Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has banned the use of premises, buildings and sundry structures in residential areas as campaign offices by political parties in the state, without government approval, with effect from November 11, 2022.
Wike, in an Executive Order 22 he signed in Port Harcourt, said the new condition for political campaigns, which also prohibits posting of bills, posters or related materials in unauthorised places, is intended to back enforcement of Rivers State Outdoor Signage and Advertisement Law.
The governor condemned incessant defacement of costly property, particularly in Port Harcourt, through indiscriminate posting of handbills, banners, posters and all sorts of unauthorized materials.
The Executive Order 22 also prescribes that “any political party, association or body of persons, however, called or described that wishes to use any premises, building or structure situated in a residential area in any urban area of Rivers State as campaign office must obtain permission from the Rivers State Commissioner for Urban and Physical Planning.”
Reacting to the order, Darlington Nwauju, spokesperson, All Progressives Congress in Rivers asked, “Does the governor of Rivers have powers to make such orders that are not under purview of the Rivers State House of Assembly?
“Laws and orders must be made in overall interest of the society. Let it be known that both Executive Orders 21 and now 22 are ultra vires in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as no state governor or state Assembly has the power to legislate an area not on the concurrent legislative list.
“We refer the Rivers State governor to section 5 (2b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Is it not laughable for the governor to tell the world that he wants his political opponents to come to him for approval before rallies, conferences or meetings could be held.
“We draw attention of the international community to the shameless manipulation of the political space in the oil capital of Nigeria, and attempt by the incumbent governor of Rivers State to turn this once peaceful state into a police state. Attempts at stifling the opposition keep de-marketing Rivers as a state under draconian rulership.”