Politics

Anambra 2021: An election dogged by uncertainties Okey Maduforo AWKA

 

The entrance gate to the Inde-pendent National Electoral Commission (IÑEC) in Awka, cuts the picture of a war trench with heavily armed security operatives guarding the compound. The reason is clear following the attack on the com-pound by unknown gunmen which destroyed some facilities belonging to the commission.

Months after that incident, there is strong apprehension within the voting public that the election may not hold even when the commission and the Federal Government have assured all and sundry that there would be security of lives of the electorate.

Despite this assurance the Anambra electorate are still nursing the fears that the election may be truncated by the dreaded unknown gunmen should there be an election.

Shaking the table ahead of the election is the threat by the Indigenous People Of Biafran (IPOB) which warned that it would embark on a sit-at-home strike if its leader, Mazi Nnamd Kanu, is not released unconditionally on the forth of November two days to the conduct of the election.

In a press statement signed by Emma Powerful, the group said “following the adjournment of the case of our great leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to No-vember 10, 2021, by the Federal High Court Abuja, we, the great movement and family of the IPOB, wish to inform Biafrans, friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom that IPOB will lock down Bi-afra land from November 5-to 10, except Sunday, November 7, a day our people worship the Almighty God, Chukwu Okike Abiama, if the Nigerian govern-ment fails to release our leader uncondi-tionally before November 4, 2021.

“Our leader, Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, must be released uncondition-ally on or before November 4, 2021 be-cause he has not committed any offense known to any law. Failure to release our leader, Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, on or before November 4, 2021, our one week sit-at-home strike begins on No-vember 5, 2021 till November 10,” it said.

The group said that although it quite understood the pains and adverse ef-fects of this option on the South-East people, it was compelled to take it to achieve a better purpose in the collec-tive interest of Biafrans.

“We have taken time to analyse what transpired on October 21 when our Leader was arraigned in court and dis-covered that the Federal Government is not sincere and only wants to humiliate him and keep him perpetually in DSS custody to rot there.

 

“We all saw how lawyers, journalists, Igbo delegates and respected traditional rulers and other people who came from all around the world to witness his court case were restricted and denied access into the court premises by security agents who kept them outside under the scorching heat of the sun. What a humiliation and wickedness!

 

“We cannot accept that anymore. We can never allow our leader Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to be tried secretly and we can never also allow him to be tried under Sharia law under any guise. Nigeria must follow international laws in handling our leader.

“Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is in the DSS dungeon today because of his passion for Biafra independence, and we must sacrifice all we can to ensure that he re-gains his freedom. He has sacrificed so much for us all, so we must be prepared to sacrifice little for him,” the statement said.

It further warned that unless the Fed-eral Government releases him uncondi-tionally before November 4, the group shall sacrifice one week for him as a warning protest to convey to “our op-pressors that Nnamdi Kanu represents over 70 million Biafrans. He is innocent of all the charges preferred against him. As long as he is in detention our indi-vidual businesses do not matter so much because he is suffering for us all and we can’t abandon him.”

 

The group expressed “seriously regret over the inconveniences this may cause  their people but described the action as “a necessary sacrifice” it needs to make until they have their full independence, warning that nobody resident in Biafra land is expected to flout this directive as doing so amounts to challenging the will of the people on the Biafra project.

 

“This one week sit-at-home strike is also to let our oppressors understand that we are not going to tolerate any plan to torment or abandon our leader in DSS custody through frivolous court adjournments. Any plans to subject him to trauma in detention through long adjournments while real terrorists and mass murderers are having fun across the country cannot fly.

 

“Nnamdi Kanu must be freed because he committed no crime by asking for referendum so that Biafrans will decide whether or not they want to continue as part of Nigeria is no crime. He should not suffer for seeking justice for his people.”

Similarly there is a suit before the Fed-eral High Court filed by Chief Ifeanyi Okonkwo urging the court to stop the duo of Sen Andy Uba of APC, Sen If-eanyi Ubah of YPP, Prof Charles Soludo of APGA and Mr. Valentine Ozigbo of PDP from taking part in the election.

 

Added in the suit are the Resident Elec-toral Commissioner as well as the INEC.

 

In the matter with Suit No: Fhc/Awk/Cs//71/2021 Okonkwo, a former gov-ernorship candidate is seeking an order disqualifying the four candidates from contesting the November 6, 2021 Anam-  bra governorship election.

 

He is also seeking an order of man-datory injunction mandating INEC to delist the defendants and barring them from presentment and participation in the November 6 election.

 

It is “”An order of declaration that the information contained in the affidavit presented by the four candidates to INEC Form CF 001 and other details on the nomination is false and misrepresen-tation of facts about their personal par-ticulars or information of candidates.”

 

The plaintiff is further seeking an order pursuant to Section 31(6) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) disqualifying the 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th and defendants as candidates from contesting the Anam-bra election.

 

Okonkwo, a registered voter says he is aggrieved by “the flagrant violations of the Electoral Act (2010) (as amended) and the Nigerian constitution by the defendants.”

In his statement of Claim, Okonkwo faulted the extension to the tenure of the Buni-led APC Caretaker Committee af-ter the first six months as it was not done by the NWC.

 

“It is on record that the appointing body, the APC National Working Com-mittee never met again to extend the tenure of the caretaker, even as acts car-ried out by the body has not been deter-mined by any court.

 

‘That INEC failed to comply with the Electoral Act when it Published Sena-  tor Andy Uba and the APC among the list of candidates notwithstanding the INEC report against the APC.

 

“That both APC and Andy Uba are unfit legally and constitutionally to participate further in the process of the November 6 Anambra governorship election.” Respecting APGA, Okonkwo noted that the party did not hold special congress in each of the Local Government Areas as stipulated by the Electoral Act. “The party rather gathered all the four aspirants at the Late Dora Akunyili Women Development Center, Awka, in their illegal and unconstitutional party governorship primary.”

 

He also argued that as a member of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, Prof Chukwuma Soludo ought to have resigned his appointment. He described the council as a statutory tenured position recorgnised under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Section 151 (1). For Ifeanyi Ubah and YPP, Okonkwo argued that a lawmaker at the state or National Assembly seeking nomination for governor ought to resign or take leave of absence.

 

“That a member of the National Assembly aspiring to contest in party primary election for governorship candidate, a statutory office tenured as the membership of State National and State Assemblies, which is constructively and constitutionally different from standing for re-election in National or State Assemblies is mandatorily required to either resign, withdraw or retire from such parliamentary positions; or take leave of absence without pay at least 30 days before standing for the party governorship primary.”

Ifeanyi Okonkwo is also challenging PDP’s nomination process which threw up Chief Valentine Ozigbo insisting that the process contravenes sections of the Electoral Law.

Aside from the suit filed by Okonkwo the security challenges in the state has not helped matters as one of the gubernatorial candidates who was violently kidnapped by gunmen is yet to be released while politicians now avoid attending rallies Agbasimelo was said to have been shot at his two legs and taken away by the unknown gunmen and it is not clear if he has been released despite the alleged payment of N100 million as ransom.

But the National Coordinator for Oga Ndi Oga Movement, a shadowing organization in support of Agbasimelo, Chief Echezona Uzoka described the report of kidnap as false adding that Agbasimelo is alive and nothing happened to him. All branded campaign vehicles have disappeared from the road while those on the road had their brands pulled out and supporters no longer wear party or campaign dresses.

 

Though the candidate of APGA, Prof Charles Soludo, has been going on campaign along with Governor Willie Obiano amidst strong security operatives heavily armed with Armoured Tankers and General Purpose Machine Guns. An attempted attack occurred at Ihiala Local Government by the unknown gunmen but was repelled by a combined force of soldiers and policemen before the arrival of the governor last two weeks.

 

Similarly the likes of Valentine Ozigbo of the PDP, Sen Andy Uba of the APC and Sen Ifeanyi Ubah of the YPP have been holding in-house campaigns in and outside Anambra state. This development according to most campaign coordinators has reduced the cost of campaign rallies and open air functions adding that funds saved would be channeled into vote buying on the election day.

 

Electoral umpire, INEC, has also said the elections would hold even as the police have deployed 34, 587 policemen, a Deputy Inspector-General and five AIGs to provide security. Sen Enyinnaya Abaribe also assured that the threat by IPOB to disrupt the November election would not be actualized, noting that the election must hold. Media Assistant to Valentine Ozigbo, Mrs. Aziza Uko, told this reporter that despite the security scare in the state the election would still hold, adding that her candidate is set for the election.

 

“We are good to go and we have campaigned vigorously and despite those threats we are going for the election and the INEC has reassured us as well as the Inspector General of Police,” she said. Hon Adam Ogene, Head of Sen Andy Uba Media and Publicity, noted that the fear of the election is natural but that his candidate has made massive mobilization of voters adding that with the security arrangements put on the ground Anambra election would surely hold.

 

Bar Ifeatu Obiokoye who is the Special Adviser to Willie Obiano told this reporter that the Anambra state government has always provided security of lives and property adding that the issue of people being afraid of coming out to vote is ruled out. Kameh Ogbonnaya who is Director of Publicity for Sen Ifeanyi Ubah Campaign Organization dismissed the fears of the Anambra electorates insisting that the fear is occasioned by those who wants to write the results of the election.

 

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