AfricaNews

Peter Obi Campaign Billboards Dismantled By Anambra Government

The Anambra State Signage and Advertisement Agency has dismantled some of the billboards of Mr. Peter Obi, the Labour Party Presidential candidate in the country.

Mr. Peter Obi’s billboard which is located at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Temporary Site Flyover was pulled down on Saturday alongside that of the Labour Party’s candidate for the Anambra Central Senatorial District in the February elections, Chief Victor Umeh.

Recall that in August of 2022, the Anambra State government made an announcement directing presidential candidates to pay the sum of N10 million, Senatorial candidates to pay the sum of N7 million, House of Representatives candidates to pay the sum of N5 million and State House of Assembly candidates to pay the sum of N1 million as campaign fees before mounting any billboard or poster in the State.

Many Nigerians who reacted to this recent development were of the opinion that the it has a political backing aiming at destroying the presidential bid of Mr. Peter Obi by the state governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo.

Peter Obi and Soludo

USElection2024: Mike Pence Declares To Run For President

Mr Tony Ujubuonu who is the Managing Director of ANSAA on Sunday while reacting to the public opinion insisted that it is just a mere insinuation that it has no political backing, and that the said candidates whose billboards were pulled down refused to comply with the laid down rules.

He stated that the action has nothing to do with the State Governor, Prof Charles Soludo, but rather after several efforts were made to get the affected candidates to comply to the rules were proved abortive.

He narrated that in August of 2022, that ANSAA informed all the political parties in the State to obtain Political Campaign Permits which would allow them to enjoy campaigns in the State and have access to rent available government outdoor media assets and public spaces through a letter that was sent to them all.

“Also in October, the Agency sent out another letter to the candidates reminding them of the need to obtain the permit. Before commencing enforcement in November 2022, ANSAA ran a one-week sensitization paid adverts in the media in case someone missed the earlier formally communicated information.

“Many of the political parties and their candidates responded including a good chunk of candidates of the ruling party in the state.

“But sadly, no payment was made by the Labour party candidates both at the national and state House of Assembly levels.  Several phone calls and entreaties were made to them through their media managers but they ignored these.

“They have had several campaigns in the state without permits and have their campaign materials everywhere without permits. It’s only fair that all politicians should be treated equally.

“Equally, any political party candidate affected knows that either they are yet to pay or are yet to complete their payments of the political campaign permit.

“We hope this is not a case of entitlement mentality or a brazen decision to disobey the Anambra State Signage and Advertisement Agency. Once again, ANSAA will not allow itself to be drawn into any partisan politics but will continue to serve Ndi Anambra to the best of her ability”, he added.

Chief Victor Umeh while reacting to the development described it as undemocratic and unconscionable, he further threatened to take legal action against the State government if the billboards were not restored any time soon.

He accused the State government of not having any legal backing to regulate election processes, hinting that it is the job of the INEC and not any State government.

He further explained that he paid paid about N4 million to his advertising agencies for the billboards which had also paid to the ANSAA the required fees for outdoor adverts.

According to Uche Umeh,“there is nothing like campaign fees under the electoral law. No state government has a right to impose any fee on any candidate before he could campaign. There is no such law in Nigeria and no such law either in Anambra State passed by the state House of Assembly.

“If the governor makes an executive order of humongous fees of N10m, N7m, etc before one could campaign in the state, that’s against democracy. You can’t prevent somebody from campaigning with arbitrary fees.

“It’s INEC that sets rules for campaigns, not state governments. The state government doesn’t conduct elections. You can’t tax a candidate of a political party to pay a state government before he can campaign.

“No other state does that except Soludo’s state. Who did Soludo pay campaign fees to in 2021 when he contested for governorship?”

“We are considering legal action. I have told the advertising agent to write to the state government to restore the billboard because it was a contract signed with them and I paid them fully and they paid ANSAA. Why should Peter Obi pay N10 million to Soludo before he could campaign in Anambra when Umeh is paying N7 million?

“There should be nothing on the way of any candidate to campaign to look for votes under the Electoral Law. What Soludo is doing is illegal. No government has a right to tax any candidate to pay in any money before he can campaign. What he is saying is that if you can’t pay N10m or N7m you can’t campaign after being nominated by your party to contest the election for them.

“It’s illegal to tax any candidate by the state government before the candidate begins to campaign. Matters about campaigns are regulated by the Independent National Electoral Commission. Government has no hand in regulating political parties’ campaigns.

“No government has a right to place a tax on any candidate for campaigning. A campaign is an open and free thing to solicit votes.

“Government cannot say that before you campaign for an office you have been properly documented by INEC you have to pay fees.”

Another Labour Party chieftain who asked to remain anonymous accused the State Governor of ordering the dismantling of all LP billboards mounted at strategic places across the state and replacing them with those of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, the governor’s party.

According to him,“Soludo said that he does not want Labour Party advert at such strategic places and ordered the Anambra Signage Agency to refund the money it received for the advert.

“He ordered the removal of all OBIdient billboards across the state. It’s a direct instruction from him in an APGA meeting Those around asked him not to do that, but he insisted that must be done.”

Christian Aburime, the Press Secretary to Soludo when contacted by newsmen said the state government was studying the development and will issue a press statement on the matter soon.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button