State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Cross River, John Ochala has expressed displeasure at the actions of the Chairman of the Cross River State Independent Electoral Commission, CROSIEC, Dr. Mike Ushie.
Ochala made this known to TNN in a telephone interview where he stressed that CROSIEC chairman never kept his promises of ensuring that his administration would maintain honesty and transparency while conducting state elections prior to his appointment by Governor Ben Ayade.
This is coming after the CROSIEC boss declared the results for the just concluded 2020 local government council polls in the state where the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, cleared all the 18 chairmanship and 196 councillorship seats.
“The chairman of CROSIEC is an embarrassment to the academia and a disgrace to Cross Riverians. I took him for his words when we first had a one on one meeting and he told me that he was going to allow free, fair and credible elections. But moments after that when time tables were out for the processes to start sometime late last year, we had aspirants in all the wards. We finished the process of the primaries and we had candidates for the 196 and 18 local government areas.
“It was in this process that we found out that CROSIEC was working hand in glove with the PDP in undermining the APC in the state. And we were plain with them that even though CROSIEC is an independent body and has the right to conduct her own processes, whatever CROSIEC should do must be in tandem with the electoral act and the constitution and as much as it is inconsistent with the electoral act, it will remain void”, Ochala narrated.
He also noted that the commission came up with the idea of screening candidates and fixing of fees of 830, 000 for chairmanship and 610, 000 for councillorship. He said, “we said no as this is not in line with the electoral act. The CROSIEC law says 5, 000 for councillorship and 10, 000 for chairmanship and the chairman said that the law has been old and should be reviewed”.
The APC chairman explained that laws were not reviewed in isolation of the processes, adding that there were varied opinions on the matter which compelled them to take the issue to court.
“In that period also”, Ochala continued, “we found out that apart from the illegal fee, the CROSIEC as a body was not properly constituted. You will recall that Prof. Ben Ayade dissolved all parastals, ministries and agencies of the state when he came on board as the governor. So CROSIEC was supposed to be reconstituted and it never was.
“The chairman had gone back to the University of Calabar and was collecting salary while he was acting as CROSIEC chairman. At the end of all these he came up to say that he was refunding the salaries that were paid to him and all the rest of that. There are fundamental facts on ground which CROSIEC must meet before calling for an election. They have faulted in so many ways.
“There suppose to be an electoral tribunal on ground minimum of 30 days before the conduct of elections and there’s nothing like that. So in order to have legitimacy with what they’re doing they now started working with some APC members who presented some candidates which CROSIEC said they had recognized against all reasons”.
He further noted that there was a letter from the national chairman to affirm that the candidates presented by his leadership are the genuine ones which they refused to adhere. He therefore echoed that the result of the election is no news to him as he knew all these before now.
“We are still in court and we will continue to follow the process legitimately no matter how long it will take and at the end of the day the court will nullify this charade they called elections, I can assure you that. It will be ridiculous to call this election. There was no election”, he stated.
The CROSIEC chairman had said the results were not manufactured by the commission while declaring the results yesterday at the commission’s headquarters in Calabar. He noted that the commission only declares results as provided at the polling units as well as the issuance of certificates of return. He had also asserted that he has the legitimate right to conduct elections.
At the time of filling this report, all efforts made to reach the state chairman of the PDP proved abortive as he has not been taking his calls.[frontpage_news widget=”1769″ name=”Covid 19″]