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May 23: PDP, Group Disagree Over Rivers Council Poll

The Peoples Democratic Party and the International Society for Social Justice and Human Rights have disagreed over the proposed local government election in Rivers State.

The State Independent Electoral Commission had fixed May 23, 2015 for the local government elections, a decision that did not go down well with the state chapter of the PDP.

Speaking in an interview with newsmen on Saturday, the chancellor of the rights group, Dr. Jackson Omenazu, said RSIEC’s decision to conduct the council election was within the ambit of the law.

Omenazu described those against the conduct of council polls in the state as mischievous and selfish, adding that the argument by the state PDP that the date of the election was close to the handover date (May 29, 2015) did not make any sense.

He said, “The conduct of the election on May 23, 2015, is lawful; it is within the ambit of the law. The 1999 Constitution as amended supports it.

“We in the International Society Justice and Human Rights believe that the conduct of the council election is timely and the incoming government should be happy to meet elected council chairmen.

“We are surprised that a few people are challenging the conduct of the council election when it is actually long overdue. INEC fixes election dates and conducts state and national elections. Why then should the RSIEC not have the right to fix election dates?”

But the State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, disagreed with Omenazu, maintaining that fixing of an election without a 90-day notice was illegal and unacceptable by his party.

He said a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had ruled that the status quo be maintained, adding that since RSIEC would not get voter register for INEC, it would not be possible for RISDIEC to hold the proposed election.

“The council poll as announced by RSIEC is illegal; it is a very clear breach of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I don’t see how the state law should supersede the national law.

“It is only the State High Court that has jurisdiction over local government elections and, the PDP in the state is saying that there is no sense in holding the election since there would be no judiciary to look into cases of aggrieved candidates.

He argued that with the ruling of a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, it would be difficult for INEC to release the voters’ register to RSIEC for the conduct of the local government election.

The state PDP publicity secretary pointed out that since the court has insisted that the status quo be maintained, the police and other security agents would not be part of the exercise.

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