BY: EMEKA IBEMERE
CLEEN Foundation, a non-governmental organization known for promoting public safety, security and accessible justice through the strategies of empirical research, legislative advocacy, has warned against ignoring the threat of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, if the Anambra election was to hold peacefully.
The group made this observation while monitoring the consequences of ignoring the threat posed by this group.
According to Project Lead and Assistant Program Manager, CLEEN Foundation Chigozirim Okoro, as the November 18, Anambra gubernatorial election draws closer, the relevance of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) cannot be overemphasized.
“The group is strategically relevant because of its threat to ensure large scale election boycott and the security implications arising from such threats and government’s response mechanism”, the statement said.
Chigozirim Okoro said their study has shown that the November 18, governorship election would likely experience low voter turnout neither as result of history of voter apathy in the state, nor because the people are afraid of IPOB, adding that because the people are afraid of the conduct of the security agencies especially the police and the military.
“However, stakeholders during the validation of the research report contend that IPOB threat level has significantly gone down especially after the operation python dance II and government,” it added.
“Proscription of the group and its activities, in as much as the IPOB open activities have dwindled, the group’s underground activities could still lead to voters’ apathy whilst at the same time create an opportunity for political parties to further intensify mobilization of the people that could lead to massive voters turn-out,” Chigozirim Okoro said.
According to CLEEN’s investigation, the security flash points showed that there would likely be Election Day violence and post-election violence in some locations such as IPOB strongholds of Ekwulobia, Nnewi North, Nnewi South, Ihiala, Ozubulu, Ubuluisiuzo, Okija, Ekwusigo, Nkpor, Obosi, Ogidi, Awka and Agulu.
“The Election Day violence will likely result from clash between IPOB members and security agencies if non-coercive security approach is not deployed. It is possible that post-election violence could crystallize if APGA loses the election to APC”, the group said in their statement.
“Finally, beyond the IPOB ‘no election campaign’, there are other security threats like the possible use of vigilantes and informal policing groups by the politicians for violent activities is also not ruled out”.
The group also further noted that if INEC fails to use the digital card reader for the voting process, it could trigger off post-election violence, arising from lack of trust in the voting process.
“While the expectation that government at the national level would deploy national security apparatus to support a particular candidate is also worrisome”, the statement reads further.
According to CLEEN Foundation investigation, this has created a general sense that ‘the fear of federal government militarizing the state was more than the fear of IPOB.
“This is however a major factor that could engender voters’ apathy during the November 18, gubernatorial election in Anambra State”.
The group recommended to the federal government to employ dialogue above raw force in engaging dissension adding that is need to provide alternative narratives of peace messages by government institutions like National Orientation Agency (NOA), Ministry of Information, etc, to counter ‘no election’ campaign by IPOB.
“INEC must conduct itself as an independent umpire by ensuring that the card reader machines work properly during the election. Any suspect of bias or foul play on the part of INEC, could trigger revolt from the people,” it suggested.
“Election materials must also arrive timely and other voting processes commenced as at when due. After voting activities like counting, collation and announcement of results must be done in transparent manner that will not endanger peaceful conduct of the election”.