By Innocent Duru, Nwanosike Onu, Awka and Emma Elekwa, Onitsha
It’s an empty threat, elections will hold – Anambra govt
Ohanaeze, others sue for peace
Sit-at-home protests force schools to embrace Saturday classes
Dark cloud is looming over the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State following the threat yesterday, by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to lockdown the entire Southeast for six days if its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, is not released unconditionally before November 4, 2021.
The group, in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said failure to release Kanu would attract a one-week sit-at-home from November 5, 2021, till November 10 with exception of Sunday, November 7, 2021.
The threat has sparked palpable anxiety in the state as many fear that the move could make the conduct of the election impossible.
But the state government appears unperturbed by the threat as it described the plan as an empty threat and assured that that nothing would stop the electorate from coming out in large number to cast their votes.
The Anambra governorship election is slated for November 6, 2021 which the Federal Government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have insisted must hold.
But IPOB on Saturday said Kanu could not continue to stay in detention having committed no offense known to any law.
It alleged Federal Government’s plans to torment or abandon Kanu in DSS custody through ‘frivolous court adjournment’, insisting that such plans to subject him to trauma in detention would not succeed.
The group regretted the inconveniences the lockdown would cause on the people of the zone but stressed that no amount of sacrifice would be too much to ensure its leader regained his freedom.
The statement reads in part: “We wish to inform Biafrans, friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom that IPOB will lock down Biafra land from 5th of November to 10th of November except Sunday, November 7th, a day our people worship the Almighty God, Chukwu Okike Abiama,
“Following the adjournment of our great leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s court case to 10th of November 2021, by the Federal High Court Abuja, we the great movement and family of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), wish to inform Biafrans, friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom that IPOB will lock down Biafra land from 5th of November to 10th of November except Sunday, November 7th, a day our people worship the Almighty God, Chukwu Okike Abiama, if the Nigeria Government fails to release our leader unconditionally before 4th of November 2021.
“Our leader, Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi MUST be released UNCONDITIONALLY on or before November 4, 2021, because he has not committed any offense known to any law. Failure to release our leader Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi KANU on or before November 4, 2021, our one-week Sit-At-Home begins on November 5, 2021, till November 10.
“Although we quite understand the pains and adverse effects of this option on our people, we are compelled to take it to achieve a better purpose in the collective interest of Biafrans. We have taken time to analyse what transpired on October 21 when our Leader was arraigned in court and discovered that the federal government is not sincere and only wants to humiliate him and keep him perpetually in DSS custody to rot there.
“We all saw how lawyers, journalists, Igbo delegates and respected traditional rulers and other people who came from all around the world to witness his court case were restricted and denied access into the court premises by security agents who kept them outside under the scorching heat of the sun. What a humiliation and wickedness!
“We cannot accept that anymore. We can never allow our leader Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to be tried secretly and we can never also allow him to be tried under Sharia law under any guise. Nigeria must follow International laws in handling our leader.
“Mazi Nnamdi KANU is in DSS dungeon today because of his passion for Biafra independence, and we must sacrifice all we can to ensure that he regains his freedom. He has sacrificed so much for us all, so we must be prepared to sacrifice little for him.
“Unless the federal government releases him unconditionally before November 4, we shall sacrifice one week for him as a warning protest to convey to our oppressors that Nnamdi Kanu represents over 70 million Biafrans.
Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C-Don Adinuba, in a chat with The Nation dismissed the threat, saying the election would not only hold, but would witness massive turnout.
He said there was no cause for alarm as there would be heavy presence of security personnel on the election day.
He said: “The November 6 election will hold and will be peaceful. There will also be massive turnout.
“The security agencies will saturate the entire state, while party faithful and the entire electorate will troupe out enmass to exercise their franchise.”
Speaking in the same vein, the Anambra State Police command said it is ready for the task ahead. In a message by the spokesman, DSP Ikenga Tochukwu, the command said “we are winning and we are firm. Every day we evolving new strategies to tackle security challenges as they emerge. Our deployment has taken care of before, during and after election period.
We have undertaken a critical threat analysis and embarked on painstaking intelligence gathering through strategic deployment of our intelligence assets, robust synergy with sister security agencies, organised vigilante groups and other stakeholders.
We have been bold in confronting all security challenges and threats and indeed we have recorded several successes.”
INEC, others express fears
The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed concern that IPOB’s fresh order may threaten its preparations for the poll.
Anambra State Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC, Dr Nkwachukwu Orji disclosed this after the opening ceremony of the Election Monitoring and Support Centre (EMSC) AMBER Zone Implementers Workshop held in the state.
He noted attacks on INEC facilities in the state on May 23 were a source of worry to the commission, especially as it strives to achieve huge success in the poll.
He went on to say that the commission had so far recruited and mobilised about 25, 000 Ad hoc staff that would mann the 5, 720 polling units in the state.
“Our preparations are on course, even with all the challenges we are facing, such as the attacks on our state office on May 23rd and the Sit-At-Home order, which is eating into our preparations.
“But we are doing our best to ensure that we overcome these challenges and we can only urge the public to be law abiding in order to achieve the desired electoral success in the state,” he said.
Apex Igbo socio-cultural group, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, is also worried about the fresh threat by IPOB.
In a telephone interview with The Nation, Ohanaeze’s spokesman, Alex Ogbonnia said: “It is in the interest of Igbo that election holds in Anambra. Anything disturbing the economy of Anambra is not to the advantage of Igboland. Anambra is the economic live wire of Igboland.
“Ohanaeze appeals for calm now that all the leaders of Igboland are cooperating to ensure that Nnamdi Kanu is free. We call for restraint and maturity in approaching the issues of Nnamdi Kanu especially now that all the leaders of Igboland from all works of life are working to make sure that Nnamdi Kanu is set free.”
Chairman of African Democratic Congress, Ralphs Okey Nwosu feared that “there may not be an election or there would be a flawed election. I had the federal government has sent some security operatives to invade the southeast and you ask why? Where we have serious security challenge, the Northeast, Northwest, Kaduna, etc, you pulled the security personnel away from there and you are taking them to Anambra for an election where there is supposed to be order but the federal government is causing the disorder.
“The attitude of the government is causing serious disorientation of how a society should be. The federal government must sit down and dialogue with IPOB leaders to do things right. The south east is clean and does not pose any security threat to the nation, rather the people in the villa are deliberately promoting chaos by their unjust ways and inability to manage the diversity of the country.”
He added that the way the Federal Government is handling Nnamdi Kanu and the IPOB issue is not right. “The Federal Government must try to align with policy principles. Why pronounce people who are agitating against some ills in the society terrorists? That is wrong. This detention of Nnamdi Kanu whose purpose does it serve? For me, the Federal Government is doing something that is fundamentally wrong. Assuming the founding fathers of Nigeria are alive and the state is muddling up the way it is doing, would they just keep quiet or look power in the face and stay stop this rubbish? What is manifesting in the south east is the incompetence and bad governance that is happening at the national level. For me, it is high the security forces and the federal government came down from their high horses and follow international protocol.”
The governorship candidate of the party, (African Democratic Congress, ADC,) Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, also called on the federal government to dialogue with the leader of the Indigenous people of Biafra IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu for peace to reign in the Southeast.
The former Special Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, pointed out that incarceration of Kanu would aggravate the situation instead of solving it.
He observed that the detention of Kanu would make millions of his cult followers restive; reminding that Kanu had built a widespread and bigger network of adherents some of who he might not be in a position to control, and may resort to self-help, if he was still left behind bars.
Nwankpo, advised the Federal Government to fashion out best approaches to resolving the face-off with agitators for self-determination, rather than to deploy maximum force
Nwankpo cautioned against harassment of innocent citizens by security agents, especially those deployed to Igboland.
He maintained that undue harassment and intimidation had tended to make the youths to develop thick skin to security threats, and courage to get involved in agitations
The ADC candidate, warned that government should not be reactive in most cases, advising that more proactive measures be out in place to address the fears and yearnings of the young population.
He observed that, if the Federal Government prioritised addressing the most burning issues facing the country, including skewed appointments, promotion of ethnic supremacy, tolerance of identified killer-herdsmen, and questionable fiscal federalism, the solutions to the challenges may not be far-fetched.
IPOB Monday sit-at-home forces Schools to begin Saturday lessons in Anambra
The ghost Monday sit-at-home introduced by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, has forced many schools in Anambra State to start Saturday lessons
One of the private schools told The Nation on Saturday that it was introduced to make up the loss of Mondays in the state
The students who no longer go to schools in both public and private schools in the state for fear of being attacked by hoodlums, now attend lessons from 8am to 1pm on Saturdays.
Though, IPOB had repeatedly, announced that it had suspended the Monday sit-at-home in the Southeast, but the fear already instilled in the people had stuck with the people making parents not to be allowing their children to step out every Monday.
The Nation spoke to proprietors of three schools in the state and they confirmed the development, adding that they would not want to lose any of their students to the killers.
They spoke on account of anonymity, adding that even the government schools were not left out on the arrangement.
But the State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C Don Adinuba, said he was not in the know of the arrangement.
He referred the reporter to the Commissioner for Basic Education, Prof Kate Omenugha, who did not respond or return the call.
In Anambra State, it appears to have become a taboo for government officials to answer calls.
One of them told The Nation that it was an instruction given to them, adding that the only person authorised to answer journalists is the Commissioner for Information.
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