VAM News update
Ahead of the forthcoming gubernatorial election in Imo State, Governor Hope Uzodimma’s administration has asked all the owners and managers of hotels in Owerri metropolis to make their rooms available only to the government.
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.
It is feared that the action might be an attempt by the Imo State government to shut out election observers from monitoring the electoral process.
In an interview with Journalist, Olu Omotayo, the president of the Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network (CRRAN), stated that the action was wrong because it would not promote a transparent election.
He said: “This is wrong because we are in a free society, in a democracy. Hotel business is like any other business; you’re free to do your business. You’re free to sell to whoever you like. This is not a military regime; the business they are doing is a legal business. Government can’t control how someone runs his private business. It’s very wrong. There’s no compulsion on how somebody should run his business. It’s highly condemnable and undemocratic.”
“He added: “Election observers would be coming into the state for election monitoring; when government takes over all the hotels, how are they going to operate? Definitely, it will affect the credibility of the election because you have stopped the people who are coming to be able to get hotel accommodation so they can operate successfully. It’s a plan to hijack the process, which is not good for a transparent election.
“If they are taking that step, that’s a wrong step. Hotel owners have the right to approach the court if they feel there’s an infringement on their rights to carry out their lawful business. That’s why the court is there.”