West News Wire: According to police and a party spokesman, unidentified gunmen have assassinated a senatorial candidate for Nigeria’s opposition Labour Party in southeast Enugu State ahead of the country’s general election.
According to Chinwuba Ngwu, the chairman of the Labour Party from the Enugu South local government area, Oyibo Chukwu was assassinated on Wednesday night after being attacked while returning from a campaign event.
“For us, it’s a tragic development. He was expected to win the election, thus we believe a political assassination,” Ngwu said.
Just hours after the parties and presidential candidates signed a vow to promote a peaceful electoral process ahead of Saturday’s general election, the killing was officially confirmed by police.
A spokesperson for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Enugu said it had the power under electoral law to suspend a poll in the event of a candidate’s death and set a new date within 14 days. However, he said processes had to be followed and no decision had been made yet in this case.
Local news reporters said Chukwu was travelling in a convoy when armed men opened fire on it, killing the politician.
According to reporters, the site of the attack a narrow road along a wall turned black with soot as the Labour Party’s supporters set fire to the attacked vehicle, which was later removed by police.“It is a place where there are many shops, but a lot of the shops are shut because people say they are nervous and not sure what’s going to happen next,” reporters said.
Nigerians are due to elect their next president and lawmakers against a chaotic backdrop of armed conflict in the northeast, high levels of violent crime across the country, and shortages of cash, fuel and electricity.
“When you ask people about the mood here ahead of the elections, they will say things are tense, some of them are nervous and say try not to leave the city centre, try not to drive out of town because you could get kidnapped.”
President Muhammadu Buhari is stepping down after serving the maximum two terms allowed by the Constitution, and the three-man race to succeed him is seen as the most unpredictable contest in recent Nigerian history.
Nigeria Africa’s most populous nation, biggest economy and top oil producer switched from army rule to democracy in 1999, but its elections have long been plagued by violence and fraud.