As NCP, Others KickSay Council Polls, An Imposition Of APC On Lagosians
By The New Diplomat’s Political Intelligence Desk
As Lagosians go to poll on Saturday to elect candidates for the Chairmanship and Councillorship positions at the local council level, the umpire in the election, Lagos State Independence Electoral Commission (LASIEC) has been accused of ostracizing opposition parties in the election through the inclusion of strange conditions in the electoral laws of Lagos State overnight to give the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) an edge in the election.
According to The New Diplomat findings, the stringent conditions in the hurriedly amended electoral laws include the demand for the resignation of candidate vying for positions in the election six months before the conduct of the polls and the provision of 3-year tax clearance by candidates among others.
It was further gathered that despite the laws demanding candidates to resign from their positions 6 months to the election, the notification only came 3 months to the scheduled date for the polls.
Also, there were allegations that the amendment to the Lagos State electoral laws was hurriedly done within 48 hours without reaching out to political parties and other stakeholders for thorough deliberation.
Speaking with The New Diplomat exclusively, the National Conscience Party (NCP) through its Director of Publicity in Lagos State, Mr. Ajayi Olaseni which has been denied participation in the election on the basis of the recent amendment few days to the election said, “We are being denied participation in the elections based on the guidelines imposed on the party by LASIEC which are not within the scope of rules and regulations used in organizing elections as they undermine the democratic rights of the people and ostracized millions of voters.
“Imagine the guideline that contestants must resign 6 months before the election and noticed was issued 3 months to election.”
It would be recalled that on 13th July, 2017, NCP had sued LASIEC over certain conditions in the electoral laws which the party referred to as ‘strange’ praying the Lagos High Court for an injunction restraining Lagos State government from going ahead with the council polls to allow the party also run in the election.
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But on Friday, NCP failed to get an injunction to stop the election on technical grounds causing the party to not participate in the polls after conducting party primaries.
The party went to court following the alleged refusal of LASIEC to consider its 77 candidates for the elections as it insisted that the agency’s regulations requiring participants to pay administrative fees of N50,000, N35,000 and N20,000 for chairmanship, vice chairmanship and councillorship candidates were illegal and unjust and runs contrary to the nation’s Electoral Act and the standards of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The NCP also queried the rationale for asking candidates to present resident cards or permits as well as three years’ tax clearance, which it also described as strange to the nation’s electoral system and not obtainable anywhere else in national, state and local council elections, alleging that such conditions to disqualify candidates of the opposition parties in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The party also threatened to pursue the matter to the National Judicial Council (NJC) if it fails to obtain justice from the Lagos State Judiciary and loses its chances of having its candidates participating in the July 22 council elections, as they successfully passed through primaries witnessed by officers of the electoral agency and been on the streets campaigning.
While condemning the electoral process, he said the Saturday council polls cannot be referred to as election, rather an imposition of a party on the Lagos electorate.
“On the basis that they have closed the registration, they are saying they are not going to allow the party to contest despite conducting the primaries which were witnessed by LASIEC officials. They’re trying to victimize us for standing up against them,” he said.
“We have been ostracized from the election, there is no election in Lagos, there is only an imposition. When you set conditions that completely exclude the overwhelming majority from participating in an election, that means it’s only the bad eggs that would be allowed to participate. The APC members are already jubilating that the elections have been won.
“I will not give other parties a chance in the election and the reason is clear, it’s that the election is a one party affair.”
According to Olaseni, “For us in NCP, ours is to defend the democratic right of the people, because we fought for those rights and we intend to further expand on them. Without expanding on those right, it’s difficult for an average person to get involve in politics and contest.”
It was however, gathered that some aggrieved political parties have also taken LASIEC to court over some alleged irregularities discovered in the process, while members of the APC have also challenged LASIEC at the court for its complicity on the imposition of candidates on the party by leaders of APC in Lagos.