and dictating the affairs of their political parties. However,
this is not enough to achieve free and fair election, Professor Attahiru Jaga, his team and the
entire INEC staffs despite their efforts may not succeed without our contribution. It is
therefore the collective responsibility of all Nigerians. Furthermore, to minimize rigging in
future elections, INEC needs to introduce electronic voting system as is practiced in other
advanced parts of the world. This major would be better achieved when electoral laws are
enforced against the present situation where electoral culprits go scot free. New standards of
behaviour should be set for all members of the security services, including an end to impunity
and institutional cover-up. This could be possible if the National Assembly bold to make
changes on existing statutes. The government should also provide the security sector officials
with regular training in democratic values, while the civil society should develop the capacity
to monitor effectively the security agencies and their operations.
Thirdly, the youths and students as vanguards of the society have a bigger challenge in
election process. They should assist and contribute to the nations noble cause and should
stop aiding and abetting thuggery, hijacking ballot boxes, kidnapping electoral staffs as well
as killing innocent electorates. This could certainly be achieved if the youths are properly
empowered. This economic empowerment could take place in various forms like granting of
soft loans to the unemployed youths, engaging them in skills acquisition programmes etc. in
this case tension would be reduced hence a reduction in electoral violence. When the youths
are economically empowered and are self employed, they would not be ready tools by power
hungry politicians who use them for political purposes and dump them soon after. In addition,
they would not be ready tools for militia groups during conflicts; after all there is an adage
that says an idle mind is the devils workshop.
Fourthly, all hands must be on deck to stamp out corruption that has contributed to the
failure of democracy. Indeed, it is the greatest threat to national development because of the
glaring dimensions it has assumed. It is found in terms of electoral fraud, financial
embezzlement, untruthfulness, betrayer of trust or confidence, disregard for the principles of

rule of law as well as biased nature of the judicial system where electoral tribunals that are
saddle with the responsibility of adjudicating on electoral matters compromise for money
thereby upholding technicalities at the expenses of judicial substance. This in essence has
made the primary function of the law as the last resort of a common man a myth rather than a
reality. The stamping out of corruption in Nigeria must start at the point of good leadership:
one that is willing to destroy the existing structures of corruption and injecting a new spirit
into the followership. Such spirit of ethical re-orientation would create enduring positive
attitudes as a culture, and like America, make Nigeria great too. When the new portrait of
Nigeria as described above is achieved, her emergent responsible citizens would definitely
see no need to engage in electoral violence which in many cases is simply ways of expressing
accumulated bitterness resulting from the poor socio-economic and political situation.
Fithly, the liberation, collaborative and re-orientation role of the Civil Society Groups
(CSGs) could also assist in repositioning democracy in Tivland and Nigeria at large. By Civil
Society Groups we mean the Registered Charities, Development Non-Governmental
Organizations (NGOs), Community Based Organisations (CBOs), Women Based
Organisations (WBOs), Faith Based Organisations (FBOs), Professional Associations, Trade
Unions, Self-Help Groups, Social Movements, Business Associations, Coalitions and
Advocacy Groups. The Civil Society Groups have been struggling for the promotion of the
welfare of their individual members and the defence of the national issues of development.
The Civil Society Groups need to play an important role in ensuring free, fair and credible
election if democracy needs to be strengthened. Strengthening democracy means among other
things; securing adherence to those principles embodied in the concept of democracy,
securing normative and institutional changes within the system in order to promote
democratic principles and building a vibrant civil society group. It is the various organs of
civil society along with other democratic institutions that would hold those who govern in
check. The lack of a civil society has made democracy vulnerable in the hands of
manipulative power elite be it a military regime or an elected civilian class. The implication
of this statement is that there is a need to have a Civil Society that would be able to mobilize
the people so as to increase their level of awareness of democracy. It is this Civil Society that
would enable the creation of a new political culture.
Finally, the role of the stalkholder in managing electoral violence in Tivland cannot be
overemphasis. Our stalkholders should stop looking at politics as an enterprise but see it as a
modernize way of selecting good leaders. As fathers of our generation they should show
moral values worthy to emulate by younger generation. Instead of instigating violence they

should engage in dialogue and apply the principle of ya na angbian whenever there is clash
of interest between political contestants. Furthermore, our traditional rulers as well have a
role to play in uplifting our fragile democracy. As they are epitome of our culture and
tradition, there is every need for them to be completely non-partisan so that their voices
would be respected whenever there is misunderstanding arising from electoral process. If all
these suggestions are followed, we envisage a better and prosperous Tiv society, a society
which would not be left behind in the progressive march of humanity in this 21st century.

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