2023 election: Apprehension, doubts in South East over insecurity

2023 election: Apprehension, doubts in South East over insecurity

There is an air of uncertainty in the southeast on whether the 2023 election will smoothly hold in the region.

This concern came to the fore following the continuous threat to the elections scheduled to hold in February this year by the overwhelming insecurity in the region.

Though experts have called for serious action against some non-state actors across the country, not much has been seen so far from security operatives deployed to the region as killing and arson continue unabatedly.

Southeast/IPOB/Insecurity/INEC/2023 election
Tension grows in the southeast over the 2023 election Photo Credit: Dave Umahi
Source: Facebook

A right group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria led by its coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko had called for the legalization of arms.

The right group called for the liberalization of AK-47 licenses to all adults without criminal records.

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He further called on states and the Federal Government to stem the tides of violent kidnappers including the new dimension introduced all over the country where marauders raze down buildings after slaughtering innocent citizens.

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Southeast in crisis

Meanwhile, there is a major concern regarding what is going on in the southeast. This is particularly so because when other regions are faced with the general insecurity of banditry and herdsmen attacks, the southeast is faced with a violent agitation against the conduct of the 2023 election in the region. This is because the agitation in the region is about the actualization of a Biafran nation. Agitators are saying they cannot take part in a Nigerian election that aims to keep the country as one.

Ekpa causes more confusion

Recall that a self-acclaimed disciple of Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Simon Ekpa has insisted that there will be no election in the region as the southeast is not interested in a Nigerian election. He said that the end goal of their agitation is to be granted independence..

Though it has been speculated that Ekpa is being sponsored by some powerful politicians, it remains unconfirmed if these claims are true.

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Recall that Ekpa had recently declared a five-day Sit-at-home in the southeast, calling it historic and successful for Biafraland.

During the declaration, Ekpa insisted that the election would not hold in the region, insisting that ending Nigeria must be actualized in 2023.

Nigerians, IPOB disown Ekpa

But Nigerians all over the world have insisted on one nation, calling in the Finnish government where Ekpa resides and the European Union to arrest the agitator over the Sit-at-home that resulted in the killing of many citizens.

Many Nigerians had signed the petition calling for the arrest of Ekpa.

Again, Ekpa, on Saturday insisted that Sit-at-home will hold on 23 and 24 of January 2023, warning residents to obey the order since their safety cannot be guaranteed. He alleged that some governors and other powerful persons were responsible for the killings that happen on Sit-at-home days.

Other violent activities

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Between December 2022 and now, the southeast had witnessed unprecedented attacks, ranging from Fulani herdsmen attacks to those of unknown gunmen and others allegedly perpetrated by the Eastern Security Network, ESN.

On January 14, 2023, some unknown gunmen stormed the home of the spokesperson for the Coalition of United Political Parties, Ikenga Ugochinyere, killing his uncle and four others. The gunmen also set the entire building on fire.

Also on 15 January 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission announced that its office was set ablaze by unknown gunmen in Enugu South Local Government Area.

Attacks on INEC offices

According to a statement by the INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, the incident occurred around 9.12 pm on 15th January 2023.

Recall that INEC offices in Enugu were heavily attacked in 2022. Sensitive materials and other important documents were destroyed in the process.

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Also, last year, INEC offices in Imo State came under heavy attacks. One such attack happened on December 2nd in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State.

INEC disclosed this in a statement issued by its National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye.

On Monday, January 16, eight masked gunmen attacked five young men including the Chairman of Federated Ikem Improvement Union Enugu branch, Mr Emeka Odoh (aka Asokwa), as they concluded a security meeting in the neighborhood. This happened in Ikem community in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area of the state.

Also in Anambra State, four persons, including a pregnant woman, were killed when gunmen invaded Eziani, a community in Ihiala Local Government Area of the State.

In Eha-Amufu in Enugu State, suspected herdsmen have put the area under constant attacks. Legit.ng reports that many have abandoned their homes in the community over the herdsmen invasion.

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There are, however, concerns in the region over the current level of insecurity as some have even predicted that the southeast may not enjoy a smooth election in February. While residents are apprehensive, the Nigeria Police has warned trouble-makers to steer clear as it was determined to protect the citizens when they come out to vote for their choice of candidates.

According to the Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, “Non-state actors, criminals, and political thugs are warned to sue for peace. We need peace, we deserve peace in Nigeria.

“We are fully prepared for better election security management”, said Force Public Relations Officer, “

Ehilabo reacts

But Anthony Ehilabo, a member of the Presidential Campaign Council of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said insecurity can only affect candidates relying solely on getting their votes from the southeast. According to him, his candidate, Atiku Abubakar will still get a reasonable number of votes from the southeast despite the level of insecurity.

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He said:

“The current insecurity cannot affect my principal in any way. We are winning in the southeast despite the level of insecurity. It may affect some other people, but not our party. I have already sewed my special agbada and now waiting for the inauguration of my principal and as a friend of the government.”

Source: Legit.ng

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