Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fear Of Election Violence: Politicians Move Their Families Abroad

In a bid to avoid being caught up in the violence that may erupt after the February 2015 general elections, politicians, many chief executive officers/chairmen of companies, top businessmen and several other wealthy Nigerians have started relocating their families out of Nigeria.

Investigations by PUNCH showed that some apprehensive politicians and members of the business community started relocating members of their families abroad few weeks ago.

In fact, it was learnt that many are still moving their families out of the country.

According to findings, medical check-ups, vacation, among others, are being cited by wealthy Nigerians as the reasons for their trips to stay out of Nigeria during the elections.

Aviation experts told Punch that passenger traffic in Nigeria is usually low between January and March but that is not the case this year.

The CEO of a travel agency, who identified himself as Damian and did not want further details about himself or his company in print, said many of his clients had made bookings to travel abroad for fear of being caught up in violence.

Damian said, “It is true that there is an increase in the number of transactions we receive; many people are making bookings to leave the country.

“People are afraid; they fear that there may be violence after the election. Those making travel plans are mostly businessmen. I am also running away. I will leave before the election and return after the person who emerges as the president of the country has been sworn in.”

Similarly, a popular travel agency on Lagos Island told one of our correspondents that many managing directors/chairmen of some companies in Nigeria had booked their flight tickets in anticipation of leaving the country before the general elections.

One of the senior workers with the company, who simply identified himself as Thaddeus, said aside politicians who thronged the firm to buy tickets, many companies’ MDs and businessmen had bought tickets from the firm between November 27, 2014 and January 14, 2015.

Thaddeus named the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirate as the most preferred destinations of the MDs.

He said, “Some politicians made arrangement to travel out of the country after the election, while many of the MDs chose to leave the country with their families a week before the poll.

“Before the political parties’ primaries held late year, we procured tickets for the families of some politicians and we believe that they must have left the country by now. The politicians started procuring their tickets from the first week of this month.”

A human rights activist, Jiti Ogunye, said it is necessary that politicians refrain from manipulating the electorate and election results to avoid violence after the elections..

Ogunye said, “The first condition for credible election is the activation of electoral justice. Politicians should learn not just to preach peace but to do justice. If they manipulate the election results, there could be reaction of violence. So I advise that they play by the rules so that we can enjoy peace in this period. They should not rob the electorate of their decisions.”


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