The senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance for Ebonyi zone, Chief Ifeanyi Eleje, has said the ban on political campaigns and rallies in schools, markets and parks by Governor David Umahi is undemocratic and ridiculous.
He alleged the move was geared towards gagging opposition politicians in the state, saying, “I don’t think it deepens the space.”
Eleje stated this during an interview on Saturday.
He said, “I don’t think this is in sync with democracy. I don’t think it deepens the space. Politicians need to have an arena whereby they can communicate their ideas and visions to the electorates. It can not be done totally via the social media. There needs to be a physical contact between those seeking elective offices and the people who will elect them.
“You need to feel pulse of the people and they need to read you when you are speaking to them. And this can only be achieved where you have a level-playing field and freedom of expression. All candidates may not have the privilege of using the public media like the governor. This is not good on our burgeoning democracy. It’s not a fair policy and it’s not equitable.
“Where would you stop? When you say don’t use girls’ schools, we can go to boys’ schools. But when you say don’t use schools, what about private schools? What if a private school offers me their space for use? Why should I pay N5m to government? Is government the owner of private schools? What about public or village arenas? Like in Afikpo here, we have the Ogo. How is that defined?
“So, when you make orders that are not clear before the public, it creates fears. It creates problems. Now, people are asking me: ‘Does that ban also include the Ogo and the Obi?’ These are age-long public spaces, owned by the natives. The ban is undemocratic and ridiculous. The question is what’s the intention of this ban or order? It doesn’t look like a well-thought out order to me. I think it’s intended to stop opposition politicians in the state.”
He further decried the alleged nefarious activities of the Ebebuagu security outfit, adding it had outlived its usefulness.
“I think it’s very curious that someone who is said to have drugs-related offences was never arrested all this while, until now that’s he’s contesting for an election. It’s very curious. I’m aware that Linus Okorie has been visiting Ebonyi State before now.
“How come it’s now that he expressed interest to represent his people that you arrested him? For me, what the Ebebeagu militia is doing in Ebonyi is rather closing the space and not allowing the citizens freedom of expression. People need to communicate what they have for the electorate to them. If you gag people, they don’t talk; you are disenfranchising the electorates, because they don’t know what they are buying.
“I think the Ebubeagu security outfit has outlived its usefulness. Yes, it might have been well-intended, but we both know that the way to hell is paved with good intentions. Nobody currently trusts it; and when a society does not trust a security architecture, that outfit cannot say to be providing security for the society.”