The Enugu State government directed that all offices, markets, shops and all business activities be shut as from 8am to 4pm on Wednesday February 23, 2022 to pave way for the Council polls slated for that day.
According to a press statement issued by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Information, Steve Oruruo : “The Enugu State Government, ENSG, wishes to notify the public that Local Government elections will hold on Wednesday, February 23, 2022, across the state.
“Consequently, the Government has declared a statewide work free day on Wednesday, February 23, from 8 am to 4pm to allow the people exercise their constitutional suffrage.
“During this period, markets and offices shall be closed and movement of persons and vehicles restricted, except for those on essential duties.
“All residents legally qualified to vote are therefore encouraged to go to the polls and cast their ballots.
“The State Government, in its unflinching commitment to safeguarding and strengthening our democracy, has made requisite arrangements to guarantee a hitch-free process.
Meanwhile, less than 72 hours to the Enugu local government election,sated for Wednesday February 23, the Enugu state chapter of the All Progressives Congress ,APC, has raised the alarm over alleged exclusion of the party from participating in the polls.
APC alleged that it has been stopped from participating because the list of her candidates were not published by the electoral body, even as it threatens to void the exercise if it holds as scheduled.
The party accused the Enugu state Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC) of deliberate plot to disenfranchise the Party faithful by refusing to publish a list of 260 councillorship and 17 chairmanship candidates it forwarded to the electoral body in December 2021.
Addressing the disenfranchised candidates and other party faithful at the state secretariat, 126 Park Avenue, GRA, Enugu, weekend, the state chairman of APC, Barr Ugochukwu Agballah, declared that the party would void the election should the electoral body exclude APC from participating in the exercise.
“Enugu must rise for democracy to thrive. There is no democracy in Enugu state; it’s been a government of cronyism and elitism… On Wednesday, February 23, the local government election will not be held; if they go ahead, it will be an exercise in futility,” he declared.
Agballah announced that the legal team of the party, led by an undisclosed Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, had already filed a suit at the State High Court to void the election for unlawful exclusion, which he said was a breach of the Nigerian Constitution and the Electoral Act.
The APC chairman accused the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government in the state of colluding with some unscrupulous elements in the APC to manipulate ENSIEC in order to frustrate APC from participating in the council poll.
Agballah, who recently received his Certificate of Returns from the APC national leadership on February 14, 2022, claimed that his emergence as the APC chairman in the state was causing fears within the ranks of the state government and the ruling party who he accused of having been in the practice of writing election results in favour of the ruling party where they give themselves 100 percent victory in previous LG polls.
Agballah stated that having realized that writing election results without conduct of free, fair and credible elections would not work this time around, the PDP led government and ENSIEC allegedly decided to totally exclude APC from the poll; but insisted that excluding his party was the greatest mistake by ENSIEC.
“ENSIEC disenfranchised all our candidates. We had our primaries to elect our chairmanship and councillorship candidates on December 18 and 19, 2021. We submitted the list to ENSIEC, which it accepted. But ENSIEC decided to publish the list submitted by Ben Nwoye, a former suspended Caretaker Chairman of APC. ENSIEC knows Ben Nwoye is no longer the chairman. We had written a series of letters to ENSIEC with an avalanche of evidence to show that I’m the duly elected chairman of the APC in our October 16, 2021 state congress.
“But ENSIEC, led by Chief Mike Ajogwu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, playing the script of the PDP led government and in collaboration with some rogue elements in APC, decided to engage in mischief, by excluding APC from the poll. This is what they have been doing in the past, which is why APC has never won any election in the state.
“But good news is that the state executive committee of the party today empowered me to void that election. I have done that before in 2007…. They can use ENSIEC… we have already filed a lawsuit to void the election. Disenfranchising our candidates and excluding our party completely negates the 1999 Constitution, which guaranteed our right to contest elections. They made a big mistake.
“Any money spent by ENSIEC in the conduct of the sham election will be reimbursed to the last Kobo to the coffers of Enugu state or I drag them to the EFCC… we will drag Ajogwu ,ENSIEC Chairman, to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee and all the foreign embassies in Nigeria; for a senior lawyer like him to collude with anti-democratic forces to sabotage democracy in Enugu state. He will be held accountable,” Agballah declared.
The APC chairman decried what he called the “political monopoly” of the PDP in the state since 1999, and vowed to break the jinx.
Agballah explained that he joined the APC to rescue Enugu people from PDP’s bad leadership, monopoly and ‘selectocracy’, where unpopular and incompetent candidates are always selected and imposed on the people.
He said that he will also join forces with progressive elements in South East APC to work for the emergence of Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023.
“Igbos are not inferior in Nigeria, there is time and season for everything. It is the time for Ndigbo to produce the presidency of Nigeria,” he declared.