LEGAL ACTIONS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTION IN EBONYI STATE
SPECIAL REPORT BY : AMECHI ODO
Ebonyi state Independent Electoral Commission, EBSIEC few days ago announced August 15, 2020 as the new date for the conduct of Local Government Election in the state after it was suspended for months over covid 19 pandemic. The development has been generating reactions among residents of the state as many express the hope that the Election will further deepen democracy in the grassroots.
Section 7 sub section 1 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides for a system of Local government run by democratically elected council. The Constitution also requires government of every state to enact legislation for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of Local Government Councils.
This is perhaps why Ebonyi state government reversed its self in the suspension of Local Government Election originally scheduled to take place about two months ago. Expressing their feelings over the development, two prospective voters, Chief Egwu Chima and Mr Obinna Nwede said lifting of the suspension had rekindled the spirit of democracy in the grassroots and expressed readiness to exercise their franchise come August 15.
A Lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Ebonyi State University, Mr Eugene Otu described Local Government as the closest to the people among the three tiers which enables them to have a say in how they are governed.
Although the suspension of Local Government Election in Ebonyi elicited reactions in some quarters with some taking legal action, the state government justified its action under Coronavirus and Other Dangerous Infectious Diseases and Related Matters Law 2020.
One of the aggrieved parties and a Legal Practitioner, Mr Kelechi Chukwu said section 22 of Coronavirus Law which empowers Ebonyi state government to suspend the Election and appoint Caretaker Chairmen was inconsistent with the provisions of the 1999 constitution.
When asked whether there would be changes, the Chairman of EBSIEC, Chief Jossy Eze said the Commission would re publish lists of candidates who won their primaries in continuation of the processes already put in place.
Efforts to get the reaction of the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Cletus Ofoke on the position of Ebonyi State Electoral Law in the conduct of Local Government Election not later than three months after the primaries proved abortive.