· Advocates conduct of council elections
· Decries non-investigation of massive looting by governors
By SUNDAY ODIBASHI
The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) has condemned the plot by Enugu State Government to frustrate the conduct of elections into the local government councils scheduled for January 2016 in the state, replacing them with illegal Caretaker Committees.
The CLO, in a statement by Comrade Ibuchukwu Ohabuenyi Ezike, Executive Director, decried that the decision to appoint Caretaker Committees in place of constitutionally elected local government councils was taken by the cronies of Governor Ifeanyichukwu Ugwuanyi, who feigned to be stakeholders of Enugu State. the CLO empahsised that the decision was taken in total exclusion of the core stakeholders of the state who include but not limited to registered political parties, popular civil society organisations, religious community, Persons with Disability, women groups and other key stakeholders in the state. CLO bemoaned that “it has become the tradition of few politicians in Nigeria to arrogate to themselves the authority of stakeholders in Africa’s largest democracy.”
“We state categorically that Nigeria is not the property of politicians or few political actors who wrongly consider themselves as first among equals but that of the entire Nigerian people,” CLO declared. According to Ibuchukwu, “CLO, as the foremost human rights organization in Nigeria that has sacrificed both human and material resources in the campaign to restore civil rule in the country, can no longer sit back and watch those who fraternized with military regimes during the fight against dictatorship to take the centre stage and determine for us how our society would be run.” He protested that, “After all, the civil society, students, labour and other patriotic groups were the elements that fought for the restoration of Nigeria to civil rule even when the political class worked in alliance with the military dictators.”
“CLO noted with very strong concern how governors and their arm pit legislatures have arrogantly restricted the political space, especially, with respect to the issues relating to our local governments and disallowed the survival of democracy at the grassroots level. We view this as impudent violation of the rights of the politicians in the local governments who may have the opportunities of emerging as local government chairmen and deputies, councilors, supervisors, special assistants and other appointees at the level of such tier of government,” Ibuchukwu declared.
The CLO Executive Director observed that, “A clear case at hand was that of Anambra State under former Governor Peter Obi, who unlawfully used Sole Administrators to run the 21 local government councils of the state for eight years and wickedly closed political spaces for the Anambrarians. CLO frowned at that act and promises not to allow such infraction to occur in our society.”
It was noted that the excuse of some governors for the non-conduct of local government elections in their states has been the claim that there is no fund to do so, yet, they have condoned the ear tingling corruptions in their states claimed to be committed by their predecessors.
“We are aware that some former state governors, including that of Enugu State, allegedly plundered their states’ treasuries few days to their handing over but most of the current governors have kept mute and refused to ask them to account for their stewardship for eight years. CLO may be left with no alternative than to collaborate with the working class people in Nigeria, sister civil society organisations, the media and other stakeholders in the Nigerian Project to begin the interrogation of the excesses of our governors and may urge the federal government to stop the statutory allocations of local governments to states that refuse to conduct popular, credible and transparent local government elections,” Ibuchukwu affirmed.
CLO, therefore, enjoins the Ugwuanyi administration in Enugu State to put all genuine machineries in motion for the conduct of a free, just, transparent and credible local government election in the state, in January 2015, and jettison the idea of installing unlawful caretaker committees as being considered.
“We wish to state that where the government decides to go on with the illegality, CLO shall undertake all lawful processes to pursue the respect for the rule of law and due process in order to cause a proper election to be hosted in the 17 local government areas of the state,” Ibuchukwu said.
CLO, thus, called on all legitimate stakeholders in Enugu State to rise up to the challenge and ensure that the right thing is done while urging all the 37 state branches of the CLO, including the FCT, Abuja, to monitor their state governments to ensure that lawful local government elections are conducted and in time or alert the CLO headquarters for mass action.