Supporters of Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, have expressed readiness to constitute an illegal armed vigilante unit ahead of the general elections, making what represents the clearest threat to the peaceful conduct of the democratic exercise which their candidate, having managed to excite the least-populated section of the country, is widely expected to lose.
Speaking in a virtual meeting hosted by an account managed by Obi’s USA Support Group, leaders of the former Anambra governor’s problematic online campaign affirmed the supply of weapons to supporters on the ground and a secret plot to intimidate opponents and interfere with the conduct of the election with violence.
One of them said, “On that day, dem go know say men dey. As you dey go, carry your own machines for hand. You carry your own thing, your tools.”
Apuye Angating, the self-declared CEO of Uteb Agro Consults and Farms, also spoke at the disturbing meeting, saying “machines dey, we no go even spend money for groundnut self. E full, e yapa everywhere. We no dey spend. Men dey. Na just to constitute security adhoc committee today.”
It has been confirmed to PODIUM REPORTERS that the ‘machines’ and ‘groundnuts’ cited by the speakers refer to automatic rifles and bullets. The choice of the local slang was a deliberate tack to conceal their real intentions from the uninitiated and authorities, a standard practice of notorious cult groups terrorizing parts of the country, including eastern Nigeria where a feared low turnout owing to IPOB’s reign of terror is expected to contribute’s to Obi’s defeat.
Already, Obi’s campaign has been carried out with a spectre of violence. IPOB, the violent secessionist group responsible for assassinations, kidnaps, and other sundry crimes in the eastern region, has adopted Obi as its candidate, with the threat to dial up their streak of violence if he is defeated.
Ayo Adebanjo, a prominent Obi supporter, has also repeatedly urged the candidate’s supporters to “ensure there is no Nigeria” if the candidate fails to win the presidential contest on the 25th of February. This is despite Obi’s slim chances, having struggled to connect with Nigerians in critical political strongholds such as the northwest and southwest regions.
Fearing the worst, Nigerians have repeated their appeal to the security agencies to rein in the excesses of Obi’s supporters. Idris Aloma, an Abuja-based election analyst, told us that “the Obidient movement is starting to look like an insurrection that the security agencies must immediately nip in the bud. When you deny others the freedom to express their partisan choice, vow to reject the outcome of the election unless it favours you, and threaten violence with the assurance that you have ‘machines’ ready, then you are no longer a political movement but a threat against the state.”