The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has called on political actors in the forthcoming Anambra governorship election to prioritise peace before, during, and after the polls.
Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, a Professor of Political Science and CDD’s Senior Fellow made the call at a news conference on Thursday in Abuja.
According to Ibrahim, there can be no progress without peace.
He, however, noted that the massive security presence particularly in Awka, the Anambra capital, would result to low voter turnout.
“This could even be lower than usual, amid the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) sit-at-home order, threats by non-state armed groups, and the heavy deployment of security agents,”he said.
He urged security agencies to respect rules of engagement while securing voters as well as Independent National Electoral Commision (INEC) staff and infrastructure.
Ibrahim also called on INEC to deploy early to polling stations and urged civic society groups to intensify voter education and stakeholders’ engagement in the next 48 hours.
He charged voters not to be intimidated by threats, saying that the Nov. 6 Anambra election was an important litmus test for Nigeria’s democracy and development.
He noted that in the past few months, the nation’s focus had been on the forthcoming Anambra election because of what it represented at this moment of our national development.
He, however, decried the security situation in the state and across the South-East, resulting from the eruption of recurring and brazen attacks undertaken by supposed unknown assailants.
“These attacks have targeted the Police, the Nigerian Correctional Service, and INEC, resulting in several casualties as well as the destruction of state properties and equipment.
“While the prevailing security situation and the perennial challenges of election security have necessitated the presence of the police and other agencies mandated to ensure public safety.
“We are also aware that the security agents have had an unfortunate record of heavy-handedness and have been used to intimidate voters and electoral officials in previous elections.
“Amid fulfilling their duty of protecting the democratic franchise, we call on security personnel to respect human rights and standard rules of engagement while allowing INEC to conduct a credible poll and voters to exercise their franchise,” he said.
He stressed that security agents must desist from engaging in acts of intimidation and targeting the election managers, party agents or the electorate.
Ibrahim added that security agents should also ensure that INEC staff and infrastructure were secured, saying that as always, the world would be watching and taking records.
He affirmed that the embrace of armed opposition and the imposition of enforced restrictions on the constitutional right of citizens to choose their leaders would only serve as a further obstacle to the developmental aspirations of Anambra, South-East, and Nigeria as a whole.
“Ultimately the task of ensuring that a peaceable and credible election takes place, rests on the shoulders of Anambra voters.
“While remaining vigilant and keeping safe, we urge relevant state and civic actors to play their role in ensuring that the desires of the electorate are reflected in the ultimate outcome of the polls,” he said.