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PDP, SDP Candidates Ask Security Agencies To Declare Ondo A Red Spot 'Because Of Akeredolu's Desperation'

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 3:00pm


A Coalition of Opposition House of Assembly Candidates has asked security agencies to declare Ondo State a ‘Red Spot’ ahead of the Saturday's House of Assembly elections.

The Coalition, which comprises candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP), made the demand on Tuesday at an emergency press conference held in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

Speaking on behalf of the candidates, Ebenzer Adeniyan, the SDP candidate seeking to represent Akure South Constituency I at the state House of Assembly, said the coalition had uncovered a "grand plot to cause violence and manipulate” Saturday's House of Assembly election.

He alleged that the All Progressives Congress (APC) had “perfected plans to rig the Assembly elections” by contracting members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).

According to Adeniyan, the plot being hatched by Rotimi Akeredolu, Governor of Ondo State, is to favour all APC candidates contesting in Saturday's parliamentary election.

The SDP candidate added that Akeredolu had been holding a series of meetings with artisans, government workers and traders in the state ahead of the election, and is “too desperate to manipulate” the elections.

He explained that the coalition had petitioned the security agencies in the state on the matter.

"We wish to bring to your notice the clandestine plot by Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and the leadership of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to cause mayhem in the House of Assembly elections on behalf of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

He said: "This plot was hatched as a result of the poor performance of the APC in the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections in Ondo State, particularly in the central senatorial district where the party did not win any seat. 

"The coming House of Assembly election has, therefore, been tagged a must-win for the party, using all means necessary.

"It is on this note that we are calling on all the security agencies to declare Ondo State a flash point and red spot in the build up to the House of Assembly elections coming up on Saturday in the state.

"The APC government also plans to influence a reduction in the presence of security officers in polling units where the attacks would be carried out. We should all take note that the factors that precipitated the 1983 election crisis in Ondo State, especially in Akure, are at play here again. 

"The Governor, as the number one citizen of the state and chief security officer saddled with responsibility to protect lives and properties of the citizens, should know the implications if he is the one emboldening, threatening and coaxing thugs to cause political violence.

"It should be noted that the citizens would be prepared to defend themselves against their Governor and his thugs. The people of Ondo State must be allowed to make their choice freely on March 9 without intimidation and violence.

"The desperation of Governor Akeredolu and APC to gain control of the state by declaring war on the people would be resisted by our members as this state belongs to all of us.”

In his remarks, Lade Fasua, the PDP contesting to represent Akure South Constituency II, said the opposition candidates are ready to resist any attempt by Akeredolu and the APC to manipulate the House of Assembly elections.

"We shall encourage our followers, members of our parties and the people to defend themselves and their votes on March 9. To forestall breakdown of law and order before, during and after the election, we therefore call on all the security agencies in the state, critical stakeholders to call the Governor to order and do everything possible to protect the people of Ondo State and their votes on March 9. The 1983 political violence and its aftermath still linger on; Governor Akeredolu should not set the state on fire because of his desperation,” Fasua said.

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I've Never Met Diezani, Says Jonathan's Campaign Director Belgore During N450m Fraud Trial

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 2:39pm


Muhammad Dele Belgore

Dele Belgore, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), on Tuesday told Justice Rilwan Aikawa sitting in Federal High Court in Lagos that he never met or dealt with Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources.

He said he was not aware that the N450million he signed for in 2015 came from her.

Belgore, who was the Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organisation coordinator in Kwara State ahead of the 2015 general election, was testifying in his trial before Justice Aikawa.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged him; Professor Abubakar Suleiman, the former National Planning Minister; and Alison-Madueke (said to be at large) with money laundering.

In the nine-count charge, EFCC accused them of making cash payment of N10million to Dr Emmanuel Onucheyo, the Kwara State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), at the time.

The commission said they also paid N10million to Garba Saliu, a Commissioner of Police, on March 27, 2015 without going through a financial institution.

The sums, the commission said, exceeded the amount authorised by law and violated Sections 1(a) and 16 (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act of 2012 and punishable under Section 16 (2) (b).

EFCC said they “directly took possession of the sum N450million,” which they allegedly indirectly spent, adding that they “reasonably ought to have known [that the money] forms part of the proceeds of unlawful act”.

Belgore and Suleiman pleaded not guilty.

Two prosecution witnesses had testified that Alison-Madueke collected N23billion from three oil marketers, Northern Belt Ltd, Actus Integrated Ltd, Midwestern Company, and one Mr Leno Laitan, ahead of the 2015 general election, and that it was part of the money that Belgore signed for.

But Belgore, who said he did not know the companies, explained how he came about the N450million.

“I don’t know any of the said marketers that PW1 claimed provided the money. I never met or dealt with them. PW1 and PW2 (EFCC investigators) said the money was paid out on Diezani’s instructions. I have no information about that. I never met her. I have never spoken with her. I never dealt with or spoken with anybody claiming to be acting on her behalf,” he said.

Belgore said he was made to believe that the money was from the campaign organisation and not from another source.

He said: “On the contrary, we asked the presidential campaign headquarters for funds for the election, because there were agitations from candidates and stakeholders for funds. We were told there were no funds available, but that a series of fundraising activities had been lined up.

“I know that funds were indeed raised. I also know that within a very short time, the headquarters called me and said the funds were available. On March 26, 2015, I received a call from the financial director of the campaign organisation, Mrs Nenadi Usman, that the money had been sent.

“There was no basis, evidence or indication that the money came from any other place other than the presidential campaign headquarters. As a matter of fact, it was during my interrogation in November 2016 that I first heard from PW2 that said funds did not come from the presidential campaign headquarters as I was made to believe.

“Up until then, no one other than PW1 and PW2 had told me that the N450million did not come from the fundraising activities conducted by the Presidential Campaign Organisation.”

Two separate video clips from bank CCTV camera recordings were shown in court. They were tendered by Belgore to prove that he did not leave the bank with the money even though he signed for it.

“I did not see myself in the first and second videos. I could not make out anybody I knew in them,” he said.

The first clip lasted for about 55 minutes, while the second lasted for one and a half hours.

Justice Aikawa adjourned until March 27 and April 10 for continuation of trial.

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Motorcyclists Association Chairman Macheted As Thugs Beat Up APC Members In Ondo

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 2:00pm



Adeleke Oyewole, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State, has been attacked by thugs suspected to be political supporters.

Oyewole, who is also the Chairman of the association of commercial motorcyclists, was attacked during the APC ward meeting at Idanre in Idanre-Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State on Monday.

It was gathered that the assailants, who were all armed with dangerous weapons, made deep cuts on Oyewole's forehead after attacking him with knives.

The armed hoodlums have been accused as being "thugs" of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.

Toyin Adeyinka, who witnessed the incident, confirmed the attack to SaharaReporters via phone on Tuesday evening.

Adeyinka said the assailants were on a mission to unleash terror on members of the party who were peaceful holding their meeting. 

"The boys (thugs) were armed with dangerous weapons such as bottles, cutlasses, knives and planks with red-soaked eyes daring to kill. And they stormed the venue of the meeting in Ala Ward of Ehin Peti in Odede Idanre around 5pm; and before we knew it, they started destroying the chairs.

"They slapped and beat those who had the effontery to challenge them on their mission to disrupt the ongoing APC ward meeting. It was in the process they attacked Mr. Oyewole and cut his forehead with cutlasses, while other the APC members scampered for their lives, although not without injuries.

"The attacks have been reported to the Police but the fear now is that the APC members have all vowed to retaliate regarding the unwarranted attack on their members in Idanre. It might be bloody if they carry out the threat.”

Our correspondent learnt that Oyewole was rushed down to the hospital and is currently receiving treatment at the Alade Hospital.

Femi Joseph, Police Spokesman in Ondo State, confirmed the attack to reporters, noting that the command has launched an investigation into the case.

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Women, Youth in Nembe-Bassambiri Protest Intimidation By Bayelsa Govt

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 1:05pm




Scores of women and youth on Tuesday staged a march at Nembe-Bassambiri community of Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State over “intimidation by the state government to cow them into voting against their choices” in the forthcoming state Assembly elections.

The indigenes of Nembe-Bassambiri bore various placards with inscriptions such as ‘Governor H.S. Dickson, Stop the Killings of APC Members in Nembe-Bassambiri’; ‘Seven Years in Office, No Single Project in Nembe-Bassambiri’ and ‘Toru-Orua for PDP While Nembe-Bassambiri is for APC’.

They insisted that the claim that the community was sacked by armed men is untrue.

Ingoebiye Braid, a woman leader in the area, said they are “faced with persecution” in the hands of the state government because of their political stance.

Speaking on the reason for the protest, Kombonimi Awo, the Community Development Committee (CDC) Secretary, debunked the reports that the community has been deserted due to violence between supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) during and after the presidential and National Assembly elections.

“People are carrying rumours and are being sponsored by the Bayelsa Government that the community has been deserted but all these are false. Nobody is running out of the community. The elders, chiefs, women and youth are going about their businesses without fear and molestation.

“There was no fight or crisis in the community during and after the National Assembly and presidential elections. The only people that are out of the community are those hired with fake uniforms and thugs.

“The rumours that the whole community has vacated is pure lie. Those paid to stage protest in the state capital are paid agents of stabilisation. The call for the cancellation of the last election is wicked and should not be honoured by INEC. We voted peacefully without intimidation.”

There had been reports that no fewer than 1,000 persons had fled and taken refuge in Yenagoa and neighbouring communities in Bayelsa as a result of activities of thugs sponsored by the All Progressive Congress (APC) and that they had mounted illegal road blocks.

The reports also claimed that the alleged sponsored thugs had resisted soldiers and policemen deployed to the area.

However, when SaharaReporters correspondent visited the community, people were seen going about their lawful activities with markets and schools opened for their daily activities.

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Obasanjo: I Will Continue To Criticise Buhari... I'm His Boss

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 11:16am


Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says he will continue to criticise President Muhammadu Buhari.

Obasanjo said this in Abeokuta, capital of Ogun State, on Tuesday at a public lecture organised by the Centre for Human Security and Dialogue, an arm of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), to mark his 82nd birthday.

The event featured a public lecture, titled ‘Colonialism, Apartheid, Freedom and South Africa Rising’, delivered by Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi (MP), President of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in South Africa.

After Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, the Alake of Egbaland, appealed to Obasanjo to reduce his criticism of Buhari, his boss, Obasanjo responded that we wouldn't stop as he was also Buhari's boss.

Oba Gbadebo had said: “You all know that I was an officer under General Buhari so each time Obasanjo criticises my boss, I always stand to say my senior, please leave the President alone! At 82, Baba is still fighting on, please fight less and be a consultant to everybody.”

However, in response, Obasanjo told the traditional ruler to advise Buhari to govern the country right.

“I believe that Africa has no alternative to democracy, good governance and development, growth and progress of our economy. We have none and if that is not happening in any country, those who keep quiet about it are accomplices to the crime," he said.

“You see, in a democracy, you criticise a policy of government because it is not a family affair. Even if it is my brother that is there and he is not doing what I think he should do, he must be criticised. That is what democracy is all about: criticisms; saying the other side.

“So, if I say anybody in government in Nigeria or any government for that matter is not doing well, let that government prove that he is doing well. So, Kabiyesi, your boss, Buhari; there is nothing personal between me and him. Just as he is your boss, I am also his boss with due respect.

“The point is that I have been in that position longer than any Nigerian could ever be there. That is the truth because if any Nigerian comes in now and have two terms, he will not have almost four (4) years of military rule.

“I have been there longer than any Nigerian will ever be there. So, when I say something, I know what I am talking about. So, Kabiyesi, anytime you say ‘leave my boss alone’, I agree, he is your boss, but I am also his boss. So, you might also ask your boss to leave his boss alone or do what is right that his boss wants him to do.”

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Presidential Election Was Like A War, Says Secondus As PDP Submits Protest Letter To INEC

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 10:34am



The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by Uche Secondus, the party’s National Chairman, on Tuesday in Abuja stormed the national headquarters of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to register their displeasure with the outcome of the just concluded presidential election and the involvement of the military "as if there was war."

The protest began from the Presidential Campaign Office (Legacy House) in Maitama, Abuja, and was attended by supporters of the party.

The protesters bore placards with inscriptions such as ‘Give Us Our Mandate’, ‘Buhari Must Go’, ‘We Voted for Atiku’ and ‘Mahmood Give Us Original Result’.

Secondus presented a protest letter to May Agbamuche-Mbu, the National Commissioner, stating that the PDP was exercising its rights within the confines of the law.

He condemned the deployment of the military to the strongholds of the party in the South, adding that the party had submitted a petition to the United Nations and the Commonwealth on the matter.

“We want to state clearly going forward. Is that what is going to happen on the 9th? That you will militarise the entire exercise?” Secondus asked.

He also told the commission of the “rigging and manipulation that took place across the country during the elections”, adding that the party was challenging the declaration of the commission in the court.

His words: "As a matter of fact the whole Niger Delta has been declared a state of emergency and taken over. The governors there don't have power anymore. They cannot call Commissioner of Police. The military has taken over.

"We have come to register our protest with INEC on our displeasure with the conduct of the 2019 general election. We want to also register that as you conduct the affairs of INEC, historians are recording what is going on. Of course, we read what happened in 1960 and 1963 on the election that took place and their key actors. Where will history record INEC? It was a purely civilian exercise, and INEC involved the military as if there was war.”

He accused the security agents of bias and suppressing voters to prevent them from coming out to exercise their franchise.

Agbamuche-Mbu, who received the protest letter on behalf of the commission, assured the party that their grievances and observations would be examined.

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BREAKING: No Chance We Won't Use Card Readers For Governorship Election, INEC Insists

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 10:13am

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged members of the public to dismiss insinuations that it will jettison the use of card readers for Saturday's governorship and state houses of assembly elections.

There were problems of voter accreditation via the smart card reader during the February 23 presidential and national assembly elections in many polling units across the country, meaning some voters were indeed manually accredited.

However, Festus Okoye Esq, INEC's National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, confirmed on Tuesday that this does not in any way suggest the commission  won't use the device on Saturday.

"Since the conduct of the February 23, 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections, there have been allegations from certain quarters that the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was selective in its use of Smart Card Readers (SCRs) in its conduct of the elections. These allegations have led to speculations that INEC may be forced to jettison their use in the March 9, 2019 Governorship, State Houses of Assembly and Federal Capital Area Council elections," read a statement released to SaharaReporters by Okoye.

"INEC hereby states categorically that the allegations are absolutely false and the speculations are without any basis whatsoever. The use of the Smart Card Readers is not only mandatory but its deliberate non-use attracts the sanction of possible persecution of erring officials in accordance with the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of election. This is in addition to the voiding of any result emanating from such units or areas, as was done in the Presidential and National Assembly elections of February 23, 2019.

"The general public and all officials engaged for the elections are hereby informed that the Commission is not reconsidering the use of these Smart Card Readers, which has greatly improved the credibility of our elections and instilled a high level of public trust in them.

"To clear any doubt or ambiguity, we wish to state that the deployment and mandatory use Smart Card Readers in next Saturday's election will not only be uniform but also universal, and the provisions of the Regulations and Guidelines will be strictly and vigorously enforced. All Stakeholders are to note and be guided accordingly please."

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Atiku Asks Tribunal To Compel INEC To Release Election Materials For Inspection

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 9:47am


Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and his party have filed a suit for an order to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make available the materials used for the presidential election held on February 23, 2019 for inspection.

The request was contained in a suit filed by Chief Chris Uche (SAN) before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal.

The PDP is seeking an order which will grant them permission to inspect the Smart Card Readers, voter registers, ballot papers and other documents used for the elections.

Joined in the suit are INEC, President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

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Oshiomhole Tells Deltans To Take PDP’s Money But Vote For APC

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 9:36am


Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has urged the people of Delta State to collect the money on offer by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party in the state, ahead of Saturday's election.

However, Oshiomhole advised them to vote for the APc even after collecting PDP's money.

Barely 96 hours to the March 9 governorship and state House of Assembly elections, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has vowed to unseat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Delta State.

He said this on Monday at the PTI Conference Centre, Effurun, Uvwie Local Government Area of the state during a town hall meeting with APC stakeholders to garner support for the party's governorship candidate, Great Ogboru and other candidates in the election.

"The electorate can go ahead and collect money from the PDP if they decide to use the state resources to induce you. Take your money because it belongs to you and disappoint them by voting for APC during the election," he said.

"PDP can no longer win election in Delta State since the party is now outdated. PDP is now in a political menopause throughout Nigeria. You the Delta APC have substantially weakened the rigging machines of the PDP in Delta State.

"This time around, you will stop them on Saturday and ensure that the Okowa and PDP reign in Delta State is brought to an end. No one will provide unlawful security. Security operatives should ensure that votes are counted because President Buhari wants to have cleaner elections.”

President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, called on Deltans to vote massively for Ogboru and other APC candidates in the election.

Buhari restated the commitment of his administration to providing adequate security for the elections.

He said: “Why should Delta be an opposition state? Why? There is no reason for it at all. For all the periods that Delta State has had high resources, what we need is a change from a progressive party. The time has come. This is the moment; let us seize that moment. I want to say there is ample reason for us as a people of this great state to ensure that we do not betray the trust of the millions of people of the state.

"Here, I speak to party members. Why the disunity and fighting among ourselves? That is what our opponents want the most. They want to see a divided party. A party where we are pointing accusing fingers at each other. If we are divided, there is no way we can possibly win. If we are divided that is the end of it. If we work together, we will definitely win and emerged victorious this Saturday. I believe that we can work together.

“What happened last Saturday is a great victory for us, but it is only the beginning because the completion of that victory is going to come by the grace of God on Saturday March 9, 2019, when we vote in our own governor, Great Ogboru, who will by the grace of God be a governor from that very day. It is their way in the past how the PDP used and abused security in the country. We have seen frequently how they manage as victors when they are actually losers. So, there is no reason at all why we should not pay special attention to security and we will do so. I will ensure that we do so.”

Earlier, Joel-Onowakpo Thomas, the APC House of Representatives candidate for Isoko Federal Constituency, narrated to the APC leaders, how officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) connived with PDP and its House of Representatives candidate to “massively rig the last House of Representatives election in the area” in favour of his opponent, and called for urgent steps to “address the abnormalities”.

On his part, Emmanuel Uduaghan, the immediate past Governor of the state and APC Delta South senatorial candidate; O’tega Emerhor, APC former governorship candidate and leader in the state; Senator Ovie Omo-Agege; Ima Niboro; Francis Waive and a host of others, called on Delta APC leaders to close ranks and work in the interest of the party in ensuring victory at Saturday's polls.

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APC’s Suspension Of Amosun, Okorocha, Others Is In Order By Peter Claver Oparah

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 7:33am


Last week, the All Progressives Congress, emerging from an emphatic victory at the just-concluded 2019 presidential election, wielded the big stick on some errant members of the party that have conducted themselves in riotous manners since the kick-off of the 2019 election. It was variously described as the day of the long knives as the party demonstrated an unsmiling posture in its effort to arrest gross indiscipline and the anti-party conducts in its ranks and file. Among those suspended or penciled to be queried by the party are the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, Minister for Niger Delta Ministry, Usain Usain, among others. The party’s National Working Committee made recommendations to the party to expel both Amosun and Okorocha in a move that is seen as a desirable effort to instill party discipline and warn those intent on violating the party’s disciplinary code.

The action of the party is in order and long overdue in taming the rash of indecorous conducts that has festered among the membership of the party and arrest the drift to factionalisation which riddled the party during the nomination processes. It was a desirable notice that the party would no longer tolerate its members to behave in ways that suit them and disrespect the organogram of the party in pursuing their personal interests and wishes. It was a credible response to the feeling of some members that they are above the party and are untouchable. This had been what many members of the party, peeved at the riotous conduct of some members, have been praying and asking for, especially since after the primaries. 

On the day Senate President, Bukola Saraki connived with PDP members to steal the leadership of the senate, I had written an article calling on the APC to slam down heavily on Saraki for such anti-party conduct because, as I stated in the article, the party needed to send a direct message to other party members that they can’t violate the party’s disciplinary code and go scot free. I had argued that such message was very necessary for the party to rein its guards and prevent an internal implosion in the future where every party member behaves as lord unto himself without check. I had argued in the report that the party needed to wield that big stick so as to guard against future acts of indiscipline that might implode the party. Sadly, the party, perhaps through the weakness of the erstwhile leadership, played deaf ears to this and the Saraki monster blossomed to nearly rupture and sink the party and the government it is running. Perhaps, it was in response to the need for a strong and capable leadership to wield the big stick as and when due that necessitated the emergence of the Adams Oshiomhole leadership and the enthusiastic way the members of the party embraced his emergence.  

Now, with Oshiomhole, it is no longer business as usual and he was able to tame the Saraki monster which led to Saraki’s humiliating defeat in the February 23 National Assembly election and the emphatic victory the party scored at both the presidential and national assembly polls last week. Again, one other monster Oshiomhole needed to cage was that of some people that felt they own the party and reserve the right to lord it on other members of the party. He was able to deal with this by introducing a direct primary option for the emergence of candidates for various elective positions. This itself bred a huge uproar as those who feel their power to dictate and impose candidates were tempered by that option. Coming very close to a critical nomination period, it was predictable that it met APC with a combustible effect as the primaries were fraught with widespread discord and acrimony among party members. 

Despite the afore-mentioned challenges, the party, albeit stretched to its possible limits by the aftermaths of the primaries, was up to the task especially in brokering amity and peace among the various factions of the party. In Ogun State, Amosun’s insistence on handpicking his successor and those to go for other elective positions was challenged by the insistence of the rank and file of the party to have an open contest where whoever wins hoists the flag of the party in the elections. Amosun remained adamant and insisted on his choice or nothing else. That was the same situation in Imo where Rochas Okorocha was fixated on having his son-in-law to succeed him as governor contrary to the position of other party stakeholders. The situation was almost the same in other states but the party, through fence-mending, diplomacy and other forms of peace making, resolved every other case except those of Ogun and Imo just because Amosun and Okorocha remained implacably committed to forcing through their wills. When the party made final decision on its choice for the two states, the duo directed their supporters and followers to defect to other platforms while they remained in APC to pursue their own senatorial ambitions. While Amosun directed his followers to join Allied People Movement, Okorocha directed his followers to join Action Alliance and they made loud noise of their readiness to work against APC in every other election except the presidential and their own senatorial election.

This flagrant display of gross indiscipline and anti-party was taken notches higher by the duo when during the presidential campaign rallies in their respective states, they sponsored their followers to barge into the venues and disrupt the rallies with cat calls and other forms of antics. That of Ogun was particularly bad as Amosun instructed his followers now members of APM to cause widespread mayhem; of the magnitude that embarrassed both the President and the party. It was just natural that with the critical elections approaching, the party endured these and waited till after the election where it went home with the star prize.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the suspension of both governors. In fact, many members of the party have called for this big stick before now. Many members of the party felt that the party needed to send the signal they sent last week earlier than when they did because party supremacy remains a central ingredient in party politics. That Amosun and Okorocha deliberately remained implacable to all the reconciliatory efforts of the party and continued to cause egregious embarrassment to the party shows they feel they are above the party. This is wrong for no member, not even the President, should be above the party that gives them the platform to contest. For the duo to believe they could be given elastic tolerance to carry out anti-party activities from within the party is silly and the present action of the party against them should warn them that they are not above discipline. The party should go all out to enforce its moral code not only on the duo but other errant members of the party who continue to conduct themselves in aberrant manners that embarrass the party.

I am fully in support of the actions the party had taken against Amosun, Okorocha and other misbehaving members. Let other members learn from it and fall I line. That is the idea behind the concept of party supremacy and whichever party loses this important control over its members is headed for doom. 

 

Peter Claver Oparah

Ikeja, Lagos.

E-mail: peterclaver2000@yahoo.com

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Dead Lagos Uber Driver Far Too Gentle To Jump Into The Lagoon, Says Friend

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 7:28am


Mr. Adekunle Tade when he was alive

An ally of Adekunle Tade, a Lagos Uber driver, whose corpse was found at the Lagos Lagoon, has refuted the claims that it was a suicide.

"He's a learned person. He's educated. Things were tough recently and he lost his job. That's why somebody like him would have resorted to working with Uber," said a friend to the late Lagos Uber driver who requested not to be named.

SaharaReporters had earlier reported how 38-year-old Tade was attacked by armed men, who forcefully snatched his car. Tade went to his boss — the vehicle owner, Mrs. Andry Nwokedi — to report the incident and he didn’t return until five days later when his dead body was found at a lagoon in Lekki, Lagos State.

But the friend, who knew Tade "so well", said he could not have jumped into the lagoon just because his boss was taking him to the Police Station over the car theft.

"He couldn't have jumped into the lagoon," he said.

"To think that because they were taking him to the Police Station and he jumped into the lagoon is quite unbelievable. I've known Tade for seven to eight years now and he's educated. So, the worst was for him to get to the Police Station and things would clear up. After all, he had gone to report the case at the Police Station by himself."

"Secondly," he continued, "the woman said he jumped from the Lekki toll bridge. You don't need a camera to see who jumped on the Lekki toll bridge. People will know — there will be eye-witnesses."

He described the deceased as a "gentleman to the core" who could not have been too bold to take such drastic step of jumping into the lagoon.

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BREAKING ‘We Voted For Atiku’ — Hundreds Of PDP Members Protest At INEC Headquarters

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 7:05am

Uche Secondus, National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has led hundreds of members of the party to the national headquarters of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to register their dissatisfaction with the outcome of the presidential election.

The protest, which began from the secretariat of the party, located on Michael Opara Way, Wuse Zone 5, was accompanied by chants of ‘Give Us Our Mandate’, ‘Bujari Must Go’, ‘We voted for Atiku’.

Details shortly...

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Melaye Gets N5m Bail For Attempted Suicide Trial

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 6:13am


Dino Melaye, the senator representing Kogi West district, has been granted N5million bail by an Abuja High Court over charges bordering on attempted suicide.

Melaye is standing trial on a six-count charge for attempting to escape from custody and damaging Police property.

The senator has denied committing the offences.

Giving the ruling on bail on Tuesday, Justice Silvanus Oriji, who noted that he was aware that the court had granted Melaye bail when he was arraigned before the court went on vacation on July 25, 2018, granted bail in the sum of N5million and two sureties in like sum.

The sureties must be directors in the civil service, reside in Abuja, and depose to affidavits of means.

Dr Alex Izinyon, the prosecuting counsel, alleged that the Senator committed the offences on April 24. 2018, while he was being taken in a Police vehicle to Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.

Izinyon added that Melaye sat on the ground, and threatened to poison himself, noting that he broke the glass of the vehicle with his elbow and caused damage to Police property.

The offences are said to contravene the provisions of Sections 148, 153, 173, 231, 326 and 327 of the Penal Code.

The trial has been adjourned till April 5, 2019, for hearing.

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We’re 'Very Anxious' To Meet Atiku In Court, Says APC

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 5:59am

The All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council says Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), “has a constitutional right to seek redress in court”.

Since losing the February 23 presidential election, Atiku has maintained he will press for victory in court despite widespread calls on him to concede the election to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Among the groups to have recently made the call is the Buhari Support Organisation (BSO), which Festus Keyamo, Director of Strategic Communicationsof the APC Presidential Campaign Council, has now disowned.

Keyamo said the BSO does not in any way speak for Buhari and his party, adding that the APC was in fact anxious to meet Atiku in court.

“Our official position is that we believe that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has a constitutional right to seek redress in court and we do not seek in any way to curtail that right,” he said.

“In fact, it is the resort to court that is the only democratic way to ventilate his perceived grievance and any attempt to restrict or discourage the exercise of such right would be an invitation to anarchy.

 “In addition, we are very anxious to meet Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in court in order to show the world in a conclusive manner the free and fair nature of the comprehensive defeat of Atiku at the polls. An election is not termed ‘rigged’ only by the mere claim of it by the loser. That is what Atiku and the PDP want to ram down our throats. Unfortunately for them, international, continental and sub-regional observers (who can be seen as neutral by all standards) ALL declared the election to be free, fair and credible. No ego-massaging narrative can change that.”

THE FULL STATEMENT

WE DO NOT SEEK TO STOP ALHAJI ATIKU ABUBAKAR FROM GOING TO COURT

Our attention has been drawn to some news item and posts on social media reporting that we wrote a letter to some international bodies to prevail on Alhaji Atiku Abubakar not to proceed to court to challenge the result of the 2019 Presidential Election.

Our investigation reveals that a letter to that effect was purportedly written by a certain ‘Buhari Campaign Organisation’. This is the second time we will be informing the public that the said ‘Buhari Campaign Organisation’ does not act at the behest of the APC Presidential Campaign Council nor does it represent the Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation in any way. As a result, whatever it has released DOES NOT REPRESENT THE POSITION OF THE APC PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN COUNCIL OR PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI.

Our official position is that we believe that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has a constitutional right to seek redress in court and we do not seek in any way to curtail that right. In fact, it is the resort to court that is the only democratic way to ventilate his perceived grievance and any attempt to restrict or discourage the exercise of such right would be an invitation to anarchy.

In addition, we are very anxious to meet Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in court in order to show the world in a conclusive manner the free and fair nature of the comprehensive defeat of Atiku at the polls. An election is not termed ‘rigged’ only by the mere claim of it by the loser. That is what Atiku and the PDP want to ram down our throats. Unfortunately for them, international, continental and sub-regional observers (who can be seen as neutral by all standards) ALL declared the election to be free, fair and credible. No ego-massaging narrative can change that. 

We therefore totally disassociate ourselves from the letter purportedly written by one of, perhaps, many support groups of President Muhammadu Buhari. They may have a right to their opinion, but it does not represent our official position.  

Thank you.
FESTUS KEYAMO, SAN, FCIArb (UK),
Director of Strategic Communications,
APC Presidential Campaign Council
(Official Spokesperson) 

 

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'No Money, No Votes!’ — Ondo Workers Threaten Showdown With Akeredolu Ahead Of State Assembly Election

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 5:14am


With just days to the House of Assembly elections, civil servants in the workforce of the Ondo State government have asked Rotimi Akeredolu, Governor of Ondo State, to offset all their outstanding entitlements and allowances if he wants their votes.

The workers made the demand on Monday at a meeting summoned by the Governor to solicit the support of the civil servants for the state House of Assembly election scheduled for Saturday, March 9, 2019.

Akeredolu has been holding crucial meetings to plead for votes for candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The meeting with the workers on Grade Levels 1-16 and above was held inside the facility of the cenotaph at Adegbemile in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

Addressing the workers, Akeredolu begged the civil servants to support the APC candidates, noting that since he came on board, his first priority had always been the payment of salaries of workers who are in the workforce of the state government.

He, however, noted that if the APC candidates are elected, there would be need for the next legislative and executive arms to be in tandem as per the same political party as the majority, so as to ensure smooth running of government.

"The stability we have had up till now, let us continue with it. Our Assembly we have now is complete, though we have some hiccups among them because of this dichotomy. I know you understand all I am saying because I know you are all politically aware," Akeredolu said.

“But I want you to do whatever you can do. I want to beg you (workers) to go home and work, because the House of Assembly election is very important to us. So, when it is Friday, we will give you (workers) the chance to travel to your various towns.”

However, the workers quickly interjected the Governor with repeated chants of "no Money, no Votes!”

The government workers, who were mobilised from the 18 local council areas of the state, were referring to the payment of all their entitlements. It took the quick intervention of Toyin Akinkuotu, the Ondo State Head of Service (HoS), who whispered to Governor Akeredolu to “speak in the best terms that the workers would easily understand about their pay”.

Addressing the crowd, Akinkuotu pleaded with the workers to respect Akeredolu.

He said: “It is on record that no worker was harassed or intimidated by Akeredolu’s administration. The person who alleviated our pains by constantly paying our salaries deserves our commendation.

“He has substantially paid our salary arrears. Promotion of civil servants and other benefits are not left out. We are bold to say that Akeredolu is fulfilling all his pre-election promises to Ondo State civil servants.”

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APC Missing As INEC Releases Final List Of Enugu Governorship Candidates

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 5:13am


The All Progressives Congress (APC) appears not to have candidates for the governorship election in Enugu State, scheduled for March 9, 2019.

According to an updated list published on the website of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the space for names of governorship and deputy governorship candidates of the APC were blank.

“Court Order, Party Yet to Submit Name of Candidate”, was written in the space provided for remarks.

The list was signed by Rose Oriaran-Anthony, the INEC Secretary.

Meanwhile, in the list earlier published by INEC in January 2019, Ayogu Eze and Chukwunta Gilbert Chikwado were listed as APC governorship and deputy governorship candidates for Enugu State, respectively. But there are claims a court sacked Ayogu as the governorship candidate in the state.

The court was also said to have ruled that George Ogara be recognised as the candidate, and his name submitted to INEC.

From INEC’s list, it would seem the party is yet to take a decision on the court order.

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Crisis In Delta PFN Over Okowa's Millions Of Naira For Second Term Endorsement

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 4:56am


There is crisis in the leadership of the Delta State chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) over cash running into millions of naira said to have been released by Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State, to the association for the endorsement of his reelection bid.

A few weeks ago, the Delta State PFN leadership, led by Bishop Kingsley Enakirerhi of the Heroes of Faith Church, Ughelli, gathered select clerics in his church in the name of a 'Rally and Summit' in the area, with the state Governor as special guest of honour.

The event turned out to be an endorsement of Okowa for a second tenure in office.

Sensing that they had been used to extort millions of naira from the Governor under the guise of endorsement, which was not the initial plan for the purported ‘Rally and Summit’, a group, the ‘Coalition of Clergymen and Elders Forum’, made up of bishops and members of the ministers council of Nigeria, South-South, Delta chapter, under the PFN, in association with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), with more than 6,000 members, has dissociated itself from the event.

Addressing a press conference in Ughelli, headquarters of Ughelli North Local Government Area of the state, the leadership of the Coalition of Clergymen and Elders Forum, led by Bishop Johnson Ojakovo, accused the PFN leadership of corruption, abuse of leadership and deception.

"Enekirhere deceived us all to come for a Christian summit. We never knew he wanted us to endorse Okowa for the governorship election using the PFN and CAN,” the group said.

Frowning at "the level of corruption" within the Christian community, the coalition said the decision to separate themselves from the endorsement was part of their mandate in the vineyard of God.

Speaking at a press conference, Austine Imuero, Archbishop-elect and Presiding Bishop of Destiny of Life Ministries, Ovwian, also noted that CAN adopted the same deception to attract church leaders from various blocs recently in Ughelli.

According to Imuero, the meeting was convened purportedly for a CAN rally and prayers for peaceful elections, and turned out to be an endorsement for Okowa's second tenure.

He said: “They told us it was a CAN rally, but because of what happened earlier at the PFN summit, we were cautious that they wanted to play on us again and some of us refused to attend the Ughelli show where they once again endorsed Governor Okowa for a second term in office.

“Their intention is to force all church members to vote for Governor Okowa with a threat that any church leader who refuses to carry out the directive would be labelled a rebel, and we that stood out are being declared as rebels and we are happy to be so named and we are not afraid of their threat.

"So much money was given by the Governor to the leadership of PFN on the day of the endorsement, which led to commotion among the clergymen. We were all denied. The state PFN chairman refused us and did not make provision for any of the clergymen, except bishops that are close to him. The process of the endorsement given to Governor Okowa by the PFN was a deception orchestrated by the leader of PFN, Bishop Kingsley Enakirerhi, of Heroes of Faith, Ughelli.

"We were deceived to attend the event. They told us it was a summit for all pastors of PFN but when we got there, we found out it was a political meeting during which they endorsed the Governor. We are not politicians. We are not happy at the way we were deceived by the leadership of PFN. We are clergymen. We should not support any particular politician and we were supposed to pray for all politicians.

“Nobody should compel us on who to vote for. Nobody should come and pressurize us to vote for the incumbent Governor. We have, therefore, dissociated ourselves from the endorsement of Okowa and remain neutral on the issue of politics. Before the endorsement, PFN leadership was going round the 25 Local Government Areas of Delta State, supposedly to strengthen the PFN, but during the meetings, they were preaching the endorsement of Governor Okowa.

“We are angry and dissociate ourselves from the endorsements, because what they are doing is contrary to the word of God and they are setting a bad example for the younger generation of clergymen.”

A cross-section of pastors, who registered their annoyance, called for the immediate suspension of the Enakirerhi leadership of PFN, as well as the set-up of a panel to investigate the allegations.

"Do you know that the Enakirerhi leadership of the PFN refused to disclose what was dropped by Governor Okowa? Bishop Kingsley Enakirerhi was calling only bishops and pastors close to him to his office and was giving them peanuts for transport after using us to extort millions of naira from Governor Okowa," a pastor, who preferred not to be named, said.

In attendance at the press briefing were Bishop Johnson Ojakovo, Archbishop-elect Austine Imuero, Bishop Oghenegueke Gideon, Bishop Martins Echegbe, Apostle Godspower Obotuke, Apostle King Enajite Ohwonohwo and Apostle Lucky Imonie.

All efforts to reach the leadership of the PFN Delta State chapter were not successful as calls put to Enakirerhi had not been answered as of the time of filing this report.

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Buhari Meets With Service Chiefs Four Days Before Governorship Election

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 4:30am


President Muhammadu Buhari is currently meeting service chiefs in Abuja.

The meeting commenced in the President’s office in the State House around 11am.

The meeting, which is holding behind closed doors, is coming days before the governorship and state House of Assembly elections scheduled for March 9, 2019.

More to follow...

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'Okorocha Planning To Rig Governorship Election Using Fake Army officers'

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 4:15am


The Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN) has accused Rochas Okorocha, Governor of Imo State, of plans to cause trouble and disrupt the governorship election scheduled for March 9, 2019.

NOPRIN stated that it had information that Okorocha, who is determined to ensure victory for Uche Nwosu, his chosen candidate in the state governorship election and his son-in-law, plans to deploy thugs dressed in army uniform to intimidate voters and electoral officials and violently snatch ballot boxes.

A statement issued by the group on Tuesday, noted that the “fake army officers” would work alongside a security outfit to cause violence during elections in Imo State.

The statement read: “NOPRIN has information that in his determination to ensure that his candidate for Imo State Governor wins by all means during the March 9 governorship election, Governor Okorocha has perfected yet another nefarious plan to again use intimidation and violence.

“We are informed that he plans to use thugs dressed in Army uniform, who will operate in vehicles painted in Army colours. These fake army officers will operate along with members of Governor Okorocha’s so-called ‘Imo State Security Network’ to unleash terror in areas of the state where the Governor does not hope to get votes.

“Their grand diabolical design would be to terrorise and intimidate voters, disrupt elections and manipulate the votes in favour of his candidate.”

The group accused Okorocha of kidnapping Professor Innocent Ibeabuchi and forcing him to announce him as the winner of Imo West senatorial election conducted on February 23, 2019.

NOPRIN added that it would be “unfortunate” if the outgoing governor is allowed to “again carry out his violent act” in the state election.

“Considering that Governor Okorocha succeeded, albeit temporarily,  in brazenly deploying violence, using thugs and compromised security agents to intimidate voters and INEC officials during the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections, the probability that he will repeat and even take this act of criminality to a higher scale during the governorship election on March 9 is very high.

“However, it will be unfortunate if, after providing this information to INEC and security authorities, Governor Okorocha still goes ahead to have another free reign deploying violence and thugs to subvert the integrity and credibility of the March 9 governorship and state House of Assembly elections in Imo State.”

The group tasked security agencies to investigate the impersonation of its officers by Okorocha, while urging the electoral commission to take proactive steps to ensure that Okorocha does not repeat on March 9, 2019, “his brazen act of electoral violence and criminality”.

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AUDIO: APC Jingle Chastises ‘Proud’ Ajimobi… Begs Oyo People For Forgiveness

Sahara Reporters - 5 March 2019 - 3:49am

Abiola Ajimobi, the outgoing Governor of Oyo State, was the target of an All Progressives Congress (APC) jingle made in a last-ditch effort to win Saturday’s governorship election.

Since faring poorly at the February 23 presidential and national assembly election, APC has been jittery, fearing that its governorship candidate Bayo Adelabu could fall to Seye Makinde of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) if the people are not placated before Saturday. 

In parts of the APC jingle, Yoruba poet Ologundudu can be heard begging Oyo State people and criticising Ajimobi in caustic Yoruba, loosely translated as: “I know the people of Oyo State are angry with Ajimobi.  The heartrending developments that happened during Ajimobi’s tenure are the reason you’re angry: To be dismissive of other people, to say a King amounts to nothing, to be so arrogant to the point of smashing one’s head against a tree. Acts of rudeness and the nasty things Abiola said to you still anger you.

“Please, all the people of Oyo State, I want you to accept that Ajimobi is the one who wronged you — not APC — but all of us have accepted that we will come back home to beg you. The party knows you love me, that is why they sent me to beg you. People of Oyo, please, Buhari-Osinbajo sent me to come and beg.

“I warned repeatedly back then when Ajimobi was rude to Olubadan, giving the crown to people who weren't fit to wear it. We warned Ajimobi to go beg Olubadan for his mistake, but pride goes before a fall and a dog that will get lost won’t hear the whistle.

Video of APC Jingle Chastises ‘Proud’ Ajimobi… Begs Oyo People For Forgiveness APC Jingle Chastises ‘Proud’ Ajimobi… Begs Oyo People For Forgiveness

“Sorry, Ajimobi; can you now see that the rain can drench you not once but twice? You who won the governorship can now not win a senatorial election? Now, you’ve been put to shame.”

Among the many tipping points of Ajimobi with the people of the state, he clashed with Oba Saliu Adetunji, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, after reviewing the Ibadan Chieftaincy Law, consequently elevating some high chiefs to kingship status.

This infuriated the Olubadan, who thought the move was a plan to whittle down his authority. It was also widely believed that the Governor took the step for the political reason of using the new kings to his advantage rather than having to rely on just the Olubadan.

However, the Governor’s explanation is that that other crown-wearing chiefs act superior to their Ibadan counterparts simply because they’re high chiefs.

On Monday, SaharaReporters reported how Bola Tinubu, National leader of the APC, is now personally overseeing the Oyo governorship campaign in a desperate bid to prevent a potential surrendering of the governorship to the PDP. One of Tinubu's recent steps, apart from buying off Adebayo Alao-Akala’s candidature, is to ban Ajimobi from showing up at APC governorship campaign meetings involving Bayo Adelabu, the party’s candidate.

Even though the Tinubu camp has denied the story, Ajimobi has not been seen at any of Adelabu's campaign events since losing the senatorial election.

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