…Want electoral body dissolved, poll cancelled
From: Chidi Nnadi, Enugu
The crisis trailing the Enugu State local government election scheduled to hold on November 4 worsened, on Monday, as over 25 political parties that indicated interest to participate in the election stormed the office of the Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC) with petitions, demanding he dissolution of the electoral body and cancellation of the poll.
Spokesman of the political parties, under the aegis of Coalition of Political Parties, in Enugu State, Mr. Adonis Igwe, said that their call followed the actions of ENSIEC, which they accused of compromising on its duties.
He claimed that ENSIEC had disqualified most of the candidates of the political parties except those of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to give the latter undue advantage.
His words: “We are telling the press that ENSIEC has failed, not only that they have failed, they are biased and misleading the good people of Enugu State.
“They have failed in the sense that they didn’t even know what their guideline is all about, they didn’t keep to their guideline, they will say one thing today and another thing tomorrow, which means they are not competent to be an independent body.
“They disqualified all our candidates who are strong contenders. For example, my own political party, Hope Democratic Party, I have a candidate who can even defeat His Excellency Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in his own ward and they disqualified him.
“We asked them what were their reasons for disqualifying our candidates and they said we should replace. But you cannot replace a candidate without knowing the defect of the other man disqualified so that you can make amends, they didn’t do that, they just disqualified them because they don’t want any challenge.”
Igwe, who is also the chairman of Hope Democratic Party, said that the petitions submitted by the various political parties to ENSIEC yesterday was the first step the coalition has taken.
“We are taking it step by step, we have called you here to tell the world what is happening in Enugu State, that ENSIEC is biased, and we are appealing that His Excellency (Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi) should dissolve the commission because the team is incompetent, they are inexperienced, they are taking sides, everything they are doing, they are doing it to favour the PDP and that is why three quarter of the members of ENSIEC are card-carrying members of the PDP, so the commission is not independent,” he said.
He disclosed that the commission had initially asked the councillorship and chairmanship aspirants to pay N250,000 and N300,000 as against what the electoral law said, “but when we challenged them they changed it and released another guideline which said it is free to get forms.”
Igwe said that ENSIEC has scheduled to meet with all the political parties on tomorrow to seek ways to resolve some of the issues raised, but noted that time was no longer on their side.
“After the meeting on Wednesday, you only have seven days to the election, so we think the election should be cancelled and shifted to a new date for the parties to get ready. The parties whose candidates were disqualified cannot replace them immediately. ENSIEC failed from the beginning, the guideline said they should bring out the guideline on October 16, but they released it on October 19. When they said that campaign should start on October 11, the PDP had already started their own campaigns and pasted posters of their candidates all over the place,” he pointed out.
According to him, 23 candidates of the Hope Democratic Party were disqualified; APC, 73, likewise the candidates of UPP, APGA and over 30 other parties in the state.
Speaking to newsmen in his office, ENSIEC Secretary, Mr. Tagbo Ozoemenam Nnamah, confirmed that the commission had scheduled to meet with the political parties in the state tomorrow to resolve the issues raised in their petitions.
He said that after the meeting some of the candidates that were disqualified if cleared would be allowed to participate in the election.
On the allegation that members of the ENSIEC are card-carrying members of the PDP, he said that he was not the one who employed them as to know if they are PDP members or not.