Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
The Ogugu community in Awgu local government of Enugu state is presently having a feud with the State Ministry of Rural Development over the conduct of election into the Ogugu General Assembly which ended in violence recently.
Consequently, the community people were disagreeing with the government over the latter’s decision that a new date is fixed for the completion of the truncated election, insisting that an entirely fresh election should be held and in December when the branches all over the country would be able to come home.
Leading hundreds of community members in a peaceful protest at the Ministry in Enugu State Secretariat, the immediate past Secretary-General of the town union, Chief Joseph Egbo, said the election which was held on October 17 was marred by irregularities and violence which forced the process to a halt as many villagers sustained serious machete cuts in the process.
But in a swift reaction, the State Commissioner for Rural Development, Hon. Emeka Mamah told Daily Sun yesterday that his ministry had maintained neutral ground in the community election saga and had directed them to choose a new date for the completion of the election as it would uphold those already elected unopposed.
However, Egbo continuing in what caused the problem said, “For that reason, we demanded for a cancellation and the commissioner met with the stakeholders of the community. The commissioner after the meeting assured us that the election stands cancelled and that a new date should be taken by us. We were working on how to go about it only just to be informed to come for a meeting.
“There should be the practice of the rule of law. If the commissioner holds his integrity up, he should say no to what he has said no to. What we are demanding is for total cancellation of the election and for security to be in place before the next election.
Talking of the disagreement in the meeting with Commissioner on Tuesday he said, “We have made our points clear to the Commissioner and we hope as a servant of the government and the people he would allow good reason to prevail. Christmas is just around the corner, we need time to send message to all the branches across Nigeria for the fresh election.”
Also speaking, Chairman Electoral committee of the botched election, Chief Vitus Ofido, accused the President General, Chief Pauly Ofido of recruiting individuals who caused the disruption of the electoral process, saying, “The problem is that the election was not free and fair. Why I said that is that our former PG did not provide security and the other group he organized for himself caused the violence.”
“The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development saw what was going on during the election and told us that the process was wrong and that their lives were not safe. That was how they left. When they left, there was a commotion and people started fighting.”
But the Commissioner, Mamah had in his response to Daily Sun said, “I followed this matter from day one, the day the PG wrote the ministry that his tenure will be expiring. Based on the letter we had to call a meeting of the community, the PG, councillors and stakeholders and through the constitution, we arrived at a decision for the electoral committee which a Reverend Father was elected as Chairman but he declined without us knowing and they continued with other members of the committee.
“A date was fixed for the election and election was held, seven positions were unopposed, my Permanent Secretary was there with director and some other staff. My Permanent Secretary made a statement before leaving that place, he said since the place had become unruly, they will get a new date for the completion of the election.”
Noting that even their son, Solomon who is a Commissioner in ANSIEC provided the inkpad they used for the election, the Commissioner said it was unfortunate that some people became funny when something did not favour and they go to the extent of telling lies and fabricate stories.
He further said, “I am not from that community and I am representing the Governor in this matter and I can only be fair to all. I discussed with the PG, I also discussed with Solomon and another of the sons, they have their different opinion but I called them to a meeting in my office and repeated my stand which was the earlier thing the Permanent Secretary told them that the election would be completed.
“When we met again on Tuesday I told them to go and choose a time and inform us when the election would be completed. They cannot be talking of total fresh election because some people have already been elected unopposed.”