Electoral Vice and Violence in Africa: Crime against Humanity – The Role of the ICC

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Terinwa Adesipo

Democracy is undisputedly the most celebrated bride of the 21st century governance, having romantically appealed to the political emotions of many sovereign (and non-sovereign) state entities, it has successfully and inextricably embedded itself into the political structure and lifestyle of diverse state entities through such enchanting tool kits such as the concept of popular sovereignty, in which one of its beautiful offspring is periodic election, one mightily premised on the manifestation of what is politically dubbed franchise. With all alloy of truism, the history of world development has apparently proven that it is immensely impossible to have a long lasting peaceful existence without a fair share of its own crises, so also is it an absolute chimera for Nations, just like individuals to possibly exist without a pittance of crisis in their existential life span irrespective of whatever form of government they live by. It has being said with clear justification on innumerable occasions that democracy in itself can never be fully attained, and also that the destination of perfection is impossible to actualize in this journey of human endeavor. While this is primarily true, the modus employed in successfully manifesting this progressive notion where the people decide what becomes of their future through a formally organized decision making process such as periodic election is what has mystifyingly remained profusely a log jam for most states on the African continent.

At a first glance, there might be no probable connection between what looks like an election in an organic continent such as Africa and an international criminal court whose calling is to try criminal matters of international concerns, but this is only as far as the naked eye can see or maybe that presumption is deemed superficially correct until the unthinkable display of inhumanity begins to manifest itself under the veil of electioneering processes, consequentially producing such disastrous consequences that grisly defiles not to say bedevils the peaceful existence of man. What does this connote? It was Aristotle, the Greek Philosopher who once dubbed man as a political animal, although this appellation is literally by no means insulting, diverse negative animalistic properties are now what defines politics in today’s Africa, this is not because our environment is in glaring attestation defined by forest and trees that characterizes the pristine animal habitation but because our political praxis especially by professional and desperate politicians is logically impracticable of any rational being.

In this manner, the concept of what is known as election is purely and strongly founded on periodic as well as an organized decision making process through which the people exercise their sovereign power to decide who will be at the helms of their political affair, this power is mostly manifested through balloting where votes are polled in support of who they think the cap best fits. While on one hand, it exist to guarantee the right of a citizen to decide who he thinks best fits a particular political position, on the other hand, it serves to protects and actualize the right of another citizen to aspire to shoulder state responsibilities and as such be voted for; so long has he is qualified and considered fit for the position he so desired. This is in simple terms the beauty and burden of democracy.

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Whatever the merits or demerits of this widely celebrated democratic offspring (election) is, it has become greatly evident in most climes of today’s world that elections are the best bet to ensure both a peaceful and credible process as to how political leaders are determined. But what happens when this tool-kit of democracy becomes hijacked by desperate politicians whose aspiration for political offices lays not for the benefit of the hoi polloi, but rather, they are those who scope election from the standpoint of just another means of satisfying and gratifying their do-or –die ambitions, which is to give it all its going to take to unduly and undeservingly emerge the incredible winner of the election?. In simple answer to this, nothing can be more saddening and threatening to democracy than this. While this is just another reflection of a dystopian society, it becomes greatly mystifying that this sad reality is just the delight not to realistically say, it is the identity many politicians have falsely masked the continent with. Those who would rather stick to character assassination, blame games with other political counterparts, engagement in the vote buying system and also violently maim and destroy political opponents or any form of oppositions. The desperation of which is expressed and manifested through the employment of such unreasonable and unhealthy appeal to ethnicity and religion as against logical engagement of intellectual, pragmatic and achievable political plans and programmes that will better the lots of the people.

On this note, various political parties in Africa rather than market themselves to the people with strategies that are not only intellectually beautiful but also achievable and pragmatic, they woefully fail in the performance of both while resorting to such archaic, unproductive and unpleasant national and societal disintegrating tools; bifurcating the electorates between ethnic and religious lines. So long has this political modus been employed in a country like Nigeria, that it has now transmuted from just a habit to a pastime not to now say political custom. In this clime of the world, it has become commonplace for political candidates and their various parties to incoherently appeal to the electorate via retrogressive political arguments such as those once where a tribe or the ethnic group that massively votes for whosoever becomes the president of the country is promised the presidential seat in the subsequent election. While this is purely an unmarketable political advertisement mechanism in other developed democratic and political clime of the world, it has innumerably, constantly and overtime sadly succeeded as the most effective political marketing strategy on the African continent. This is somewhat the premise upon which the total lack of political ideology has mightily developed on the continent. Anyway this are just side attractions to be scoped another day.

Now to the real issue, despite all this lack of political ideology, bedecked by fallacious and empty promises bandied around during election hours, it becomes greatly scary and disturbing to know that this is just tip of the ice bag of what is political emptiness and damnation on the African continent. What could be worse, one might ask but the answer is brazenly manifested in almost every nook and cranny of the African clime when the election bells are loudly jingled. The result of which is largely nothing other than the violent widespread attack on political opponents by desperate politicians. Although, it used to be dumbfounding as to how various illogical manifestation of political (un)marketability strategy reigns during election get-ready’s on the African continent, but now, it is now unpleasantly commonplace as to how innumerable attacks and diverse political assassination has becomes the latest breaking news in times of election, sometimes including how a “democratic” Hitler wipes out lots of lives all in a bid to notch a political position. As if this were not enough, this desperate politicians resort to political assassinations and incessant killings of all ilk, some under the veil of diverse militant group or insurgency, the prime task of which is to send to the world beyond anyone who is not a sucker for their disastrous political ambitions and incoherent ideological persuasions. An action, which is nothing but a sheer manifestation of wickedness and inhumanity, all in a bid to rule.

Wonders will never cease to resurrect even when its long buried, but such question arises as to what happens to taking care of the people, what happens to appealing to their political emotions by attending to their basic existential needs such as housing, education, medical care and even food to it with the very same wherewithal channel into destroying lives, but this desperate politicians are very much enamored by suffering the masses and even most wicked of all, invest lots of moola in sponsoring insurgency and militants group for the sole aim of threatening and attacking political opponents. Rather than ensure the actualization of progress for the hoi polloi, this desperate politicians destroy the little this poor electorate possesses and even grisly feed their blood to the various arms and ammunition they have secretly (and sometimes openly) channeled state funds to purchase. This is really disastrous. A real paradigm of this planned inhumanity can once again be felt in this current preparatory ambience to the forthcoming election in such a clime like Nigerian where various illegal arms are now reported to be attempted to be imported into the country and how different desperate politicians bandies around threats of war and destruction, should there political aspiration fail.

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Although this is not the first time such disastrous threat would be uttered by desperate political aspirants on the continent, I think this should be the beginning of the end of such political threats that does not only threatens existential peace but also destroys the life of many. This is the point where the International Criminal Court must necessarily and timely heed the clarion call to wake up from its slumbers and put to rest all this diverse crime against humanity perpetrated under the veil of electioneering in the African continent by desperate politicians; one which subjects the common man to the violent hands of their destruction by not only trying but also sanction those who are found guilty of this myriads of anti-humanitarian treatment. This is what Article 7 of the Rome statute has empowered her to do; it is therefore such critical time where these powers are effectively and evidently utilized to save the powerless electorate in various Africa states from the cold hands of death being laid on them through electoral violence.

This action inhumanly manifested by various political jobbers to win election in this clime of the world must be swiftly sent backs into the dungeons of hell where it came from, because this is not the African identity and should never be allowed to be. Those who therefore engage in these evil ideas and processes in manifesting electoral victory must be sent to where they belong, because this world cannot inhabit such brass wickedness and anti-humanitarianism, and since they have chosen to be inhuman, they sure don’t belong here. While this restitution is taking place, the people must also never allow themselves to be hired, recruited, borrowed or employed to manifest this evil ambition against their fellow men, neither for money nor for “ethnic or political” revenge. We are human and thus every form of inhumanity is alien to our identity. While the I.C.C must timely shoulder her responsibility, it is essential to equally empower her with the much needed weapon of effective and pragmatically enforceable sanction on the convicted, without which all this effort of hers will end in the pit of futility.

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Premised on this foundation, such blatant infractions on the rights of persons to peacefully and happily exist anywhere in the world must never be condoned whether by indigenous courts or by International temple of justice(s); whether perpetrated through electoral violence or not. It is high time we restored at least some modicum of sanity and civility into the African electoral (and non-electoral) processes. The inordinate political ambitions and aspirations of desperate political jobbers do not worth the live of anyone not to say the lives of many. In this path to existential restoration on the African continent, the role of the International Criminal court cannot be over-emphasized. On this note, those categories of persons who are found guilty of these grave crimes against humanity must never be allowed to go scot-free, without being made to face the music of their action, as this is the only although disproportionate compensation that can be offered to those whose lives were sacrificed on the altar of this desperate political ambitions while also sending the message to other desperate political jobbers that their end in near and the die is cast.

By Terinwa Adesipo

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