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18 Nov 2017

Bomb scare, anxiety as Anambra voters elect governor today

AS the people of Anambra State decide who occupies the position of the state governor today (Saturday), there is palpable fear that the election could be marred by violence. This is happening amid fears of bomb blast in Onitsha.
Some residents of the state were seen gathered in different groups to discuss, in trepidation, what the outcome of the election might be.

It was also observed that security had been beefed up at public places with units of armed policemen stationed at strategic locations.

Some other Anambra residents, who spoke with Saturday PUNCH, expressed their readiness to vote while many others pointed out that they had their reasons to be afraid that the exercise could be marred by violence.

A resident of the state, Ifeanyi Ogockukwu, from Ihiala Local Government Area and a computer operator, said, “I will remain indoors tomorrow (today) until I notice that everywhere is calm because I do not know what it will look like.

“But I will come out and vote when everywhere is calm. I advise others to also come out and vote for the candidate of their choice. They should not sell their votes for anything.”

The Nigeria Union of Journalists, Anambra State Council, in an emergency congress, also expressed fear that something untoward might befall the state in the poll.

It’s communiqué, read partly, “That the Council views with concern the unusually heavy presence of security operatives in the state in the build-up to the election, noting that such could lead to unnecessary tension and may jeopardise peaceful conduct of the poll and possibly dissuade voters from coming out to exercise their franchise.”

The tension in the state was further exacerbated by the pro-secessionist group, Indigenous People of Biafra, which issued what seemed to be a fresh threat and prediction that the Anambra governorship election would be bloody.

IPOB had warned the people of the state to stay indoors to avoid being victims of bomb blast that could occur during the election.

This is just as the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operations, Mr. Joshak Habila, dismissed the threat by IPOB, insisting that the voters should come out and exercise their franchise without fear.

A statement by the proscribed group signed by its spokesman, Emma Powerful, indicated that all might not be well with the exercise.

Powerful said IPOB had uncovered a plot by Nigerian security agencies to link it to series of bomb blasts that would occur during Saturday’s governorship election in the state.

The spokesman for the pro-Biafra group claimed that the security agencies, particularly the army, police and the Department of State Services, had planted explosive devices at strategic places in the state, waiting to set them off during the election.

Powerful explained that IPOB would be blamed for the explosions, adding that the alleged plot was meant to justify the Federal Government’s claim that the group was a terrorist organisation.

The IPOB spokesman said, “We gather(ed) that the Nigerian military is now planting explosive devices in all strategic places in Anambra State to justify their evil plan against the people of Biafra.

“The Nigerian Government and her security operatives especially, the Nigerian army and police, including the DSS, have lost the bid to label IPOB a terrorist organisation among the civilised nations. So, they have resorted to crude evidence-planting as they did with their so-called imported double-barrelled hunting guns at Apapa Wharf.

“Chief of Army Staff, General Buratai and his military hierarchy are desperately using every and any available strategy to justify their actions against IPOB family members in Biafraland particularly in Anambra State because of our boycott threat.

“We are warning every indigenous person of Biafra to be wary of tomorrow’s election in Anambra State. Every man,  woman and child should remain indoors because Nigerian security operatives have planted military-grade explosives at key locations in Anambra State to kill and maim as many people as possible.

“Stay in your homes with your doors locked because tomorrow will be very bloody for anyone that ventures outside,” Powerful stressed while insisting that the IPOB was not a terror organisation.

He added, “IPOB, under the command and leadership of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, remains a non-violent and peaceful freedom fighting organisation, irrespective of the continued attack on us by the Nigerian Government and her security operatives, especially the army, police and the DSS.”

But, dismissing IPOB’s statement, Habila said, “There is no cause to fear. (In) virtually everywhere, space, you will find police officers and other security agents prepared. I want to assure those who are getting scared; do not believe that something is pursuing you when nothing is pursuing you.

“We guarantee your safety and ask that you come out tomorrow (today) and vote so that you can choose the man you want to be at the helm of affairs. There is no cause to fear.”

Describing the threat by IPOB as a failed move, the DIG added, “I am of the opinion that the threat, which was put through, was just a dummy; it was just a script written and rehearsed. But I think that it has failed because it has not been played.

“It was never played during the campaign. I do not think that anybody will go and dust those things and play them anymore. If there is anyone, then it is unfortunate.

“But I want to assure you that they were just antics; and that is why I say, vote and live, but not vote and die.”

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