Anambra 2013: Arrested Observers Are Bonafide & Accredited Officials, Says INEC
In a statement released by the INEC Electoral Commissioner of the State; Prof. Onukogu, the arrested observers were released because of their neutrality as bonafide and INEC accredited observers for Anambra gubernatorial elections coming up on Saturday.
Onukogu also warned the mischief makers to stop playing politics with the reality of elections.
Also; Nick Dazang, Head of INEC Publicity Division of the commission has stated that the commission will not take it lightly with anyone that is playing with the intelligence of the personnel of the commission. He said election would take place in all the 21 local government areas with a total of 1,784,506 registered voters.
For the election, the commission said that the state has a total number of 4,608 polling units and 326 registration areas. Also, Anambra State has 120 Super Registration Centres (RACs) and 6,851 Voting Points. Dazang said INEC will be deploying 12,622 election officials (permanent and ad hoc) to conduct the election
The observer group had earlier in a statement condemned the action of the police, accusing it of playing the script of anti-democratic forces who are out to tamper with democracy.
Coordinator of the group known as the Justice and Equity Organisation (JEO) Mr. O Obafunsho said the group had organised a pre-election training and briefing session for our its Observers in the premises of Disney Hotels, Km 4, Owerri-Onitsha road, Owerri, Imo State, which also served as the venue for the distribution of election observation paraphernalia to its agents for the Saturday elections after been duly accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), when a team of police men, acting ostensibly to protect the interest of some evil minded people swooped on the hotel, arrested all the 180 observers, mobilised by our organisation from across the country and carted away the INEC-provided election observation identification tags among other valuables.
Mr Obafunsho said they have very reliable information that the police planned a stage-managed drama, wherein the arrested activists would be paraded as hoodlums and common criminals. “In fact, the Police is set to display some arms and ammunition to press home its chicanery on the intent and gathering of the comrades.”, he added.
The group therefore appealed to members of the public and the Inspector-General of police to as a matter of urgency call the Police to order, stressing that the conduct of an election should not and cannot be an excuse to declare a state of emergency on the people who are supposed to come and exercise their franchise freely.
The undue militarisation of Anambra State and its environs had been a cause of concern to well-meaning observers. This high-tension situation informed our choice of Owerri for our training and briefing of mobilised observers. This arrest and detention of well-meaning Nigerians, who have sacrificed their time and comfort for voluntary service in the interest of the nation must be roundly and soundly condemned by all, Obafunsho concluded.
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