Government poll: Murders and arson escalate tension as parties back down from public campaigns

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Murders and other forms of violence in Anambra state have heightened fear in this once peaceful state and threaten the state’s Nov. 6 governor election, writes TONY OKAFOR

Barring a last-minute peace, the governor’s election on November 6 in Anambra state is in jeopardy.

Growing insecurity in the region has led some to express fears of a looming constitutional crisis in the state as the term of outgoing governor Willie Obiano approaches without possible assurance of his successor being inducted.

The whole episode began with a lull that characterized the electoral campaigns despite the lifting of the ban on open campaigns by the Independent National Electoral Commission on August 8, 2021.

Campaigns are the means by which candidates and political parties prepare and present their ideas and positions on issues to voters in the lead up to election day, thereby helping voters to make informed and informed decisions on election day .

The dates of an official election campaign period, usually a period of one month or several months preceding polling day, are often legally defined by the INEC. In some cases, the legal campaign window will end a day or two before election day.

Previously in Anambra state, some forms of gubernatorial campaigning would even begin a year before the election date. But under the current regime, one would hardly believe that there would be an election for governor in the state in about a month due to the inertia of the state’s political atmosphere, apparently caused by the murders and destruction of public and private property in the region. .

On Tuesday, September 28, Dr Chike Akunyili, widower of the former Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control and former Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyili, was assassinated by armed men in Nkpor in the local government of Idemili. State region returning to Enugu from an event in honor of his late wife in Onitsha.

Eight other people were killed on the same day and in the same place by thugs who allegedly chanted: “No elections in Anambra State.

According to security sources, as many as 24 state security personnel lost their lives in such circumstances in less than a year. These include police soldiers, naval officers, State Service Department agents, and prison guards.

The INEC secretariat in the state and dozens of police stations and other public and private buildings, including the Anambra house of Chief Joe Igbokwe, the governor’s special advisor on drainage and water resources of Lagos State, were set on fire in similar crimes.

A day after Akunyili’s murder, a public debate organized by the Nigerian Union of Journalists for the candidates for the post of governor of the state was boycotted by the candidates for the post of governor.

One of the candidates, who spoke confidentially with our correspondent, said: “We have been warned by a high-level state security agency that our security cannot be guaranteed due to the circumstances prevailing in the situation. ‘State.

“My brother, life,” they say, “has no duplicate. I have suspended all outdoor campaigns for now and I’m sure most of my racing colleagues have done the same.

Another candidate, who begged not to be named, said: “I am moving now without security personnel. If you read the story of Akunyili’s attack, you would see that his killers were furious when you saw a medic in his car. So that should serve as a lesson for some of us.

A day after the alleged security report banning gubernatorial candidates from campaigning openly, the thugs struck again. This time in Nnobi, in the Idemili South local government area of ​​the state. A car belonging to Nnewi Nord / Sud / Ekwusigo House of Representatives member Chris Azubogu was attacked and its driver killed.

On the same day, a police station in Ajali in the Orumba North state local government area was attacked and set on fire. Six police officers were reportedly killed in the incident. State police public relations officer Ikenga Tochukwu, however, confirmed the deaths of two police officers and a civilian in the chaos.

A state civil society organization, the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, has claimed that desperate politicians who are determined to win the November ballot are sponsoring the killings and violence.

Intersociety, in a statement signed by the chairman of its board, Emeka Umeagbalasi, alleged that the killings were to deter eligible voters from voting in the ballot.

According to Umeagbalasi, the election results were supplemented and kept by those he described as “trick politicians”,

He said: “It is our investigative conclusion and the firm stance of the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law that rigging politicians have strong questions to answer regarding the new wave and the maddening rate of murders of defenseless citizens and inflicting fears. , panics and apprehensions on the citizens in general of the State of Anambra. These latest heinous acts are meant to scare and drive out independent voters in order to scientifically rig the November 6 governor’s poll. ”

For a public affairs analyst, Gilbert Okoye, the lackluster campaign following the November election in the state is worrying.

He said: “This is a campaign period like no other in Anambra State, characterized by colorful campaigns.

“This time, it’s as if the elections are still a year away. In fact, the major parties have only inaugurated their campaigns. It is surprising, but the precarious security situation in the state can be cited as the main reason.

“IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra), a pro-Biafra group, has threatened people throughout the Southeast area and ordered them to stay inside on several occasions due to the incarceration of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

They reportedly killed many people, including security guards. They also destroyed people’s property, accusing them of disobeying their sit-at-home directive.

“So fear gripped the inhabitants of the area, so even an IPOB announcement suspending the sit-at-home did not drag people from their homes.”

For Dr Henry Duru of the Department of Mass Communication, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, the lull in the election campaign may be the result of a number of factors.

For him, “it is as if politicians have learned their lessons by starting to spend money early during elections. There seems to be an increasing tendency for them to save their money for the election campaign which takes place much closer to election day and even on election day itself. A politician once told me that what happens one day in any election is very crucial, more crucial than anything that happened weeks and days before.

“Another possible cause of the lull could be the series of lawsuits that skewed the nomination of candidates, especially those of the All Progressive Grand Alliance and the Peoples Democratic Party. I have a feeling that maybe it persuaded them to wait a bit before they started spending money.

Speaking through its Secretary of State Okoli Akirika, a lawyer, the PDP said it had changed its strategies for the governor’s November 6 campaign for the better.

He explained that it was a bad political strategy to do what he called “Mama-put” campaigns in a 21st century where people would come, eat, drink and go home without internalizing the cause and philosophy of. the struggle. ”

For the All Progressives Congress, he has long since continued his planned campaigns for the poll.

Party Secretary of State Chukwuma Agufugo said: “It is wrong to think that we are not campaigning. We are moving to and areas of local government. We reach the base

He said the party held regular stakeholder meetings where important issues regarding the November elections were discussed, adding “Our campaigns are on.”

For the Young Progressive Party candidate in the poll, Senator Ifeanyi Uba, he had more than 80,000 canvassers working for him in 326 neighborhoods across the state.

He said, “We do things differently. I have a collection of my canvassers working for me in every nook and cranny of the state.

“These canvassers are reaching out to hundreds of people. So our campaign strategies are second to none. There are no wards in this state, we have less than 500 canvassers.

Army launched Exercise Golden Dawn

The exercise, according to the commander of the 302 Artillery Regiment (General Support), Colonel Abdulkarim Usman, will help fight insecurity in the state and foster cooperation between agencies.

Usman said the exercise would be routine training in the Southeast Geopolitical Zone.

For former state police commissioner Tony Olofu, now is the time to fight state thugs and give people the peace and decorum they need to continue their socio-economic activities.

The Communist Party therefore urged state personnel to now confront the thugs who terrorize the state head-on.

But the All Progressives Congress asked, “What does Governor Obiano do with the 1.5 billion naira monthly security vote?”

According to a statement by Afam Ogene, director of media and advertising on behalf of the Campaign Organization for the Government of Senator Andy Uba, “After weeks of lethargy and inaction, the Governor of the State of Anambra, Chef Willie Obiano, may have finally stepped down. as head of state security. Instead, he ordered residents of the state to turn only to federal authorities for help. ”

For Obiano “The approach of the elections has created a strange desperation within the political class leading to acts which are not only hostile to the peace regime that my administration has entrenched in our beloved state for eight years, but also a threat to democracy.

“The deliberate attempt to heat up the system and create the impression of chaos in Anambra State is a ploy by desperate political leaders to wet the ground and provide a perfect alibi for bad electoral practices. We are aware of this plot; and we will resist it with all our might!

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