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Anambra Guber: Masked soldiers, massive security and high stakes

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  • Early exit polls indicate low voters’ turn out

Jude Johnson

The tension remained very high across Anambra State as a result of high stakes in the ongoing governorship elections in the state necessitating massive security presence.

According to political observers and analysts, today’s election would serve as a pointer to what would happen in 2019 when the country would hold its general election.

But early exit polls by some observers and reporters on ground are suggesting a low voters’ turnout, which may be connected with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) campaign for election boycott.

However, there are frantic efforts concerned stakeholders including the government, security agents, political actors and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to ensure that people are encouraged to exercise their mandate to determine their next governor for another four years.

To this end, the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State Command, Garba Umar is assuring voters that his men will provide security and that they should feel free to go out and vote.

“I have enough men to counter whatever plan any group comes up with to disrupt today’s election,” Umar declared on Friday.

The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris had earlier revealed that 26,000 police officers would be deployed from outside the state to help its men in Anambra to ensure peace and security in the state.

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps had also revealed that 11,000 of its men would be in the state to ensure peace, while sniffer dogs, drones, helicopters would also be deployed.

Men of the Nigerian Navy would also be around to ensure security in the riverine areas of the state.

In the same vein, masked soldiers are reportedly on the prowl since Friday in parts of Anambra State as the people prepared to vote in the Governorship election.

According to reports, the presence of the masked soldiers raised eyebrows, especially in the human rights community.

Condemning the development, a popular rights activist in the state, Comrade Justus Uche Ijeoma, wrote on his Facebook wall late Friday: “The presence of hooded military personnel in Anambra in the name of election security is uncalled for. I am wondering why a lawful organisation would allow its officials mask their faces while discharging their duties, if what they are doing is not criminal and unlawful. I think it’s only criminal elements who do not want to be identified with their acts that cover their faces when operating.

“These officers operating in military trucks numbers over two in a convoy, with their faces completely covered. Whatever their intentions are, covering their faces will definitely hurt the process. It’s counterproductive.”

Ijeoma alleged that the “Federal Government is used deploying soldiers for election activities. It happened in Ekiti in 2014, Edo in 2016.”

He, however, insisted that deploying masked soldiers was uncalled for, despite the campaign by the separatist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for the boycott of the polls.

According to him, “Even when they were shouting ‘no election’, it’s not a justification for the military to deploy hooded personnel. What if they commit infraction? How are they going to be identified for appropriate sanctions? What is bad is bad and cannot be supported.”

Credits: Thisday, NExp

 

 

 


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