Listen to article
A coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) and political parties in Ebonyi State have lambasted the Governor of the State, David Umahi over an executive order he assented to banning public gatherings in the state.
The group said the governor’s action, among other human rights abuses, was antithetical to the freedom of association and movement which are guaranteed by the constitution of the country.
They stated these at a press conference jointly held in Enugu Sunday by Human Rights Defenders (HURIDE), Ebonyi State, Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) Ebonyi State, Democratic Rights Ambassadors of Nigeria (DRAN)bl and Ebonyi First Vanguard (EFV).
A text of the press conference endorsed by Sampson Oko Nweke, State Chairman, HURIDE, Chinedum Elekwachi, State Chairman, CUPP, Chief Alex Okemiri of Ebonyi First Vanguard and Solomon Chukwuof Democratic Rights Ambassadors of Nigeria, urged the Inspector General of Police, Alkali Usman and the top security hierarchy to call Umahi to order and save democracy in Ebonyi State.
Read Also: Politicians To Pay ₦5m To Use Public Facilities In Ebonyi
Part of the text presented by Nweke reads, ‘We hereby jointly and severally condemn the restrictions placed by the governor of Ebonyi State through Executive Order Number 3 of 2022 on public gatherings and the use of public spaces for campaigns at a time the Electoral Act and INEC timetable mapped out for political parties to reach out to the electorate through campaigns.
‘Such ban tantamounts to an ambush on the democratic process and a deliberate attempt to frustrate the peaceful conduct of the 2023 general elections in Ebonyi State.
‘It is an act of unconscionable corruption for Governor David Umahi to ban other political parties from campaigning in the state even when Umahi has converted Akanu Ibiam International Conference Centre which is a public property to the secretariat of All Progressives Congress; and is campaigning freely in public spaces and with public resources.
‘The operation of section 1(3) of the 1999 CFRN (as amended) does permit that rights expressly conferred on Ebonyi people by both the Nigerian constitution and Electoral Act 2022 be taken away or encumbered via a malicious Executive Order. Governor David Umahi is hereby advised to respect the Nigerian constitution which he swore to protect by withdrawing his unconstitutional executive order immediately.
‘Governor Umahi is hereby put on notice that should he fail to withdraw the executive order restricting campaigns within 24 hours from now, a legal action shall be instituted to challenge his contravention of the Nigerian constitution and to set aside his obnoxious order.
‘The public is alerted that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ebonyi state has continued her campaign’s across the state with state resources. We request that the same free space enjoyed by the APC be extended to other political parties in the state.’
They also alleged cases of abuse and infringements on the rights of Ebonyi citizens who are members of opposition political parties by agents of Ebonyi State government.
They said that those who were arrested on trumped up charges by agents of the state government were allegedly tortured before they were handed over to the police in violation of their fundamental human rights.