• Critics should exercise their rights wisely
Against the backdrop of mounting criticism and allegations over the recently held local government elections in Abia State, the Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has called on critics especially the opposition to regard themselves as stakeholders in the Abia project.
In particular, he said it was their right to know what those at the helm of affairs in the state were doing and should be free to ask questions, make criticisms and contributions at all times.
Beyond criticizing the exercise as a farce, the candidates of All Peoples Congress (APC) in the December 21 poll called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the governor and the chairman of the state electoral body, Justice Igbozuruike Akomas (Rtd.), for alleged financial crimes.
The candidates, statement issued after a critical review of the exercise, accused the Abia State Independent Electoral Commission (ABSIEC) of compromise and prejudice, contending that the election did not take place.
According to the statement authorized by their chairman, Ebere Uzoukwa (Obingwa) and Publicity Secretary, Chief Ejiofor Okeudo (Bende), there was conspicuous partisan disposition on the part ABSIEC in favour of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“Suffice it to say that before the day of the purported election ABSIEC had connived and conspired with Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia State government and the leadership of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia State to return all PDP councillorship and chairmanship candidates with or without elections,” they alleged.
The statement further claimed that while the APC candidates waited for ABSIEC to distribute electoral materials on the eve of the purported election, ABSIEC handed over original result sheets and substantial quantity of ballot papers to PDP chieftains in the 17 local governments.
But the Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Enyinnaya Appolos denied the allegations but noted that they were at liberty to criticise the government.
“The present government in the state, under the leadership of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, is not interested in, and will not cajole anyone or prosecute anyone for criticising the government and its policies which such a stakeholder is not at home with, based on information available to him or her.”
“Bearing in mind that several persons and groups that had wished for and contested the Governorship of the state lost in the 2015 contest, and also recognising that we are in a democracy, the Okezie Ikpeazu-led government welcomes healthy and pragmatic opposition, who are free to air their views through any communication channel available.”