By Agnes Nworie and Nwogha Ndubuisi Andy
The Ebonyi State Independent Electoral Commission (EBSIEC) has announced the commission’s readiness to conduct local government council elections in the state on the 15th August 2020.
The local government council election which was hitherto scheduled to hold on 25th April this year was suspended by the state Governor Engr. David Umahi due to covid-19 pandemic ravaging the world.
The chairman of the Commission, Barr Josy Ezeh said the Commission shall commence the exercise from the point it was suspended.
Barr Ezeh made the announcement during the commission’s meeting with chairmen of political parties, secretaries and security agencies in Abakaliki.
The chairman called on all the political parties in the state to commence campaigns in compliance to all covid-19 precautionary measures as recommended by National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and ministry of health.
He assured the public that conduct of the election exercise shall be free and fair, stressing that the political parties should make good use of the media and social networks instead of physical contacts.
He urged the participants in the meeting, all adhoc staff and the media to abide by all the protocol in the course of carrying out their duties during the election.
The EBSIEC chairman said, “We are glad to announce that the Ebonyi state local government council elections shall take place on Saturday the 15th day of August 2020. As far as we are concerned, we have no power to register political parties as a State Independent Electoral Commission. We only follow list of political parties that are recognized by INEC and lNEC supplies us with authentic list anytime we ask for it. So, we have the list of recognized political parties but you know it is not every political party that may have presence or existence or significant presence as to a given field candidate in the elections
“If there are 18 political parties for instance, you may discover that in a particular state, only 10 or 12 may be existing or have the readiness to field and participate in the Local Government Election. Therefore, we are following the authentic list and the recognized political parties in the country. Those that are fielded candidates. If political parties were recognized after we had concluded elections or certain things that means they cannot line because we are not starting the electoral process afresh. The procedures are already on. So, if a political party is registered by the end of this month, there is no way we can go back because of that political party or cancel the election or start waiting for them to come and do what others have done or breach the law in order to accommodate the party that was not in existence at the time we started.”
“We can only do with what we have and those we had at the time that the law prescribed for certain things to be done. Timetable for activities as demanded by our Dear Security Chiefs. Yes, the political parties already know the activities they should be doing. Our guidelines are there, if any of them do not have copies, they should come and get in our office but political Campaigns are now lifted and they can go on to campaign until 24 hours to the election date. That is always our rules.
The laws we have are enough for us and give us all the ample powers we have and an opportunity to conduct the elections.
On a general note, I must say that petitions or cases or court applications, they are all part of the electoral process and democracy. There is nothing new or special about it. If we have court orders, for instance, we shall obey the court orders. If there is any court case going on, they will go on but that will not stop our elections. For today, there is no court order stampeding us from going ahead with our elections. Until there is any, we shall continue to do our elections and I hope there is none that can stop us and the laws are clear on what to do.
Speaking during the meeting, the state People’s Democratic Party’s chairman Barr. Onyekachi Nwebonyi represented by the party’s organizing secretary Mr. Anyim Michael pledged readiness of the party to ensure free and fair 2020 local government council elections in the state.
The chairman of Action Alliance Mr. James Obasi was not left out, he called for a level playing ground for all political parties in the election.
But the recent directive from the government for the conduct of the election came after an Enugu based legal practioner, Barr Kelechi Chukwu dragged the Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi to court seeking nullification of his appointment of caretaker Chairmen into the 13 Council areas in the state.
Barr Kelechi in the suit, number HAB/90/2030 prayed the court to compel the caretaker chairmen to refund all the allocations received while serving as caretaker, as their appointment was illegal.
The caretaker chairmen for the 13 council areas of the State were appointed in May, 2020 by the governor.