By Kingsley Omonobi & Omeiza Ajayi

Amid concerns that the governorship election in Anambra State scheduled to hold on Saturday may be disrupted by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB) one-week sit-at-home ordered in the South-East, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is forging ahead with preparations for the poll.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, expressed the resolve of the Commission to go ahead with the election at the weekend.

There have been fears of uncertainty over the poll since last weekend when IPoB said a week-long sit-at-home would take effect from Friday, November 5 in the five South-Eastern states until November 10, the next adjourned date for the trial of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

Kanu is being tried for treason by the Federal Government over IPoB secessionist activities.

The sit-at-home is designed to abort the trial.

IPoB initially started declaring weekly sit-at-home when Kanu, who had escaped to the United Kingdom, was arrested in Kenya and brought back to face trial in Nigeria after he had jumped bail during his initial trial.

The group moved the exercise to any adjourned date of trial of their leader following outcry on the economic losses the sit-at-home was causing.

This is the first time IPoB is calling for a week-long lockdown in the South-East which has now caught up with the Anambra November 6 election.

But in a statement suggesting that the lockdown is a mere coincidence, IPoB told Sunday Vanguard last week that the sit-at-home was not targeting the poll as its concern was only the release of Kanu which must be unconditional and discontinuation of trial.

The group said the one-week sit-at-home in the South-East, effective Friday, will not exempt Anambra, notwithstanding the election (see interview with IPoB spokesperson on the next page)

Meanwhile Sunday Vanguard learnt that the security arrangement in place to ensure a successful conduct of the election is one never seen before.

The election security action plan, it was learnt, will revolve around units of the Mobile Police Force.

Consequently, the IGP is deploying 2 Deputy Inspectors General of Police, DIG Joseph Egbunike who is in charge Force Criminal Investigation Department and DIG Ahmed Zaki who is in charge Operations at Force headquarters.

They will be assisted by 5 Assistant Inspectors General of Police, 14 Commissioners of Police, 31 Deputy Commissioners of Police, and 48 Assistant Commissioners of Police.

DIG Egbunike will oversee the implementation of the Operation Order evolved from the Election Security Threat Assessment, to ensure a peaceful environment devoid of violence, molestation or intimidation.

Also earmarked for deployment for the election are 34,587 operatives who would consist of conventional police officers, Police Mobile Force, the Counter Terrorism Unit, Special Forces, Explosive Ordnance Unit, Force Intelligence Bureau, INTERPOL, Special Protection Unit and a medical team.

Three helicopters would be deployed for aerial surveillance while detachments of Marine Police operatives would also be deployed to ensure safe, secure and credible electoral process in reverine areas.

Before the election gets underway on November 6, the Nigerian Police, the Army and other security agencies would conduct a two-day show of force round the nooks and crannies of the state.

The show of force starts on Thursday in all the three senatorial districts of Anambra.

A 25-page document obtained by the Foundation for Investigative Journalism showed that the Police personnel would be selected from 27 State Police Commands, made up of Anambra, Delta, Ondo, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, Lagos, Edo, Imo, Abia, Rivers, Bayelsa, Kogi, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa, Enugu, Ebonyi, Cross River, Kano, Kwara, Plateau, Bauchi and Taraba. Personnel from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) command and visiting police officers from the IGP’s secretariat, force headquarters, and so on, will also be in the state for the election.

Army speaks

On its part, the Nigerian Army, having the Anambra election in mind and security challenges including killing of security operatives, destruction of vital national assets and IPOB threats, flagged off ‘Exercise Golden Dawn’ in the South East with the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Faruk Yahaya, disclosing that the exercise and similar ones in other parts of the country were borne out of the need to combat emerging security challenges.

Caution

National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), on his part, cautioned IPoB against disrupting the election, saying, “I want to reassure the general public that the security agencies are going to do everything within their power to ensure that the people of Anambra State undergo this exercise without any incident.

“In the same vein, I want to offer a word of brotherly advice to our brothers and sisters in Anambra State who may want to use means, methods that are unorthodox and that are unusual to destabilize an already delicate situation, to please, think again.

“The agitation for an independent republic, Biafra, which is being championed by IPOB, has led to killings and destruction in Nigeria’s South-east region”.

Doubt

Dismissing any doubt that the Anambra poll may hold on Saturday, INEC Chairman Yakubu said they were determined to proceed with the exercise as scheduled.

“The safety and protection of voters, our personnel, accredited observers, the media and materials are cardinal considerations in any election. We have been assured by the security agencies of a secure environment for the election”, he said.

According to the body, they had deployed non-sensitive materials and concluded the training of personnel for the election.

“We have successfully accomplished 12 of the 14 activities listed in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the election released in January this year”, a spokesperson said.

“The two outstanding activities are the last day of campaign, at midnight on Thursday 4th November 2021 and Election Day which remains Saturday 6th November 2021.

“Also, the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN is handling the delivery of sensitive materials to the State, as the INEC State office in Awka is arranging for stakeholders to inspect the materials at the premises of the CBN in Awka.

“As is the case in all elections, the sensitive materials are moved under security escort to each Local Government Area from where they are distributed to the Registration Areas or Wards and finally to Polling Units on Election Day.

“On Wednesday, there will be a stakeholders meeting while the candidates and their parties will also be signing a peace accord as a mark of their commitment to peaceful election.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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