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Nigerian Opposition Candidates Complain About Meeting Place Restrictions

Members of the Party Loyalists drive their motocycles outside the entrance of a park in front of posters featuring Nigeria's opposition leader Mohammadu Buhari (R) and Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan and his Vice President Namadi Sambo (L) in Kad

Nigerian opposition parties say they're being denied access to public venues to hold rallies and other campaign events ahead of next month’s election.

Some of the candidates running against incumbent PDP governors also say they're not allowed to place adverts and programs on state media, which they call a ploy to deny them access to the public.

But PDP officials deny the charge. They say the opposition is frustrated by its own lack of a coherent message and is organizing violence against the party to score political points.

Chief Ike Ibe is the governorship candidate for the Social Democratic Mega Party for the southeastern state of Imo. He gives examples of what he calls the ruling party’s plot to keep him from selling his programs to the electorate.

“Most of us in the opposition parties were not given freedom to campaign or get our messages out, and most times we are not allowed the use of public places to campaign. Most times,” he says, “they send their people to attack our event, remove our posters and destroy our billboards. This is not what democracy is all about.”

The ruling party says that’s not so. Paschal Bafyau, member of the Reach out and Strategy Committee of the Goodluck Jonathan campaign accuses the opposition of deliberately encouraging political violence.

“I don’t agree; that is really an unfortunate statement,” Ibe says.

The incumbent governors should let the electorate decide who has the best policies, he says, by freeing their hold on the media.

“Every side has a message. The government in power might think the opposition has no message, and we are saying even if we don’t have messages that the government likes, let them let the people hear our messages and decide,” says Ibe.