By Gabriel Chy Alonta
As the Nigerian electorate gears up to exercise their franchise this weekend, foreign nationals resident in Anambra state have been warned to abstain from the elections and the polling stations and not to engage in any form of activity relating to the polls.
The comptroller, Nigeria Immigration Service, Anambra state command, Mrs. Miriam Andrew Audu, who gave this warning during the stakeholders’ sensitisation meeting of non-Nigerians in Awka, enjoined the migrants to ensure they do not jeopardise the cordial relationship between the command and them, while also imploring them not to allow themselves to be coerced or used by any politician during the period.
Her words, “I wish to warn that no foreigner should allow himself/herself to be used to meddle in the forthcoming electoral process in the state either through persuasion, coercion, harassment, intimidation duress or outright bribery.
“Such is not acceptable in any part of the world and we, therefore, warn that any foreigner that is caught subverting the electoral process will not just be deported but will be tried according to the country’s electoral laws”.
She further disclosed that the sensitisation became imperative against the backdrop of the retrieval of some voter’s cards, national identity cards and Anambra state identity card from some foreigners.
While commending the national leadership of the command for providing them with resources to properly monitor the election, the comptroller enjoined them to ensure they disseminate the information across the nooks and crannies of the state where foreigners reside.
She also encouraged them to relinquish any permanent voter card (PVCs), if any, in their possession or risk prosecution, assuring that the men of the command would be on ground to ensure that no foreigner was sighted around the voting points.
Calling on immigrants who were yet to register their presence with the command, Audu admonished that the command would not waste any time to repatriate any foreigner found culpable. She commended the leaderships of migrants in the state for maintaining high sense of decorum.
Responding, the president of Ghanaian Community in the state, Engr. John Forson, promised to take the information to his people before the election, while assuring that he would ensure they fully comply with the directives of the command.
While disclosing that he had lived in the state for the past 30 years, the president added that the coming election would be like the ones they earlier witnessed, promising to behave well.
The Niger Republic leader, Issa, said he would tell the members of his community to remain non-partisan during the exercise. On his part, the Cameroonians leader, Walters Mugri, while appreciating the command for the rare opportunity, disclosed that their association had earlier taken proactive steps to educate their members on staying clear through the electioneering process.
He admitted that some politicians had previously coerced them to acquire voter cards, but added that they were wary of dangers of such illegal activity and assured that they would remain law-abiding.
The Togolese Community leader, Agboglan Seth, said that he and his compatriots remained strangers who are not qualified to vote, noting that they would not associate themselves with the voting exercise.
In a vote of thanks, the assistant comptroller immigration and the head of ECOWAS/African Affairs, Michael Uchenna Okwuosa, lauded the leaders of migrants in the state for responding quickly to the call, imploring them to abide and adhere strictly to the command’s directives.