APC pulls out of Cross River council polls, queries processes
The All Progressive Congress (APC) in Cross River state has pulled out of the May 30, 2020, Local Government Elections in the State scheduled by the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission (CROSIEC).
CROSIEC had in a press statement issued on May 25 and signed by its Chairman, Dr Mike Ushie, said “notice is hereby given to all citizens of Cross River State that the 2020 Local Government elections earlier scheduled to take place on the 28th of March, 2020, shall now take place on Saturday, 30th May, 2020.
“Accreditation and voting starts 8.am on that same day and closes 3.pm to give room for collation. All movement is restricted except those on essential and election duties. Markets and shops shall remain closed within the period.”
He said “all voters must adhere strictly to all COVID-19 precautionary measures stipulated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control such as wearing of face mask, washing of hands, the use of hand sanitizer and most importantly, maintaining physical distance during the voting exercise (and) security agencies are hereby requested to maintain adequate security throughout the period. Voting would take place in all the polling stations as no loitering would be allowed in such zones.
But APC in a reaction through a statement issued by its State Chairman, Sir Johm Ochala on May 26 said, “the APC, Cross River State will not be part of the charade on Saturday”.
Giving reasons for the boycott, Ochala said, “ab intio, processes leading to the conduct of this election have been froth with gross irregularities and deliberate subversion of basic constitutional requirements guiding the conduct of the election.
“Giving a two to three days’ notice for the conduct of an election of this magnitude is not only ridiculous but very irresponsible”.
He further stated that the APC in the state “is in court with CROSIEC and Cross River State government seeking to compel the state electoral body to adhere strictly to the dictates of the Constitution/Acts of the National Assembly and the CROSIEC bye Laws”.
Ochala who gave the assurance that the APC will continue to seek redress in a law court until justice prevails, charged that “all APC candidates, party faithful an teeming supporters of our great party should remain calm and law-abiding while they go about their lawful duties without let or hindrance”.
Recall that since Governor Ben Ayade came into office five years ago, no council elections has been done as the government relied on Heads of Local Government Areas (HOLGAs) have been running the affairs of councils in the absence of elected council chairman and Councillors.
The state government had in three or more occasions fixed local government elections which were later rescheduled or cancelled due to one reason or the other.
In view of this, some concerned stakeholders in the State National Assembly including opposition parties in the likes of APC and Social Democratic Party in Nigeria (SDP) have severally kicked against the running of local government areas without Chairmen and chancellors of wards.
For instance, they argued that the HOLGAs in a letter to the governor Senator Ben Ayade dated April 10, 2020, and signed by the HOLGA of Akamkpa council Augustine E. Ngaji and that of Calabar Municipality Christians Elemi on behalf of 16 other HOLGAs applied for funds for the purchase of commercial aircraft and construction of Obudu International Passenger and Cargo Airport. Similarly, the state government recently got the State House of Assembly and the HOLGAs to approve the deduction of N 900 million from the 18 councils of the state to fight COVID-19
By law as stipulated by Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), they said only elected chairmen and counsellors can give such approvals and not HOLGAs.
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