Rights organisations based in the South-East, under the umbrella of SBCHROs, have condemned alleged plans by the federal government to fully militarilized the zone during the 2019 general elections.
The coalition, consisting of over 30 rights groups in a communiqué issued at the end of a special meeting of its leaders, which was held in Onitsha, warned the federal government to desist from doing so.
The communiqué, which was signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi of Intersociety and leaders of the various rights groups, read, “The coalition further observed with dismay the present militarization of the political process and landscape in Nigeria particularly militarization or military and police siege on old Eastern Nigeria or Southeast Region, Rivers and Delta.
“Such situation which has already compromised army neutrality in the democratic process; coupled with its brazen lopsided composition, has wrecked untold havoc on the people and their properties in the affected region or areas as well as in the Nigeria’s electoral system.
“Igbo people in various parts of the country or outside Igbo land have also been found to be in serious dilemma over what becomes their fate during the 2019 general elections amidst difficulties of voters’ cards transfer as well as intra or inter personal threats surrounding their forced or voluntary resolve to relocate to their home states during the exercise.”
The coalition urged the military to maintain neutrality and desist from inducing fear in the people.
It said the current campaign by some members of the secessionist group, IPOB was not enough to cause the federal government to deploy military to the zone, saying that the group is not known for using violence to compel people not to vote, but word of mouth.
“We call for increased unbiased security presence, intelligence and patrol in all areas of Northern Nigeria particularly in areas dominated by citizens of Igbo and other non Igbo origins.
“Igbo citizens living in Northern Nigeria as well as other eligible voting citizens of Nigeria must be protected and allowed to vote for candidates of their choice and conscience during the 2019 general polls.”