by crossriverwatch admin
Sir Patrick Otu, the Cross River State Chairman of Independent Electoral Commission CROSIEC has revealed that the newly registered All Progressive Congress Party APC has been disqualified from contesting for seats in the September 21, 2013 Local Government Election in the state.
Otu stated this at a meeting held in the Commission’s office in Calabar with all registered political parties in the state which according to him, was part of the preparations for the local government election.
According to him, the commission took the decision after considering all legal implications involved in the conduct of the election and in order not to run foul of the law, he said the new party has to be disqualified from the race.
“The electoral law stipulates that if parties merge, that party can only stand election after 90 days
“The Commission cannot postpone the election because of a newly registered party. By September 21 when the local government elections will take place, the stipulated 90 days period would not have been met by APC in the state. Therefore, no candidate can be fielded to run on the platform of APC”, Sir Otu declared.
The CROSIEC boss maintained that “everything about election is law and nothing can be done outside the law. The former parties that merged to form APC are by law dead. What emerged will have to pay the price as no law covers what you were before the merger. By law, APC is disqualified from fielding candidates for both the chairmanship and the councilorship positions in the forthcoming elections”.
One Ayei Akpang who claimed to be representing the state chairman of the defunct ACN appealed for an extension of time but the CROSIEC boss noted that there are lawful conditions for postponing or extending the time of an election which does not include registration of a new political party.
“There is no state of emergency in the state that would warrant an extension of time. When in 2004 we had a state of emergency because of the political situation, then it was understood”.
But a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress APC, Barrister Obono Obla told CrossRiverWatch that CROSIEC has only succumbed to the pressure to foist PDP on the state and that the APC will not accept the conclusion of the electoral body.
In a statement, he said: “The Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission, CROSIEC is a bundle of mess and confusion. I am pleasantly surprised and amused that the Commission would blow hot and cold on the issue of the eligibility of the All Progressives Congress, APC to contest the Local Government Elections scheduled for 21/9/2013.
“Just three weeks ago the leadership of the Commission reached out to a section of the leadership of the APC in the State and strongly urged it to seek an extension of time for the elections.
“The Commission assured APC that it would promptly accede to such an application for extension of time when it is made. It was on the strength of this that the APC on the 21/8/2013 wrote to the Chairman of the Commission seeking for extension of time for the elections.
“It is therefore disconcerting that less than 24 hours after the application for extension of time made by APC, CROSIEC would call a press conference in Calabar and be suggesting that APC is not qualified to contest the elections because it was registered on the 31/7/2013 and therefore is caught by the provision of Section 78(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
“Section 78 (1) of the Electoral Act provides that an application for merger of political parties shall be made 6 months before a general election to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
“In the first place, the provision of the Electoral Act is irrelevant and inapplicable to the Local Government Elections that CROSIEC is statutorily vested with the power to conduct. In other words, CROSIEC is not bound by the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“The Electoral Act is applicable and relevant to the conduct of general elections concerning the office of the President; Election into the National Assembly; Office of the Governor ; election into the State Assemblies and election into Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
“It is therefore incomprehensible and indeed dubious that CROSIEC would be relying on the provision of a Law that is not to all intents and purposes meant for it as a legal prop to deny APC participation in the scheduled Local Government Elections.
“It is as clear as the crystal ball that a Local Government Election is not a general election (assuming without conceding that the Electoral Act applies). Undoubtedly CROSIEC acted momentarily when it said that APC is not eligible to participate in the election. This is evidence that CROSEIC is not independent but dependent.
“CROSIEC is behaving like an appendage of the Office of the Governor and the Peoples Democratic Party. When CROSIEC unofficially reached out to the leadership of APC, it subtly hinted that it was under tremendous pressure from the PDP not to allow APC to participate in the scheduled elections.
“It seems therefore, that CROSIEC has finally succumbed; if what it said yesterday in the hurriedly arranged press conference is anything to go by. I have always known that CROSIEC is part of the grand agenda by the political mandarins, hawks and apparatchiks of PDP to foist a one party dictatorship in the State.
“This is why the opposition never won in all the elections conducted by CROSIEC since 2003. I want to warn that APC in the State will not tolerate any attempt by CROSIEC, to use legal chicanery to stop it from participation in the Local Government Elections.
“The APC will use all legal and constitutional means to ensure that democracy is not shackled in the State by CROSIEC and other agents of darkness under any guise. APC shall not relent to wage a legal battle to ensure that CROSIEC does not disenfranchise the good people of Cross River State under any cloak.
“Gone are the days when CROSIEC and other anti democratic forces take advantage of the fragmented opposition to foist a one party dictatorship in the State. The opposition is now united, strong and cohesive under the canopy of the APC”.
It was also gathered that PDP is the only party that has fielded candidates for all the seats to be contested for.
The PPA also has some candidates; so it may just be two political parties that will go into the local government polls in the state if the verdict of CROSIEC stands.
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