Just days before the presidential elections, at least eight Nigerian police officers were slain in separate attacks in the southeast of the nation by suspected rebels. More than 90 million people are enrolled to vote this Saturday to choose President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor in Nigeria. Buhari is standing down after serving two terms in office.
According to Tochukwu Ikenga, a local police spokesperson, four officers were killed in an assault on a police station in Anambra State on Monday. Meanwhile, investigators are looking for suspects in the deaths of four additional officers in two separate attacks over the weekend. Ikenga said that the rebels “attacked the Awada police station in Idemilli North with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and automatic firearms.” He also said that several police officers were killed in the attack on Monday.
He said in a statement that “four police officers paid the ultimate price while a portion of the station, one police patrol vehicle, and three exhibit vehicles parked on the grounds were set on fire.” Three of the attackers were also “fatally wounded,” and two more were taken into custody, he said.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a rebel organization vying for the freedom of the Igbo ethnic group in southeast Nigeria, has been given the blame for the attacks by the police. The IPOB and its armed wing, the Eastern Security Network, have said they are not behind the many attacks in the area.
Fears have been raised about Nigeria’s security services’ capacity to safeguard voters this weekend. Festus Okoye, a representative of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), stated that due to security worries, the commission might not be able to deploy to some polling places.
He said, “The security services have pledged that they have the ability to secure our communities so that people can vote.” “But there is nothing we can do for individuals in areas that are still in conflict.”
The southeast and northeast are home to various armed groups battling for various causes, while the northwest is home to kidnapping gangs engaged in criminal activity. Three officers were killed on Saturday when gunmen assaulted a police station in the Anambra State community of Ogidi. In an assault on the Nkwelle-Ezunaka police station in the Oyi district on Sunday, one police officer was killed.
Ikenga claimed that despite using “guns, IEDs, and petrol bombs,” the assailants were unable to approach the police station. Six gunmen were “neutralized,” he claimed, and “one police operative connected to the station was fatally wounded.” Additionally, there have been unreported assaults on INEC offices in the area. The electoral authority has stated that the election will still take place on Saturday as scheduled, despite the violence.
Following calls for a boycott of the election, people in the unrest-ridden area were encouraged to take part in a sit-in at home rather than cast their ballots, according to a report from the local news outlet The Nation on Monday. The Nation urged Nigerian officials to enforce law and order nationwide with “strong action.”
“Now is not the moment to beg IPOB,” The authorities must now declare and implement a “zero-tolerance” policy for criminal activity during the elections, the newspaper said.
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