The Anambra State office of the Independent National Electoral Commission was thrown into pandemonium on Monday following an alleged discovery of a substance suspected to be a bomb.
The scare is coming five days to the governorship election in the state scheduled for Saturday, November 18, 2017.
The proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra had threatened to hinder the poll, saying what the people needed was a referendum to determine if they wanted a sovereign state of Biafra and not a governorship election.
It was gathered on Monday that the suspected explosive was planted near the state INEC gate.
When our correspondent visited the INEC secretariat, bomb disposal experts and other policemen were seen in and out of the place.
It was gathered that before the arrival of the experts, there had been disruption to work as members of staff of the commission in the state, as well as visitors, fled for dear lives.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Dr Nkwachukwu Orji, however, denied knowledge of the bomb scare.
“I don’t think I know what you are talking about,” the REC said.
But some INEC workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the incident to our correspondent.
They said the substance was first sighted in the early hours of Monday.
“All of us ran away when somebody said it was a bomb. We were all scared to stay in our offices until the bomb experts came and defused the device.
“Let this election be conducted once and for all so that that we can rest. This is scary,” one of them said.
Speaking on the telephone, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Nkeiruka Nwode, said she was not aware of the development.
Asked why there was a large number of bomb disposal experts at the INEC Secretariat, Nwode said it was part of preparations for the Saturday governorship election.
Meanwhile, three suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra group have been arrested by troops of the Nigerian Army in Aba, Abia State, for allegedly sharing leaflets with the inscription, ‘No election in Anambra.’
Our correspondent learnt that the suspects – Chidiebere Nwaona, 35; Nwagbougwu Okeke, 55, and John Nwaogazi, 50 – were apprehended on Sunday at Alaoji Flyover in Aba by troops of 144 Battalion, 82 Division, who were on a patrol in the area.
It was gathered that the suspects and the leaflets had been handed over to the Abia State command of the Department of State Services.
It was reported that suspected IPOB members on Friday marched around some streets in Onitsha, Anambra State, vowing a lockdown during the Anambra governorship election.
The IPOB members had threatened voters with death if they cast their votes, adding that they would disrupt the election.
In videos of the march which went viral on the social media, they had said, “If you vote, you will die. Don’t go out, stay in your house. If you vote on November 18, you will die. There will be no election. We will not participate.”
But the army said on Monday that the three suspected IPOB members were apprehended for allegedly sharing of leaflets and flyers discouraging the residents from the Saturday election.
The Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, and spokesman for 82 Division, Col. Sagir Musa, confirmed the arrest.
He said, “Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspects are aged 35, 55 and 50. The suspects, leaflets and flyers have been handed over to the Abia State Command of the DSS.”
The army also said a cleric, Michael Onyeka, the pastor of Victorious Peoples Assembly, Aba parish, who was kidnapped last Friday, had been rescued by troops.
“Following the kidnap of Onyeka, on Friday, a tip-off was received from a good Samaritan indicating the possible location where he was held. A patrol team of 144 Battalion of 14 Brigade combed the bushes of Ngboko general area on Sunday and Onyeka was successfully rescued.
“No arrest was made as the culprits ran away before the arrival of the troops. Efforts are being made to apprehend them.”