A report by the International Crisis Group has expressed concern over the engagement of state-established security groups by state governors and political elites ahead of the 2023 elections.
The report stated that in the build-up to the 2003 elections, some South-East politicians made use of the Bakassi Boys, adding that this led to the harassment of opponents in that part of the country.
As a result of this, the report alleged that politicians in opposition parties states were nurturing fear that governors could use the security groups against them.
The report read in part, “An additional concern is the risk that politicians and other elites could enlist vigilante groups for their own purposes, detrimental to peace and security.
“There are precedents. For instance, in the countdown to the 2003 elections, some South-East politicians engaged the Bakassi Boys to intimidate opponents, leading to gross human rights violations including extrajudicial killings.
“Ahead of the 2023 elections, there are already concerns about developments in this vein. Politicians in some states, especially those belonging to opposition parties, fear that state governors could use state-established vigilante groups against their rivals, heightening the dangers of fraud and violence.
“The opposition Peoples Democratic Party charged that the regional security network, Ebubeagu, ‘was formed to prosecute’ the agenda of the ruling All Progressives Congress.”