Get military out of S’East to douse tension — Anambra gov candidates, Igbo Elders Forum

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•Candidates task FG, INEC, security agencies on credible poll

•Pledge commitment to maintenance of peace

•Call for immediate release of Nnamdi Kanu to S-East monarchs, religious leaders

•Ask IPoB not to do anything that’ll undermine election

•Embrace political solution to address security threats, Igbo elders tell FG

•Demand immediate release of 5,000 suspected IPoB/ESN militants

•Warn Ndi-Anambra: You’ll regret it, if you boycott Nov 6 gov  poll

Candidates for Saturday’s governorship election in Anambra State, yesterday, spoke with one voice on the insecurity threatening the poll, and urged the Federal Government to urgently demilitarise the South-East zone and stem the heightened tension, skirmishes and endless blood-letting between the security agencies and the youths.

Statesmen from the South-East, under the aegis of Igbo Elders Consultative Forum, spoke in like manner.

They urged the Federal Government to immediately demilitarise the region and embrace dialogue with a view to resolving any security threat to the November 6, governorship election in Anambra.

The Candidates also tasked the Federal Government, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and security agencies on conduct of credible poll.

Pledging commitment to maintenance of peace, they urged the Federal Government to release immediately, the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu; and appealed to IPOB not to undertake actions that could hurt the election.

Last week, IPOB called on the government to release Nnamdi Kanu on or before November 4 or its members would begin a seven-day sitting at home as from November 5 in all parts of the South-East including Anambra in support of Kanu.

It is feared that the sit-at-home could harm the election via voters apathy. South-East monarchs and religious leaders, had, on Monday called for release of Kanu, dialogue and adoption of political solution to resolve the issue.

Responding to the developments, the candidates in a joint statement dated November 1 but released yesterday, called on the INEC, the Armed Forces, other security agencies and all stakeholders to discharge their mandates in accordance with law and in a fair and just manner.The seven-point statement was signed by Ben Etiaba, AA; Akachukwu Nwankpo, ADC; Andy Uba, APC; Charles Soludo, APGA; Onyejegbu Okwudili, APM; Val Ozigbo, PDP; Obinna Uzoh, SDP; Ifeanyi Ubah, YPP; and Obiora Okonkwo, ZLP.

It read in part: ”In response to the very grave concerns expressed, and appeal made, by The South-East Council of Traditional Rulers and the Representatives of Igbo Bishops and Archbishops, and in appreciation of the general anxiety arising from recent and continuing violence, in the South East geo- political zone of Nigeria, and Anambra State in particular, we the undersigned candidates in the forthcoming Gubernatorial Election in Anambra State commit to peaceful and violence-free conduct in the run-up to, during and after the election.”We the candidates in the forthcoming Anambra State Governorship Election commit unequivocally to non-violence and the maintenance of peace throughout the duration of the election and beyond. We urge all our supporters and other stakeholders to commit fully to these ideals and refrain from any act that may imperil the election.

”In order to eschew all  acts that may torpedo the forthcoming election, we urge the Federal Government to release Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to the South East Council of Traditional Rulers and the Representatives of Igbo Archbishops and Bishops.

”We urge the Federal Government to take urgent steps to demilitarize the South-East Zone and stem the heightened tension, skirmishes and endless blood-letting between the security agencies and our youths.

”We assure our youths that we have heard your cries and that we feel your pain. We urge our youths to eschew violence and commit afresh to peace.

”Consistent with the above, we urge IPOB not to do anything that would hinder or be seen to be hindering the smooth running of the forthcoming Governorship Election in Anambra State and to cancel all scheduled sit-at-home orders, as these have already caused untold hardship for our people.

“We call on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the Armed Forces, other security agencies and all stakeholders to discharge their mandates in accordance with law and in a fair and just manner.”

Demilitarise S’East, Igbo elders tell FG

In a related development, statesmen from the South-East, under the aegis of Igbo Elders Consultative Forum, yesterday, urged the Federal Government to immediately demilitarise the region and embrace dialogue with a view to resolving any security threat to the November 6, governorship election in Anambra State.

They also demanded the immediate release of over 5000 Igbo youths arrested by security agencies on the suspicion of being members of IPOB’s Eastern Security Network; stressing that doing so would facilitate peace process and restoration of normalcy in the South East.

The Forum’s Chairman and former Governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, stated this while briefing journalists in Abuja.

He lamented that people in the South-East no longer sleep with two eyes closed, because of the rampancy of sporadic gunshots in the region, especially as nobody was willing to accept responsibility for the ugly development.

The Forum, therefore, called on political parties and their flagbearers to shun every activity that would prove inimical to a smooth conduct of Saturday’s governorship election in the state.

Ezeife said, “Our attention has been drawn to the increasing militarization of  the South East, and the consequent built-up tension and security challenges in the zone, thus threatening a hitch free conduct of the scheduled November 6, 2021 Anambra State Elections.

“The increasing insecurity in the South East has taken a frightening dimension and remains a terrible and worrisome puzzle that must be addressed for the Independent National Electoral Committee, INEC, to conduct a free, fair and credible election in Anambra State.

“We, therefore call upon the Federal Government to demilitarise the South East, as well as take other necessary administrative and non-kinetic measures to restore peace in the zone, thus paving way for a smooth conduct of the scheduled Anambra State election.

Demand immediate release of 5,000 suspected IPOB/ESN militants

“Similarly, Federal Government’s  immediate release of the over 5000 Igbo youths arrested by security agencies, and  dumped in different detention camps in various parts of the country under dehumanizing conditions in the name of unknown gun men, IPOB, ESN, among others, will facilitate peace process and restoration of normalcy in the South East.

“A political solution through the instrumentality of dialogue with all relevant stakeholders is key to the present security imbroglio in the South East.

“It is our firm belief that a secured and peaceful environment is indispensable for the conduct of free, fair and credible election in any democratic state, including Anambra State.”

However, Ezeife noted that movement from one city to the other in Igboland had become a nightmare with several police and military checkpoints littered all over the place.

According to him, a journey from one part of the South East to the other, including inter and intra cities movements have turned into night mares as several hours are wasted on short-routes that ordinarily would not take more than 30 minutes.

He said, “We are still worried by the unprecedented senseless killings and bloodletting in various parts of the South East especially in Imo and Ebonyi States by yet to be unmasked unknown gunmen.

“The unprovoked military  invasion of Izombe community in Oguta Local government of Imo State, where over 70 houses were said to had been destroyed by the enraged soldiers, as well as similar others in various parts of the state have aggravated the insecurity situation in the South East.”

While stating that the Federal Government was central to the restoration of normalcy and peace in the zone, the erstwhile Anambra governor nonetheless urged other stakeholders to rise-up to the occasion of ensuring security of lives and property in Igboland.

“We also appeal specially to our youths, including members of  the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Movement for Actualization of  the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, and other similar groups, irrespective of their grievances and agitation, to give peace a chance for the smooth conduct of the Anambra State election.

“The media reports that IPOB has rescinded its earlier order of the sit at home during the election deserve a special commendation.

“We thank them very sincerely for this patriotic decision of allowing the election to hold in Anambra State on November 6 as planned.

“The Igbo Elders Consultative Forum shares some of your grievances and agitations, but believes that dialogue and non-kinetic measures by all stakeholders will facilitate peace process in Igbo land.

“It is not in our interest to turn Igbo land into a battle ground; hence, we appeal for your understanding and cooperation for a lasting peace in our land.”

‘You’ll regret it, if you boycott Nov 6 gov poll’

Ezeife urged the people of Anambra to go out en masse and elect the next governor of the state; stressing that boycotting the election will be counter-productive and a disservice to the state.

“The consequences of not voting will be unimaginable because people who do not wish us well would use that opportunity to impose any unpatriotic element on us as a Governor.

“All hands must be on deck to ensure that the Anambra State election is not only free, fair  and credible, but also seen by all as meeting all necessary standards.

“We  equally call on INEC to put every necessary machinery in place to ensure a smooth conduct of the election,” he added.

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