President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday condemned the political violence in Rivers State, describing it as “primitive, barbaric and unacceptable”.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, Buhari said: “We will deal decisively with all sponsors of violence. I have given the security services clear directives in this regard.
“We will show that violence in any form will no longer be tolerated before, during or after elections.”
The President spoke in Malabo at an interactive meeting with Nigerians resident in Equatorial Guinea.
President Buhari said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will be encouraged to explore the possibility of Nigerians abroad voting in the 2019 general elections.
Noting that some African countries now allow their citizens resident abroad to vote in national elections, the President said he empathised with the desire of Nigerians in the diaspora to vote in national elections.
He promised to do all within his powers to fulfil that desire.
“I want all Nigerians to know that I respect them and their right to choose their leaders,” he said.
President Buhari also said that establishing a new national airline was not on the Federal Government’s list of priorities.
His administration’s main area of focus is reducing poverty, he said.
The President said that developing the infrastructure needed to boost production in all sectors of the economy and creating more jobs for young Nigerians and other actions that will directly improve the living conditions of ordinary Nigerians will continue to be prioritised by his administration.
President Buhari was responding to complaints by members of the Nigerian community about the absence of direct flights between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.
He assured them that his administration’s war against corruption will remain “fearless, relentless and merciless”.
“We will be merciless and relentless in pursuing all those who abused public trust. Nigerians will see how some of the elite conspired to run the nation down,” he said.
Rivers APC chiefs have alleged that 32 of their members have so far been shot, clubbed or beheaded in the run up to Saturday’s election.
The killings started before last year’s general election. A report of the Rivers Commission of Inquiry headed by the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, said a monthly average of 19 killings occurred in the state between November 2014 and April 2015.
The Commission noted that of the 97 allegations of killings it received, 94 of them occurred between November 15, 2014, and April 11, last year.
This report, Odinkalu said, reaffirms that no state or country should allow a repeat of such violence in the name of politics.
Reacting to the recent brutal killings, Governor Wike described those killed as cultists, saying killings were done in the course of clashes by rival cult members.
He slammed the APC for claiming killed cultists as their members.