“If we don’t vote, we are ignoring history and giving away the future.” – Pat Mitchell
With the 2021 Anambra Gubernatorial elections upon us, Global Rights is concerned about the potential for violence in the state considering the increasing tensions that have characterized the South-East in recent times and Anambra state in particular. The Anambra elections fulfill a crucial role as a litmus test for the general elections in 2023, and other gubernatorial elections in the South-East. With the heightened tensions between security forces and the Indigenous People of Biafra in the past few months, it is essential that all parties work together in this important decision-making period to ensure that peace prevails and the people of Anambra are allowed to exercise their constitutional right to franchise in a peaceful manner and without fear of violence or disruption of the process.
We call on the government to remember its primary purpose and sovereign responsibility to guarantee the security and welfare of all citizens as enshrined in Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Nigerian constitution. As the gubernatorial elections commence, we implore the law enforcement personnel deployed to the state for the purpose of ensuring the safety and security of the voting process to uphold their duty towards the people of Anambra state. We reiterate that the deployment of security forces to the state must be for the protection of voters and the general populace; government should not misuse the deployed forces to intimidate citizens, violate their rights or compromise the integrity of the electoral process.
While we commend all candidates on the signing of the Peace Accords, we urge all candidates and parties to follow through on their commitment to peace as this crucial democratic process gets underway. We also commend IPOB for reversing the sit-at-home order in recognition of the importance of the electoral process and to allow for peace as the election commences. This commitment to peace must be upheld by all parties, candidates, government, law enforcement, traditional leaders and other stakeholders in the state. We must remember that the franchise is a right guaranteed by the constitution and this right cannot be denied by any person or institution, and that includes the government.
Global Rights again calls on the government and law enforcement agencies to respect and honour the sanctity of the electoral process, and fulfill their constitutional mandate to protect the lives of citizens at this crucial time as they fulfill their civic duty. As the candidates vying for the governorship office have shown a commitment to peace, we urge the government to honor this commitment and ensure that there is no escalation of violence during this election. Our democracy will be better for it when citizens are allowed to conduct their franchise with openness and the guarantee of safety.