Battle to succeed Peter Obi begins, as Anambra go to poll

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Today, Saturday November 16 marks the climax for the long awaited 2013 governorship election in Anambra.

The election which will take place in 4,608 polling units in 326 political wards across the 21 local government areas of the state, has twenty three candidates squaring up to succeed Governor Peter Obi whose tenure would end on March 17, 2014.

Already, tension is high as candidates and political parties eagerly await the commencement of voting later today (Saturday).

Already, a coalition of about 400 civil society groups under the aegis of the Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, has already deployed over 600 election observers to all the 21 local government areas in the state to monitor the election.

Similarly, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Abubakar has appointed the Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG, in charge of operations, Philemon Leha, a former commissioner of police in the state to take charge, of security with three other Commissioners of Police that would be posted to the three senatorial zones of the state, to assist him.

The three commissioners of police will also work with deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners of police, in addition to a large number of security operatives that would be assigned to all the polling units.

Abubakar warned during his interaction with INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega and candidates and chairmen of the various political parties in Awka on Wednesday that nobody would be allowed to use his police orderly or escort today, adding that any police personnel found flouting the order would be dismissed from the force.

“If anybody breaks the law, we shall break him. If you have no business with the election, please stay in your house. We beg the people of this state to allow peace to reign.

“Do not take anything like walking stick or umbrella while going to vote because they constitute dangerous weapons. There should also be no fishing anywhere in Anambra State as the Nigerian Navy will not allow anybody on the waters,” he further warned.

With the closure of all Anambra borders from 5pm yesterday to 4 pm tomorrow, the rumoured influx of people suspected to be thugs from the neighbouring states appears to have been taken care of by security operatives.

It was also gathered yesterday that security operatives have encircled all the suspected trouble makers who had earlier entered the state and lodging in various hotels in Awka and Onitsha.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Jega has also said the controversial polling units hitherto located in a thick forest in Oyi Local Government Area were relocated to Nteje also in Oyi, ahead of today’s election, stating that the highest number of the alleged multiple registration during the voters’ registration exercise took place at the forest polling units.

“When we did the voters’ registration in January, we found four polling units located at Oyi. We had to move them to Nteje where people live,’’ the INEC boss saoid.

Jega said though the final register for the election which was issued to the political parties had minor corrections, the final figure for today’s election would not in any way be flawed as the errors found on the voters register had been corrected.

He assured registered voters that their names would not miss in the register adding, “if you have a voters card and your name is not in the register, it means you are involved in double registration and you will be arrested.”

However, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Dr. Chris Ngige, has called for the transfer of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof Chukuwuemeka Onukaogu.

Ngige said that his party had no confidence in him following his performance in the 2011 general elections.

Ngige told newsmen in Awka on Friday that he has complied with all legal and even moral requirements for the election and demanded that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) play its part very well.

The APC candidate warned that “INEC has to be very careful with what they are doing here. We have been pleasantly surprised as a political party that they retained the REC who conducted the 2011 general elections that were highly flawed.

“And our party had to go to court to upturn some of the results of the elections conducted by him. So, since we discovered two days ago that he would conduct the election, we have been calling for his transfer.

“I am using this opportunity to reiterate our stand as a party that he should not be allowed to conduct the election. It is not too late”, he said.

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