Anambra state poll security tightened after ‘Biafran boycott’ call

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Voters in Anambra state, southeast Nigeria, go the polls to elect a new governor this weekend, with security tight after a call from a pro-Biafran group for people to boycott the polls.

The result of Saturday’s election is unlikely to change anything politically at national level but proceedings are being watched closely because of what analysts have said are “unprecedented” measures to stop unrest.

Nigeria’s federal police said it is sending 26,000 extra police officers, including counter-terrorism and bomb disposal specialists, sniffer and attack dogs.

Three surveillance helicopters will monitor proceedings from the air, while there will be 10 gunboats on the river Niger, plus 15 armoured personnel carriers and 303 patrol vehicles.

Police said the measures were “to ensure adequate security and safety of lives and properties before, during and after the elections”.

“Police personnel deployed for the election are under strict instructions to be polite and civil but firm in the discharge of their duties and other responsibilities,” it added.

But the tactics are being seen as heavy handed.

“This is an unprecedented deployment. It’s an aberration. It’s like we are in a war situation. For God’s sake, this is an election,” security consultant Don Okereke told AFP.

“It will be counter-productive as there will be voter apathy, which will lead to low turnout of voters and the election of unpopular candidates.”

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