The administration of Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has requested that all hotel owners and managers in the city of Owerri reserve their rooms exclusively for government use ahead of the upcoming gubernatorial election.
According to the memo issued by Barr. Jerry Egbule Egemba, Commissioner for State Ministry of Tourism, the government was planning to rent and occupy all the hotel rooms, no matter their size or classification, in the state from Saturday, November 4, to Saturday, November 11, 2023, thus shutting out election observers and other political parties.
The commissioner instructed hotel owners to send information regarding their accommodation expenses for every room throughout the settlement period to his office by Thursday, October 26, 2023, at noon.
Both civil society organizations and different factions of other political parties are wary of the trend.
The move is thought to be an attempt by the Imo State government to prevent election observers from keeping an eye on the voting process.
Oguike Nwachukwu, Governor Hope Uzodimma’s chief press secretary and media adviser, responded to the Daily Post by saying, “We don’t respond to nonsense,” when approached.
Olu Omotayo, head of the Civil Rights Realization and Advancement Network (CRRAN), said in a DAILY POST interview that the conduct was improper since it would not encourage a transparent election.
“This is wrong because we live in a free society and a democracy,” he declared. You can conduct business as usual in the hotel industry, just like in any other industry. You can choose who you want to sell to. They are conducting lawful business; this is not a military government. The way a person operates a private enterprise is not subject to government regulation. It is very incorrect. There is no rule on how a person has to operate his business. It’s very disgraceful and anti-democratic.
“”Election observers would be coming into the state for election monitoring; how are they going to operate when the government takes over all the hotels?” he continued. It will undoubtedly damage the election’s credibility because you have prevented those who are arriving from obtaining hotel accommodations, which is necessary for them to do observe the elections . It’s an attempt to rig the election, which is bad for transparency.
That is the incorrect step, if that is what they are doing. If hotel owners believe their rights to conduct lawful business are being violated, they may file a lawsuit in court. The court is there for that reason.
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