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Buhari to security agencies: Anambra election must hold at all costs

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PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has issued marching orders to heads of Nigerian security agencies to ensure that the November 6 governorship election in Anambra State holds as scheduled at all costs.

There are concerns that the election will not go ahead as scheduled as a result of escalating violence in Anambra and other parts of the South-East, believed to be orchestrated by pro-Biafra agitators who have sworn to stop the Nigerian government from conducting elections in the territories of the defunct Republic of Biafra.

There are also fears that should the election go ahead, electoral officials and voters may come under attack from hoodlums who will be out to enforce the ‘no-election’ order.

The fears are largely informed by attacks by hoodlums on individuals and organisations that failed to comply with sit-at-home orders issued by the separatists, despite assurances of of safety and freedom of movement by state governments and security agencies in the South-East.

To ensure the success of the election, Nigerian President Buhari has directed heads of the country’s security agencies to apply ‘overwhelming force’ on non-state actors who attempt to disrupt the exercise.

Buhari gave the order at a National Security Council (NSC) meeting in Abuja on October 21.

National Security Adviser (NSA) Babagana Monguno informed journalists of the presidential directive after the meeting.

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“The president has made it very clear that the armed forces, security agencies, and law enforcement agencies must make sure that the election takes place even if it means overwhelming the entire environment with the presence of security agencies.

“The president has directed that under no circumstances will anything be allowed to stop the elections from taking place successfully.

“The people have a right to vote. They have a right to select their leader and no group or individual will be allowed to stimulate anarchy and chaos, leading to murderous activities,” the NSA said.

Buhari is bent on ensuring that non-state actors do not set a precedent of stopping elections scheduled by the Nigerian government during his administration.

Failure to go ahead with the election will portray the Nigerian government as weak.

Buhari would not allow that, the NSA stressed.

“The mere thought that a group of non-state actors want to portray his government as not being able to be firm is totally out of the question.”

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“It is important to note that if these non-state actors should succeed in destroying the potential for orderly elections, then it is natural that other parts of the country will also want to copy this situation,” Monguno added.

Buhari’s marching orders to the security agencies appear to have finally ruled out a postponement of the November 6 governorship poll in the southeastern state.

* INEC, journalists want protection 

Earlier, before Buhari intervened with the marching orders to the security agencies, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had insisted on going ahead with the poll.

But, for the success of the poll, INEC had said it wanted security beefed up in over 6,000 locations on election day.

Also, journalists have demanded beefed-up security around media houses in the build-up to the election and on the day of the voting.

The media practitioners made the demand on October 15 in Abuja at a training workshop organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) to promote a peaceful and credible conduct of the gubernatorial election.

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Participants at the workshop, who were largely drawn from Anambra-based media organisations, reported threats on journalists who had been left with the unenviable task of defying the separatists’ ‘no-election’ directive by urging people to come out on election day and vote.

The Nigerian Police Force had announced that it would deploy over 34,000 officers for the poll.

It is expected that troops of the Nigerian Army would also be deployed for the election.

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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