The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has cautioned that Akwa Ibom State may descend into political violence if politicians and their supporters in the state continue to engage in hate speeches and violent acts ahead of the 2019 general elections.

“As a responsible civil society organisation, the CLO is committed to ensuring that the rights of the Nigerian people resident in the state, to participate in political activities, including their right to vote, their right to attend political rallies and their right to choose among competing candidates who to vote for, are respected and guaranteed,” the group said on Thursday in a statement signed by its chairman, Franklyn Isong, and spokesperson, David Augustine.

“We note that these rights are capable of being stymied by a descent to anarchy and violence, which are concomitant outcomes of the raging vicious verbal and physical attacks so far being perpetrated by politicians and their supporters in the state.”

Akwa Ibom, home to the American oil giant, ExxonMobil, and other oil companies, was considered one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria.

But there has been increased in tension of late as the two main political parties in the state – the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) – battle each other for next year’s elections.

Supporters of both parties, including some officials of the Akwa Ibom State Government, clashed recently over the hoisting of a campaign billboard within a popular market in Uyo.

Officials of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s campaign organisation, including the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Onofiok Luke, has reportedly been invited to Abuja for questioning over the matter by the inspector general of police.

The APC governorship candidate in the state, Nsima Ekere, raised alarm few days ago over alleged attempt on his life.

A former aide to Governor Udom Emmanuel, who recently resigned his appointment with the state government and also defected from the PDP to the APC, escaped with gunshot wounds after some unknown gunmen stormed his house.

The APC accused the state government of being behind the attack which the police said was an armed robbery incident.

“Politicians must ensure that violent languages, hate speeches and utterances capable of inciting violence are eschewed. Politicians must use temperate languages aimed at convincing, rather than intimidating to submission,” CLO said in its statement.

“The pulling down, destruction and/or defacing of electioneering campaign billboards noticeable in the recent times, must stop. No party should encourage its members to resort to such barbaric actions.”

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