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Soldiers, Policemen Take Over INEC Office In Rivers

Sahara Reporters - 22 February 2019 - 1:36am


Protesting APC members

Protesting APC members The Port City News

Personnel of the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Army have been deployed in their numbers to the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure adequate security of the building.

Nnamdi Omoni, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PRO), on Thursday, stated that the deployment of officers to both INEC office and branch of Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) in Rivers was because of the distribution of election materials for the rescheduled presidential and National Assembly elections in the state.

The heavy presence may not be unconnected with the ongoing political crisis in the state with INEC barring candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from participating in elections in Rivers.

Last week, the party held a protest disagreeing with the court judgment on the matter. The protesters were dispersed with tear-gas canisters fired by security personnel.
 

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PREVIEW: Is Activist Omoyele Sowore About To Disrupt The Political Space?

Sahara Reporters - 22 February 2019 - 1:13am



Omoyele Sowore was born on February 16, 1971 in Kiribo, Ese-Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State. He was born and raised in a polygamous family of 16 siblings. He attended Community High School, Kiribo, Ondo State. He finished secondary school in 1985 at the age of 14.

Sowore was admitted into the University Of Lagos (UNILAG) in 1989 to study Geography and Planning. He graduated from the University in 1995. However, no sooner had he gotten admitted into the University than his name became a household name for his fiery activism. His involvement in anti-military demonstrations and student unionism culminated in his emergence as President of the Student Union Government. He served between 1992 and 1994. It was during his tenure as President that cultism, which had become a menace on the UNILAG campus, was fought and crushed. He was also in the vanguard of the series of protests for the restoration of the June 12 mandate to the winner of the June 12 1993 presidential election.  

After his graduation, which took him longer than most of his mates, because of the suspension which is often the lot of genuine student activists who always go against and mobilize students to rise against the unjust and repressive laws of the school management and all manner of injustice, he was posted to Adamawa State for his one-year compulsory National Youth Service in Adamawa State Broadcasting Corporation. On the day of his passing out parade, when other corps members were raring to go to their various homes and chart a new course their lives would follow, Sowore was arrested by the Abacha-led military junta. The arrest was in connection with his vociferous anti-government campaigns, which he took beyond the confines of the UNILAG campus to his place of national service.

He was put in solitary confinement, chained down for months at the Nigeria Air Force detention centre guardroom. It took the intervention of a journalist — Stanley Yakubu of the Punch Newspaper, who wrote about Sowore’s detention in the northern edition of the paper — to get him released. Sowore left Nigeria for the United States of America in 1999. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University — one of the Ivy League universities in the US.

CAREER BEFORE POLITICS

Being a human rights and pro-democracy campaigner coupled with his love of justice and passion for investigative reporting made him found a media outfit christened SaharaReporters. The name of the organization has nothing to do with Nigeria being in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa; the organisation derived its name from its raison d’etre, which is to kick up dust by disrupting the seemingly placid but corrupt Nigerian polity. So Sowore became the publisher of SaharaReporters in 2006 and the organisation has ever since lived up to its billing. As part of its policy, SaharaReporters doesn’t not accept adverts and financial support from the Nigerian government to prevent its principles from being compromised.

Sowore is also a lecturer; he teaches Modern African History at the City University of New York and Post-Colonial African History at the School of Visual Arts, New York.

POLITICAL ANTECEDENT

Like other contestants dubbed “alternative candidates”, he has not held any political post. However, it will be uncharitable to tar him with the same brush of neophytism with these other candidates; his fruitful interventions in almost every critical struggle in chequered history of Nigeria stand him out

Though Sowore is not a conventional politician, he is a tested political activist. He is as constant — perhaps twice as blazing — as the northern star on the political firmament of Nigeria, with an impressive three decades of engagement and agitation for good governance as proof of his unflinching commitment to the arduous cause of bringing sanity to the polity. He knows the lay of the political territory and understands the intricacies of politics. From being a one-man reform movement and radical crusader, he has turned himself into a mobilizer and reliable rallying point — with the common touch — for cause of the downtrodden.

STRENGTHS

He’s daring. Sowore has the courage of his conviction. He pursues whatever cause he believes with gumption. His antecedent as a dogged crusader and intrepid fighter and ‘revolutionary’ might serve him in good stead in the forthcoming elections. He might garner a huge number of votes from the teeming youth who are disillusioned with the current system and earnestly demand a fresh breath of air on our stultifying political space. Radical activists can also find an ally in him; Sowore is that candidate that can have an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with the powerful and stare them down. Ask Adebayo Shittu, among others, and he would tell you of his ordeal. He has that dose of gut required to challenge orthodoxy and some may think this is what is needed for sanity to reign in Nigeria and give him their votes.

Charmed personality. Having spent a substantial part of his life in a developed country — the US — he is not parochial. He has the poise and panache befitting a leader in the 21st century and this may earn him the votes of “the diaspora” back at home to exercise their franchise and the been-tos.

Digital leadership. He is an advocate of digital leadership. The electorate, who want a generational and paradigm shift from the “Sai Baba” kind of leadership that is analogue, slow and exasperating to that of “Sai Bobo”, which is fast and effortlessly digital, may vote him.

Populist platform. Sowore is the founder and publisher of SaharaReporters, a popular media organization that practises citizen journalism. This platform blends activism with journalism and has over the years served as a bulwark for the masses against the excesses of power and the powerful. These masses, whose stories have been told and offered succour through SaharaReporters, will give him their votes.

Vast constituency. His proven track record of achievements as President of the Student Union at UNILAG and his uncompromised stance on good governance may earn him the votes of students of his alma mater and by extension the larger population of Nigerian students, who must have benefited at one time or the other from his intervention in education. Also, his fellow comrades and their dependants may find in him a trustworthy leader forged in the crucible of activism.

WEAKNESSES

A nascent party. Sowore’s party, the African Action Congress (AAC), is not a year old yet. This may affect his range of influence when compared to that of the mainstream political parties. This may be a big minus for Sowore’s ambition of becoming the President.

Wounded politicians fighting back. Sowore is no doubt a gadfly. Through SaharaReporters, he has done mind-boggling and stomach-turning exposé that humbled and wounded many of our politicians. Most of these corrupt politicians have suffered multiple lacerations from Sowore’s investigative lashes. He made reference to this in his interview with the Sun newspaper on July 17, 2017, when he said: “I have offended a lot of people to last a lifetime.” 

Also, his insistence on suiting the crime to the punishment should he become President might not go down well with most career politicians. They will stop at nothing to prevent him from ‘taking it back’ — as the slogan of his vibrant party goes.

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IN FULL: Buhari's Message To Nigerians On Eve Of Rescheduled Elections

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 11:39pm


President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Nigerians to exercise their rights to participate actively in the rescheduled elections slated for Saturday, February 23, 2019.

This formed part of his remarks in a national broadcast aired on Friday morning.

He praised Nigerians for their patience despite the postponement and urged the electorate to feel free to come out and vote without fear of intimidation.

He restated the commitment of security agencies towards ensuring safety during the electoral process, just as he called on Nigerians to encourage INEC in ensuring the delivery of a credible process.

He also assured international election observers of a conducive environment to carry out their electoral duty.

THE FULL SPEECH

Dear Nigerians,

Finally, we have reached the eve of the rescheduled first round of this year’s general elections.

2.     Tomorrow, the polls open. Tomorrow, we affirm that Nigeria stands as a democracy and that no worldly hand can deter us from this wise and fitting path we have chosen for ourselves.

3.     While democracy is the most beneficial way to select a nation’s leaders, it is far from the easiest thing to achieve and maintain.

4.     It requires a combination of patience, tolerance, compassion, diligence, wisdom and hope. These traits exist in us the Nigerian people. Because of who we are, democracy has the chance to flourish in this land.

5.     Thus, I commend all of you for your patience and peaceful conduct so far during this electoral season and especially during this intervening week following the postponement of the February 16 elections.

6.     Many were worried and thought the worst might happen. You proved them wrong by showing that you are a great people with an abiding love for peace, democracy and the unity of our country.

7.     According to the daily INEC public briefings given this week, the Electoral Commission says it is ready and fully prepared to conduct the election in a free, fair and transparent manner.
8.     I believe INEC realises the profound and weighty duty that rests upon it.

9.     We must cast aside doubt and have faith that INEC will rise to the occasion. We must believe and encourage INEC to fulfill and honour this responsibility it owes to our country.

10.     As your President, I hereby ask all Nigerians with voting cards to participate in defining the future of our nation by exercising your democratic rights tomorrow. I urge you to go out and vote.

11.     I say this because elections are the cornerstone of representative governance. And voting constitutes the highest and best expression of the sovereign will of the people to choose the government that best represents them.

12.     It is only upon the freely expressed will of the people that government truly dedicated to the welfare, rights and interests of the people can be founded.

13.     Do not allow anyone to discourage you from the exercise of your rights as citizens and voters tomorrow.

14.     To vote means that you believe in Nigeria and the excellent things the future holds for this nation and its people.

15.     No matter our political leanings, we all believe in Nigeria, in the noble principles for which it stands and in the values we strive for our beloved nation to uphold. 

16.     All who are able, must vote so that we may better perfect this democracy and continue to build the greater nation we seek.

17.     Do not be afraid of rumours of violence and unrest. Our security agencies have worked diligently to ensure that adequate security measures are in place.

18.     You will be able to vote in an atmosphere of openness and peace, devoid of fear from threat or intimidation.

19.     International and domestic monitors and observers are assured of their safety and freedom of movement needed to perform their important functions.

20.     As we thank domestic monitors and observers for their contributions to our democracy, we also thank the international groups for the friendship and concern they have demonstrated to our nation.

21.     We appreciate their efforts in encouraging us to further entrench and strengthen our democracy.

22.     Tomorrow is an encounter with history in which you, the people, shall affirm your collective belief in our national greatness and in our future. 

23.     I ask that you embrace and hold on to the importance of the moment soon to be upon us. 

24.   Honour your civic duty as voters by going to the polls tomorrow to vote for the government of your choice, for the government that will lead Nigeria toward its finest destiny.

25.     As citizens there is no greater duty than this and no greater honour. Tomorrow, I know you will once again make Nigeria proud of its people.

May God bless our democracy and forever bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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Ex-Finance Minister Nenadi Usman Accused Of N4.9bn Fraud Allowed To Travel Abroad

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 1:43pm

The Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has granted permission to Nenadi Usman, a former Minister of State for Finance, to embark on a trip to the United States.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa, on Thursday, ordered that Usman’s passport be released to her so she could embark on the trip.

The former minister, who is being tried for an alleged fraud of N4.9billion, had dropped her passport in the court’s custody as part of the conditions attached to the bail granted her.

Usman is facing 17 counts of money laundering and theft alongside Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of Aviation, and one Danjuma Yusuf with a company, Joint Trust Dimensions Limited.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting them in connection with the campaign funding for the failed re-election bid of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.

At the proceedings, Norrison Quakers (SAN), counsel to Fani-Kayode, opposed the attempt by the prosecution to tender a set of 108 Zenith Bank cheques as exhibits against his client.

The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, had sought to tender the 108 cheques through the third prosecution witness, Shuaibu Shahu, an investigator with the EFCC.

Oyedepo had told the court that the 108 cheques were relevant to proving the allegations against Fani-Kayode, noting that they were recovered by Shahu and his team, while investigating the case.

However, Quakers urged the judge to reject them on the basis that they did not comply with Section 379 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and the Practice Direction of the Federal High Court 2013.

Justice Aikawa, after listening to arguments from both sides, adjourned till March 15, 2019 for ruling.

In the charges, Fani-Kayode, who was the Director of Publicity of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidential campaign organisation for the 2015 election, was accused of conspiring with the others to, directly and indirectly, retain various sums which the EFCC claimed they ought to have reasonably known were proceeds of crime.

In one of the counts, Fani-Kayode and others were accused of conspiring among themselves to “indirectly retain the sum of N1,500,000,000.00 which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: stealing.”

The four were also accused of indirectly retaining N300million, N400million and N800million, all proceeds of corruption, according to the EFCC.

The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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Court Admits More Evidence Against Ex-NHIS Boss Faji Over $2million 'Fraud'

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 1:42pm


Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has admitted more evidence against Martins Oluwafemi Thomas, a former Executive Secretary of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

The evidence was tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday.

Thomas was re-arraigned alongside one Kabiru Sidi, a Bureau De Change Operator, on June 28, 2017, on an amended six-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of $2,198,900.

He was alleged to have conspired with his wife to make a cash payment to one Ibitoye Bamidele at their residence on 20, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos. Sidi was also said to have lied to an EFCC investigator, Afeez Mustapha, that he was the owner of the money.

One of the counts against the defendants read: “That you, Kabiru Sidi, on or about the 15th day of July, 2015, at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s Lagos zonal office, Ikoyi, before the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, made a false statement to Afeez Mustapha, an investigating officer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 39 2(b)and punishable under Section 39 (2)(c)of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act, 2004.”

Emmanuel Egwu, a prosecution witness who is also the Director of Finance of the NHIS, gave a breakdown of total amounts of the entitlements, salaries and emoluments received by Thomas, while he worked at the NHIS between November 2013 and May 2015.

Egwu, who is also the third prosecution witness, while being led in evidence by Ekele Iheanacho, counsel for the EFCC, revealed that the total money Thomas received in his official capacity was a sum of N62,919,154.75.

When Egwu sought to tender the said documents as evidence, there was no objection by counsels for the defendants.

The documents were, thereafter, admitted in evidence as exhibits F1 and F2 respectively.

When Collins Ogbona, counsel to the first defendant, asked the witness during cross-examination, if he knew the first defendant personally and all his sources of income, the witness said: "I only know the first defendant in his official capacity as well as only his official income."

Consequently, Justice Faji adjourned the case till March 8, 19 and 20, 2019 for continuation of trial.

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Police Arraign Delta Lawmaker’s Brother, Two Others Who Invaded CBN With Firearms

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 1:29pm

For attempting to break into the Asaba branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with firearms and cart away sensitive electoral materials belonging to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Police in Delta State have arraigned the younger brother of Chief Peter Okagbare Uviejitobor, the member representing Udu Constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The Police in Delta State on Wednesday arraigned one Akpevwe, a younger brother to Uviejitobor, for illegal possession of firearms.

He was arraigned before a Chief Magistrate Court in Asaba, the Delta State capital, alongside two other suspects identified as Alfred Joseph and David Ukiri, all from Udu Local Government Area of the state for the same offence.

The three suspects, SaharaReporters reliably gathered, were caught with firearms last week by Police detectives at the Asaba branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), where INEC had kept sensitive electoral materials for onward distribution to the various LGAs in the state.

Our correspondent gathered that Akpevwe had allegedly made a confessional statement to the Police that his lawmaker brother gave him the gun and Sienna vehicle carrying the official number plate of the state House of Assembly with which he had gone to attack the apex bank branch in Asaba, before he was caught.

It was also learnt that the suspects, who claimed to be members of the Udu Vigilante Group, were said to have also been detailed by the local government chairman to ensure safety of electoral materials for the council before their arrest.

In a statement obtained by SaharaReporters confirming the arraignment of the suspects, Chuks Oresewezie, the Delta State acting Police Public Relations Officer, said the decision to arraign the suspects was to serve as deterrent to vigilante members diving into security and electoral matters in the state.

The statement read: “The three suspects were today (Wednesday) arraigned at Chief Magistrate Court, Asaba, to serve as a deterrent to who would be offenders and as well as to inform members of the public that the sole responsibility of securing INEC materials, INEC offices/officials, polling units, collation centres, rests squarely on the Police in collaboration with other approved security agencies as mentioned in the earlier press release.

“The Police authority will not hesitate to arrest and prosecute any offender according to the law, while assuring members of the public of its commitment to the security and safety.”

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Judgement Day Fixed On Agip Oil's $110m 'Indebtedness' To Nigerian Government

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 1:19pm

The Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has fixed April 20, 2019, for judgment in the suit filed by the Nigerian government to recover the sum of $110million from Nigeria Agip Oil Company Limited.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun fixed the judgment date on Thursday, after the parties adopted their final written addresses.

In the suit, the Nigerian government accused Nigeria Agip Oil Company Limited of under-declaring the volume of crude oil it shipped out of the country between January 2011 and December 2014.

The government alleged that the oil giant short-changed it to the tune of $55million and it is praying the court to compel the oil firm to pay the $55million with an annual interest of 21 per cent.

It also wants the court to award another $55million against Agip as exemplary damages.

The legal battle has been on since 2016.

There are similar lawsuits pending against Total E&P Nigeria Plc and Chevron Nigeria Limited by same government.

In the case of Total, the Nigerian sought to recover $245,258,640, “being the total value of the missing revenues from the shortfall under-declared/undeclared crude oil shipments of the Federal Government of Nigeria”. It sought another $245,258,640 as general damages.

The government said the lawsuits followed a forensic analysis linking the decline in crude oil export and government revenue at the time to the alleged under-declaration of the volume of crude oil shipped out of the country by the oil companies.

The Nigerian government claimed to have uncovered the alleged illegality using high-technology information technology system, including satellite tracking systems, which were deployed by its consultants.

The statements of claims were backed with supporting affidavits deposed to by three United States of America-based experts – Prof David Olowokere, a US citizen and Lead Analyst at Loumos Group LLC, US; Jerome Stanley, a lawyer in the law firm of Henchy & Hackenberg; and Micheal Kanko, founder and Chief Executive Officer, Trade Data Services Company, State of Arizona, US.

According to the deponents, about 57 million barrels of crude oil were allegedly exported illegally by Total and sold to buyers in the US between January 2011 and December 2014 without making due remittance to the government.

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INEC 'More Than 98% Ready' To Conduct Elections In Ondo

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 1:02pm

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ondo State says it is almost ready for the rescheduled presidential and National Assembly elections in the state slated for Saturday, February 23, 2019.

Rufus Akeju, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), made the disclosure on Thursday at a briefing with newsmen on the readiness of the commission for the elections.

Akeju said the electoral body in the state was “98 per cent ready” for the elections, maintianing that the hitches that caused the postponement had been cleared.

The REC also said INEC in the state had retrieved the materials that would be deployed for Saturday's rescheduled election from the vault of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), noting that all stakeholders in the electoral process were on hand to monitor its distribution.

"I can tell you that in Ondo State, we are more than 98 per cent ready to hold the Saturday election. Right now, we are faster because some of the materials have already been moved to the RAC centres,” he said.

He confirmed that the commission in Ondo State lost huge amounts of funds in deploying materials to the riverine axis of the state, before the elections were postponed.

He continued: "For us here, we are facing that one squarely because we lost a lot of money there. We had to make the move the first time they asked us to move. We (INEC) had to carry the people (ad hoc staff) across that water and also bring them back again, but now it is a huge loss.

"In fact, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and they met all the conditions we gave them. They even took all their vehicles to the VIO for inspection to truly certify that they are in good condition.”

Akeju, however, restated the commitment of the commission to ensure free, fair and credible elections.

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PDP Chairman Defects To APC As 12 Presidential Candidates Withdraw for Buhari

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 11:49am

Sani Inuwa Nguru, Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Yobe State, has defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja on Thursday.

He came in the company of a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr Muhammad Lawal Yahuza.

Meanwhile, Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, said 12 presidential candidates have withdrawn from the race to support President Muhammadu Buhari.

The candidates and parties who endorsed Buhari are Shittu Mohammed Kabiru, Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA); Hon. Edozie, Nnamdi Madu, Independent Democrats; Danjuma Mohammed, Movement for Restoration and Defence of Democracy; Mamman Yusuf Naptali, Allied Peoples Movement, and Ahmed Buhari, Save Nigeria Party.

Others are Alhaji Isabi Dansaki, Mass Movement of Nigeria;, Ikechukwu Nwokeafor, Advanced Congress of Democrats; Alistar Shoyode, Yes Party; Charles Ughalli, Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party; Kenneth Ibe Kalu, United People’s Congress; Comrade Isiaka Paul Ebili, Nigeria Element Progressives Party, and Robinson Apu, National Democratic Liberty Party.

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AAC Becomes Second Party To Denounce Planned Endorsement Of Atiku By Coalition Of Parties

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 11:45am

The African Action Congress (AAC) has condemned the plan by the Council of National Youth Leaders of Political Parties (CONYLOP) to endorse Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Olakunle Olawole, National Youth Leader of Kowa Party, had sent out an email invitation stating that CONYLOP would endorse Atiku at a live press conference scheduled for Thursday in Abuja.

The statement generated some controversy as it was not clear which parties fielding youth candidates would be part of the endorsement.

However, a statement by Rachel Onamusi-Kpiasi, Director, PR, Media and Communications, Sowore 2019 Campaign, condemned the said endorsement, and stressed the dissociation of the AAC, as well as Omoyele Sowore, the party’s presidential candidate, from such a move.

The statement read: “It has come to our notice that CONYLOP, which purports to be an organisation for youth, is going to endorse the PDP presidential candidate. It has come as a shock that our party, the African Action Congress, was listed amongst the parties associated with CONYLOP and this recent development.

“We want to make it unequivocally clear that the AAC and the Sowore 2019 campaign has absolutely nothing to do with CONYLOP, and that we are neither part nor party to any endorsement action that they may take.

“We consider it to be a travesty that any serious political organisation that purports to be in support of the Nigerian people would ever consider the endorsement of the PDP or its candidates. Perhaps such people need to go back to our recent history to recall the disastrous sixteen years of unbridled corruption, ineptitude and economic destruction that the PDP and Abubakar Atiku subjected Nigerians to.

“The AAC stands for peace, progress and prosperity. We are the voice of the Nigerian populace; the disenfranchised, the forgotten, the marginalised, and, as such, would like to clarify that we are NOT part of this endorsement.

“We cannot imagine why an organisation concerned with youth issues would choose to jettison youth leaders in favour of an old, corrupt, retrogressive and frankly parasitic order.

“We take this opportunity to again disavow any knowledge, participation or membership of CONYLOP, and we advise the organisation and its leadership to desist from including the AAC in any statements or activities they might engage in.

“On Saturday, 23rd February, we ask all Nigerians to look for the third party on the ballot, the African Action Congress, and vote Omoyele Sowore as the next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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How Christian Leaders Refused To Back Buhari During Osinbajo's Nocturnal Visit To Yola

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 10:39am

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was in Yola, Adamawa State, on Wednesday night in a desperate move to sway Christian votes to the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the rescheduled polls.

This is coming amidst hot speculation that elections may not hold this Saturday in three states of Adamawa, Borno and Kaduna, as alleged by Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP).

The speculation followed a meeting of President Muhammadu Buhari with the governors of Adamawa, Borno and Kaduna states, as well as the service chiefs two days ago.

On his Yola mission, Osinbajo's plane touched ground at the Yola International Airport at about 7:15 pm and he was driven straight to Catholic Secretariat, where he was billed to meet with leaders of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

Details of his engagement with CAN were not made public. However, SaharaReporters learnt that the VP had pleaded with Christian leaders to consider endorsing the Buhari government for a second term.

SaharaReporters further gathered that Osinbajo left the meeting disappointed as CAN leaders were said to have bared their minds on topical issues, highlighting the failure of the present regime.

A source at the meeting said "it was frank talk; Christian leaders were blunt to the VP on their grievances against the Buhari regime”.

It was further gathered that CAN Chairman and Catholic Bishop of Yola, Most Rev. Stephen Dami Mamza, had earlier declined the VP's request to have audience with Christian leaders.

Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), was said to have persuaded CAN to grant audience to Prof. Osinbajo on three conditions: it would not be a media event; the VP would not canvass support for any APC candidate, including Buhari; and the VP will respect the conditions.

SaharaReporters can report that the meeting ended in deadlock, as the VP could not provide answers to many questions regarding the plight of Christians under the Buhari regime.

In particular, CAN wanted the VP to explain why the government neglected Leah Sheribu and other Christian faithful from Chibok who are being held by Boko Haram terrorists.

The VP, as learnt, was asked to explain why the government agreed to a negotiation which only favoured Dapchi Muslim schoolgirls, at the detriment of Leah, a Christian faithful. 

Osinbajo could not explain why no action was taken to ameliorate the suffering of the people of Numan, who were persecuted by herdsmen for a long time. Also, they wanted answers on Amnesty's report on Air Force bombing of communities in Numan.

The meeting, which ended in deadlock, saw Osinbajo depart Yola around 9:00pm

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With Over One Million, Lagos Has Highest Number Of Uncollected PVCs In Nigeria

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 10:00am

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says Lagos State has the highest number of uncollected Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) in the country.

According to data made available to journalists by the commission on Thursday, more than one million PVCs had not been collected as of the final count.

In the document, Lagos State had the highest figure of 6,570,291 registered voters. Of that figure, 1,038,902 persons did not collected PVCs.

The deadline for collection of PVCs was February 11, 2019.

However, states with highest collection of PVCs are Lagos State - 5,531,389; Kano - 4,696,747 and Kaduna - 3,648,831.

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For 'Stealing' A Soldier's Phone, Bayelsa Community Pays With 27-Year-Old's Life

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 9:37am

Whoknowstomorrow Bright, aged 27, has been killed by some military personnel in Biogbolo area of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, over stolen phone.

This situation has led to outrage and protest, as indigenes took to major roads in protest in of what they term the extra-judicial killing of their kinsman.

SaharaReporters gathered the soldiers went on reprisal mission after their colleague was robbed at gunpoint and his mobile phone stolen.

A resident of the area, who simply identified himself as Frank, said the youth were sitting in the area when the soldiers suddenly invaded, and without questions shot sporadically, killing one and leaving several others injured.

Narrating the incident, Frank said: "We were just sitting at an area drinking, when suddenly we saw soldiers. Before we could ask what was happening, there was a rain of bullets. Some of us ran for safety; some were injured, while one of the youth was killed.

“One person was taken into custody and later released at their headquarters at Igbogene after investigations.

"What has happened is unjust. We did nothing to be shot at and we are calling on all human rights and pressure groups to seek justice for the innocent victim.”

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BREAKING: INEC Says No Voting Without PVCs Accepted By Smart Card Readers

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 8:23am

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has confirmed that anyone whose Permanent Voter Card (PVC) is not recognised by the Smart Card Reader will not be allowed to vote.

Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, said this on Thursday in Abuja during a press briefing on the commission’s readiness to conduct the rescheduled presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday, February 23, 2019.

He also answered questions on the logistics preparations for the elections.

He said: "The commission has operated under the policy that no citizen can vote without the PVC issued by the commission and read by the smart card reader.

“Having announced the total number of registered voters and their distribution by age, gender and occupation, citizens deserve the right to know how many PVCs have been collected across the country.

"The last date for the collection of PVCs was Monday 11th February 2019. Out of the 84,000,484 registered voters, the total number of PVCs collected stands at 72,775,585, which represents 86.3% of the total PVCs produced. Detailed breakdown and percentages of collection on state-by-state basis have been published on our website few minutes ago."

In the 2015 elections, electoral officers had to resort to the manual process as the card readers failed to read the PVCs.

In fact, former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Patience Jonathan, spent more than almost an hour at their polling station in Otuoke, Bayelsa State, as at least four card readers failed to capture. He was eventually accredited to vote manually without a card reader.

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BREAKING: Nigeria Waives Visa Fees For Election Observers

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 8:02am

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says visa fees for foreign election observers have been waived for their extended stay following the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections.

The presidential and National Assembly elections were scheduled to hold on February 16, 2019 but were postponed hours before they were scheduled to begin, to February 23, 2019, while governorship and state House of Assembly elections were postponed to March 9, 2019.

Speaking at a press conference on THursday, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, stated that the commission, working with the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), had resolved to waive visa fees for those affected by the extension.

His words: “In particular, some of our international observers are on short-term single entry visa. Some may also wish to leave the country after election this Saturday and return to observe the governorship, state assembly and FCT area council elections now rescheduled for Saturday, 9th March, 2019. In order to make the process easier, the Nigeria Immigration Service working with the commission is granting extension of visa to all international observers that require such facility.

“Similarly, the Immigration Service is also granting re-entry visa to all observers who may wish to travel out of the country and return for the second part of the general election. In this regard, the service has requested me to convey its decision to waive the visa fee and treat all such requests expeditiously.

“The extension of stay or re-entry into the country will be treated gratis. A special desk to handle those who wish to extend their stay as well as those travelling and coming back to Nigeria before March 9, 2019, has been set up at the national headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

“Two immigration officers have been assigned to carry out the ad hoc assignment and they started this afternoon. So, all the international observers that are on short visa that may expire before March 9, and those, who are on single entry visas that require re-issuance of visas, can now go to our office at our headquarters here in Maitama, Abuja, and get their visas either extended or renewed gratis.”

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BREAKING: 72.8 Million Nigerians Collected PVCs, Says INEC

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 8:00am


Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has announced the total number of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) collected ahead of the 2019 general election.

Yakubu made the announcement on during Thursday's edition of the commision's daily media briefing on its preparedness for the reschedued elections. 

"At yesterday's briefing, we promised to make public details of Permanent Voter Card (PVC) collection nationwide," he said.

"The commission has operated under the policy that no citizen can vote without the PVC issued by the commission and read by the smart card reader. Having announced the total number of registered voters and their distribution by age, gender and occupation, citizens deserve the right to know how many PVCs have been collected across the country.

"The last date for the collection of PVCs was Monday 11th February 2019. Out of the 84,000,484 registered voters, the total number of PVCs collected stands at 72,775,585, which represents 86.3% of the total PVCs produced. Detailed breakdown and percentages of collection on state-by-state basis have been published on our website few minutes ago."

Yakubu also announced that a total 11,228,582 PVCs, representing 13.7%, are uncollected.

"Out of this figure, 7,817,905 PVCs were carried over from the 2014 to 2016 registration exercises, while 3,410,677 are from the last Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise held between April 2017 and August 2018," he added.

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Minus One! Atiku's Planned Endorsement By Five Political Parties Suffers Setback

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 7:18am


As a coalition of national youth leaders of political parties in Nigeria prepare to endorse Atiku, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) later on Thursday, there is controversy over the list of parties that are expected to participate in the said endorsement, according to private correspondences seen by SaharaReporters.

Five political parties were scheduled to endorse Atiku on Thursday evening, but one has already pulled out.

Olakunle Olawole, National Youth Leader of Kowa Party, had sent out an email invitation stating that the Council of National Youth Leaders of Political Parties (CONYLOP) would hold a live press conference scheduled for Thursday in Abuja.

According to the mail by Olawole, the conference is “scheduled to hold in favour of endorsing the presidency of the PDP (Alhaji Abubakar Atiku)".

The invitation is, however, causing ripples within the political parties fielding youth candidates, as it is not exactly clear which parties are expected to endorse Atiku’s candidature.

One of the recipients had asked Olawole: "Thank you for the invitation. Just to clarify, the National Youth Leaders of Political Parties including APC, ANN, AAC, ANRP, YPP, KOWA are ALL endorsing the PDP candidate? We look forward to the clarification."

But speaking for the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), Lanre Oyegbola, Director-General of the ANN 2019 Presidential Campaign, wrote: “Dear Yemi and sender of this message, thank you for putting me in copy of this mail. For the avoidance of doubt, ANN - Alliance for New Nigeria is not a party to this endorsement of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party. We have a Presidential Candidate and the youth of Nigeria are solidly behind our candidate the Nation Builder and great Inspiration for the Nigerian Youth, Mr Fela Durotoye. Thank you.”

The press conference to announce the endorsement is scheduled for 4pm today.

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Tompolo’s Kinsmen Caution Security Agencies Over Buhari’s Order On Ballot Box Snatching

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 6:38am

Kinsmen of Government Ekpemukpolo, known as Tompolo, a former militant leader, have asked the military, the Nigerian Police, and other security agencies to exercise restraint in the execution of President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to “deal ruthlessly with ballot box snatchers”.

Tompolo's kinsmen, under the aegis of the Warriors Ijaw Peace Monitoring Group (WIPMG), said the Nigerian military and the Police should not take advantage of the directive to “harass and intimidate voters as the riverine terrain is naturally difficult to navigate”.

Patrick Bigha, Chairman of WIPMG, urged the military adhere strictly to its rules of engagement or code of conduct.

The statement read: "There is over 200% increment of the cost of transportation in the riverine areas now. The only means of transportation is by boats, and it is certain that voters must be transported from their living homes to their voting units by boats, either speedboats or slowly moving boats.

"This advice became imperative as there is already fear and tension in the riverine communities, because of the incessant harassment and intimidation of riverine dwellers by the Nigerian military in recent times. The greatest evil one can inflict on the riverine dwellers is to stop them from voting candidates of their choice during the elections, as it is the only means for them to participate in the affairs of the country.

"One thing the military should know is that we are in a democratic state and democracy has come to stay in Nigeria. The military must adhere strictly to its rules of engagement or code of conduct.

"The riverine dwellers have realised that the bane of development in our country is the election of leaders, as electing the wrong persons into positions of authority has contributed greatly to the present level of development in Nigeria, especially economic and infrastructural development of the riverine communities, for instance, the abandonment of the Escravos free trade zone (EPZ) project, which compromises a gas city at Ogidigben and a deep sea port in Gbaramatu kingdom.

"The project was inaugurated by the former administration in March 2015. This is a project that would have employed about 150,000 personnel at the construction stage. This project would have helped to reduce the level of unemployment in Nigeria today, but it was abandoned by the current Federal Government as a result of the 2015 election, even though the project was largely driving by the private sector.

"Another example is the politicization of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, established by the former administration in May 2014. The university was almost written off by the current government, if not for the aggressive public outcry of Nigerians, and the university is the only good thing that has happened to the riverine communities in the Niger Delta region since the existence of this country.

"It is in view of all these happenings that we want to sincerely appeal to the military to understand the plight of the riverine dwellers, so that they can exercise their civic right unhindered."

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EFCC Raises The Alarm Over Circulation Of Fake Dollar Notes Ahead Of Elections

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 6:10am


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has issued a warning to Nigerians to be wary of fake Dollar notes in circulation as the country prepares for the rescheduled presidential and National Assembly elections slated for February 23, 2019.

A statement issued on Thursday by Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the Commission, noted that the warning was a result of intelligence gathered in the build-up to the elections.

According to the statement, forensic analysis revealed that the Dollar notes looked like originals, but they are actually fake.

The statement read: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has raised the alarm over the circulation of fake Dollar notes ahead of Saturday's Presidential and National Assembly elections.

“In a statement personally signed by the Acting Chairman of the Commission, Ibrahim Magu, the agency stated that the warning follows intelligence gathered in the build up to the elections.

“The intelligence indicates that the Dollar notes have features of genuineness, but forensic analysis by the Commission reveals otherwise.

“We, therefore, warn the BDC operators to be cautious in their transactions from now till the end of the elections.”

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Presidency Denies 'Fake News' Of Osinbajo's Resignation Over Exclusion From Security Meeting

Sahara Reporters - 21 February 2019 - 3:37am

The Presidency has denied multiple claims that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo resigned on Wednesday in protest of repeated sidelining from major activities in the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

It had been claimed that Osinbajo resigned on Wednesday and that it toook the intervention of Bola Tinubu, National Leader of the All progressives Congress (APC), for the Vice President to rescind his decision.

Osinbajo is known to be unhappy with attempts by Buhari's most powerful allies to undermine him in this government, and it was said things reached the tipping point for him when he was excluded from the President's crucial meeting with security chiefs on Wednesday — just three days before the rescheduled presidential and national assembly elections.

However, when SaharaReporters contacted Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicty, he denied it emphatically.

"Complete fabrication; it never happened," he exclaimed. "The VP was in Lagos and Yola yesterday. There was no such thing; absolutely no such thing."

Akande said there was no way Osinbajo would have resigned over the non-invitation to Wednesday's security meeting, as he couldn't be part of it all the time.

"The VP has met with security chiefs many times, including this week," Akande added. "The VP dooes not have to attend every security meeting. I spoke with him and I can confirm it is not true. This is evil and a fabrication to cause confusion."

The Vice President himself denied it while addressing a forum on Thursday morning, saying: "There are deliberate propaganda. Today, they've been spreading some information around that I've resigned. They said I've resigned; they said I didn't attend the security meeting yesterday.

"I was in my office... What time do I have? Must I attend every meeting? Can't the President hold a meeting with security chiefs without me? They said I was so angry that they didn't bring me to that security meeting — I was excluded — so I resigned."

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