The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State has dismissed the order gazetted by the state government that political parties must obtain approval of the governor to hold any political gathering.
The APC maintained that it did not require a permit from the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, to hold direct primary on Monday as its preferred mode of choosing candidate for the September 19, 2020 governorship election in the state.
Recall that Obaseki had in a gazette signed on May 28 banned all political gatherings that could make direct primary possible in the state stipulating that only indirect primaries could be held in the state and in only one location, Benin City, explaining that the law was in line with the determination of his administration to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“That in respect of political gatherings for the purpose of conducting primaries for any of the parties desiring to field candidates in the forthcoming gubernatorial election, gatherings of more than 20 persons may be allowed, subject to the written approval of the governor, if such gatherings do not exceed 5,000 persons; hold in Benin City and in a single facility with a large seating capacity of not less than 10,000 persons; are provided with adequate health, safety and sanitary facilities and are COVID-19 response compliant with social distancing policy, hand-washing and proper use of face masks fully observed,” it read.
But the APC argued that the order was a political move to stop it from conducting its direct primary to choose its candidate as Obaseki had fallen out with the suspended National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole.
The APC Acting National Chairman, Abiola Ajimobi, who spoke through the National Vice Chairman (South South), Hilliard Eta, said that the APC as a law-abiding party believed that only the Federal Government was currently empowered to enact the kind of order, Godwin Obaseki, gazetted.
“Under the law, as it is operational in Nigeria today, it is only the Federal Government that has powers to make laws under a pandemic such as the coronavirus as we have it today. The gazette that Obaseki has signed says not more than 50 persons can gather.
“In any case, since we now have only one aspirant left, we don’t have to have any permit to conduct our affirmation.
“All we need to do is to ask the question, ‘Do you want Pastor Ize-Iyamu yes or no finish.’ If he likes, let him say people should not gather at all, we will do the affirmation in the various houses of our members,” he told Punch.
However, the governor, through his Media Adviser, Crusoe Osagie, has declared that the gazette was still in force and would be enforced saying the state was prepared to ensure that every gathering in the state complied with the COVID-19 prevention protocol.
“We have not received any request for a permit by the APC to hold primary. The state gazette is still in force and will be enforced. It is a requirement,” he declared.