Amid the brewed mix of fear and optimism ahead tomorrow’s governorship election in Anambra State, the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) last night cancelled the one-week sit-at-home order it issued across the Southeast.
IPOB said it called off the order after consultations with elders, traditional and religious leaders from the region. The group’s Director of Media and Publicity, Emma Powerful, made this disclosure in a statement. He stated that it is not IPOB’s intention to add to the pains of the people it claims to fight for since all business activities would be brought to a halt with the sit-at-home order.
The spokesperson said: “Following the genuine intervention of our elders, esteemed traditional institutions/rulers and religious leaders, and after due consideration of the positive impacts of their engagement, and sequel to the fact that our elders have spoken in our terms, the leadership of IPOB, ably led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, hereby and immediately call off the one-week sit-at-home earlier declared to commence November 5 to November 10.
“We have equally considered several appeals by our mothers who earn their living based on their daily economic activities, which will obviously be affected if Biafraland is locked down for one whole week. It’s never our intention to add to the pains of our people, hence our decision to suspend the sit-at-home.
“IPOB leadership is only interested in our referendum and peaceful agitation for self-determination, and cannot by under any guise be seen to be interfering with any electoral process.
“The people of Anambra should go out en-masse and peacefully exercise their franchise on Saturday and accordingly, chose a leader of their choice. They should not be intimidated by anybody, group of persons or security agents.
“Credible intelligence available to us confirm that security agencies have concluded arrangement to deploy a group of armed persons to unleash mayhem on our people and attribute the killing to IPOB members.
“Anambrarians should vote and standby to protect their votes. No rigging of any kind will be tolerated. It must be transparent, free and fair to all.
“We, therefore, urge all Biafrans and residents of Biafra to go about their lawful businesses without fear of any molestations. All agents of darkness recruited by our enemies to inflict pain on our people under the guise of enforcing the sit-at-home are hereby warned to steer clear or brace up for the consequences of their evil action.”
Before the volte-face by IPOB, it had been days and weeks of uncertainty despite assurances by government and stakeholders that security will be guaranteed before, during and after the election.
In fact, tension and disquiet have gripped security operatives who are on election duty in the state as six of their colleagues were reportedly killed by unknown gunmen, yesterday. The gunmen were said to have attacked the policemen in two separate police formations in the early hours of Thursday. Several others also sustained gunshot injuries.
It was gathered that the hoodlums attacked the Mobile 16 Police force and the Area Command headquarters respectively, at Oraifite Town, Ekwusigo local council of the state, dampening the morale of security operatives gearing up for tomorrow’s election and heightening anxiety among residents. Oraifite is about 46km to the capital, Awka. It was further gathered that the hoodlums also made away with the dead officers’ weapons.
The casualties were recorded after heavy gun-battle, which lasted hours, as the policemen confronted the unidentified gunmen who stormed the stations in many vehicles.
Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Echeng Echeng could not be reached for comment on the incident. Also, the Zone 13 Public Relations Officer, DSP Nkeiruka Nwude, who is in charge of election matters, did not respond to enquiries on the incident.
However, the Southeast Governors’ Forum has said criminals were using the name of IPOB to kill innocent citizens. The Forum said this while calling on security agencies to secure the citizens and the election. This was disclosed in a statement issued by the governor of Ebonyi State and Chairman, Southeast Governors’ Forum, David Umahi, yesterday.
The statement read in part: “We plead with all security agencies deployed for Anambra election to please secure the lives of our people in Anambra while playing within the rules of their engagements.
“We are aware that the insecurity in Southeast has gone beyond IPOB. Cultists, armed robbers and kidnappers have recruited themselves and are using the name of IPOB to kill innocent citizens. We will not allow this to continue.
“We thank the Federal Government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for their determination to hold the election. We will give them every support and shall help them to ensure a free, fair and violence-free election. We, therefore, ask our people to go out and vote for candidates of their choice as we have been assured of adequate security measures to secure their lives and property.”
Governorship candidates for the poll, yesterday, signed a peace agreement in Awka. Those who were present and signed the agreement include Mr. Valentine Ozigbo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Andy Uba of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Obiora Okonkwo of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and Dr. Godwin Maduka of the Accord Party, among others.
The peace accord signing ceremony was at the Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka, and was facilitated by the National Peace Committee, Abuja, headed by former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, while addressing the flag-bearers, observed that without peace, the deployment plans, innovations in result management, safety of personnel, security of materials and above all, credibility of the election will be undermined. He gave the assurance that the Commission was committed to conducting a transparent and credible election in Anambra.
In his address, Abubakar said the signing of the peace accord was a way of reaffirming that they must conduct themselves in a professional and peaceful manner ahead of the election. Abdulsalami appealed to concerned stakeholders to cooperate with INEC and security agencies for a free and fair exercise.
In his speech, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Usman Baba Alkali, represented by DIG in charge of Operation, Mr. Zaki Ahmed, said that peace must be maintained before, during and after the election.
Others who were present at the signing were Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Hassan Kukah, state security chiefs, party state chairmen, supporters and traditional rulers.Follow us on social media