Candidates of opposition political parties in Imo State will have to pay over N54 million each to the state government before they will be allowed to campaign for the forthcoming November 11 governorship election in the state.
In a press conference in Owerri, Saturday, chairmen of opposition parties in the state raised the alarm over such outrageous fee imposed on them. They described it as an attempt by the state government to stifle opposition parties and ensure that only the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, thrives in the state.
They operate under the aegis of Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC-G12, Imo State, comprising 12 political parties in the state.
In a document presented to journalists which purportedly emanated from the Imo Signage and Advertisement Agency, IMSAA, and signed by its General Manager; political parties are required to seek a permit with the sum of N54 million before erecting campaign structures, including billboards, posters and other campaign means.
The document titled – ‘Schedule of Rates and Terms for Political Advertising and Ancillary Signage Displays in Imo State for Gubernatorial Campaigns 2023’, also mandated candidates to pay the sum of N100,000 as Form/Processing Fee; 50,000 for site inspection and N150,000 as approval fee.
The document also had a proviso that IMSAA reserves the right to reject approval of erection of campaign structures even after the payments. Chairman of IPAC-G12, Imo State, Chief Uchendu Ahaneku described the the policy as obnoxious and a violation of the Electoral Act and constitutional of Nigeria.
Urging Governor Hope Uzodimma to call the agency to order, Ahaneku said IPAC-G12 will not hesitate to drag the state government to court if it does not rescind the decision.
He lamented that there had never been such move against the opposition parties since the creation of the state. Accord Party, PDP, Labour Party, APGA, Action Alliance, ADC, NNPP, SDP, YPP, ADC, APP were represented in the conference.