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PRESIDENTIAL RALLY: ANPP DRAGS ELECHI TO COURT

By NBF News
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*Seeks 'N1bn damages
By Peter Okutu
ABAKALIKI-The All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, in Ebonyi State yesterday dragged  Governor Martin Elechi to an Abakaliki High Court over the ban of flag-off of its presidential rally in the state.

In a suit, no HAB/25/2011, filed by the party's counsel, Arthur Obi Okafor, SAN, the party  prayed the court to declare that the governor violated some sections of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through his statewide broadcast of March 2, 2011, which aimed at stopping the ANPP from holding its presidential rally in the state.

But the state government, in a swift reaction, said since the matter was already in court, its counsel would respond appropriately.

According to counsel to the ANPP, 'the plaintiff is a duly registered political party in Nigeria, with its membership spread across the entire country, including Ebonyi State.

'However, on March 2, 2011, the defendant, out of sheer political bigotry, went on air in a broadcast which was widely published in various media and prohibited the proposed presidential rally of the plaintiff slated to be held in Ebonyi State March 7, 2011.

'The defendant did not base his purported prohibition of plaintiff's rally on any security report by security agencies in the country.

'There was no threat of violence or likely breach of public safety and/or public order in the holding of the said rally in Ebonyi State to entitle the defendant to have made the said broadcast,' ANPP's counsel said.

He, also in the suit, said the defendant had used the said broadcast to set an agenda for brutality on  members of his client, adding that his client in the state had been brutalized since the said broadcast by the governor.

'That on the account of Sections 40 and 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the prohibition of the rally of the plaintiff then slated for March 7 by the defendant cannot be justified and is consequently null and void and of no effect whatsoever. One billion naira general damages is what my client prays for,' said the counsel.

The party, however, sought for an injunction restraining Governor Elechi, his agents, servants, employees, workmen or cohorts from prohibiting presidential, gubernatorial or any political rallies of the plaintiff in Ebonyi State.