As anxiety heightens ahead of the November 6 Anambra governorship election, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has appealed to the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to suspend its planned sit-at-home order.
IPOB had announced that it will lock down the South East if its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, currently standing treason trial, is not released from detention by November 4.
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There were fears that the 5-day lockdown planned for November 5 to 10, as announced by IPOB’s spokesperson, Emma Powerful, will affect the Anambra governorship election billed for November 6.
In a statement on Wednesday, Ohanaeze spokesperson, Chiedozie Ogbonnia, said the planned lockdown may disrupt the election and cause “untold hardship” for the people in the south-east.
“The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide pleads with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to reconsider the 7 days’ sit-at-home order in the south-east of Nigeria from November 5 to November 11.
“This is to enable the governorship election for Anambra State scheduled for November 6 to hold,” the statement reads.
The statement also drew attention to the implication of the shutdown on the economy of the state, which Ohanaeze said would be badly affected.
“While pleading with the IPOB to rescind the lockdown plan, Ohanaeze Ndigbo requests the chairman, South-East Governors Forum and the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. Dave Umahi to convene an emergency meeting of Igbo stakeholders and the youth leaders to address the legitimacy crisis in the South-east, especially as it relates to the Anambra State election and the political solution for the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“It is important to point out that one of the causes of the crisis of confidence in the South East is because of the yawning gap between the Youths and indeed the masses, on one side and the political leaders on the other.”
‘Make polling units accessible’
As preparations continue for the governorship election, federal lawmakers on Wednesday urged the service chiefs to ensure that the polling units were secured and made accessible to the electorate in the South East.
Chairman, Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Senator Kabiru Gaya, made the plea on Wednesday in his opening remarks during his Committee meeting with INEC and Service Chiefs.
The meeting at the instance of the lawmakers was called for the INEC chairman and the security chiefs to give the National Assembly update on their preparations for the election.
Senator Gaya who described the security situation in Anambra State as most unfortunate, however, noted that the apprehensive electorate must be assured that their safety would be guaranteed for them to turn out to vote on November 6.
“The situation in Anambra State is quite unfortunate especially at a time when we are approaching the gubernatorial elections in the state.
“Elections as you are aware is a recruitment process of leadership as well as the foundation that carries the builders of change and development.
“Recently, INEC increased the polling units in Anambra State from 4,608 to 5,720, this effort is to allow a situation where polling units will be accessible to the electorates; this can only be achieved when and where the safety of people is assured.
“The commitment of this administration to the sustenance of democracy can only be reinforced by practical, constructive and affirmative action by every institution of government and partners in development.
“I am convinced our efforts will definitely not be wasted but will bear positive fruits that will secure the future of a united Nigeria,” he said.
We’re prepared – INEC
INEC chairman in his presentation before the meeting dissolved into a closed-door session informed the lawmakers that his commission was fully prepared for the election.
Professor Yakubu said INEC has successfully completed twelve out of the fourteen activities listed in the timetable and schedule of activities for the election.
He further revealed that arrangement had been concluded to ensure that those who registered newly as prospective voters during the INEC Continuous Voter’s Registration get their Permanent Voter’s Card before the election.
He said: “We are ready for the election. We have successfully conducted twelve out of the fourteen programmes in our schedule of activities.
“We are good to go on the 6 November for the election”.
‘INEC free to transfer results electronically’
The National Assembly joint committee on INEC and Electoral Matters also on Wednesday said the Independent National Electoral Commission is free to transfer the results of the Anambra governorship election electronically.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya, stated this while briefing journalists after a meeting between the Chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, and the joint panel on the November 6 election.
Gaya said INEC could transfer the results to its server as they are announced at polling units just like what it did in Edo and Ondo States’ governorship elections.
He said, “It is left for INEC to decide whether it will transfer the election results in Anambra or not. They have done that in the previous elections in Edo and Ondo State.
“Even before the INEC started transferring elections results from polling units, Nigerians have been monitoring results of elections the moments they are being announced at polling stations and by 4pm, even before the final results are announced, many Nigerians would have seen them on the internet.
Earlier, the INEC chairman told the committee that the commission had deployed all the non-sensitive materials to all the local government areas of the state.
He said, “We have recovered from the series of attacks on our facilities and I am happy to say that we have deployed all the non-sensitive materials to all the local government areas.
“We have trained the requisite number of ad hoc staff for the election and we have also mobilised members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers for efficient distribution of materials on election day.
“As far as INEC is concerned, we are good to go on November 6, 2021.”
‘Don’t take IPOB’s threat lightly’
The federal government was yesterday advised not to take the threat by IPOB to disrupt the election with levity.
A retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, Ambrose Aisabor also charged the Igbo cultural organisation, Ohaneze and other leaders in the zone to stop “pretending” about the identity of the perpetrators of killings in the South East region in recent times.
In a chat with Daily Trust, the security expert said stakeholders’ engagement and massive deployment of security personnel, saying the security agencies must deploy their personnel “properly” to cover all the nooks and crannies of the country.
The retired police chief stressed that certain things need to be done to ensure a peaceful and credible election in Anambra.
He said, “The issue of security is very important. There are threats from many quarters that may likely truncate the election. The most potent is the one being propagated by the IPOB.
“This threat should not be taken lightly in view of what has been happening recently. Not that the people will not like to go out to cast their votes but because of fear of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) which is the armed wing of the IPOB.
“The people also have the belief that the security forces are not capable of protecting them judging from recent ugly events. The security agencies must deploy their personnel properly to cover all the nooks and crannies of the state even before the Election Day”.