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Anambra Guber Special: Tension, Fear, Uncertainty As Anambra Elects New Gov Today

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There is palpable tension and an atmosphere of uncertainty in Anambra State as residents go to the poll today to elect a new governor for the state.

Respondents said the large presence of security personnel with the police alone numbering over 34, 000 is enough to instill fear in people and invariably cause low voter turnout.

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The situation is further heightened by the threat by some unknown group that the election would not hold, just as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) declared total lockdown of the South East if its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, was not released unconditionally by Thursday, November 4, from the detention of the Department of State Services (DSS), where he has been held for over three months.

Meanwhile the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, have assured that the process would be credible, free and fair; and held in a peaceful atmosphere.

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IGP Baba had on October 30, carried out what he described as “a major overhauling of the security landscape in Anambra” ahead of the election by deploying two deputy inspectors-general of police (DIG) and five assistant inspectors-general of police (AIG) there, to help ensure adequate security for the poll.

Spokesperson of the police, Frank Mba, a Commissioner of Police who announced the deployment in a statement in Abuja, said 14 commissioners of police, 31 deputy commissioners of police, and 48 assistant commissioners of police have also been deployed to the state.

But a public affairs analyst, Jude Obiora urged the people not be deterred by the situation. Instead, he said, they should come out and vote.

Obiora said: “People don’t know whether they will accept the assurances of government that they will be protected because the things they see don’t give them hope. It’s a very serious issue and I fear this may affect voter turnout; so, the general atmosphere is that of uncertainty.

“Under normal circumstances, I expect people to troop out in their numbers and vote, but we are in unusual times now. The campaigns were cut short because of the security situation in the zone. There was a time that people kept wondering whether we are in an election era because of the general lull.

“Normally by this time, everywhere would be bubbling with our people resident in Lagos, Abuja and other parts of the state coming home in order to vote, but now we don’t see such happening because of the situation.

I expect there will be some degree of voter apathy driven by fear of what is happening.”

Enjoining people to brave the odds and come out to vote, he noted that this would determine their fate in the next four years and beyond.

“Let us not allow those who don’t mean well for us to determine our fate or truncate our future. If we stay at home and refuse to vote, anything can happen and we would have mortgaged our future. This is actually the time for the people to come out and assert themselves over some people threatening their very existence. It is now between them and us and we should not succumb to their antics.”

Also, Chairman of Campaign for Democracy (CD) South East Zone and the Executive Director, Human Rights Liberty Access and Peace Defenders’ Foundation (HURIDE), Dede Uzor said the election would be marred by tension occasioned by the threat by the IPOB agitators.

Uzor said: “The security situation is still tense in view of the fact that the security operatives lack diplomacy to relate with unarmed civilians by using extensive and excessive force in handling some of the uprising, like the ugly incidents in Izombe in Oguta Local Government Area, Awgu in Enugu State, Orlu in Imo State where there are serious glaring cases of human rights violations by our security forces including burning of innocent citizens’ houses and harsh treatment and killing of Igbo youths which started by peaceful demonstration.

“There are cases of extra judicial killings by the security operatives suspiciously which occurred as a result of killing of security operatives by armed gunmen. There are cases of man’s inhumanity to man and arbitrary arrest by our security agents, trumped up charges, illegal arrest and detentions, extortion and intimidation, harassments among others.

“There are also no enough public education and awareness by the respective stakeholders like INEC, NOA, media and relevant government agencies over the upcoming governorship Anambra election.”

On his part, Board Chairman of International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), Emeka Umegbalasi, painted a gloomy situation where the election process has been compromised already through systemic rigging methods but gave some tips on how to avert or checkmate such anomaly.

Umeagbalaisi said that to credibly win today’s governorship election by a candidate and stop the riggers and forestall their plans were achievable and required no rocket science.

He said to achieve success at the polls, there is need for an assemblage of dedicated and trusted agents and poll monitors as well as training and digitalization.

“These are needed to man all the polling units across the state with others positioned to monitor those polling units where INEC said election will not take place. This involves use of technology which must play a lead role in monitoring the poll and collection of result sheets (i.e. FormEC8As) and it further includes capturing their bio-data such as photographs and phone numbers and having them in a database and giving them basic trainings as well as having them horizontally and vertically coordinated by trained technologists at polling booths and LGA, Senatorial and State Levels.”

Umeagbalasi also said conscientious political parties, their candidates, campaign councils and agents as well as credible independent poll monitors must watch out for sponsored state and non-state actor violence and criminal poll cancellations.

“This is also where the “scavenger-candidates” are waiting to cash in so as to be declared ‘winner’ by tainted INEC officers or compromised Judges of electoral courts. The apostles of credible elections must therefore be mindful of this and act timely and proactively so as to thwart it,” he said.

As expected, Felix Nwankwo and Mrs Chinwe Okolie, both residents of Awka, the capital city, told Saturday Sun that Anambrarians were desirous of expressing their franchise, though, they were worried about the security situation.

Nwankwo said the state deserved a governor that would give them listening ears and address the development challenges, including security, that have held the state down in recent times.

But the Anambra State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Basil Ejidike said there was no cause for concern, explaining his optimism that the election would be successful based on INEC’s assurance of conducting free, fair and credible election and the security on ground.

Ejidike said: “We have trust on INEC to conduct free, fair and credible election. I’m optimistic that the election will be successful. Those who will come out will come out to vote and those who will not come out will not come out to vote.

“But I’m appealing to the people of the state to come out en masse to vote because the result would be based on number of people that come out to vote.

It is our civic responsibility and duty to vote or to be voted for. It is a call to duty to vote, we are not only doing good to the government but to ourselves to come out to vote to elect our governor who will serve us for the next four years.

“The government has provided enough security to secure the people and materials for the election, so, we don’t have anything to worry about. INEC Chairman and IGP have promised free and fair election and security of lives and materials for the election.

“The state is relatively calm; no violence or threat, nobody has said that election will not be held. People are going about their normal businesses, nobody is being harassed by anybody or group of persons. So, the state is calm.”

Sun Newspaper

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