Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Journalists, others Blocked as Police Frustrates Awka Town Union Election

Image result for pictures of Awka
By Okechukwu Onuegbu

It was herculean for commuters passing through the Arthur Eze Avenue access road in Awka, Anambra State as the State Police Command recently barricaded the road, as well as other major streets and hotels premises in the State Capital city over the Community’s Town Union election. learnt that the Emmaus House Complex, the widely publicized venue of the election was sealed off as early as 6am by a sea of armed police men and other security agents, reportedly drafted from within and outside the state.

Also, the nearby Choice Hotel was also under police surveillance as both plain cloth and uniformed police officers took over the whole place to keep tab on all discussions, and prevented even the journalists who came to cover the event from going into the venue or interviewing any of the dramatis personae on sight.

As a result, the town union were forced to relocate to Finotel hotel, a distance of about two kilometers to address the press about the development, but shortly after their movement to the new venue, 10 trucks load of gun-toting policemen led by the Divisional Police officer in charge of Awka Central Police Station (CPS), Mr Ajagbe stormed the place and told the gathering; “ I have the instruction of my Commissioner (CP)to stop this gathering. This gathering cannot continue.”

Contacted on the telephone about the unusual police presence in the state capital, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Mrs Nkeiru Nwode claimed that the police were deployed to maintained peace and order, and to ensure that hoodlums do not capitalize on the situation to cause mayhem.

However, addressing the press, some stakeholders in Awka, including Barrister Emeka Onyeaka, President of Awka Development Union Nigeria (ADUN) described the situation as “militarization of our society”.

Also speaking, the Chairman of Caretaker Committee, mandated to conduct the election, Mr Emmanuel Okechukwu, a lawyer, said the grouse of the police was that the community did not obtain permission from them to conduct the election.

He added that, “This is military hangover. There is no law known to me that says you must obtain police permit before you can conduct a peaceful town union election. Do you need to get police permit to eat food? All these are military mentality. This must stop. But one thing is clear, we must conduct this election, even if it means conducting in my room, it must be conducted.”

But the Abuja branch chairman of the union, Mr Emeka Onyeaka, while accusing some Special Adviser to Gov Willie Obiano(names withheld) of frustrating the whole exercise for selfish interest, noted that branches of the union returned to Awka to participate in the election following a court order that the election should be conducted within 90 days.

The union, thereby, lamented the huge logistical resources already spent in the aborted election, even as they wondered why persons who should be smoothening ways for the governor causing trouble all over the place.

Insisting that Gov Obiano may not be aware of unfair and negative things being perpetrated by his aides, especially in stoking crises in about 120 communities out of 177, the town union called on the governor to call his Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy matters, Greg Obi and adviser on Town Union matters, Ikechukwu Onyeabor to order as they have been creating problems all over the state



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