To say Anambra State is fast turning into a killing field is to say the obvious. No day passes by without reports of deaths and destruction in the state.
The recent upsurge is not unconnected to the November 6, 2021 governorship election in the state. We recall that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) had insisted that the election will not be held in the state. IPOB had threatened that no election would be held in the entire South-East geopolitical zone (Imo, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, and Abia states) till it achieved its agitation for secession of the region from the Nigerian state.
We also recall that IPOB had pronounced a weekly sit-at-home order in the entire South-East beginning from August 9, 2021, to protest the continued detention of its leader Nnamdi Kanu, who has been in the custody of the Department of State Services.
The sit-at-home order has resulted in deaths, injuries, and destruction of properties by hoodlums who have taken advantage of the situation to inflict pain on the residents.
Sadly, recently, Dr Chike Akunyili, the widower of the former director-general of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and later minister of information, Professor Dora Akunyili, was murdered by gunmen in Anambra.
Reports said he was shot dead while returning to Enugu from an event to honour his late wife. Also, seven other persons were killed in the incident.
Similarly in Anambra, there were also reports of an attack on the offices of the Directorate of State Services (DSS) and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), both of which were set ablaze by unknown persons.
A stalwart of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Joe Igbokwe, also accused IPOB of torching his country home in Nnewi, Anambra State.
Last month, gunmen killed three policemen and injured two persons while setting a police vehicle ablaze at the Ezeiweka area of the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra State.
In the considered opinion of this newspaper, this descent into anarchy and bloodletting has to stop.
Expectedly, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed fear over worsening insecurity in the state. INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, pointed out that a constitutional crisis might ensue in the state if the commission is unable to conduct elections on account of insecurity.
To rein in the violence in the state, the federal government has hinted that it may declare a state of emergency in Anambra State if circumstances indicate the November 6 governorship election is under threat.
Minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation, Abubakar Malami, said the federal government would not fail to take precautions to ensure that the democratic order is kept safe and intact, adding that no possibility is ruled out, including the declaration of a state of emergency.
Instructively, Section 305 of the 1999 Constitution provides for the imposition of a state of emergency in the country or any part of it. The section empowers the president to issue the declaration by way of an official gazette.
It adds, however, that a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly must ratify the executive proclamation within two days if the legislators are in session, or 10 days if they are not.
However, we frown at the idea of declaring a state of emergency in the state because, in our view, it will exacerbate our already fragile fault lines of ethnicity, politics and religion in the country. The current situation in the state does not meet all the criteria for declaring a state of emergency.
Happily, Anambra State governor Willie Obiano said a meeting he held with the president indicated that he was not contemplating such a drastic action, but was only keen to ensure safe polls.
Already, the Nigerian Army has recently launched new military operations in the South East, codenamed Exercise Golden Dawn, aimed at curbing the rising insecurity in the region.
This operation should be methodically executed to stop those who are hell-bent on frustrating the peace of the region, especially Anambra State, as the election approaches.
As a newspaper, we call on the governors and other leaders of the South East region to give maximum cooperation to the security agencies towards arresting the slide into anarchy in Anambra and other states in the region. It is sad that non-state actors are calling the shots and residents are forced to obey.
The finger pointing on whether IPOB, bandits and unknown gunmen are responsible for the killings does not help matters. All efforts should be made to arrest the perpetrators of this violence to deter future offenders.
Consequently, we insist that elections must be held in Anambra next month. The security agencies must make sure that voters are safe.