S-East: High Court Stops Abia LG Poll Over Exorbitant Fees

By Chijindu Emeruwa

A High Court in Aba, Abia State, presided by Justice Agwu Umah Kalu, has issued a restraining order against the Abia State Independent Electoral Commission, ABSIEC, from continuing to demand N480,000 from all Chairmanship candidates and N145,000 from all Councillorship candidates for forms pending the determination of the motion on notice.

The court also restrained ABSIEC from excluding candidates of the All Progressive Congress, APC, from participating in the forthcoming Local Government election on the ground of non payment of the fees it imposed or any other ground not supported by law whatsoever pending the determination of the motion on notice.

The Abia High Court further restrained the State Electoral Commission from refusing and or continuing to refuse APC the relevant forms for the election in compliance with Paragraph 7 (a) and (b) of the Guidelines for the conduct of Local Government Elections.

The Suit with the number A/297/2020, was filed by Barrister Perfect Okorie, counsel to the Abia State Chapter of the All Progressive Congress, APC, against the Abia State Independent Electoral Commission, ABSIEC.

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Further in its ruling, the High court also gave interim injunction restraining ABSIEC from taking any other step in the conduct of the December, 2020 Local Government Elections pending the determination of the motion on notice.

Akelicious reports that the court adjourned it’s sitting and fixed December 7th, 2020 for the commencement of hearing on the substantive matter.

In the same vein, the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Abia State has described the restraining order of the High Court in Aba as a welcome development.

The Abia APC, in a press release issued by its Publicity Secretary, Comrade Benedict Godson, on Wednesday, while reacting to the court ruling stopping ABSIEC from holding the December 18th LG poll, further decried the whopping fees allegedly imposed on political parties and candidates for the forthcoming poll, urging the State electoral umpire to toe the path of transparency and refrain from turn itself into a revenue generation agency by making obnoxious monetary demands.

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According to the release which partly stated, “How can an electoral body already funded be demanding N480,000 from all Chairmanship candidates and N145,000 from all Councillorship candidates? They think everybody is stupid and daft in Abia. What’s the money for when they’re already funded in the state’s budget?

“Aside the dubious monetary demands, ABSIEC decided to act as a screening body for candidates. They took up the screening right of the political parties who ought to screen and send a candidate list to them as if it’s now their right to do so.

“It was obvious that the main aim of ABSIEC and whoever they are working for is to use their Kangaroo screening to disqualify some candidates they probably felt will be a problem to whoever they are secretly working for and create confusion prior to the election and unsettle the candidate and his party.

“What do APC do as a responsible political party? Do we sit down and watch them hoping that all will be well? Do we wait until they extort people and disqualify people then we start making noise that this is unacceptable? No! We decided to approach the court because that’s the right thing to do.

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“Let nobody get it twisted, the All Progressives Congress, Abia State Chapter is not afraid of participating in Local Government Elections, but we cannot watch our members enter into a contest that’s already faulty from the beginning. Things must be done in lawful manner. The legal step we’ve taken is perfect and we commend the party’s legal arm for doing its job and we also want Abians to know that we’ll never shift ground on insisting that the right things, which is the lawful things”.

Meanwhile, the ABSIEC chairman, Professor Mkpa Agu Mkpa nor his Media Aide could not be reached for comment, as at the time of filing this report.

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