The federal government has vowed to deal decisively with anyone who attempts to disrupt the November 6, 2021, Anambra governorship election.
The national security adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, gave the warning on Monday at a meeting of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).
Monguno, who is the co-chairman of the committee, spoke against the backdrop of the threat by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to disrupt the exercise.
He said: “For those of us in security, we have already done what we are supposed to do.
“All security agencies have been asked to conduct themselves well in a professional manner and exhibit the highest level of professionalism and restraint and operate within the confines of the law, not in any way that will jeopardise the exercise.
“We are going to ensure that the people of Anambra undergo this exercise without any incident. We want to offer brotherly advice to our brothers, who want to destabilise the process to think again. We are all eager to achieve results that will be acceptable to everybody. I don’t think it will be right for anyone to ignite a crisis. Please, think again.
“Yes, the law enforcement agencies will not sit by and allow people to terrorise people, commit homicide. They have been told to watch out for these elements. I am appealing to you to stay in your wards and local governments and behave yourself. Anyone that wants to disrupt the process will be brought to book,” the NSA warned.
Reiterating the importance of the November 6 governorship election, Monguno said, “We all know how important it is for us. The election is the number one legitimate right of every citizen and we must not deny them that right in an atmosphere devoid of rancour and violence. Just like the chairman said, we need to do better than what we did in Edo and Ondo.”
On the casualties so far suffered by security agencies and INEC staff in Anambra state, the NSA said, “I know you have gone through a lot of pains, but don’t allow that to dampen your spirit or get into lethargy. I wish you fruitful deliberations.”
On his part, the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission is determined to proceed with the poll as scheduled.
Yakubu said, “Our deployment of non-sensitive materials and training of personnel for the election have virtually been concluded. The Commission has successfully accomplished 12 out of the 14 activities listed in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the election released in January this year.
“The two outstanding activities are the last day of the campaign, at midnight on Thursday 4th November 2021 and Election Day, which remains Saturday 6th November 2021. The REC for Anambra State is here to fully provide an update on the implementation of other activities and INEC’s general state of readiness for the election.
“INEC is determined to proceed with the Anambra State Governorship election 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.
“I am sure the Commissioner Police, Anambra State, in his briefing, will provide more details regarding preparations on the ground. I wish to place on record the continued support of security agencies to the Commission during elections. Particularly noteworthy is the high level of professional conduct of the agencies in the last two major elections in Edo and Ondo States. Indeed, Edo and Ondo have become the standard for securing elections in Nigeria.
“The professionalism and neutrality exhibited by the security agencies in the two elections have been widely praised nationally and internationally. We are confident that this will be replicated in Anambra State.”
He commended the security agencies, religious, traditional and community leaders for the support INEC has received towards conducting a peaceful election.
He said the commission was also working with the National Peace Committee, under the leadership of former Head of State Abdulsalami Abubakar, to bring all political parties and candidates for the Anambra state governorship election to commit to peace before, during and after the election.
Meanwhile, a coalition of civil society groups in the South-east, under the umbrella of Coalition of Southeast Democracy and Human Rights Organisations (CSBDHROs) has waded into alleged plans by IPOB to disrupt the election through a seven-day lockdown of the South-East.
The chairman, board of trustees of the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety), Emeka Umeagbalasi, who addressed newsmen on behalf of other rights organisations, called on IPOB to rescind their decision, while also calling for the release of Nnamdi Kanu.
He said“We are calling on our brothers (IPOB) not to toe that line (disrupting the election). When a group tells you that they will lock down the South East from November 4 to November 10, and we know that Anambra has elections on November 6 and November 7, what does that tell you? The election is the target.
“We want to tell the IPOB people that nobody knows it all. We have been fighting their cause for a long time because we know that what they are doing is within their fundamental human right. But we want to tell them that once in a while, they should make consultations.
“They should sometimes reach out to people like us. The people you see here are leaders of CSOs, and seminal thinkers in the Southeast, ideas are our currency. We implore them to come to us and exchange ideas once in a while because no one knows it all.”
The groups said to disrupt the election by announcing a sit-at-home exercise on that day would mean calling for emergency rule in the state, which they said would ultimately give the state to the federal government and allow them to impose anyone on her, and that would not be fair.
“That would allow the election to be massively and scientifically rigged or to be stopped will be disastrously calamitous and place the state under ‘Khaki or Agbada Caliphate’ and ‘a nomadic rainforest state,” he added.