Governor Uzodimma is planning to rent out all Owerri hotels ahead of the November 11 election

The administration of Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has requested that all hotels in Owerri metropolitan reserve rooms exclusively for government use during the upcoming gubernatorial election.

Barr. Jerry Egbule Egemba, Commissioner for State Ministry of Tourism, reportedly issued a memo stating that from Saturday, November 4, 2023, through Saturday, November 11, 2023, the government planned to rent and occupy all hotel rooms in the state, regardless of size or classification, effectively blocking access to election observers and other political parties.

Details of all accommodation expenses for the time for settlement must be sent to the commissioner’s office by Thursday, October 26, 2023, before noon.

Other political parties and civil society groups have reacted to the news with mistrust.

The action has raised concerns that the government of Imo State is trying to prevent election observers from monitoring the upcoming election.

However, when reached for comment, Oguike Nwachukwu, Governor Hope Uzodimma’s Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser, stated, “We don’t respond to nonsense.”

Olu Omotayo, head of the Civil Rights Realisation and Advancement Network (CRRAN), expressed his disapproval of the move, telling  that it would not lead to a more honest election.

In a free and democratic society, he argued, such behavior would be unacceptable. You have complete autonomy to do business as you see fit in the hotel industry. Whoever you choose to sell to is fine with us. This is not a military dictatorship, and the transactions being conducted here are entirely above board. The government has no business interfering with a private enterprise. It’s a major faux pas. There are no mandates about how a business owner must operate. Extremely undemocratic and morally repugnant.

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“He went on to say, “Election observers would be coming into the state to monitor the elections; how are they going to operate when the government takes over all the hotels?” Since you’ve made it difficult for election observers to get hotel rooms, their ability to do their jobs effectively will be called into question. This scheme threatens the integrity of the election process and must be stopped.

“If they’re going in that direction, it’s the wrong direction. If hotel owners believe their ability to operate lawfully has been infringed upon, they may seek redress in court. So that’s why we have a court, right?

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