The Rivers State chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC) has complained about how the state governor Nyesom Wike‘s Executive Order 21 has hindered its access to major event centers in the state.
The party claimed that access to notable event centers in Port Harcourt, the state’s capital to hold its proposed world press conference was denied because of the order.
In an interview with The Punch, the Publicity Secretary of the Rivers APC, Darlington Nwauju, said the party was turned down by the management of the event facilities last Wednesday because of Executive Order 21.
The APC chieftain said that was the result expected when people keep quite when pluralism and democracy are being misrepresented.
Nwauju advanced that the order contravenes the provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act as amended, adding that it was also a violation of freedom of right and of association as guaranteed by Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
He said: “Executive order 21 is a hand grenade executive decree targeting to emasculate the opposition and stop the opposition from selling their manifestos to the people of Rivers State. Apart from this order restricting other political parties from making use of public facilities owned by the state government, proprietors of hotels and event centers have been forbidden from yielding their facilities for any sort of political meetings, including press conferences.
“How can a state governor, who is a lawyer, make a pronouncement that is clearly on a collision course with the Electoral Act? We advise that the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) should go beyond issuing statements condemning the actions of governors, who attempt to intimidate their political opponents but apply necessary sanctions as in the case of Rivers State.”
“We are also of the opinion that the governor of our state should borrow a leaf from the Zamfara State governor, who has jettisoned the irrational Executive Order 10, which banned political activities in three local government areas of that state and shut down the operations of broadcast media houses in Zamfara State,” Nwauju added.
Nwauju said any political party that pays the five million naira requested by the state government before approval is granted for a space for a campaign rally would be violating the provision of the Electoral Act 2022.
He explained that any political party that agrees to pay five million naira for every campaign venue will exceed the INEC’s approved spending limit, and no provision was made for that kind of expense by the electoral body.
He cited that going by the five million naira per venue for the campaign, it would take an assembly candidate a total of 50 million naira to campaign for 10 wards in the Omuma local government area, whereas the limit for political campaign spending for the House of Assembly is N30 million as quoted in Section 88 of the Electoral Act.
Nwauju pointed out that he was sure governor Wike himself wouldn’t have obeyed this kind of order, and that he believes it was an attempt to intimidate the opposition, particularly the APC because he is the sponsor of other small parties.
He also noted that though the order is worrisome to the APC in the state, other political parties are not bothered because they are extensions of the PDP, and very soon the sponsorship list, posting bank payment tellers/approvals to the unsuspecting public.
He however confirmed that governorship candidates and other candidates are already meeting voters in different clusters and that APC’s stand concerning the order will soon be clear.