Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
A coalition of opposition political parties in Enugu State on Monday demanded the dissolution of the state Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC) and the postponement of the forthcoming November 4 local government election.
The coalition expressed dismay at the mass disqualification of their candidates from the election, accusing the commission of compromise and bias in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The All Progressives Congress (APC) had last weekend condemned the disqualification of its two chairmanship and 71 councillorship candidates by the electoral commission.
But leading a coalition of about 35 other parties in a protest at the premises of ENSIEC yesterday, the Chairman of Hope Democratic Party (HDP), Adonis Igwe, asked the state Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, to disband ENSIEC and postpone the election to enable a new body to be constituted to do a better job before a new date will be announced.
He accused the Chairman of ENSIEC, Chief Mike Ajogwu, and other commissioners of incompetence and favouritism, alleging that the majority of the commissionâ€™s members were card carrying members of the PDP.
Igwe said 23 councillorship candidates of his party, HDP, were disqualified for no reason, stressing also that the candidates are from the wards where the party had its stronghold.
He said that ENSIEC asked the parties to replace the disqualified candidates without telling them why they were disqualified in the first place.
Igwe said the issue of tax clearance requirement which may have led to the mass disqualification was not tenable, insisting that it would be out of place to ask somebody without job to pay tax.
The HDP chairman however noted that more than 25 parties had submitted petition to ENSIEC as at the time he was talking to journalists, even as he disclosed that ENSIEC had invited the affected parties for a meeting on October 25.
â€œWe are calling on the state governor to dissolve ENSIEC. They are incompetent. There is no clear regulation for the elections as they keep changing the goal post on a daily basis.
â€œEverything is geared towards favouring the PDP. They are calling us for a meeting on Wednesday. That is why I said they have a game plan, which means by Wednesday, after the meeting, every other thing can happen, and you know we have only seven days before the election, which makes it impossible.
â€œThe election should be shifted because the political parties cannot replace and change candidates just like that,â€ he said.
When contacted, ENSIEC Administrative Secretary, Mr. Tagbo Ozoemenam Nnamah, confirmed that the commission had fixed a meeting with the affected parties for tomorrow to address the issues being raised especially on tax clearance which he said was a general complaint.
He expressed the hope that the electoral body might clear some of those disqualified after the Wednesday meeting.
Nnamah stated that he cannot comment on the allegation about whether some members of the commission were card carrying members of PDP, since he was not the person that appointed them.