Ahead of Saturday’s Anambra Governorship Election, activists under the umbrella of Int’l Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), the Southeast Zone of the Civil Liberties Organization (Southeast CLO) and the Southeast Based Coalition of Democracy and Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs) has raised alarm over the emergence of fake voters in the state.
The activists alleged that the security forces, numbering over 100,000, are engaging in through indiscriminate shootings, mindless brutalization of the civil population and chanting or use of offensive ethno-religious slogans in addition to flooding the state with lorry loads of suspected non-indigenes and fake voters.
The activists in a statement jointly signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chinwe Umeche, Esquire and Chidimma Eva Udegbunam, Esquire (for Intersociety), Comrades Aloysius Attah and Vincent Ezekwueme (for Southeast CLO) and Jerry Chukwuokoro, PhD and Okezie Kelechi, PhD (for SBCHROs) on Thursday also expressed concern, saying that the Nigerian security forces comprising soldiers of the Nigerian Army and personnel of the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps and other armed personnel of the country’s security forces deployed or being deployed in Anambra State ahead of the Election have brazenly resorted to escalating and heightening of tensions, panics and fears among Anambra voting population.
“The latter may not be unconnected with recent threat by Federal Government to “go as far as using prisoners and inmates as voters to ward off the agitators’ sit-at-home threat to scuttle the poll”. The crude and hostile attitudes of the drafted security forces towards Anambra residents and voters have strongly painted them (security forces) as engaging in special presidential clandestine operations other than election duties.”
The activists explained that apart from several reports of indiscriminate and aimless shootings by soldiers and ‘special’ police squads at densely populated places like frontages of the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Nkwo Igbo and Afor Umunze Community Markets at Igbo-Ukwu and Umunze communities and densely populated others like Ekwulobia, Ihiala, Atani, Oba (Old Oba-Nnewi Road axis), Nnewi, Nkpor, Abagana and so on; the shooting incident and chanting of corrupted but now anti secular or ethno-religious violent slogans such as “Allahu Akbar” and “Nyamiri” were brazenly the case on Tuesday, 3rd November 2021.
“The incident occurred at the ever busy Onitsha Niger Bridgehead and Uga Junction located at Fegge, Onitsha.
“The incident, which took place between 5.30pm and 6.10pm when traders were retiring home from the nearby Bridgehead Market, saw indiscriminate shooting of live bullets by military and police personnel and chanting of offensive ethno-religious slogans (i.e. Allahu Akbar, Nyamiri, etc). The retiring traders and other road users were thrown into panics and fears forcing them to run helter skelter to avoid being hit by live bullets.
“Some coalition members also saw it all; and in addition to sighting thousands of suspected non indigenes of the state and fake voters being brought into the state in dozens of hired luxury buses marked in green colors and fully escorted by armed soldiers and police personnel.”
Commenting further on the security, the activists noted that the high commands of the drafted security forces are crude and complicit.
While condemning indiscriminate arrests and false labeling by soldiers, the coalition of activists cited cases where commuters/motorists were harassed, brutalized and their windscreens smashed.
“Indiscriminate arrests and false labeling by soldiers of the military and personnel of the Nigeria Police Force are also going on especially in rural villages and strategic urban locations.
“While most of the arrested victims especially those arrested by the Army or Military are difficult to be located and freed, those arrested by police are largely locatable, but very difficult to be freed on bail or unconditionally as a result of indiscriminate tagging them as “ESN/IPOB members”.
“The high commands of the drafted security forces are crude and complicit. Apart from lacking requisite trainings and experiences in civil and electoral spaces policing, they also crudely control their field personnel and indoctrinate them with militarist and militant policing; thereby making them to have zero basic intelligence, crime detection and law enforcement.
“Ethnic profiling is also their working dictionary to the extent that they cannot differentiate between ‘civil election security or duties’ and ‘management of internal civil disturbances’. As a result of these, the drafted security forces and their high commands now resort to seeing or perceiving every member of Igbo Ethnic Nationality as “ESN/IPOB Member”; a height of criminal labeling, stigmatization and ethnic profiling.
While advocating for the discontinuation of indiscriminate use of militarist and militant slogans and conducting themselves as militants or uniform jihadists, the coalition admonished security forces not to see the Election as a war but civil exercise.
It also demanded unreserved apology for the Electorates in Anambra State.
“They must be made to understand that they are in Anambra for Governorship Poll and its policing and not jihadist operations. While they do not and ought not to have issues with the State civil populace, they can use their intelligence and crime detection skills and techniques (if any) to identify and deal lawfully with trouble citizens found creating insecurity and other unsafe conditions for Anambra citizens especially members of its voting population.”
“…It is our Coalition’s strong call on the High Commands of the drafted security forces to go on air and tender unreserved apologies to the State’s voting population on behalf of themselves and their misbehaving and crudely and rudely indoctrinated field personnel particularly soldiers and police personnel.
Meanwhile, speaking on the rumoured drafting of partisan UNICAL VC as Chief Returning Officer, the coalition said if true, must not be treated with kid groves.
“…As a matter of fact, the alleged partisan VC must be replaced with another credible and neutral academician.
“Our firm position on Anambra Poll remains that members of the voting population must be allowed to vote the candidate of their choice and the Poll supervised and returned by a neutral and non partisan third party as its Chief Returning Officer.”