Tony Okafor, Awka
The Anambra State Police Command on Saturday stopped the election of the Awka Development Union of Nigeria.
The operatives of the state police command barricaded major streets and cordoned off some hotels in Awka, the Anambra State capital, to prevent the election from holding in any part of the community.
The Ammaus House complex venue of the election was sealed off by policemen and other security agents; they searched commuters passing through the Arthur Eze Avenue.
Choice Hotel, located near the venue of the election, was placed under police surveillance. This forced some of those, who intended to take part in the election, to move to Finotel Hotel, a distance of about two kilometers. But not long after they arrive at the hotel, armed policemen also arrived at the hotel.
A police officer, identified as DPO Agbaje, told the gathering at Finotel Hotel, “I have the instruction of my CP to stop this gathering. This gathering cannot continue.”
The community leaders and journalists were dispersed.
When contacted on the telephone to explain the actions of the police, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mrs. Nkeiru Nwode, said the police were deployed to maintain peace and order.
She said, “This is to ensure that hoodlums do not capitalise on the situation to cause mayhem.”
Addressing newsmen later, some leaders of the community condemned what they called the “militarisation of the community for an ordinary town union election.”
The Chairman of the Caretaker Committee, Awka Development Union of Nigeria, Mr. Emmanuel Okechukwu, said the grouse of the police was that the community did not obtained permission from them (police) to conduct the election.
Okechukwu, a lawyer, said, “This is military hangover. There is no law known to me that says you must obtain police permit before you can conduct a peaceful community election.”
The Abuja branch chairman of the Awka union, Mr. Emeka Onyeaka, said the branches of the union had returned to Awka to participate in the election following a court order that the election should be conducted within 90 days.
He alleged that a government official was frustrating the whole exercise for selfish interest.
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Tony Okafor, Awka