By Patrick Obia
The campaign organization of the Cross River State People’s Democratic Party, PDP, guber candidate, Prof. Sandy Onor – the Caterpillar Movement has accused the State Signage and Advertisement Agency of trying to thwart and frustrate its campaign.
The Director-General of the organization, Chief Joe Bisong in an open letter addressed to the Governor of the State, Sen. Ben Ayade said despite meeting the terms and conditions of Cross River State Signage and Advertisement Agency (CRISSAA) as well as that of Advertiser Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), they are being threatened. At the same time, some of their billboards have been pulled down.
They accused the Director-General of CRISSA, Mr. Effiom Effiwatt of playing to the gallery of the ruling party.
The Movement prayed to the Governor to call CRISSAA DG to order, adding, “This selective justice and high-handedness is capable of heating the polity of our dear State at this crucial point in the electoral season.”
The letter reads: “We wish to bring to your notice the unprofessional conduct relating to the display of outdoor advertisement by the leadership of Cross River State Signage and Advertising Agency(CRISSA) headed by Mr. Effiom Effiwatt.
“We, the umbrella campaign organization of Distinguished Senator Sandy Ojang Onor (Caterpillar Movement) duly applied to the agency on February 7, 2022, seeking approvals to display our outdoor advertisement materials and paid all the relevant fees to CRISSAA and APCON accounts respectively. Based on the evidence of these payments, we signed the terms of the agreement with CRISSAA and APCON.
“However, CRISSAA has repeatedly denied us access while at the same time granting access to the All Progressives Congress (APC) Candidates and others. We are pushed to believe that it is a calculated attempt to deny us our right in a democracy even after having sought approvals legitimately and paid the fees prescribed. This action is unfair, biased, inequitable, and unacceptable in a democracy.
“Constrained by this deliberate denial of access to display our adverts, we made contact with owners of billboard stands in the Calabar metropolis, paid the agreed fees to the owners, and subjected our adverts to APCON for vetting and approval.
“We are very conscious of the fact that we have not breached the position of the law especially now that the campaigns have been officially declared open by the electoral umpire INEC with the backing of the Electoral act 2022 as amended.
“We are appealing to you to call to order the Director-General of CRISSA, Mr. Effiom Effiwat, and his team to desist from this unwholesome practice and allow peace to prevail and avoid tendencies that will heat our polity needlessly.
“As of today, we have displayed a few outdoor advertisements. Yet CRISSA is still threatening our movement with unsolicited correspondences bearing threats ranging from pulling down the few billboards of our principal, Prof. Sandy Onor, and other unfounded penalties.
“We wish to appeal to Your Excellency to kindly direct overzealous appointees like the Director-General of CRISSA, Mr. Effiom Effiwatt to desist forthwith from impeding genuine people from displaying their adverts especially after meeting all prescribed conditions. This selective justice and high-handedness are capable of heating the polity of our dear State at this crucial point in the electoral season.
“Your Excellency Sir, Cross River State belongs to us all and not a select and privileged group who are paid with our common resources yet resort to dictatorial tendencies capable of instigating avoidable litigations. Once again, we ask that they should be cautioned. A stitch in time saves nine. Kindly accept the warmest regards of the Caterpillar Movement.”
At press time, Mr. Effiom Effiwatt, CRISSA DG is yet to respond to our newsroom.