From Chidi Nnadi, Enugu
Trouble may be brewing over the scheduled November 4, 2017 local government election in Enugu as the state chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC) has called on the Chairman of the Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC), Mr Mike Ajogwu (SAN), to resign.
The call followed the disqualification of two chairmanship and 71 councillorship candidates of the APC in the council poll, by ENSIEC, last Thursday.
APC state Chairman, Dr Ben Nwoye, who made the call at a press conference held at the party’s secretariat in Enugu, yesterday, alleged that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has targeted APC stronghold, to disqualify its candidates as against their understanding with Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi that there would be level-playing ground for all political parties.
Nwoye disclosed that the party’s team of lawyers is currently studying the situation; and advise on the next line of action.
In the interim, he said that the ENSIEC chairman should resign, for acting in breach of the electoral law by disqualifying their candidates.
Nwoye also accused Ajogwu of being a card-carrying member of the PDP.
He alleged that the PDP was intimidated by their campaigns and ability to field quality candidates in the 260 wards and 17 local government areas in the state, thus, the party resorted to disqualifications of their candidates, in the strongholds and domains of their leaders, for undue advantage.
He said that this antic worked for the PDP in 2013 and that it would not work this time around.
In a statement circulated at the press conference, the state Publicity Secretary of APC, Mrs Kate Ofor, presented the areas their candidates were disqualified, she said: “A cursory glance and to mention a few – Udi Agbudu, target, Chef Sullivan Chime; Eke Ward, target, Mr Osita Okechukwu; Obinagu Udi, target, the National Vice Chairman of APC, South East, Chief Emma Eneukwu; Aguobu Owa, Eziowa Ward 2, target, Barr. Joe Mamel; Aniri Local Government Area 7 councillorship candidates, target, Group Captain Joe Orji (rtd). The irony of it is that no single PDP person has been disqualified which means that in judgment of ENSIEC chairman, Mr. Ajogwu, they are all saints.”
She, therefore, warned “that failure to reinstate our candidates in the next few days, APC will not only head to court, but will explore other legitimate avenues to stop this crass illegality; especially going by the extant laws that no electoral body under our constitution, ENSIEC inclusive, has the power to disqualify any candidate fielded by a political party.
When contacted, Ugwuanyi’s Commissioner for Information, Ogbuagu Anikwe said the information available to the state government from ENSIEC was that the APC candidates were disqualified because they failed to provide their tax clearances to the electoral body. He dismissed the allegation by the APC that Ugwuanyi had encouraged ENSIEC to disqualify its members, and said the governor has always been a man of peace.
Anikwe also said Ugwuanyi has given his words; to ensure credible conduct of the local government election in the state and stands by his words.