by crossriverwatch admin
As the legal battle rages on in the High Court in Calabar to determine whether the newly registered All Progressives Congress, APC is eligible to contest the September 21 local council elections or not, a legal practitioner and chieftain of the opposition in the state, Barrister Okoi Obono Obla has alleged that the Chairman of the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission CROSIEC, Sir Patrick Otu had told him in a telephone call that there was pressure on him from the State Government and the leadership of the ruling People’s Democratic Party PDP to exclude the APC from the forthcoming local council polls.
Mr. Obla in a statement to CrossRiverWatch said, “About four weeks ago I received a phone call from Patrick Otu. He said to me ‘We in CROSIEC want your party, APC to contest the local government elections but the PDP is averse to that. So I want APC to write to CROSIEC to extend the time for the election. If we receive such a letter, CROSIEC would surely extend the time’.
“He pointedly told me the Government and the PDP are not disposed to allowing APC to participate in the Local Government Elections, but we (CROSIEC) want APC to contest. I was stunned when Patrick Otu said this to me.
“I shuddered and held my breath at this startling revelations made by Patrick Otu, who was brutally frank about the pressure that was been exerted on him to compromise him so that PDP will have a field day in the elections.
“I was glad after our conversation. I called the Minority Leader of APC in the House of Assembly, Hon. Alex Irek to tell him. It was on the strength of this that Hon. Irek wrote a letter to the National Secretary of the APC, Tijani Musa Tsumah impressing on him the need for the Party to write to CROSEIC.
“On the 23rd August 2013, Mr. Tsumah wrote to the Chairman of CROSIEC requesting for extension of time for the local government elections in the State by 3 months in view of the registration of APC on 31/7/2013 by INEC to enable APC commence processes to nominate its candidates for the elections.
“The letter was served on CROSIEC on the same 23/8/2013. Surprisingly on the 24/8/2013, Patrick Otu hurriedly arranged a meeting with some political parties including PDP. In the meeting Patrick Otu pronounced APC ineligible to contest on the ground it was registered less than 90 days to the date of the elections.
“On the 26/8/2013, I instituted two cases in the High Court and Federal High Court respectively challenging the decision of CROSIEC to stop APC from contesting the elections. CROSIEC was served on the 29/8/2013 with the processes. However CROSEIC came to Court when the matter came up to deny service.
“The Court over ruled the objection of CROSIEC and adjourned the case to 12 /9/2013. Curiously on 5/9/2013 Patrick Otu called a press conference in Calabar to reiterate that CROSIEC would go ahead with the elections and that APC is not eligible to contest”.
Obla therefore called on the CROSIEC Chairman to resign his position for compromising his oath of office.
“He has compromised his oath of office and faith as a Knight of the Catholic Church. The opposition in the State has lost confidence in CROSIEC. I therefore call on Sir Patrick Otu and his Commissioners to resign forthwith”. He said.
All attempts to speak with the CROSIEC Chairman were unsuccessful as at press time as all calls to his phones did not connect.
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