African News

Nigeria: Prominent Politician Killed

30 July 2006 at 23:23 | 530 views

A leading ruling party candidate for governorship of Nigeria’s most populous state, Lagos, was strangled and stabbed to death in his bedroom, said police, fuelling fears of a violent run-up to elections scheduled for April 2007.

The body of Funsho Williams(photo), who had begun campaigning on the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) ticket, was found bound at the hands and feet and gagged on Thursday morning, police added.

“We are investigating all possibilities, including political assassination,” said Haz Iwendi, Nigerian police spokesman.

Williams had contested the Lagos governorship against the incumbent, Bola Tinubu of the opposition Alliance for Democracy (AD) party. It currently holds Lagos State, and within it, Lagos city - sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest city of more than 14 million people.

Tinubu has offered a reward of 10 million naira for information leading to the arrest of the killers while President Olusegun Obasanjo, who leads the PDP, has ordered a high-level investigation.

Violence has surged in Nigeria ahead of general elections set for next year, reminiscent of the violence and political assassinations that accompanied the last presidential poll in 2003.

More than a dozen murders of top politicians since Obasanjo’s election in 1999 so far remain unsolved. The 1999 poll ended more than 15 years of military rule.

“The signal is that we are going to have a bloody election next year,” said Ike Onyekwere, Nigerian analyst and newspaper commentator. “There are too many political interests deeply divided against one another and would stop at nothing to achieve their goals.”

Political power is highly prized in Nigeria because it determines access to government revenues derived from crude oil exports - the mainstay of the economy of Africa’s most populous country of more than 126 million people.

International humanitarian agencies say more than 70 percent of Nigeria’s population lives on US $1 daily and derive little or no benefits from the country’s huge oil wealth. In the oil-rich but impoverished Niger Delta armed militants regularly attack oil installations to back demands for local access to more of the oil wealth produced in the region.

Sectarian and ethnic separatist clashes have claimed thousands of lives in the past seven years and also are on the rise ahead of next year’s vote.

Credit: IRIN