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Ex-Niger Delta Militants Endorse Buhari

Sahara Reporters - 13 February 2019 - 6:49am


Niger Delta militants

Peace Ambassadors of the Niger Delta (PAND), a group of former militants, on Wednesday endorsed the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari.

At a press conference in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, the ex-agitators said they have witnessed the great commitment of the Buhari administration to the development region.

Ebikabowei Victor Ben, Convener of PAND, lauded the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government for not scrapping the Presidential Amnesty Programme for Niger Delta despite pressure from some quarters.

Ben said: “In spite of promises by several administrations, this government under the leadership of the now United Nations Deputy Secretary, Amina Mohammed, put the framework for the remediation and cleanup of Ogoniland, which is the largest of such effort in the world and expected to cost $1billion.

“As we speak, contractors have been mobilised for the first phase of the exercise. Also, the Bodo City/Bonny Road, which was abandoned for more three decades have been awarded and construction is ongoing.

“Also, the Niger Delta is not left out of this government’s commitment to investing in infrastructure which is one of its biggest spending priorities. The long-abandoned East-West road is finally receiving funding and attention.

“All of these achievements find expression in a 20-point plan for the Niger Delta, which was presented to us by the Petroleum Minister, Ibe Kachikwu. The plan also covers the need for government and oil companies working in our region to create at least 100,000 jobs yearly. The plan for the Niger Delta is what we need now for a more sustainable future.

“As witnesses to the commitment of this government to these issues that we have presented over the years through various fora, and tangible achievements we have seen as it concerns our region over the last four years, we have decided to endorse the government to continue beyond 2019.”

The PAND Convener stated that ex-agitators and the people of the Niger Delta region have seen a deep-seated commitment of the current administration in addressing the issues faced by the people of the region.

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Judge's Absence Stalls N21bn Fraud Trial Of Former Chief Of Air Staff Amosu

Sahara Reporters - 13 February 2019 - 6:35am


The ongoing trial of Adesina Amosu, a former Chief of Air Staff, was stalled on Wednesday, due to the unavailability of the Justice Chukwujeku Aneke of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos.

On November 13, 2018, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) re-arraigned Amosu and two others before the judge on an amended 13-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N21billion.

Amosu is facing trial alongside Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun, a former Chief of Account and Budgeting, and Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni, a former Director of Finance and Budgeting, for alleged conspiracy and conversion of the funds belonging to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to their personal use.

At the resumption of proceedings on Wednesday, the registrar informed the parties that the trial judge is undergoing training outside the jurisdiction, and asked parties to agree on another date.

Rotimi Oyedepo, the EFCC counsel, urged the registrar of the court to give an earlier date as prescribed by the administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

The act prescribes 14 days interval for an adjournment.

The case was consequently adjourned till March 6 and 7 for continuation of trial.

One of the charges against the former Air Chief read: "That you, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu Nunayon (rtd), Air Vice Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun, and Air Commodore Gbadebo Owodunni Olugbenga, on or about the 5th day of March, 2014, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court conspired amongst yourselves to convert the total sum of N21,467,634,707.43 (twenty-one billion, four hundred and sixty-seven million, six hundred and thirty-four thousand, seven hundred and seven Naira, forty three Kobo), property of the Nigerian Air Force, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of your unlawful activities to wit: criminal breach of trust, and hereby committed an offence contrary to section 18(a) of the Money Laundering ( prohibition) Act, 2011( as amended) and punishable under section 15(3) of the same Act.”

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.

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There's Anxiety In The Air, Buhari Admits Ahead Of Presidential Election

Sahara Reporters - 13 February 2019 - 6:10am


President Muhammadu Buhari has admitted that there is “anxiety in the air” as the country prepares to elect a new President on Saturday.

This formed part of his remarks at the signing of a peace accord on the 2019 presidential election, held at the International Conference Centre (ICC), Abuja, on Wednesday.

Buhari expressed excitement that more women and youth candidates showed interest in taking up elective positions in the 2019 elections, just as he urged all candidates to commit to the ideals of a peaceful electoral process.

He further restated his commitment to ensuring free, fair and credible elections.

THE FULL SPEECH

Another election is upon us and not unexpectedly, there is anxiety in the air. This is typical of any form of competition and contest, no matter how well prepared all contestants and regulators are. The forthcoming elections are very special and significant for the growth of our Democracy.

First, they come immediately after one of the most peaceful elections in the history of our country. I am not saying this because I was blessed to emerge as the winner. I am saying there had been a lot of fears and anxieties from within and outside Nigeria about the future of the country. We are hopeful that this is evidence that we are all maturing in our disposition towards electoral outcomes. We see this as an opportunity to grow our sense of political culture in Nigeria.

Secondly, we are witnessing an exciting development in the area of the engagement of our Youth and Women in the democratic process. Hitherto, these groups have often not been in the mainstream of our political competition. It is in appreciation of their contribution that we passed the Not Too Young to Run Bill last year. The success of the Act is illustrated by the unprecedented number of young men and women who have stepped forward to participate in this process as Candidates at all levels. Significantly, we have witnessed also the emergence of Women as Candidates across the political space.

Thirdly, these elections are taking place against the backdrop of the emergence of an unprecedented number of Political Parties. As of now, we have 91 Political Parties, out of which over 70 fielded Presidential Candidates. Although some Candidates have dropped out of the race, there is no doubt in our minds that our country is moving forward and that our democracy is expanding and also deepening.

I call on all Nigerians to contribute to the building of a viable polity by more active participation well beyond the mere casting of votes. Elections by themselves do not constitute Democracy. It is the spirit of citizenship engagement that utilizes the energy of citizens towards the attainment of good governance.

We have assembled here to mark the final phase of our campaigns and we are now at the doorstep of our elections. The Campaigns so far have gone well and we thank God for that. For the few incidents in which people lost their lives largely through accidents, we pray that God grants them eternal peace. Now campaigns are over and our next assignment is for us all, citizens and contestants alike, to go out and exercise our civic duties.

We, the Presidential candidates are here to sign and commit ourselves to do all that is possible to ensure the success of the elections but most importantly to accept the final outcome. I appeal to my fellow contestants to commit to these ideals so as to keep our country and people safe. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, our electoral Umpire, has already assured us that they have done everything possible to ensure free and fair elections.

It was to ensure this that I made sure that INEC received all the resources they needed to perform their job. Our Security Agencies have been fully briefed and they know that their visible neutrality is key to the conduct, credibility and success of the elections.

To the Rt. Honourable Patricia Scotland, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, we extend our felicitations and welcome to you. Your presence here and your friendship mean a lot to us as a country. To the Members of the Diplomatic Corps, the International Team of Monitors, again, I say, welcome to Nigeria and thank you very much for standing by us. Your presence helps to validate our process and commitment to growing our Democracy.

I want to thank General Abdulsalami Abubakar, the Chairman of the National Peace Committee and all his members for the hard work they have put into ensuring that our Elections are peaceful. Your great work contributed significantly in shaping the 2015 elections and we are sure that the same impact will be felt in these elections.

To all our citizens, I want to thank you. As we go into the elections in few days, please let us pray for our country. Let us use this opportunity to strengthen our beliefs in a united country. Our elections are important only to the extent that they make our country peaceful and prepare us for development.

I am making a special appeal to our young people: Do not allow yourselves to be used to cause violence. Please eschew all forms of violence and cooperate with all the relevant agencies during these elections. We will vote according to Parties, but in the end, the only real Party is Nigeria, our country. Our elections are important only to the extent that they make her strong. Let us do our best and ask God to bless us and our country.

Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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‘Don’t Make A Bad Situation Worse’ — Buhari, Atiku Warned As They Sign Peace Accord

Sahara Reporters - 13 February 2019 - 5:27am


Abdusalami Abubakar, Chairman of the National Peace Committee, has warned the presidential candidates contesting in Saturday's election against doing anything to “make a bad situation worse”.

This was contained in his remarks at the signing of a peace accord at the International Conference Centre (ICC) on Wednesday in Abuja.

Present at the signing of the accord were President Muhammadu Buhari, seeking reelection on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC); Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Yakubu Gowon, former Head of State; Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), former Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, among others.

Speaking on the need to ensure that the elections are conducted peacefully, Abubakar said: “Don’t do anything to make a bad situation worse.”

Abubakar also urged political parties to cooperate in the interest of peace.

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Court Grants Babachir Lawal Bail

Sahara Reporters - 13 February 2019 - 4:57am


A Federal High Court sitting in the Abuja has granted Babachir Lawal, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), bail.

Lawal was remanded in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday, after he pleaded not guilty to the 10-count charge of N544,119,925.36 charges levelled against him by EFCC. See Also Breaking News BREAKING: Babachir Lawal To Remain In EFCC Detention 0 Comments 5 Days Ago

He is being tried alongside Hamidu David Lawal, Sulaiman Abubakar, Apeh John Monday, Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Limited

At the resumed sitting on the bail application on Wednesday, the Judge, Jude Okeke, granted Lawal and the other defendants bail in the sum of N50million each, with one surety in like sum.

According to the Judge, the sureties must be resident in Abuja, own landed property and also provide evidence of tax payment in the last three years.

Lawal and other defendants were also directed to deposit their international passports, pending the determination of their bail applications.

The case was adjourned till March 18, 2019, for the commencement of trial.

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BREAKING: CCT Orders DSS To Arrest Onnoghen

Sahara Reporters - 13 February 2019 - 4:26am


Breaking News

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Walter Onnoghen, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).

The arrest warrant was issued on a motion filed by the prosecution counsel, after Onnoghen failed to show up in court on Wednesday.

Onnoghen is standing trial before the CCT over allegations of fraudulent declaration of assets.

The CCT has also ruled that Onnoghen be arraigned for trial on Friday.

A directive was also issued to the Department of State Services (DSS) to effect the arrest of the suspended CJN.

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BREAKING: Nigerian Government Moves To Arrest Onnoghen

Sahara Reporters - 13 February 2019 - 3:43am


Breaking bannner

The prosecution team in the trial of Walter Onnoghen, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has moved a motion for Onnoghen’s arrest.

At the resumed hearing of the suit filed against on Wednesday, Aliyu Umar (SAN), the prosecution counsel, raised a motion in which he noted that since Onnoghen refused to show up in court, a warrant for his arrest should be issued.

“Under the circumstances, it is my sad duty to address the Tribunal on Section 6(1) of the Practice Direction of the tribunal. I hereby humbly apply for a warrant of arrest against the defendant,” Umar said.

Responding, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), the counsel for the defendant objected to the motion, stating that he would list reasons for the CCT to refuse the prosecution’s application for a bench warrant for Onnoghen’s arrest.

More to follow...

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APC Leaders Should Be Held Responsible For Protest During Ogun Rally, Says Amosun Faction

Sahara Reporters - 13 February 2019 - 1:09am


Wole Elegbede, the Publicity Secretary of the pro-Amosun All Progressives Congress (APC) faction in Ogun State, has blamed the APC national leadership for the violent disruption of the rally in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, on Monday.

The APC rally came to an abrupt end on Monday, when some party supporters pelted President Muhammadu Buhari and other party leaders with various objects, when they attempted to endorse Dapo Abiodun as the APC governorship candidate.

Speaking to The Punch newspaper, Elegbede said the Ogun State chapter of the APC, under the leadership of Derin  Adebiyi would not like to reply anyone, "but what happened involved the APC supporters in the state". 

He went further to say that "some supporters are aggrieved over the emergence of Dapo Abiodun as the governorship candidate, while some like it."

“As you can see, all the APC supporters agreed to vote for Buhari. What really happened could be traced to the emergence of Dapo Abiodun as the Governorship candidate

“Our APC supporters are happy with President Muhammadu Buhari and are ready to vote for him in the forthcoming election."

When asked whether his faction of the APC was happy with the ugly development or not, he said: “No dedicated member of the party will be happy with such development. What happened was caused by the leadership at the national level.

“What happened was not planned by anybody. It was not planned by the governor, and it was just a spontaneous reaction from aggrieved members, who do not like the emergence of Dapo Abiodun."
 

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Again, NBA Calls On Nigerian Govt To Withdraw Charges Against Onnoghen

Sahara Reporters - 13 February 2019 - 1:05am


The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has once again called on the Nigerian government to withdraw the charges of non-declaration of assets filed against Walter Onnoghen, the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria.

In a statement by Paul Usoro, the NBA President, issued on Tuesday, the association called on the government to comply with due process by allowing the National Judicial Council (NJC) conclude the investigation into the petitions against Onnoghen at the Council.

The call is coming hours before the Code of Conduct Tribunal is expected to sit on Wednesday.

Usoro said: “Given these non-exhaustive considerations and facts, we press on the Executive arm of the FGN to please discontinue the charge against the CJN when the matter comes up before the CCT on Wednesday, 13 February 2019. 

"We respectfully urge full compliance with due process by FGN in this matter by allowing the NJC process to take its course in respect of the two petitions against the CJN, a step that has already, commendably, been embraced by FGN in respect of the EFCC petition.”

Onnoghen was accused of committing fraud in the declaration of his assets, an offence contrary to the provisions of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

Moves by the government to freeze Onnoghen's bank accounts was thwarted by a high court order that barred the government from doing so, except there is a court order.
 

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UK To Deploy 100 Election Observers In 15 States

Sahara Reporters - 13 February 2019 - 1:01am


The United Kingdom says it will deploy more than 100 observers in 15 states for the elections commencing on Saturday.

Catriona Laing, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, said this on Tuesday while discussing the UK’s resolve towards supporting Nigeria for free, fair and credible elections.

Laing said the UK would always respect Nigeria’s sovereignty but would help it strengthen its democracy.

Speaking as a guest on Nigeria Info FM in Abuja, the British High Commissioner said: “As an independent observer country, we respect Nigeria’s sovereignty; it is our job to stand with the people of Nigeria in this democratic journey.

“The process is what matters to us. This is why we will be deploying over 100 observers in 15 states to support observer missions from the European Union, United States Diplomatic Mission in Nigeria and other local observers.

“We are confident that many things have been put in place since 2015 to strengthen the process. We’ve invested heavily as a partner with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and civil societies to strengthen those institutions and make the process stronger.”
 

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Policemen Caught Escorting VIPs On Election Day Will Be Arrested, Says IGP

Sahara Reporters - 13 February 2019 - 1:01am


Mohammed Adamu, the acting Inspector General of Police, says policemen caught escorting dignitaries on election day would be prosecuted.

He also promised to monitor the ad hoc staff, especially the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members.

He said this on Tuesday while speaking at a public presentation of a partnership between stakeholders in the election.

“No Police officer is allowed to move around with any VIP on election day. Anyone who does so in uniform or mufti will be arrested," he said 

Stating that everyone has the civic responsibility to partake in peaceful and credible elections, he noted that the election materials, electoral officials, domestic and foreign observers must be protected.

“The Independent National Electoral Commission has rolled out the ways stakeholders should conduct themselves. On our part, we assure the nation that all electoral materials will be secured and the electorate will be allowed to cast their votes without monetization," he added.

The acting IGP further disclosed that the Police would wear tags to ensure that there are no fake officers.

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Amaechi, APC Should Be Held Responsible For Election Violence, Says Wike

Sahara Reporters - 13 February 2019 - 12:58am


Nyesom Wike, the Governor of Rivers State, has called on Nigerians and the international community to hold Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) responsible for any outbreak of violence during the forthcoming elections.

A press statement by Emma Okah, Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, was issued as a result of the comments of Amaechi, who is also the Director General of the Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation.

The state government accused the governor of making caustic comments capable of causing violence during the APC campaign rally in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

Okah said: “This threat is deeply frightening and all well-meaning Nigerians and indeed members of the international community should take note of this threat from high quarters which the world heard directly or live on Channels Television, right before President Muhammadu Buhari and yet nobody reprimanded him

“It is indeed more frightening that while the President has repeatedly assured Nigerians and the international community of free, fair and peaceful elections in 2019, an appointee of the President would brazenly threaten bloodshed in the presence of the President and other APC chieftains and yet nobody cautioned him."

Amaechi had accused Wike of lobbying to return as governor.

He said: “Whatever PDP wants in Rivers State, we are equal to the task. In 2015, the army tried to arrest me as a sitting governor. Now, we have a governor who is trying to negotiate with us, asking us to give him governor and in return, he will support us for President. He is afraid, isn’t it? We will battle him to the last.

“On Saturday, we are ready for them. They used federal and state institutions against us. They used to kill our people every day. Because they want to deny us the right to choose our leaders, they ran to a state High Court judge to give them judgment. Saturday is our day.”

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Clerics Who Collect Money To Pray For Politicians Must Be Prosecuted, Says Falana

Sahara Reporters - 13 February 2019 - 12:55am


Femi Falana speaking at the launch of Sahara Repoerters Civic Media Center

Sahara Reporters Media

Femi Falana, a human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has called for the prosecution of clerics who collect money from candidates running for elective offices in order to pray for them.

The legal luminary said this at a public presentation in Abuja on Tuesday. 

He noted that electoral misconduct should not be restricted to the disruption of the electoral process on the election days

According to the lawyer, by virtue of Section 124 of the Electoral Act 2010(as amended), any form of inducement is a criminal offence. 

He, however, noted that since 1999, nobody had been prosecuted for inducement of voters, “yet we witness inducements during our elections”.

Falana said: "In the case of Falae and Obasanjo, which was decided in 1999, the Court of Appeal held that even though there was evidence that money, bags of rice and salt were distributed by the PDP — that was the allegation — the court said, ‘yes, but there is no evidence or proof that the beneficiary of the inducements, General Olusegun Obasanjo, directed the party to distribute or give out any form of gifts for the election'.

"Since then, it has been difficult to prove that the beneficiaries of inducements directly gave instructions to their parties or their agents to distribute money, rice, salt or whatever.

"We have left out those who are spending money on campaigns beyond the stipulation of the Electoral Act; people or parties offering money to defect; money spent on media to manipulate stories and make phony projections; pastors and mallams to pray for candidates to win elections; unemployed people attending rallies; thugs to attack political opponents and disrupt rallies and elections.

"If we really want to challenge the violation of the Electoral Act via the monetisation of elections, we have to go beyond those who are likely to be arrested on election day.

"With the cooperation of the Police and other security agencies, it is easy to arrest those who distribute money during elctions.”

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Three Feared Dead As Police, IPOB Clash In Imo

Sahara Reporters - 13 February 2019 - 12:54am


Three people were said to have lost their lives on Monday when policemen and members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) clashed in Owerri, the Imo State capital.

The clash was said to have started when a Police detachment was deployed to Okigwe road to stop members of the group from destroying billboards of candidates of political parties in the area. 

However, the IPOB members allegedly attacked the operatives.

According to the Punch Newspaper, a Police source said three members of IPOB lost their lives, while four policemen were also shot and rushed to the hospital.

The Police source said: “We recovered many Biafra insignia from the suspects as exhibits. We will charge them to court after investigation."

Meanwhile, Dasuki Galadanchi, the state Commissioner of Police said the suspects would be charged to court after investigation.

Earlier in February, IPOB had urged its members to boycott the February 16 presidential election, just as the group chose that date for a referendum.
 

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No Pact Signed Over Second Term, Says Sanwo-Olu

Sahara Reporters - 13 February 2019 - 12:51am


Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos State governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has dismissed signing any pact not to run for a second term as mere speculation.

Speaking on a television programme hosted by  Channels Television, the governorship candidate said his victory at the polls was a done deal.  

Sanwo-Olu said the celebration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the turn-out of supporters and loyalists at campaigns was misplaced as crowds do not translate to votes. He insisted that the PDP could not assess his popularity by the crowd at its campaigns.

He said: "I think we need to understand that crowd during political rallies is not always the same as voting on election days. I can confirm to you that crowd is not the same as actual voting. A lot happens on the election days. Mobilisation of voters, for example, is a critical element of election. So, I’ll advise that the PDP should not jubilate over what they perceive as a large turnout at the Kano rally.

"I don’t know where the idea of pact or agreement came from. But I can tell you for a fact that there is nothing of such. I didn’t sign a deal with anyone. At any rate, there is only one term  of four years on the INEC form, so it will be up to the people of Lagos State to determine whether I deserve another term based on my performance.”

When asked if he would run the state independent of external influence, Sanwo-Olu said he was an adult, old enough to take decisions and be his “own man”.
 

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$16bn Obasanjo Spent On Power Project Will Be Probed, Says Buhari

Sahara Reporters - 13 February 2019 - 12:51am


President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated his resolve to probe the $16billion spent on the failed power project by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Buhari said his government would do everything possible to recover the money and uncover those behind the scam.

He stated this on Tuesday while speaking in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, during the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign rally.

Although he did not mention Obasanjo, Buhari said: “The previous government mentioned on their own that they spent $16billion on power, but you are better witnesses than myself; where is the power? Where is the money? We will follow them; eventually, God willing, we will catch them and get our money back.”

The Nigerian government was reported to have spent N16billion on power projects between 1999 and2007 when Obasanjo was in power.

Meanwhile, Kehinde Akinyemi, the media aide to Obasanjo, says his principal is ready for the probe and would make himself available anytime.

Akinyemi said: “It is no more news. We are already expecting that. Since last year, Baba (Obasanjo) had said he would make himself available for the probe.” 
 

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Five Preemptive Takeaways About Saturday’s Election By Moses E. Ochonu

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 3:47pm


Five intersecting developments have occurred in this long election cycle that, taken together, and regardless of who wins or loses in Saturday's presidential elections, can only be good for our fledgling democracy.

1. INCUMBENCY IS DEMYSTIFIED: Nigerians used to fetishize incumbency as though it was an impregnable fortress, and electoral firewall. The last election cycle in 2015 began the process of demystifying incumbency as a guarantor of electoral success. The current election cycle seems to have reinforced that shift. Even some of Buhari's supporters now concede that he could lose the election. That's a good thing. Incumbents losing elections is no longer inconceivable. In fact, going by the tenor of the ongoing campaigns, you'd think that Atiku was the incumbent and Buhari the challenger. That's how decisive the shift from the incumbency-as-protection mindset has been.

2. SECOND TERM IS NOT GUARANTEED: Related to the above development is the fact that it used to be an unwritten principle of Nigerian politics that incumbents can expect to serve two terms in office. Not any more. Just like Jonathan did not secure a second term in part on account of his performance, Buhari may not secure a second term. If he loses, a powerful precedence would have been set or reinforced: that voters have the ultimate say on whether an incumbent deserves a second term and that it is not a given that, once elected, a public officer will serve two or more terms. This can only be good for our democracy because if we go through several electoral cycles where incumbents are denied a second term, perhaps incoming incumbents will fear voters' wrath and do what is right. They will get the message that you actually have to earn a second term and not assume that it is automatically available to you.

3. PERFORMANCE MATTERS: Continuing and deepening the message sent in 2015 about the electoral consequence of performance in office, this election cycle's most persistent and far-reaching narrative is competence/incompetence. In this regard, the incumbent's incompetence has become the main issue in the election, which has become a referendum on his ability go lead and govern. In the past, the ability to cobble together the right regional alliances and to forge the right elite consensuses guaranteed victory in presidential contests. From what is happening in this cycle, that doesn't seem to be enough. We will see if concerns about performance, competence and ability trump alliances or vice versa. Either way, the discourse of performance has indelibly been introduced into our political space. It will only grow and become more decisive in future electoral cycles.

4. WE NOW HAVE AN OPPOSITION: Whether the PDP wins or not on Saturday, it should be acknowledged that it is nothing short of remarkable that a party that no one wanted to touch with a barge pole in 2015 has so successfully reinvented itself that it could in fact make a stunning return to power four years later. For two years or so after Buhari's victory in 2015, Nigeria seemed headed for a one-party state, with the PDP crippled by factional troubles stoked in part by the fact that an APC mole, Modu Sheriff, had maneuvered himself into taking over the party’s leadership and would not surrender it. Then came the Supreme Court judgment which sacked Sheriff and paved the way for the election of a new party executive.

Thanks to that Supreme Court judgment and Nyesome Wike's cash, the PDP was resurrected and got a new life after dissatisfied APC members (re)joined it. The rest is history.

Of course, the party's ability to rehabilitate itself and to be accepted as a viable alternative to the ruling APC was enhanced by the calamitous administration of President Buhari, a failure so comprehensive and profound that it has made many Nigerians to reminisce nostalgically on the PDP era, something unthinkable in 2015. Whatever the PDP did in power, the APC has eclipsed it multiple folds.

What’s more, by freely poaching the ranks of the APC for new members and by indiscriminately admitting disgruntled members and corruption-plagued members of the PDP, including many who have pending corruption cases in courts, the APC blunted its own accusation that the PDP is a party of corruption. The PDP was able to claim, much to the Nigerian public’s agreement, that the APC had become a refuge for PDP members with ethical baggage. In fact, the revived and resurgent PDP has taken the additional audacious step of now arguing that it is now a clean party, free of corruption, since all its members with corruption accusations and cases and those who fear being charged have joined the APC, leaving behind those with nothing to hide or fear in the PDP. This is, of course, a stretch, but it is indicative of the rehabilitation and swagger of a party written off as dead just two years ago.

Whatever happens on Saturday, at least the fear of a one-party democracy has receded and we now have a vibrant opposition again. If Buhari loses, the APC will remember the Supreme Court judgment sacking Sheriff as a seminal moment (someone said that's one of the reasons they now hate the Supreme Court; they suspect that Wike bought that judgment). Nigerians will remember the judgment differently: as the event that restored a semblance of democracy by resurrecting a comatose opposition party.

Whatever the outcome of Saturday’s election, the oppositional dynamic that now exists in the Nigerian political space will endure, and that will serve our democracy well.

5. THE THIRD FORCE IS REAL: Whatever you think of the chances of the presidential candidates running outside the APC-PDP party platforms, you cannot discount their unprecedented influence on the debate around the responsibilities of the office of president. They have helped reframe the narrative that being president of Nigeria requires the possession of some esoteric abilities. Young, restless, and impatient, these candidates and their followers have rejected a politics founded on primordial and interest cleavages and on transactional patronage and have instead opened the way to a politics of ideas and problem solving.

The third party candidates have unleashed intellectual and youthful energy into a rather drab contest, enriching the conversation and catalyzing a massive third force movement that now poses a real threat to the rotational hegemony of APC-PDP. Omoyele Sowore and Kingsley Moghalu in particular have captured the youths’ imagination in ways that have made it plausible to think that indeed a third way is possible and that the establishment represented by the two dominant parties can be overthrown electorally.

The two candidates have raised money directly from citizens and have utilized their own funds, bucking the established practice of relying on godfathers and benefactors for campaign finance. They have campaign in traditional rallies and also by making direct approaches to citizens in town hall meetings, street corners, markets, and remote villages — the kind of retail politics that the PDP-APC politicians do not have time for.  They have different socioeconomic visions for the country, but their ideas have been novel and refreshingly insurgent. They offer solutions and ideas that depart radically from the failed approaches of the APC-PDP dyad.

Whatever happens on Saturday, this third party movement is going nowhere and will only grow stronger and resonate farther in preparation for future elections.

Professor Ochonu can be reached at meochonu@gmail.com

#NigeriaDecides Opinion AddThis :  Original Author :  Moses E. Ochonu Disable advertisements : 
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Mobil Petrol Station Attendants In Akure Beat Woman To A Pulp For ‘Parking Without Permission’

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 2:41pm


Mrs Olufunmi Ogunmola (not real name), a middle-aged woman, was beaten to a pulp by some attendants of Mobil Petrol Station in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

Ogunmola, a businesswoman, was returning home from a church programme alongside her sister simply identified as Iyabo, when they were attacked by the petrol station attendants.

SaharaReporters gathered that the offence of the duo was parking in front of the petrol station without permission.

A reliable source, who witnessed the assault, narrated the incident to our correspondent.

"The scene today was very terrible at the Mobil Petrol Station along Oba Ile road. The woman in question only parked her vehicle at the front the filling station. By the time she returned to pick up her vehicle, the attendant at the station challenged her for parking without any permission," he said.

"She explained and pleaded, but the attendant refused to listen to her excuse and in the process, the other attendants joined and demanded to know what happened. Before we knew it, the attendants became confrontational, and invited other boys, numbering about seven, to deal with the woman.

"They nearly beat her into a state of coma, as they molested and inflicted her with injuries.”

A family member of the victim also confirmed the assault, noting that the woman was later hospitalised.

"Yes, it is true. Seven hefty men who are attendants at the station turned my two sisters into a punching bag and beat them mercilessly. The most very annoying part was that the whole scenario took place in the presence of the owner of the petrol station.

"The owner, one Mr. Dayo Ajayi, who is always very reluctant to deal with his workers anytime they err, watched tactically and supported the barbaric action of his staff. In fact, many passers-by and onlookers were shocked that suchincident could happen in broad daylight.”

SaharaReporters, however, gathered that the matter had been reported at the Ijapo Police station in Akure. Police sources at the station hinted that two of the attendants who joined in assaulting the woman have been arrested. 

"The issue would have been sorted out before coming to our station to report the case, but let me hint you that two out of the attendants have been arrested. Also, we have started investigation into the case and I am aware that the assaulted woman and her sister are currently receiving treatment at our Police clinic," he said.

CRIME Human Rights News AddThis :  Featured Image :  Original Author :  SaharaReporters, New York Disable advertisements : 
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2019 Presidential Elections: Is “Coalition” The New Con? By Dr. Adeoye Joshua

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 2:39pm


#NigeriaDecides2019

Are you Nigerian and have not seen the film-series “Hustle”? I have good news for you - you do not need to. Don’t get me wrong, it is spectacular. But, and herein lies my point, why pay to watch sometimes-unclear british accents when its subject matter – the “long con” – can be experienced LIVE! and in 3-D in an equally-interesting, locally-available, and free film-series called Nigerian Politics?

Wikipedia defines a long con (big con or long game) as a scam that unfolds over several weeks, involving a team of swindlers, props, sets, extras, costumes, and scripted lines. It is also called a confidence trick, and refers to an attempt to defraud a person or group, called the mark, after first gaining their trust or confidence.

Hustle points out the following salient points about long cons. First, they aim to clean you out for everything you are worth. This is called the Score. They are not after your wallet or some tiny portion of your savings. Second, there is always an invisible “puppeteer” pulling the strings. These strings control puppets or props, who, usually, don’t know their strings are being pulled. Puppets have an active role, while props are just for show. Finally, puppeteers have accomplices, who help to pull these strings.

Nigerian politics is the long con you do not have to pay to watch. If you are Nigerian, you are smack in the middle. You are the mark. The score is your vote, and with it, your God-given, citizenship-endowed share of Nigeria’s resources for the next four years. The con-men are called politicians, very few of whom are puppeteers, some are accomplices, many are props, and most are puppets.

Don’t believe me? Then consider these.

A long con involves six definite steps, made in advance of the game. The first is foundation work, including setting up of props and puppets. An approach to the mark is made, following which there is a build-up. Here, the mark is intimated of the scheme’s benefits. Then comes the pay-off or convincer, where the victim receives a small payout as demonstration of the scheme’s effectiveness. Suddenly, a change of events forces the victim to act immediately. This is the hurrah. If the mark is still not fully convinced, there is an In-and-In, where, an accomplice, posing as an interested bystander, puts their money in to lend the scheme legitimacy. Usually, this clinches the deal.

By now, you must be dying to know which scam I am referring to.

If you follow Nigerian politics, you must have been amused by the irony of PDP “announcing” a “coalition” with briefcase parties after bragging about being the largest in Nigeria. But that was the foundation for the “coalition game”.

As if on cue, “young candidates” were approached, if not even bullied, by “concerned individuals” to form a “coalition” too. Without it, it was emphasized multiply, there was no hope of changing this old order holding Nigeria and Nigerians to ransom. After all, even “almighty PDP” was drinking from a CUPP! That was the build up. After that, even you must have developed confidence in the word “coalition”.

You must then have been dismayed to see PACT – this coalition of young aspirants – careen quickly to a dead end, egged on by a premature vote to select ONE aspirant (thereby eliminating EVERYONE ELSE from the presidential race). This is despite warnings to wait until they had at least won their party’s nominations! But, alas, they needed a pay-off to deceive you into thinking big things would follow. There was an added advantage – for most aspirants, that pay-off to Nigerians was their death blow. Why invest effort or resources in a nationwide campaign when your own “colleagues” won’t even choose you?

A certain Omoyele Sowore refused to read the memo, however. Not only did he exit PACT before the rush to certain death, he expanded his campaign countrywide, started a political party called the African Action Congress (AAC), all the while screaming to all that would listen that the PDP and APC were the same. The con-men not go to sleep just yet.

So, they threw a hurrah - Ezekwesili “sacrificed” her presidential ambition to focus on a “coalition” to beat the APC and PDP. Barely hours before her party endorsed the APC candidate! Surprising, yeah? This is the same person that announced her candidacy AFTER overseeing the premature death of the PACT coalition. The same umpire who kept mute as Kingsley Moghalu torpedoed the “coalition”!

A day later came the In-and-In – an ANN and YPP coalition! Otherwise, how do you explain a coalition of ANN’s Durotoye, whose PACT victory was torpedoed, and YPP’s Moghalu, who did the torpedoing by dishonoring an agreement he had pushed, and signed? What has changed that Moghalu suddenly believes in a coalition with Durotoye? Why has he not suffered any consequences for killing PACT? Is coalescing just a pastime for these two?

Then consider the rather stellar timing – barely days after a certain Omoyele Sowore (remember him?) had disemboweled the APC and PDP on a widely-watched townhall on prime-time National TV.

The same Sowore that was excluded from a debate organized by the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON) and Channels TV a few days earlier, despite clear violation of broadcasting ethics.

The same debate that featured just these coalition-eers in it, as, “co-incidentally”, BOTH the APC and PDP.

And if it wasn’t curious enough, John Momoh, the CEO of Channels TV resigned the BON Chairmanship just days after that debate - after resisting protests and a legal challenge to include Sowore in it.

If you are like me, having watched Hustle, and having identified a scam, you would have smiled, patted yourself on the back for a job well-done, and then begun to ask, just as I am now – amongst all listed (and not listed), who are the puppets, the accomplices, and the props? And who is/are the puppeteer(s)?

Opinion AddThis :  Original Author :  Dr. Adeoye Joshua B. Disable advertisements : 
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A Blood And Body-Bags Election By Sonala Olumhense

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 2:28pm


Sonala Olumhense Syndicated

Sonala Olumhense Syndicated

In six days, Nigerians of voting age will clarify not only whom they are, but whom they wish to be.

Four years ago, I helped bring to the leadership of Nigeria a man I had equally endorsed at the 2011 election: General Muhammadu Buhari, as President.  In 2015, there really wasn’t much of a choice.

This year, there is: Anybody Else.  Anybody But Buhari.  Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, unintentionally captured the situation a few days ago during a campaign stop in Owerri.

Reaching down to his evangelical side, the pastor told the crowd: “The most important thing is that when the righteous are in power, the people rejoice.”

Then he asked, “Are you rejoicing now?”

The crowd erupted: “NOOOO!!!”

The Vice-President seemed to think that he may have been misheard, or that his audience had perhaps got its cue wrong.

He tried again: “Under this government…are you rejoicing?”

Louder came a thunderous tumult, as if the crowd thought Osinbajo was hard of hearing: “NOOOO!!!”

But here is the punchline, and I am going to quote the Vice-President comma by comma in a statement he made as if it were 2015 and he was waxing delirious about the Goodluck Jonathan administration his APC presidential ticket was trying to defeat:

“Very good. The reason, the reason, the reason why we cannot rejoice under this government is because the Scripture says, ‘when the righteous are in power, the people rejoice.’”

I don’t know who wrote the screenplay of Osinbajo’s Nollywood appearance at that Owerri rally.  Clearly, the answer to his question was supposed to have been a resounding “YES!”

In which case his conclusion, something about righteousness and political power, was supposed to be that Nigerians are happy today because the right people are in power and should be re-elected.

The louder rejection of his proposal the second time appeared to have thrown the vice-president out of his Tradermoni heart and the law professor adlibbed into a verdict against his very purpose.

Now, I believe that Osinbajo, speaking before an audience he understood to be mainly Christians, had hoped to take advantage of their faith.  In which case it is wise to look at the segment of the Holy Book he unwisely—but incompletely—drew from: Proverbs 29:2.

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn,” it says.

It is not surprising that the Vice-President avoided that second part, but his conclusion was unavoidable: Nigerians are suffering because its rulers—whatever they think of themselves—are wicked.

Osinbajo’s testimony against his own cause says almost everything anyone would like to know about where Nigerians find themselves this week as they vote.

Buhari himself continued the effort to market the same theme three days ago, calling on the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria to stand for righteousness and truth, and preach against all forms of corruption, as “only righteousness” can elevate Nigeria.

Mercifully, he was not standing before an incredulous crowd to preach righteousness.  But before Osinbajo spoke, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai had inflicted a different kind of righteousness.

I have praised El-Rufai in this column for what seemed to be his clarity of vision, notably in March 2017 when the second of two powerful memos he sent to Buhari, leaked.  The first was in April 2015, before Buhari took his oath of office, and the other in September 2016.

Citing “the progress of our party, our president, our government and our country,” the governor offered Buhari a 30-page, well-reasoned strategic plan in which he challenged the president to revamp the entire apparatus of government so that APC would not leave Nigeria worse than it had met it.

Stressing that the Buhari administration had so far failed to manage the “change” expectations of Nigerians or ‘to deliver even mundane matters of governance’ outside of fighting Boko Haram and corruption, he urged him to “act decisively.”

“Overall, the feeling even among our supporters today is that the APC government is not doing well,” the governor observed.  He encouraged Buhari to consider communicating actively and directly with the Nigerian public to enunciate the government’s plans, strategy and roadmap to take Nigeria out of her economic mess.

For that purpose, he suggested that Buhari use a mechanism “akin to a State of the Union address…preferably in a joint session of the National Assembly,” during which he would explain some perceptions and lay out his vision.

Among others, he pointed out that APC could shape Nigeria’s political culture in [Buhari’s] image through active stakeholders and process engagement, saying, “We are not engaging at all, and [are] taking things and important matters for granted.”

El-Rufai counseled that the institutional weaknesses that enabled corruption to thrive under Jonathan and the persons involved, were still very much in control, “and many are around you.”

He wanted stronger hands and minds closer to the president, describing [former SGF] Babachir Lawal] as “inexperienced, lacking in humility, [and] insensitive and rude to most VIPs,” and Chief of Staff Abba Kyari as “totally clueless.”

El-Rufai then spelled to Buhari the time: “You have both a crisis and opportunity in your hands to turn around our country in the right direction.”

But APC and Buhari’s ineptitude were just fermenting.  They ignored all progressive voices inside and outside the party, and rotted in ambition, focus and performance.  Buhari, for his part, never read any of El-Rufai’s memos: he handed them to the same key officials the governor had criticized, who shredded them and demonized him.

Last week, with days before the election, a key measure of the depth of the Buhari rot emerged: the same el-Rufai appearing on television to threaten the massacre of foreigners who “intervene” to disrupt Buhari’s desperation to remain in office.

“Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that will come and intervene,” he said, threatening: “They will go back in body bags.”

It was a strange response to international expressions of concern about the elections being free and fair.  Ambition and power clearly overrunning good judgement, el-Rufai threw away every benefit of the doubt.

But he illustrates what faces voters in Saturday’s ballot: the mind-boggling reality that a government that was enthroned with such overwhelming support is baying for blood for re-election.

But Buhari deserves a heavy defeat this week because as el-Rufai had himself predicted, he and his party have in real terms made things considerably worse for Nigeria.

Sadly, Buhari has been fully exposed as fickle of conviction, frail of body and fragile of mind.  To say that he will rise beyond himself to inspire and elevate Nigeria is to bathe our children in sewage.

The truth is that the very deficiencies identified by el-Rufai in 2016 were not symptoms but chronic diseases that have now mutated, with APC politicians now contradicting everything they said in 2015.  This has nothing to do with PDP, but everything to do with Buhari’s character and poverty as a man.

In the real world, when there is an infectious disease, you flee. This week, Nigerians should free themselves by voting for Nigeria.  That means against Buhari.

sonala.olumhense@gmail.com @SonalaOlumhense

Sonala Olumhense Syndicated Column Opinion AddThis :  Original Author :  Sonala Olumhense Disable advertisements : 
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