Election: More troops to be deployed to Imo, Anambra, others

With less than 40 days to the general elections, voters in Sokoto, Imo, Katsina, Zamfara, Anambra and some other states have expressed apprehension over the spate of insecurity in their communities, saying they may not participate in the electoral exercise unless the situation improves.
They insisted that their communities were not safe enough for elections to take place and urged the Federal Government to devise urgent strategies to address the situation.

However, the Defence Headquarters said that more troops would be deployed in the affected states and communities, assuring that they would be safe enough for the elections to hold.

A member of the Sokoto State House of Assembly representing the Sabon-Birni Local Government, one of the local government areas facing security challenges, Aminu Boza, said until the security situation improved in the area, elections might not take place.

The lawmaker, who spoke to one of our correspondents on the telephone, said more than 40 villages in the council were affected by insecurity.

He said only the headquarters of the Sabon Birni, Isa and Goronyo local government areas were safe for elections.

He stated, “I can tell you that most of the people in the villages in those three local governments have run away from their homes; who is going to participate in the elections?

“In fact, in all the eight local government areas comprising the Eastern Senatorial District, I doubt if there is going to be any election unless the situation improves from what we have today.”

The local governments are Isa, Sabon Birni, Goronyo, Rabbah, Gwadabawa, Ilela, Gada and Wurno.

Boza, however, commended the state Commissioner of Police, Muhammed Gumel, for dispatching security personnel to the local governments to restore law and order.

Also speaking, Mallam Haruna Abbah, a resident of Isa LGA, corroborated the lawmaker, saying only the local government headquarters and a few villages were safe for elections in the state.

Abbah called on security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure that peace returned to the local government before the polls.

But the Head of Voters Education, INEC, in Sokoto State, Muhammad Takai, gave an assurance that security agencies would ensure the safety of all before, during and after the polls.

He said the commission had held a series of meetings with the heads of security agencies in the state with the assurance that things would improve before the elections.

The police spokesman in the state, Sanusi Abubakar, could not be reached for comments, but a senior police officer said everything was being done to restore peace in the affected areas.

In Anambra State, the residents said the insecurity ravaging parts of the state must be curbed before the February 25 presidential election.

In recent times, arsonists have burnt down a number of buildings belonging to INEC in the Idemili North, Ogbaru and Ayamelum local government areas, among others.

The hoodlums have also threatened that elections will not hold, insisting on the creation of Biafra Republic.

The Ihiala, Ogbaru, Orumba North and South local government areas have remained some of the most volatile as the security situation continues to worsen in these areas.

A resident of Ihiala, Gabriel Eche, expressed doubts that elections would hold in the area.

According to him, hoodlums have continued to overrun Ihiala communities on a daily basis without security operatives providing any solution or protection for the people.

Eche stated, “Right now, our security is more paramount. Of what use will it be if one steps out on that day and gets killed by hoodlums. Although I have collected my PVC, if the security situation continues like this, I don’t think I will come out to vote.

“Hoodlums have continued to unleash terror on our communities, burning down INEC offices and forcing people to abandon their ancestral homes. Unless security is beefed up, most people may remain indoors. The Federal Government must address the security issues on the ground before the elections.”

It is also the same story for residents of Ogbaru as insecurity has remained a painful reality for the communities.

A resident, Mr Silas Ukachukwu, said the worsening security crisis in the area was causing serious apprehension as most of the people remained undecided about the forthcoming polls.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mrs Queen Agwu, could not be reached for comments as calls and a text message sent to her telephone did not elicit any response.

However, the police spokesman in the state, Tochukwu Ikenga, asked the residents not to panic, adding that security operatives would be on the ground to ensure smooth and hitch-free elections.

“Many security personnel will be deployed, especially in the volatile communities, to ensure protection for the people and that the elections go on smoothly,” he added.

In Imo State, men of the Eastern Security Network have continued to strike terror in the hearts of the people.

Despite the killing and arrest of many suspected ESN members, the militia has not relented in its violent attacks on individuals, government offices and assets.

On Saturday, gunmen reportedly killed the uncle of the spokesman for the Coalition of United Political Parties, Ikenga Ugochinyere.

Ugochinyere in a tweet said the attackers killed four persons and set ablaze his uncle’s residence.

“We need help in Akokwa Ideato North Local Government Area, Imo State. My uncle has been killed now. They are setting everything on fire. Please help,” he tweeted.

In a video obtained by one of our correspondents, a man who was narrating the incident said several vehicles were destroyed.

The police spokesperson in the state, Michael Abattam, confirmed the incident.

A resident, Mr Innocent Onyesiaba, said that he would not vote due to the high level of insecurity in Nempi, Oru West Local Government Area of the state.


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