Court orders, striking workers stop Abia local government elections from holding

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By Daniel Chibuike

Following the inability of Abia State Independent Electoral Commission, ABSIEC, to vacate court orders restraining it, the local government chairmanship and councilorship elections slated to hold today in the state may not take place.

A walk around electoral wards and polling units in Umuahia, the state capital, by DAILY POST showed that the exercise may not hold.

At School Road Primary School, Ibeku High School and other areas in Umuahia, where elections took place during the 2020 elections, there were no personnel or materials to suggest that elections would be conducted.

At ABSIEC headquarters behind the Abia State House of Assembly Complex in Umuahia, the offices were deserted as of 8:30 am as they were locked.

Speaking on a program in an Umuahia-based radio station on Thursday, the Chairman of ABSIEC, Prof Mkpa Agu Mkpa, lamented that his office was encumbered by restraining orders from courts and the ongoing workers’ strike in the state.

Mkpa, who said the commission had not been able to vacate the court orders stopping the exercise, lamented that the court injunctions discouraged many aspirants from purchasing expression of interest forms.

“Incidentally, we have some encumbrances, hitches here and there. Our offices are under locks by the NLC and they went to chase everyone out.

“There is no chance that the situation would improve.

“Furthermore, we are expecting that two court orders served us from conducting the election would be vacated. ABSIEC as a law abiding commission would not want to be charged for Contempt of Court”, Mkpa said.

Some critics of the exercise including the Young Progressive Party, YPP, had described the exercise as not backed by law and a waste of resources.

YPP in a statement on Wednesday signed by Bestman Eruba, Publicity Secretary, said the party would not participate in the polls and advised its members and supporters to shun it.

The party had alleged that the exercise was stopped by court injunctions and, therefore, was not worth participating in.

However, some aspirants from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who bought forms have been left in confusion after paying non-refundable fees to purchase the forms.

Among the PDP hopeful that bought forms was Hon Ikedi Ezekwesiri who wanted to contest for Chairman of Umunnochi LGA.

Ezekwesiri, a two-time House of Assembly member in the state, had in April vowed to contest the polls and had also advised the incoming administration of Alex Otti against dissolving elected local government executives.

It would be recalled that a Bende High Court had in April, ordered Mkpa to stop parading himself as the Chairman of ABSIEC even as the it froze bank accounts of the Commission.

Another court sitting in Arochukwu, presided over by Justice Benson Anya, also restrained ABSIEC from going ahead with the local government elections.

The applicant in the Arochukwu High Court suit, one Nwabueze Onwuneme, had, through his lawyer said that the election, if conducted, would be a waste of public funds.

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