Worried by widespread tension ahead of the governorship and House of Assembly elections in Akwa Ibom State, a Civil Society Organization (CSO), Center for Human Rights and Accountability Network (CRARN), has raised the alarm over alleged plot by desperate politicians to cause mayhem during the polls.
Addressing Journalists at a press conference in Uyo, the state capital, the group hinted of intelligence information at its disposal, concerning importation of foreign mercenaries by desperate politicians to work with the local thugs, to rig the polls in their favour.
Speaking at the forum, the state director of CRARN, Otuekong Franklyn Isong, therefore urged security agencies to ensure they use the one week window given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), within which to conduct the exercise on March 18, as a mop – up period to nip the impending violence in the bud.
Isong, who spoke against the backdrop of the last Presidential and National Assembly elections in which a bus load of fake Army personnel and some INEC officials were intercepted by troops and handed over to the police called on the police operatives and other security agencies to beef up security, in violence – prone areas as well as the riverine communities with difficult terrains.
He said, “Worrisome to us is the fact that our intelligence network however reveals that some politicians in Akwa Ibom State are perfecting plots to import thugs as well as real or fake security personnel from neighbouring states, particularly Rivers, Abia and Bayelsa States, with the intention to subvert the vote and wishes of the Akwa Ibom people during the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections that have been rescheduled for March 18.
“We hereby call on the Nigerian police and other law enforcement agencies to be on alert and rise to the occasion of ensuring that the state remains peaceful while Akwa Ibom people go out enmasse to elect the governor and state Assembly members of their choice, come Saturday 11th March 2023.
“We urge the security agencies in the state to pay serious attention to our riverine and border communities before, during and after the elections.
“We appeal to the political class, particularly the governorship candidates and their supporters not to approach the forthcoming elections with the do-or-die spirit, but with the spirit of sportsmanship.
“Of paramount concern to them should be the interest, peace and growth of Akwa Ibom State. No political office is worth the blood of any Akwa Ibomites. At the end of the elections, only one person would occupy the office of the governor of Akwa Ibom State, and Akwa Ibom people would be the winners.
“The political parties and the elites in particular should see elections as processes to elect leaders by the people and not war fare. There should be reform in the country’s electoral system to address these aforementioned observations and other shortcomings in our electoral system,” he stated.