Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Amidst protests by the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) against the conduct of last Saturdayâ€™s Council election in Enugu State, a group of 37 political parties yesterday adjudged the election as free, fair and credible.
The Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC) had at the weekend declared that all the 17 chairmanship and 258 councillorship candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) swept the election. The commission however said election did not take place in two wards in Udi local government area.
A total of 25 political parties participated.
Controversy had trailed the election last week as an Enugu State High Court presided over by Justice F. N. Ngwu, assumed jurisdiction in a suit challenging the non-conduct of local governments election from 2015 till date and the validity and consequences of appointments of caretaker committees and transition committees by the state government.
In the suit no E/362/2015, between APC & ors v ENSIEC &ors Justice Ngwu however declined to stop the November 4 election in view of the pendency of the motion for injunction to stop ENSIEC from conducting any election before the Supreme Court of Nigeria in Appeal filed by PDP and its ex-chairman, Ikeje Asogwa.
Counsel to APC, George Ogara, told journalists that the implication of the High Court ruling was that both the High court or the parties in the matter were at risk to interfere with the matter before the Supreme Court .
â€œAny conduct of any election will therefore be a violation of the doctrine of lis pendence,â€ he said.
But, the 37 parties including; Accord Party, Action Alliance, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Alliance for Democracy, Social Democratic Party, United Progressives Party, Independent Democrats and Peoples Democratic Party lauded ENSIEC, for its neutrality and impartiality before and during the exercise.
Addressing a press conference in Enugu, the spokesperson of the 37 political parties and state chairman of Social Democratic Party, SDP, Mr. John Nwobodo, stated that they adjudged the election â€œas free, fair and credible and confirm that it met the minimum requirements of international best practicesâ€.
The spokesperson said that they noted the non-arrival of electoral materials on time in some places, but that the Commission however took immediate steps to remedy the challenge it posed on the exercise of their franchise by the electorates and extended the period of voting to 5pm to enable every credible accredited voter cast his or her vote. He said, â€œThere were few skirmishes and isolated cases of attempts to hijack electoral materials yet these incidents are too infinitesimal and not widespread or substantial to affect the outcome of the election.
â€œWe acknowledge that the Commission yielded to all the demands of political parties including removal of payment of nomination fees by
candidates, reversing the disqualification of candidates for
non-payment of tax or presentation of tax clearance certificate, and
on other grounds.
â€We want to place on record our gratitude to the Governor of Enugu
State, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who gave all the
needed support and funding to the Commission to discharge its
Constitutional mandate without any interference whatsoever.â€
Also, the PDP in the state has expressed its gratitude to the people of the state, especially the electorate for electing its candidates in the election.
The PDP also congratulated its candidates for emerging victorious at the polls and appreciated members of the party and its teeming supporters for the maturity they displayed during the exercise, even in the face of provocation, adding that it was a demonstration of the partyâ€™s firm commitment to peace, credible and rancor-free elections.
In a statement signed by its State Chairman, Hon. Augustine Nnamani, the PDP applauded Governor Ugwuanyi for providing a conducive atmosphere for the conduct of the elections.
The chairman equally commended ENSIEC for providing a level playing ground for all the participants, and for prosecuting a credible election in the state