Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Voters group call for postponement of Anambra 2017 guber poll

By Okechukwu Onuegbu

A group, Voters Rights International (VRI) has advised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the Anambra State November 18 gubernatorial election over an alleged insecurity and military action in the zone.

VRI also ascribed its calls for election postponement to the statements accredited to Anambra State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji, who during a two-day workshop with Civil Society situation Room last week Thursday announced that pro-Biafra agitators, general discontentment in the South East region and other security challenges might rub off in the electoral process.

According to the group’s President, Barr Jezie Ekejiuba, an Onitsha based Human Rights Lawyer, the INEC also listed other challenges already affecting the commission’s job to include meager funding, erratic power supply, policy delay and discontentment on the part of voters, adding that 35 candidates of political parties will participate in the November 18 governorship election excluding others that held their primaries in the absence of the commission.  

“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 identified by the commission in less than two months time. 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.

“We also recall 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 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” Ekejiuba added.

He further maintained that the recent proscription of IPOB by South East governors and the Nigerian military that termed the non-violent group ‘terrorist’ was like pouring fuel to raging fire rather than following the part of peaceful dialogue.

The VRI President, therefore, urged INEC to stop spending the available meager funding on the Anambra governorship election, adding that his group’s call was in line with the Section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended which clearly states that “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.”

He said, “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 Egwu Eke II (Python Dance II) that started September 15.” 



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