Anambra State House of Assembly has begun a probe of over N2.8 billion being the total amount paid by chairmanship and councillorship aspirants of six political parties in the 21 local government areas and 326 electoral wards to the Anambra State Independent Electoral Commission (ANSIEC) for the purpose of the just postponed local council election in the state.
Each of the aspirants was said to have paid between N200,000 and N500,000 for the election that had earlier been scheduled to hold on October 5 before it was shifted to December 14.
Following a motion by Minority Leader of the Assembly, Tony Muonago of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which was seconded by former Chief Whip, Gabriel Onyenwife, the Assembly directed the House Committee on Elections to investigate the legal implications of the payments.
At plenary on Wednesday, Muonago read out a text message sent to members of the APC in which the ANSIEC directed chairmanship aspirants to pay N500,000 and councillorship aspirants N200,000.
He contending that the electoral commission did not have any reason to demand payment for the election as it has no basis in the Constitution.
“I wonder why the electoral commission should demand payment. I have not heard of this before; this is a daylight fraud against Anambra people and lawmakers are here to defend our people and those in our constituencies,” the lawmaker said.
Supporting the motion, the former Chief Whip, Onyenwife, described the issue as a matter that demands urgent attention in view of the amount in question, adding that this is the first time an electoral commission is demanding payment for local council poll.
“Do you know how much is involved when you calculate it? This is a huge sum of money and the ANSIEC should explain to us what that money is meant for,” Onyenwife added.
He also asked: “Is ANSIEC collecting money for the conduct of the election or what?”
“Today the date has been postponed and that showed that the APGA government is not ready or prepared to conduct local government election. The state government has succeeded in defrauding Anambra people and deceiving our people in the process.”
The state government received further knocks from the state Chairman of the Labour Party, Sam Oraegbunam, who told reporters that the party has been vindicated over the postponement of the election.
“For us in the Labour Party, it is not a surprise that the election date has been shifted. This is because the Acting Chairman of ANSIEC has no constitutional powers to conduct local government election.
“The chairman has been in court challenging his unlawful removal. The law says there shall be a chairman of ANSIEC not an acting chairman of the commission.
“This is all gimmick by APGA government to hoodwink the people of Anambra State by conducting local government election at the twilight of the administration.
“Even the new date that is fixed for the election is not feasible because who will conduct the election; is it the outgoing Governor or the Governor-elect? At any rate, we have been vindicated because all our predictions have come to pass,” the LP chieftain said.
Publicity Secretary of the APC, Okelo Madukaife, also spoke on the postponement, saying: “Based on the party’s position before now, and as people who have followed the events so far, we have always known that it is a grand deceit by the APGA government.
“We said that the bulk passing about local government election has been there and there is no obstacle stopping the conduct of local government election in Anambra State but Governor Peter Obi himself.
“They are interested in keeping local government funds and misusing it as they want because it is not subject to legislation.
“They are interested in the idea of having transition chairmen and councilors to patronise people and doing favours through appointments. That is their stock in trade.
“We have always known that there will be no election in Anambra State,” Madukife said.