One week to the governorship election in Anambra State, the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra has threatened voters with death if they vote. They also vowed to disrupt the election.
The members of the group marched around some streets in Onitsha, Anambra State on Friday, vowing a lockdown on the day of the election, which is scheduled to hold on Saturday, November 18, 2017.
Members of the group can be heard threatening voters in videos of the march circulating online.
They said, ““If you vote you will die. Don’t go out, stay in your house. If you vote on November 18, you will die. We are not running around for the zoo.
“There will be no election. We will not participate, we will not vote. Nothing concerns us with any election. We are formidable.
“We are in Onitsha to tell the Federal Government to produce Kanu. They should release all the Biafrans in Nigerian prisons.”
Speaking with one of our correspondents on the telephone, IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, noted that the purpose of the demonstration in Onitsha was to show the world that “the threat of bullet” would not stop the group from realising its aim of having Biafra Republic.
He said Igbo people living outside the South-East should contact their families at home to boycott all future Nigerian elections, including the governorship election.
Powerful said, “Today in Onitsha, we broke the python Buratai, Ohanaeze, Obiano and Igbo governors brought to our land. Anybody doubting the resolve of IPOB under the supreme command of Nnamdi Kanu is mistaken.
“We will put Anambra State on lockdown on November 18. This is a taste of what is to come. Nigeria should be prepared.
“It is also very critical to inform every Biafran, be you IPOB family member, businessman, farmer, artisan, driver, teacher, doctor, motorcycle/tricycle union, civil servant, trader, market leader, National Union of Road Transport Workers, National Association of Road Transport Owners, fisherman, market men and women, including politicians who believe in freedom and liberty of a free independent State of Biafra, to boycott the Anambra State election.”
According to him, the election boycott will give their agitation a global momentum needed to make world leaders accept a peaceful break-up of Nigeria.
“They will be morally bound to consider a possible date for Biafra’s referendum for independence without delay. A vote in Anambra elections will mean electing into office the same people who, over the years, have been responsible for the death, pain, misery, agony and suffering of our people. We would have only succeeded in renewing our suffering for another four years,” Powerful said.
But the Public Relations Officer, Anambra State Police Command, Nkeiruka Nwode, said the IPOB march was of no effect, as the state police command had concluded arrangements for effective policing of the state during the election. She asked residents of the state to go out en masse to exercise their franchise on the day of the election.
Also, the Force spokesperson, Jimoh Moshood, warned the IPOB members to steer clear of the state during and after the forthcoming governorship election, in their own interest, saying the police would deal with IPOB members “the way an outlawed group should be dealt with.”
He said the police were fully on the ground to ensure a hitch-free and violence-free poll, adding that battle-ready operatives including police special forces, anti-riot personnel, and counter-terror squad had been instructed to deal with troublemakers.
“They (IPOB) should steer clear of Anambra because we have deployed enough personnel in the state; any miscreant who misbehaves would have himself to blame as he would be dealt with. IPOB should not test our will or resolve,” Moshood cautioned.
Meanwhile, the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, which covers the South-East region, has placed its troops on the alert to forestall any security breakdown in the Anambra governorship election.
Although the spokesperson for the division and Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, said he could not comment on security measures for the elections, a top source from the division said the troops were on red alert.
“Talk to the Commissioner of Police,” Musa simply said when one of our correspondents called to ask for his response.
But, the source said, “The troops are always on ground to prevent any breakdown of law and order during the election. As you know, the police are the first line of security and we cannot usurp their role.
“On October 14, we ended the 30-day Operation Python Dance II in the South-East, including Anambra State, and the exercise was to sharpen the skills of troops for occasions such as this election. So, you cannot rule out our involvement.
“We have mastered the areas and we are familiar with the hideouts of the troublemakers. All these preparations will count for the troops on Saturday. But the army cannot deploy its troops unless the security situation degenerates, which is not anyone’s wish.”
Also, the spokesperson for the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Emma Okeh, said the agency would deploy 5,000 personnel, including special forces and regular officers. He cautioned against disruption of the poll by any group of persons, stressing that the corps would not spare anyone caught violating the law.
He said about 1,000 intelligence and surveillance operatives were on the ground in the state, adding that regular personnel would move in soon with sniffer dogs.
“I urge the electorate to come out en masse and vote for the candidates of their choice. It is their election, it is their state and whoever they elect as governor would determine their future,” Okeh said.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission on Friday asked the commission to make sure that the election was conclusive, saying the credibility of the election would serve as a litmus test for the 2019 general elections.
The chairman of the committee, Senator Suleiman Nazif, stated this when he led other committee members, including Senators Mao Ohuabunwa and Aliu Sabi, to a meeting with INEC officials and political parties at the INEC headquarters in Awka, the state capital.
“I want the leadership of INEC to ensure that Anambra governorship election is conclusive, free, fair and credible,” Nazif said.
He urged INEC to ensure a level playing ground for all the political parties contesting the poll, adding that the committee members were in the state to find out the challenges of the commission, with the aim of putting heads together towards proffering solutions.
Speaking, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji, noted that the state was second in the country in terms of the collection of permanent voter’s cards, stressing that the collection of the cards in the area would end on November 15.
He said the commission would deploy one card reader per voting point and that there would be field technical officers who would handle any challenges arising from the use of the card readers.
Orji also reiterated the commitment of the commission to conduct a free, fair, credible and acceptable election to the people of the state.