Posted by News Express | 19 September 2017 | 2,389 times
The Voters Rights International (Voters Rights) has advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the November 8 governorship election in Anambra State on account of insecurity arising from military action against the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in the South-East.
The rights group quoted the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Anambra State, Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji, as having said penultimate Thursday at Awka during a two-day workshop with Civil Society Situation Room in preparation for the election that IPOB activities may affect the election.
In a statement issued on Monday in Onitsha, President of the group, Barrister Jezie Ekejiuba, said: “While addressing participants, Dr. Orji said that 35 Candidates of political parties will participate in the November 18 governorship election. He added that the number does not include the candidates of political parties that held their primaries in the absence of the commission.
“He also said that some of the challenges that may affect the election process include the pro-Biafra agitators, general discontentment in the South-East region and security challenges in the region which might rub off in the electoral process. He also listed other challenges already affecting the job of the commission to include meager funding, erratic power supply, policy delay and discontentment on the part of voters. He, however, assured that the commission would overcome the challenges.
“We wish to use this medium to say that the scheduled Anambra governorship election for November 18, 2017 is less than two months away. We do not see how the commission will do any magic to overcome these challenges in less than two months time.
“Apart from the above INEC’s identified challenges to the poll, we recall the earlier threats posed to the poll as reported in the media including the boasts by Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) that it would stop the poll unless there was a referendum on Biafra before the conduct of the poll and the legal challenge by the pending Supreme Court case in Appeal No. SC.671/2016 INEC V. Barrister Jezie Ekejiuba and Anor in which the activist lawyer had already warned the commission that he would file an interlocutory application for an injunction to stop the commission from conducting the Anambra governorship election for excluding formerly deregistered political parties as alluded to by Dr. Orji in his above statement.
“On the heels of these dangerous challenges comes the recent declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organisation by the Nigerian Military and proscription of IPOB by the South East Governors which to all intents and purposes are like pouring fuel to raging fire rather than following the part of peaceful dialogue.
“It is against the backdrop of these unwholesome insecurity challenges and emergencies that we hereby call on the commission to stop spending the available meagre funding on the Anambra governorship election that is doomed to be postponed based on the overwhelming evidence on the ground. We also call on the commission to as a matter of law and security postpone the Anambra governorship election over the lingering SouthEast Army/IPOB insecurity crisis caused by the recent invasion of the SouthEast region by the Nigerian Military tagged Operation Python Dance II (Egwu Eke II) which began on September 15, 2017.
“Section 26(1) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended clearly provided for postponement of election thus: ‘Where a date has been appointed for the holding of an election, and there is reason to believe that a serious breach of the peace is likely to occur if the election is proceeded with on that date or it is impossible to conduct the elections as a result of natural disasters or other emergencies, the Commission may postpone the election and shall in respect of the area or areas concerned appoint another date for the holding of the postponed election provided that such reason for the postponement is cogent and verifiable’.
“We consider what is happening in the South-East region (including Anambra State) today as constituting as ‘other emergencies’ and ‘cogent and verifiable reason’ as provided in the above quoted provision of the Electoral Act enough for INEC as a responsible electoral body to follow to avert loss of lives of voters during the election. INEC therefore must urgently heed this clarion call to postpone the Anambra governorship election to a later date conducive enough for voters to come out and vote without any fear and devoid of military invasion, otherwise called Operation Python Dance II.”
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