Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Labour Party governorship flag bearer in Abia State, Dr Alex Otti, has raised the alarm that agents of the Abia State Government, are illegally removing his campaign billboards and that of other candidates of the party despite collecting N10M million signage fee from them.
The former banker who raised the alarm in a a press release by the Spokesman of his Campaign Organisation, Ferdinand Ekeoma, demanded immediate restoration of the removed billboards.
Otti said that Government had continued with the illegality despite earlier alarm he had raised over a similar action.
He warned the State Government not to take his gentle disposition for a weakness, arguing that actions capable of plunging the state into chaos should be avoided.
The statement made available to Ikengaonline read in part: “These releases and appeals are not signs of cowardice or weakness, but well intended measures to reassure Abians of our pro-people peaceful disposition as well as to put the public in the know and set the record straight for future references.
“We hope that those presiding over the affairs of Abia and who are responsible for these desperation-induced violence would quickly realise that tomorrow is heavily pregnant and that there’s life outside politics and thus retrace their steps for the sake of our state and our people.”
It further read: “A few days ago we issued a press release jointly signed by the Alex Otti Campaign Organisation and the Labour Party Abia State wherein we complained against unprovoked acts of violence being perpetrated by the agents of the PDP-led Abia State Government against our members and destruction of campaign billboards and flexes.
“We subsequently asked Abians to hold the PDP led government responsible in the event of breakdown of law and order in Abia State over the aforementioned acts of lawlessness.
“As if they were emboldened by our lawful alarm and appeal, the government has gone a step further to perpetrate another act of provocative violence by illegally removing our newly erected billboard around Umuikaa Junction along the Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway.
“It’s important to inform the general public that as law abiding citizens with utmost regard and respect for our laws and constituted authorities, we adhered strictly to all known guidelines for the mounting of campaign billboards as regulated by the Abia State Signage and Advertisement Agency (ABSAA) and also paid the required sum of Ten Million Naira only (N10,000,000) to Abia State Government.
“We are also very much aware that the licensed vendors we contracted also paid the government all fees required for them to use their billboards for advertisements in Abia State.
“Possibly because of our refusal to retaliate against previous provocative acts of lawlessness, the perpetrators found the motivation to repeat same thing.”
When contacted, Commissioner for Information, Eze Chikamnayo, said the State Government had a policy of providing level play ground for all political parties in the state.
He refused to either confirm or deny the allegation but simply promised to investigate it.
“It’s not a question of accepting or denying the allegation. Generally speaking, I have made it clear, and want to say it again, that Alex Otti or by extension, every candidate, should use simply and straight forward language to canvass for votes and avoid any language capable of inciting one section of the state against the other, or inciting individuals against Government because we need Government for us to have an election.
“So, in canvasing for votes, let’s be circumspect. At the same time, I will investigate the allegations and if there is need to ask for caution in any area I will do so as the Head of the supervising Ministry of Abia State Signage Development Agency.
“Our policy as a Government is that any political party should be given equal opportunity to canvass votes among the populace. We do not subscribe to any form of intimidation in whatever guise.”