Soludo Denies Alleged Removal Of Peter Obi’s Campaign Banner In Anambra

Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo has denied a viral reports claiming he ordered people to dismantle billboards belonging to the Labour Party or any of its candidates for the forthcoming general elections.

The governor described the report making the rounds that he gave such order, as misleading.

READ MORE: Soludo Pulls Down Peter Obi’s Bill Boards Over Alleged Debt

In a statement by made available by his chief press secretary, Christian Aburime, on Sunday, January 15, Soludo said it was the Anambra Signage and Advertisement Agency (ANSAA) that dismantled billboards of political parties that went against their guidelines.

“In August 2022, Anambra Signage and Advertisement Agency, sent out letters to all the political parties in the state to obtain political campaign permits as provided by law, which would enable them to enjoy campaigns around the state and access to rent available government outdoor media assets and public spaces.

“Also, in October 2022, the agency, again, sent out another letter to the candidates reminding them of the need to obtain the permit. Before commencing enforcement in November 2022, ANSAA ran one-week sensitisation adverts in the media to further remind political parties and their candidates. Many of the political parties and candidates responded, including APGA candidates.

“Sadly, no payment was made by the Labour Party candidates, both at the national and state levels. Several phone calls and entreaties were made to them through their media managers by ANSAA. These appeals and entreaties were brazenly ignored. They have had several campaigns in the state without permits, and have their campaign materials everywhere without permits.

The leadership of ANSAA reacts In his reaction, Tony Ujubuonu, the Managing Director of the Anambra Signage and Advertisement Agency (ANSAA), said the agency removed Peter Obi’s billboards because the time given for political parties to pay necessary fees for their campaign billboards and posters on government assets had elapsed.

His words: “If they say they paid the campaign fees, let them give me the evidence. I should know who paid because I’m the ANSAA MD.” Meanwhile, the senatorial candidate of the LP for Anambra Central, Senator Victor Umeh, has threatened to sue the Anambra State government and insisted that Soludo and his government has no power under any extant law to regulate electoral processes. He argued that it is the sole responsibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Umeh said: ”There is nothing like campaign fees under the electoral law. No state government has a right to impose any fee on any candidate before he could campaign. There is no such law in Nigeria and no such law either in Anambra state passed by the State House of Assembly. “If Soludo makes an executive order of humongous fees of N10m, N7m, etc before one could campaign in the state, that’s against democracy. You can’t prevent somebody from campaigning with arbitrary fees. I was Soludo’s campaign DG when he campaigned and became governor in 2021. How much did he pay for his campaigns?”

Umeh added that he had paid N4 milion to his advertising agencies for billboards, who accordingly, paid the ANSAA the required fees for outdoor adverts. He said: “You can’t tax a candidate of a political party to pay a state government before he can campaign. No other state does that except Soludo’s government. Who did Soludo pay campaign fees to in 2021 when he contested for governorship?

“I have told the advertising agent to write to the state government to restore the billboard because it was a contract signed with them and I paid them fully, and they paid ANSAA. Why should Peter Obi pay N10m to Soludo before he could campaign in Anambra state, and why should Umeh pay N7m? What Soludo is doing is illegal. The campaign is an open and free thing to solicit for a vote.” he said.