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Controversy as Anambra community defies Obiano’s COVID-19 order, holds election

A group of concerned citizens of Umuona Community in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, has called on Governor Willie Obiano and Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Town Union Affairs, Mr. Greg Obi, not to recognise the Umuona Progressive Union (UPU) election purportedly held on Monday, December 28, 2020, at the community’s civic centre.

 

In a press conference in the community, leader of the group, Chukwujekwu Ezeokoli, flanked by Samuel Okoromike and Ejike Muobike, who claimed that the purported election did not go in line with the community’s constitution and COVID-19 protocols, said if necessary action is not taken by relevant authorities, by way of cancelling the said election, it might lead to a breakdown of law and order in the town.

 

“Umuona community is supposed to conduct its town union election on Monday, December 28.

 

Before then, the town’s union, led by Dr. Silas Akanaeme, had sensitised the people on the need to observe COVID-19 protocols during the exercise, as directed by Governor Obiano. “It further directed that delegates for the said election should not be more than 50 persons, as required by the Umuona Constitution and COVID-19 guidelines.

 

“When the traditional ruler of the town, His Majesty, Igwe Humphrey Ejesieme, arrived to flag off the election process, he saw a large turnout of people, numbering over 5,000, inside one hall. “He told the gathering that Governor Obiano had directed communities that in every gathering or event, COVID-19 protocols must be followed.

 

The monarch was worried that there were no hand washing buckets; social distancing protocol was not maintained and the overwhelming majority in the hall was not wearing protective masks. “He told the community that as traditional ruler, he would not deviate from the instruction of the governor, and therefore, begged for the suspension of the election, until such a time when COVID-19 modalities shall be put in place.

 

“He said the state government would blame him should any of his subjects contact the pandemic under that circumstance. After the instruction, everybody, including the traditional ruler, left the arena; including those running for the post of President General (PG). “It was later in the day that we heard that another group of people secretly conducted an election.

 

The outgoing President General of the town, Dr. Silas Akaneme, was the only past executive member in their midst; all his executive members left, based on the instruction of the Igwe and that of COVID- 19.

 

“We later discovered that the election was conducted without following the constitution, and without making use of delegates. We also heard that a three-man committee appointed to organise the exercise was pushed out of the hall and another group of people conducted the election, where one Mr. Kenneth Okoli purportedly emerged as PG.

 

From the result of the election, we observed that besides Mr. Kenneth Okoli and his secretary, other socalled elected ones came from the same village in the community.

 

“Even before that election, everybody was agitating that the constitution of the town must be followed for the conduct of any election, and whereby the constitution would not be followed, they had to set up a constitution review committee to come up with modalities.

 

“We do not understand why the constitution of our town will be set aside and another process used for the conduct of the election. We find it laughable. We even learnt that a government delegation was bought over to conduct a kangaroo election in Umuona,” they said.

 

The group further said they notified the traditional ruler of their total rejection of the said election. When contacted, Igwe Ejesieme said he advised that the election be postponed because of non-observance of COVID-19 rules.

 

“Governor Obiano warned us to observe COVI-19 rules. When I entered the civic centre and saw the atmosphere, I begged them to shift the election to a later date. That is all I can tell you for now,” he said.

 

Also contacted, the outgone President General, Silas Ejikeme, said he was compelled to organise the said election, against the monarch’s instruction to the contrary, because his tenure elapsed December 28, and did not have the constitutional power to continue in office.

 

Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy and Town Union Affairs, Mr Greg Obi, and leader of the government delegation to the Umuona town union election, Mr. C.C Maduka, were not available for their comments as at the time of filing this report; but the Public Relations Officer in the ministry, Mr. Henry Nwasike, said the monarch did not have the power to stop the election in the first place.

 

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