Nigeria: Opposition senatorial candidate gunned down days before crucial elections



A manhunt is underway for the killers of a senate candidate for the Nigerian opposition Labor Party, who was shot and burned late Wednesday night in his campaign vehicle in the southeastern state of Enugu, local police said on Thursday.

The politician, Oyibo Chukwu, was killed along with an unnamed personal assistant by assailants who police suspect were agents of the outlawed separatist group IPOB and its militant wing ESN.

Chukwu’s murder was one of several attacks targeting members of other political parties late on Wednesday, police said rack said, adding that investigations were underway.

“The Commissioner of Police, Enugu State Command, CP Ahmed Ammani, fdc, has ordered the… manhunt for the subversive criminal elements, believed to be IPOB/ESN renegades, who… ambushed and ambushed the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and attacked and murdered at the same time. Members of the Labor Party (LP), and also attempted to attack the convoy of the All Progressive Congress (APC) Governorship Candidate.”

The armed assailants stormed their targets in a tricycle and a Hilux vehicle, the statement said.

The attacks come less than three days before Nigeria’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

Labor Party presidential candidate Peter Obi said in a tweet Thursday that he was saddened to learn of the brutal murder of his party’s senate candidate.

“It was with profound shock and sadness that I received the news of the painful assassination of Barr Oyibo Chukwu, the Labor Party’s Senate candidate, for the Enugu East Senatorial Zone. … I strongly condemn the murder of Barr Chukwu in its entirety,” Obi tweeted adding that Nigerians should “freely perform their civic duties without harassment”.

More than 93 million Nigerians are registered to contest the country’s general election that begins Saturday, but there is uncertainty over voter turnout on election day, with insecurity among the top concerns.

Separatist gangs have terrorized the southeastern region, where agitations for a breakaway Biafran state have turned violent many times. In other parts of the country, marauding gunmen, known locally as bandits, have committed mass kidnappings, usually for ransom.

Voting will not be held at more than 200 polling stations across Nigeria, INEC says, citing security concerns.

The Nigerian branch of Amnesty International has also condemned the killing, describing it as “heinous”.

“Amnesty International strongly condemns last night’s horrific murder of Labor Party (LP) candidate…Oyibo Chukwu, who was also gruesomely burned in his vehicle while returning from campaign activity in Agbani, Enugu State…Nigerian authorities must a prompt, thorough, independent, impartial, transparent and effective investigation into the murder, and to bring those suspected of responsibility to justice,” the human rights organization tweeted Thursday.

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