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Insecurity in Anambra, S/E: Civil society calls for dialogue, peace building

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By Favour Goodness

Anambra Civil Society Network (ACSONET) a platform for Citizens and Non State Actors stakeholders, is worried about the hightened insecurity in the state, Southeast and calls for dialogue/peace building mechanisms, to stem the ugly tide.

Prince Chris Azor, the Chairman of the group, in Awka recounted the spate of violent attacks in the Southeast in recent times, leading to avoidable deaths, barely one month to the Anambra governorship election.

It would be recalled that, Dr Chike Akunyili, the husband of Nigeria’s former Minister of information and Culture, Prof. Dora Akunyili, was murdered in cold blood on Tuesday evening at Nkpor in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State.

He was not the only victim; his driver and police security aide also paid the supreme sacrifice. About nine people in all were reportedly involved in the shooting on that fateful Tuesday. Similarly, there was a gun attack on a member of the public at Oko Road. The criminal elements set the vehicle of the victim ablaze, leaving him with a bullet wound and escaped.

Also, some undesirable elements, in an attempt to snatch a Lexus 350 car from its driver on Agulu road, shot him.

The killings in Anambra state continued unabated on Thursday as six (6) policemen were shot dead by hoodlums despite the heavy presence of security operatives in major towns of the State. Also, at Nnobi in Idemili South Local Government Area of the State, a car belonging to a member of the House of Representatives for Nnewi North/South/ Ekwusigo, Chris Azubogu, was attacked and his driver killed.

According to him, this is becoming very worrisome considering that Anambra Governorship election is barely one month ahead.

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A few days ago, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) expressed fears over worsening security challenges in the state.

INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, expressed the concerns, at a forum on ‘Inclusive Election in Anambra and Beyond’, organised by INEC Press Corps in Abuja. He noted that a constitutional crisis might ensue in the state if the Commission is unable to conduct elections on account of insecurity.

Represented by National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr. Festus Okoye, the INEC chairman explained that Section 178 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic has restricted the period for the conduct of governorship elections.

He noted that the tenure of the incumbent governor would expire on March 17, 2022. Quoting relevant sections of the Constitution, Yakubu said the earliest date for the election in Anambra is October 18, 2021, while the latest date is February 15, 2022.

“By virtue of the provisions of Section 1978(2) of the Constitution and Section 25(8) of the Electoral Act, election into the office of a state governor shall hold not earlier than 150 and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of the office,” Yakubu said.

He said: “The Commission needs a safe and secure environment for efficient and professional deployment of staff and materials.He therefore, appealed to all critical stakeholders to cooperate with the Commission to avoid a constitutional challenge.

Also, in a special address by the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano to mark the 61st Independence Anniversary of Nigeria, he remarked that “We are in very critical period of our evolution as a free society. Almost every day, we witness events that test our patience as members of a sane society and our resolve as those charged with the responsibility of providing leadership to our people. We are confronted by the sight of evil and the brazen display of callousness that is alien to our people.
We see our brothers and sister bleed to death from wounds inflicted by their fellow compatriots”
The Governor continued, “Nigeria is enmeshed in a different kind of battle…it is not a battle with external aggressors but a battle with enemies within”

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ASCONET therefore, counselled the government, political actors and indeed all citizens to embrace dialogue and peace building mechanisms in solving our problems, for sustainable development.

ACSONET also believes that this problem cannot be divorced from the incarceration of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the long cry about marginalisation by the federal government.

Azor particularly charged the governors of the five south eastern states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo to wake up to the responsibility of maintaining law and order by calling the aggrieved youths for brotherly talks, to pave way for amicable resolution of all grievances.

He also called on the Federal Government to create platforms for peaceful dialogues and engagements that will aid the resolution of all issues fuelling the crisis.

“We in the Civil Society are convinced that an inclusive and participatory governance at the centre, which gives every section of the country a sense of belonging, will greatly assist in dousing the heightened tension. We think President Muhammadu Buhari has a duty to play the role of a father to all. Honestly, we know there are genuine grievances that must be addressed without further delay” he concluded.

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