The 22-hour restriction on movement from midnight on Friday 15 November, to 10p.m. on Saturday 16 November during the Anambra State governorship election is unnecessary and unprecedented in the history of our nation. It is illogical and has no place in a democratic setting anywhere in the world.
Even during general elections, Nigerians are allowed to move around freely from 4p.m. on election day. There is no logical explanation why an extended curfew should be imposed because of an isolated election in Anambra State.
We believe that an election is not a war, but a celebration of democracy. It is the day the people choose those who will lead them. It is certainly not a day to create fear, panic or intimidation. How can the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, justify the collosal loss in terms of revenue that would have been generated during the 22 hours the curfew would last? Who came up with such a hare brained idea?
We agree with those who have expressed concern about declaring a 22-hour curfew for an election in only one state. Many are wondering if the overstretched curfew is a ploy to rig the election. We call on INEC to discard the unnecessary curfew and allow free movement from 4 p.m. as it has been done in the past without hitches. What is important for INEC is to ensure that the election is free and fair and that the will of the people is respected. There should be no cooked up results or manipulation of figures.
INEC should ensure that election materials get to all the polling units on time and its officials are deployed to all the voting centres at the right time. INEC officials should not collude with some candidates to deprive the strongholds of their opponents of electoral materials as was the case in the recent Senatorial election in Delta State because that is one of the worst forms of election rigging as voters in such affected areas would be disenfranchised automatically.
The commission should also ensure that there are no missing names or that there are fictitious names added to the voters’ register. It should ensure that there is no thumbprinting or snatching of ballot boxes. INEC has enough time to perfect its logistics to ensure a free and fair election. Nigerians will not accept any excuses for any shoddy handling of the crucial election. The world is watching.