…as agitators’ “no election in Biafra Land” has always targeted Anambra and turned blind eyes on others
By Intersociety, Southeast CLO & Southeast Rights & Democracy Coalition
Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria, Friday, 29th October 2021
The leaderships of the 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 Organization (SBCHROs) have jointly studied the recent assurances given by the Independent National Electoral Commission about its “readiness and preparedness” to go ahead with the Anambra Governorship Election on 6th Nov 2021. The INEC’s assurances are totally contrary to the present realities on the ground and can only be smiled at by state actor and non state actor poll riggers. That is to say therefore that the Commission’s assurances are dead on arrival and repugnant to conditions for free and fair elections particularly the referenced Anambra Governorship Election. If the Commission is truly ready to conduct all-inclusive and credible Governorship Election in Anambra State, it ought to be deeply worried and concerned and should not have given such ‘assurances of the graveyard’.
This is more so when the present realities on the ground are no way nearing the semblances of the Commission’s “assurances”. It must be noted that the chief driving force of the grave present realities on the ground in Anambra State are tensions and fears created by the agitators’ threats and security forces’ poor handling styles such as their counter threats and reckless use of state violence-all targeted at the unarmed and defenseless general population especially the independent and conscientious voters. To reverse the above requires counter announcements by the agitators including suspension of their scheduled sit-at-home protest and declaring that “Anambra voters are free to go and vote a governorship candidate of their choice and that their votes shall be protected”. In the event the former becomes irreversible, the Independent National Electoral Commission will have no other reasonable option that to capitalize on its constitutional and statutory “escape routes” by shifting the Election for one month or from 6th Nov to 6th Dec 2021.
Agitators’ Clarifications Do Not Hold Water
The clarifications by the agitators to the effect that “their seven (five) days sit-at-home protest scheduled to start from 5th Nov to 10th November was not issued to scuttle or target the Anambra Governorship Poll”, has been carefully analyzed by Intersociety and the Coalition and found not to hold water. It is therefore correct to say that ‘by all intents and purposes”, the suddenly declared sit-at-home and its timing are targeted at scuttling the Anambra Governorship Poll and provide grounds for the Poll to be massively and scientifically rigged by the Establishment so as to transform the State and its natural environment into “a RUGA State”. This is more so when it is on irrefutable record that the present Federal Government of Nigeria and the Independent National Electoral Commission are not fans or exponents of Credible Elections in Nigeria or any part therefore. The body and voice languages of the agitators have also since 2017 been “no more elections in Biafra Land”.
Sit-at-Home Protest Is Legitimate But Targeting It At Time Of Anambra Poll Is Illegitimate
It must be pointed out clearly that Intersociety and the Coalition are not against use of any form of peaceful democratic free speech by the agitators to press home their legitimate demands such as release of their leader (Kanu) but timing it to disrupt another sacred democratic process such as scaring away voters and stopping them from voting in an important Election is totally unacceptable. The agitators must be told in clear terms that they are waging an unpopular war against the ‘a fundamental axiom or foundation of agitation for self determination-otherwise called “electoral franchise” and they must therefore be reminded that ‘where their individual and collective human rights end, those of others begin’.
Agitators’ “No Elections In Biafra Land” Target Anambra Alone
It is on record that the agitators’ “no elections in Biafra Land” by way of boycott campaigns or sit-at-home have always targeted Anambra State and turned blind eyes on others including ‘staggered governorship election in Edo which the agitators designated as “part of Biafra Land” and other public elections such as general elections and court ordered bye-elections. Available statistics have shown that back in Nov 2017, efforts were intensified by the agitators to discourage and scare away Anambra voters from voting in the Nov 18th Anambra Governorship Poll, forcing hundreds of thousands of independent and conscientious voters into their homes or to stay indoors to avoid being attacked or killed or losing valuable properties. By the time the agitators resolved to rescind their radical stance almost on the eve of the Poll, the irreparable damage had been done. That singular act of the agitators provided a field day for poll manipulators and manipulation of the Poll including uploading and addition of tens of thousands procured PVCs and indiscriminate vote buying.
Turning Blind Eyes On Other Elections
Contrarily, when several bye-elections were conducted in other parts of the Southeast and South-south especially between 2018 and 2020, agitators’ campaigns for “no elections in Biafra Land” went dead. Same was the case during the 2019 General Elections during which nothing was heard of “no elections in Biafra Land”. But in the electioneering of the Nov 6 Anambra Governorship Poll, “no elections in Biafra Land” reared their ugly voices again till this date and have taken over Anambra’s electoral spaces, creating tensions and fears and putting the State at the crossroads of grave uncertainties. The questions, therefore, are: why Anambra State? Is Anambra State now the only “Biafra Land”?
Constitution & Electoral Act Support Shift Of Anambra Governorship Poll,If…
According to Section 178 (2) of the country’s 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 25 (8) of the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended), “election into the office of governor shall be held not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder or outgoing governor”. In the case of Anambra Governorship Poll, therefore, the tenure of office of the outgoing Governor of the State elapses on 17th March 2022. This means that INEC is on point by fixing the Poll “not earlier than 150 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last or outgoing holder (William Mmaduabuchukwu Obiano)”. INEC is also on point if the Poll is shifted to 6th Dec 2021 which is still within the literal letters or meaning of ‘not earlier than 150 days’ or ‘not later than 30 days to the last holder’s office term expiration’. Except INEC is determined to rig the Poll otherwise the only credible option available to the Commission is to shift the Poll for one month; exception being unless the agitators rescind their sit-at-home call scheduled to start from 5th Nov. The meaningful timeline popularly appropriate for agitators to rescind or rewind is Monday, 1st Nov or Tuesday, Nov 2nd 2021.
Why INEC Must Shift Anambra Poll If Agitators Insist On Election Disruptive Sit-at-Home
The Independent National Electoral Commission has no other credible option than to shift the Anambra Governorship Poll for one month. This is if the agitators insist on going ahead with their five days electoral disruptive sit-at-home threats. Apart from proving the agitators right or wrong by shifting the date of the Poll and if they target and impose another sit-at-home to disrupt the Poll, this will also enable the tensions and fears created and inflicted on the general population especially the voters to drastically reduce and provide the Commission and other stakeholders including security agencies, political parties, their candidates and agents to re-strategize including reducing fears and deploying peace and dispute resolution mechanisms and demilitarization of the electoral space. The Commission must also begin the process of introducing a mixture of electronic and manual voting for subsequent polls and reducing militarization of the electoral process and high cost of same.
Signed For Intersociety:
Emeka Umeagbalasi & Barr Chidimma Udegbunam
Signed For SBCHROs:
Prof Jerry Chukwuokoro & Okezie Kelechi, PhD
Signed For Southeast CLO
Comrades Aloysius Attah