Labour Party (LP) has flayed Anambra State Government for allegedly pulling down the campaign billboards of presidential candidate of LP, Peter Obi, mounted on the pedestrian bridge at the ever-busy UNIZIK Junction.
Also on the billboards were the party’s candidate for Anambra Central senatorial district, Victor Umeh.
The billboards mounted on both sides of the pedestrian bridge, it was gathered, were pulled down on Saturday and were on Sunday replaced with the banner of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
On one of them was written the inscription: “Anambra is APGA land.”
It was also gathered that the officials of the Anambra Signage and Advertising Agency (ANSAA), which had reportedly taken down the LP’s billboards, would also be carrying out similar exercises in the other major urban centres in the state and would replace them with other campaign billboards.
A source in the Labour Party accused Governor Chukwuma Soludo of personally ordering the removal of its billboards.
Managing Director of ANSAA, Tony Ujubuonu, however, said Soludo had no hand in the removal of the LP’s billboards.
He said whatever led to the removal of the affected billboards might have been as a result of a challenge his agency had with the agent that mounted the boards as it didn’t deal with the client in that regard.
“They didn’t pay the campaign fees and we spoke to their media heads several times. We informed them about the enforcement and they haven’t paid, so we decided to take down the adverts. Anybody that tells you anything about the governor and the billboard is telling you lies. When the advert was removed, government refunded the advertising agency that mounted the advert its money. We don’t deal directly with the Labour Party, but with the advertising agency that mounted the board,” he said.
But a source at LP countered saying: “The advert, which was placed by an APCON registered advertising agency, was fully paid for. We are aware that Governor Soludo has sworn that he does not want Labour Party advert on strategic places and, therefore, directed ANSAA to refund the money paid for the advert. He has also ordered the removal of the Labour Party advert at the Afor Nnobi Gantry. The advert has been there since October, 2022 and was paid for five months.”
Meanwhile, Umeh has tackled Soludo, threatening legal action if the government fails to restore his billboards within the shortest possible time. He described the development as sad, undemocratic and unconscionable.
Umeh said the state government had no power in any extant law to regulate electoral processes, arguing that it was the sole responsibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission to carry out such regulations.
“There is nothing like campaign fees under the electoral law. No state government has a right to impose any fee on any candidate before he could campaign. There is no such law in Nigeria and no such law either in Anambra State passed by the House of Assembly. If Soludo makes an executive order of humongous fees of N10 million, N7 million, etc before one could campaign in the state, that’s against democracy. You can’t prevent somebody from campaigning with arbitrary fees.”