The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has warned security agencies deployed to Anambra for the November 6 governorship election to desist from violating the rights of residents and voters.
CDD’s team of election analysts, led by Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim who addressed newsmen in Abuja urged security agencies to protect voters and not scare them from exercising their electoral rights.
According to Prof Jibrin, “The position of the Center for Democracy and Development and Election Analysis Centre is that the security agencies have to ensure that their presence is uniquely to protect voters.
“But there must not be violations of the rights of the people. It has been assured by the Inspector General of Police that the inter-agencies security network has been fully not just briefed, but that all their officers to be fully deployed have been fully trained to respect the rights of citizens and voters. We believe that is what is going to happen, but we will be in the watch out and if we notice any violation of the rights of citizens and voters, we will take it up.”
“People are being attacked, killed, properties are being destroyed, there is arson that is ongoing. In such a situation what you need is security response. Somebody has to be there, acting on behalf of the state to protect lives, properties and the liberty of the franchise. Therefore the situation calls for a significant security deployment.”
According to him, “The November 6, Anambra election is an important litmus test for Nigeria’s democracy and development. In the past few months, the nation’s focus has been on this election because of what it represents at this moment of our national development.
“Uppermost on all our minds has been the deteriorating security situation in Anambra and across the Southeast resulting from the eruption of recurring and brazen attacks undertaken by supposedly “unknown” assailants. These attacks have targeted the Police, the Nigerian Correctional Service, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), resulting in several casualties as well as the destruction of state properties and equipment. “Worryingly, this has also coincided with the seeming intensification of the agitations of separatist groups, with the most pronounced manifestation of this phenomenon being the declaration and brutal enforcement of repeated sit-at-orders by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) Movement following the forcible incarceration of its leader. Aside from deepening the unrest, this development has led to the crippling of economic activities nearly every week, further straining the already burdensome living conditions of most people in the region.
“Against this backdrop, the holding of an election, which should ordinarily represent the celebration of a people’s democratic franchise, and an opportunity to determine the course of political events in their state has, for many, become an uncertain and anxiety-ridden affair.
“INEC, media organizations, and political parties have all been affected by the situation, with the sit-at-home orders and sudden outbreaks of violence impacting on voter education, political campaigns, media sensitization efforts, and other elements of the electioneering process. Furthermore, IPOB’s declaration that it will enforce another sit-at-home order, locking down the entire region before and after the election has only added to the prevailing apprehension.”
He added: “We note that the heavy security presence, particularly in Awka, the state capital, will likely ensure that elections are held in some form. However, the risk of clashes between state security agents and non-state armed groups as well as the threat of armed attacks on polling stations will remain elevated, particularly in more rural LGAs in the state where security deployments have been relatively scantier.
“While the extraordinary deployment of police and security agents to the state will likely maintain some modicum of stability, the intimidating security presence has also added to the overall sense of unrest.
“We also note an increased likelihood of an even higher level of voter apathy than has typically been witnessed in Anambra elections. Meanwhile, the usual, embarrassing intrigues that have marred candidate selection processes — including repeated suits and countersuits by rival candidates, forcing the court to pick the flagbearers of all the major parties — have done little to reassure voters that the election would be a worthwhile affair.
“ In a state where low voter-turnout has traditionally plagued the electoral process, the peculiar circumstances of this election have only deepening uncertainty about the extent to which voters will feel secure enough to leave their homes to cast a ballot.”