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Nigerian Govt Has Imported Israeli Equipment To Jam Network During Elections, Says Fayose

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 2:14pm


Ayodele Fayose, immediate past Governor of Ekiti State, has accused the Nigerian government of hatching a plan to jam all telecommunications networks from 5am on Saturday till 5pm on Sunday.

He claimed that the plan was to make it impossible for Nigerians to use the internet or make phone calls during the presidential and National Assembly elections.

Fayose, who is also the Southwest Coordinator of the Atiku/Obi Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council, said the equipment for the “sinister plot arrived the country from Israel last week and the test run was done on Thursday and Friday.

"I am in my house and even if they put gun in my head, I won't keep silent at this time because this same strategy was used in Ekiti State during the 2018 governorship election.”

A statement issued on Tuesday evening Lere Olayinka, his media aide, urged all Nigerians and the international community to rise in defence of democracy and the country.

I am aware of plot by the FG to jam telecoms networks from 5am on Saturday till 5pm on Sunday, thus making it impossible for use of internet and phone calls during the elections. Equipment imported from Israel for this sinister plot was tested last week Thursday and Friday.

— Peter Ayodele Fayose (@GovAyoFayose) February 12, 2019

He said: "During the governorship election in Ekiti State, they jammed telecoms networks 3km radius around the state government house and my hometown, Afao Ekiti. My telephone lines and those of people around me were also engaged with fake calls from 5am on July 21, 2018 till 5am on July 22, 2019.

"This time around, they want to repeat the same by jamming all networks, especially in states where they intend to rig on Saturday so that Nigerians won't be able to publish polling unit results on social media and also communicate with media houses to expose rigging.

"As at this moment, the jamming equipment brought from Israel is in the country and was demonstrated last week Thursday and Friday."

Fayose, who said no amount of sinister plots by the APC-led government would prevent Nigerians from “freeing themselves from the present regime of bondage”, added that "Nigerians are resolute; they have made up their minds to vote and make sure that their votes count on Saturday. Jamming telecoms services will not work and it will be vehemently resisted.”

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NCAA Reacts To Trending Video, Says No Airline Can Operate With Worn-out Tyres,

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 2:06pm


The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has declared that no Nigerian airline can operate with worn-out tyres, contrary to what has been trending online in the past one week.

The regulatory authority insisted that with all the various checks and counter checks it had put in place, combined with that of the operators, it is improbable that any airline in Nigeria would operate a service with that kind of tyre.

The regulatory agency, however, advised the original author of the post or any other individuals with safety-related issues to furnish it with the identity of the airline or any such information to enable it establish the authenticity of the claim and ensure appropriate action.

A press statement by Sam Adurogboye, the General Manager, the NCAA Public Affairs, said its Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASI) are well-trained and well-motivated to carry out routine ramp inspection on all airlines operating in Nigeria.

Adurogboye hinted that it is the primary responsibility of the authority’s inspectors to ensure that all the parts of the aircraft complies with the applicable airworthiness requirements and remains in a condition for safe operation before every flight and throughout its operating life.

He said in addition to the agency’s oversight roles, NCAA had placed the onerous responsibility of the first line of safety on the operating airlines’ Pilot-In-Command (PIC) of each flight and the assigned engineer that authorised each flight.

He said: “According to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) Part 5.4.1.1(b) the authority shall issue a Certificate of Airworthiness for aircraft registered in Nigeria based on satisfactory evidence that the aircraft complies with the design aspects of the appropriate airworthiness requirements (type certificate) and is in a condition for safe operation.

“NCAA’s Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASI) are well-trained and well-motivated to carry out routine ramp inspection on all airlines operating in Nigeria.

“It is the primary responsibility of the authority inspectors to ensure that all the parts of the aircraft complies with the applicable airworthiness requirements and remains in a condition for safe operation before every flight and throughout its operating life.

“However, NCAA wishes to advise the original author of the post or any other individuals with safety related issue, if any, to furnish the authority with the identity of the airline or any of such information to enable us establish the authenticity of the claim and ensure appropriate action.”

He maintained that NCAA would continue to carry out surveillance checks on the industry to ensure safety and security of airline operations in Nigeria, noting that violation is viewed seriously.

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Court Remands Ecobank Manager In Prison For N411million Fraud

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 1:50pm


A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has ordered the remand of Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike, a manager of Ecobank Plc, over allegations of defrauding one of the bank’s customers to the tune of N411million.

Azike was arraigned before Justice Ayotunde Faji on Tuesday, by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police Force on a three-count charge bordering on obtaining money under false pretences, false representation and fraud.

The charge signed by ASP Daniel Aporchi, marked FHC/L/56c/2019, alleged that the Ecobank manager, fraudulently obtained the sum of N150million from one Okafor Ikenna Kelvin, owner of the bank account number, 0533010936.

Azike allegedly received the money between 2016 and 2017, under the pretext of buying the customer a Federal Government Treasury Bill in his bank.

Azike was also alleged to have forged the bank customer’s signature and a letter of instruction, which he used to open another parallel account as Ikenna Okafor Kelvin, with account number: 5333063028.

The Police also alleged that the bank manager, without the consent of the bank, fraudulently converted the sum of N411million belonging to the customer, to his personal use.

The offences, according to the prosecutor, Daniel Apochi, contradicts the provision of Section 1(1)(a), 15(1)(2) and 15(2) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 of 2006, and punishable under Section 1(3) of the same Act.

The offence is also said to be contrary to the provisions of section 1(2)(2) of the miscellaneous Act. Cap. M17, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

The charge sheet, sighted by SaharaReporters, read: “That you lfeanyi Chukwu Azike ‘M’ sometime in 2016 and 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Federal High Court with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of N150,000,000.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) from Mr Okafor Ikenna Kelvin, a customer of Ecobank Plc with Account No: 533010936 from your employer, by falsely representing to him that you are going to purchase Federal Government Treasury Bill in Ecobank Nigeria Plc for him as Bank Manager, which representation you knew to be false or did not believe to be true and by this conduct, you thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 1(1)(a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act No. 14 6V2006, but punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

“That you Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike ’M’ sometime between 2016 and 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Federal High Court did forge Signature, Picture, Letter of Instruction to open another parallel account as Ikenna Okafor Kelvin, account number: 5333063028, knowing it to be false or with intent that it may in anyway be used or acted upon as genuine, whether in Nigeria or elsewhere to the prejudice of Ikenna Okafor Kelvin and Ecobank Plc your employer, you thereby committed an offence, contrary to Section 1(2)(c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, CAP M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“That you Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike ’M’ on or about 2016 and 2017, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, did fraudulent convert to your use the sum of N411,000,000.00 (four hundred and eleven million Naira) being money fraudulently withdraw from your employer bank without their consent, and customer of your bank, Ecobank Plc for enabling you invest on behalf of the Customer, which you failed to deliver with the aim of converting the illicit origin of the resources and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 15(1)(2) and 15(2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.”

The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Following his plea of not guilty, the prosecutor urged the court to remand him in prison custody pending trial.

Consequently, Justice Faji ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison custody, while he adjourned till March 8, for trial.

The judge also fixed the date for hearing of his bail application.

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SDP Lists The Offences Of Expelled Jerry Gana And Suspended Donald Duke

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 1:17pm


The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has explained the reasons for the expulsion of Jerry Gana, the former Minister of Information, and the suspension of Donald Duke, its presidential candidate from the party.

Yemi Akinbode, the Director of Media and Publicity of the party, who gave an insight into the offences committed by the politicians on Tuesday in Abuja, said the party decided to wield the big stick because of their gross misconduct.

Akinbode explained that Gana does not have the locus standi to call the purported National Executive Council (NEC) meeting. He stated that the meeting was illegal and unconstitutional.

"You will recall that the same act of greed, arrogance, disloyalty and perversion being displayed by Professor Gana today in the SDP was responsible for his problem with the leadership of his former party, the PDP, where Professor Gana was accused of embezzling the sum of N500million. This is not a good story for the man. It doesn't portray him in good public light,” he said.

He stressed that he went to court after he had signed an undertaking to support whoever emerges as the winner of the presidential primaries.

He said: "The party has, therefore, come to the realisation that Gana’s legal suit was motivated by nothing than arrogance, greed, ethnicity and nepotism. He has demonstrated high level of disloyalty and antithetical behaviour that has no iota of goodwill and respect for the ideals and principles of one indivisible, progressive and united Nigeria.

“It is also very clear that Professor Gana has become a divisive politician that has nothing to give back to Nigeria than inciting and promoting religion bigotry in a volatile country like Nigeria.”

He added that the NWC of the party could no longer fold its arms as leaders from whom much is expected, and allow a single individual to “bring to total collapse, a party to which millions of people tied their dreams and destinies”.

He continued: "Consequently, the NWC of our great party, the SDP, on this day, Tuesday, 12th February, 2019, based on the power vested in the NWC by Article 19:4 hereby expels Professor Jerry Gana from the party with immediate effect.”

According to Akinbode, the committee also recommended the National Vice Chairman (South West), Chief Shupo Shonibare for expulsion with immediate effect, because he made himself arrow head of a dissident group in the party.

He expressed surprise that Donald Duke could betray the party so soon, despite all the goodwill of the party towards him. He stated that Duke arrested the progress of the party by not commencing campaign at state, regional and federal levels, thereby diminishing the potentials and capacities of the party.

"Consequently, for his disrespect for the leadership of the party that has done so much for him, and for also his disobedience to the rules and regulations of the SDP, Duke has erred and the law must take its course. Relying on the provisions of the constitution of the party, the NWC wishes to announce his immediate suspension from the party forthwith.”

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Tension In Bayelsa As Security Operatives Invade Ex-militant's Base

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 12:31pm


There is palpable tension in Peremabiri community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state of Bayelsa State, over reports of an invasion by security operatives.

The community is the country home of an ex-militant leader, Eris Paul, popularly known as ‘Ogunboss’, who has been at loggerheads with Governor Seriake Dickson.

SaharaReporters gathered that some security operatives made up of the officers of the Nigerian Navy and the state security outfit known as ‘Door Akpor’, invaded the community to arrest the ex-militant leader, ahead of the general election.

The armed invasion, which occurred on Saturday night, threw the quiet community into panic. A 200-horse-powered speed boat and two 75 horse powered boats were said to have been stolen.

Timipre Sylva, a former Governor of Bayelsa State, during a media broadcast on Monday said the attack was politically-motivated, noting that it was allegedly sponsored because the ex-militant leader is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

A group known as the Citizen Rights Watch, led by Comrade Eriye (Egbematorou) and Comrade Stephen Nicodemus (Peremabiri), accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration of using the security outfits for “personal and political vendetta”.

The group also alleged that the newly sworn-in vice chairman of the Southern Ijaw Local Government Council led the attack under the guise of ‘show of strength’.

In a statement issued via email, the Citizen Rights Watch claimed that “the preliminary report on the incident showed that the invasion of the community was motivated by the alleged desperate effort of the PDP to install the deposed Paramount Ruler of the Community, Mr. Promise Neverdie, and secure the Ward 8 control in Southern Ijaw Local Government Council.”

The group also alleged that the invasion was motivated by the “inability of the PDP campaign train to land in Peremabiri community due to the purported threat of the ex-militant leader that the community may not be safe for the campaign team of the ruling party”.

The statement added: “The PDP-led administration should apologize to the people of the Peremabiri community for the attack and government should remain neutral on the issue of internal community squabbles. We call on President Muhammadu Buhari, the Chief of Naval Staff, and the Nigerian Army to investigate the armed security personnel used in the inglorious invasion.

“We call on the Governor to stop the ongoing intimidation of Peremabiri for political gains. Governor Dickson should remember that he led the high criticism against former Governor Sylva on issues of use of cultists and security agents to intimidate the people, but he has now become the user of the military and cultists to intimidate the people. He should apologise to Sylva.

“We call on the sons and daughters of the Boma clan in the administration of Governor Seriake Dickson and the PDP to speak and be counted, as those that stood out to make a difference.”

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BREAKING: Confusion In SDP As Faction Suspends National Chairman, Adopts Atiku

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 12:19pm


A factional group of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has suspended Professor Tunde Adeniran, the acting National Chairman.

The group also adopted Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as its presidential candidate.

The announcement comes five days after the party adopted President Muhammadu Buhari as its presidential candidate for the 2019 general election.

Tuesday's development was contained in a communiqué signed by Supo Shonibare, National Chairman and Adakole Ijigi, National Secretary, at the end of a stakeholders' meeting of the party on Tuesday, held at Merit House in Abuja.

The group, led by Shonibare, said the appointment and announcement of Adeniran as the acting Chairman of the party is unconstitutional, adding that his suspension was as a result of his gross misconduct, anti-party activities, and acts prejudicial to the fortunes of the party, “which have gravely brought the party to great disrepute”.

Shonibare, formerly the party’s National Vice Chairman, South West, was nominated, adopted and ratified as the new National Chairman of the party. The group also suspended the National Secretary of the party, Alhaji Shehu Gabam.

The communiqué read: "The NEC considered all the options available to the party and observed the impasse occasioned by the lingering court claims of our presidential candidates which prevented any nationwide presidential campaign.

"In view of these challenges, the NEC deliberated exhaustively and unanimously resolved to direct the Social Democratic Party supporters nationwide to mobilize our members and members of the public to support the candidature of the Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

"This directive is premised on the Alhaji Atiku Abubakar acceptance of a template for fiscal and political restructuring to devolve to the states all functions of government that are not the exclusive prerogative of obligations under international treaties or common services of states, and on assurance that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar will be able to effectively address the economic security and political challenges facing the polity.”

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2019 Elections And Disturbing Political Violence By Alabidun Shuaib Abdulrahman

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 12:15pm


Historically, Nigeria’s elections have always been tense. In few days, Nigerians will go to the polls to elect the country’s next president and members of National Assembly. And as the campaign gathers momentum, there are concerns the upcoming process will see new violence. Although I am neither a prophet of doom nor pro electoral violence to have predicted this but it must be stated we can't rule it out, considering the scores of political violence that have been witnessed in recent times.

On January 8, violence erupted during the inauguration of the campaign of the All Progressives Congress at the Sky Power Ground, Oba Akinjobi Road, Ikeja, Lagos, as factional political errands boys known as thugs invaded the venue in their daredevil - look and later disrupted the programme by engaging in a supremacy battle with one another. They wielded all sorts of dangerous weapons against one another the aftermath was several degrees of injury.

Many were reportedly shot, as some were hacked. Among those who reportedly sustained gunshot injuries during the clash were the Group Political Editor of The Nation, Emmanuel Oladesu; a correspondent with New Telegraph, Temitope Ogunbanke; and a cameraman with Ibile Television, Abiodun Yusuf and surprisingly, a leader of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Musiliu Akinsanya, aka MC Oluomo, was also stabbed during the clash.

In a separate incident, a few days later, one person was killed and about 10 vehicles were destroyed during an attack on the convoy of the governorship candidate of the APC in Taraba State, Alhaji Sani Danladi. The incident occurred when Danladi, who was on a campaign tour of the Southern zone of the state was on his way to Ibi Local Government Area and his convoy ran into some youths who barricaded the Ibi roundabout area of Wukari.

Also, in another scenario, it was reported around January that two persons were injured and many properties worth millions of naira were destroyed in Kwara State as a result of political clash among the political apologists of People's Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC). 

However, just recently, hell was let loose in Abuja, as supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) engaged in a violent clash that left many injured and several vehicles burnt. It is said that the incident happened when the convoy of the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Mohammed Musa Bello, ran into a PDP campaign event at Dei Dei market, on the way to the palace of the Sarkin Jiwa in Jiwa District. 

So unfortunate, these are among the numerous cases of violence that have been recorded in Nigeria since the process leading to the nation’s general elections. 

Furthermore, the National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Maj.-Gen. Mohammed Monguno, during his meeting with members of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) made a very shocking revelation on how some politicians are scheming to arm political thugs during the general elections. He said that intelligence reports had indicated plans by some individuals and groups to instigate violence during and after the upcoming elections. 

As the nation gets closer to the general elections, therefore, one will just hope that political gladiators will learn from the saying that when brothers fight to death, a stranger inherits their father’s estate.
Youths should apply senses, so as not to allow their blood to be used to settle political scores. The ‘old brigade gladiators’ that you are supporting and want to kill yourselves for have been leading this country in their early 20s and 30s respectively. Play politics with both civility and humanity. 

While we await a credible and violence free polls before, during and after elections, there should be self-censorship in the spread of fake news and hate speech, as many times, political intolerance is characterised by hate speech and non-issue based driven campaign. 

Just as incidences cited above do cause violence, the deliberate spread of fake results from the election without cross-checking do cause more. It is expected that more of such falsehood will still be dished out during the elections, therefore causing unnecessary panic among citizens.

Therefore, a peaceful general election must be preceded by political education of electorates and party supporters alike. Our security personnel should do everything possible to forestall any bloodletting before, during and after election, as my hashtag is "Let's vote and no fight."

Alabidun wrote from Wuye, Abuja and can be reached via alabidungoldenson@gmail.com

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'Buhari No Longer Has 12 Million Votes In The North' — Coalition Of 300 groups Endorses Atiku

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 11:53am


A coalition of more than 300 political groups has endorsed Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

According to the groups, President Muhammadu Buhari has lost the support of 12 million voters, which he “comfortably monopolised” in previous election.

The coalition, which cuts across political party divides, based its decision on “the momentum the Atiku presidential campaign” has continued to gather across the country.

Balarabe Sadi Adamu, who spoke on behalf of the coalition at a large gathering in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, on Tuesday, said: "The North cannot cede power to the North-West all the time, except if we want to redefine the North as North-West. You can see that contrary to permutations, Kano stood still for several hours when Atiku visited on Sunday.

"I mean, in all parts of the North, we all can attest to Atiku's strong and competitive outing. In Borno, Katsina, Sokoto, these were hitherto no-go areas for President Buhari's opponents; you know that.

"I can bet it that the so called 12 million votes for Buhari in the North for now, only exists in some people's imagination. Therefore, going by what obtains in the ongoing campaign rallies across the country, every right thinking Nigerian knows where the pendulum is swinging to.”

Also speaking, Mary Frank made a mockery of yesterday's pelting of dignitaries at President Muhammadu Buhari's rally in Ogun, saying "it only signals public rejection". She added that "the Ogun saga is a testament that Nigerians have rejected the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)".

Ahmed Umar Fintri, the PDP governorship candidate in Adamawa, who addressed the gathering on behalf of Atiku, urged supporters of the former Vice-President to come out en masse on Thursday, as the party rounds up its presidential campaign in Yola.

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JUST IN: Four Killed In Stampede At APC Rally In Port Harcourt

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 11:51am


Four people lost their lives in a stampede at the presidential rally of the All Progressives Congress (APC) held at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Rivers State, on Tuesday.

Many others were said to have sustained injuries during the incident.

The victims were said to have been trampled upon.

Others who were in the throes of death were rushed to a nearby hospital for medical attention.

As of the time of filing the report, there was no official confirmation of the number of people that died.

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NGOs, Catholic Women Partner To Tackle The LGBT Threat To African Family Values

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 11:33am


Nigeria is said to have a 'youth bulge', with over 6O per cent of its population between ages 15 and 35 years. This implies that the country has huge human resources, which, if properly harnessed, are capable of restoring its pride of place among the comity of nations.

Unfortunately, young people are confronted with various challenges that continually hinder them from reaching their maximum potential. These include increased rate of drug abuse and addiction, pornography, prostitution, unemployment, promiscuity, eroding societal values among other issues have left a good number of youths devastated.

These have made it imperative for the Foundation for African Cultural Heritage (FACH), a Non-profit Governmental Organisation (NGO), to collaborate with the Catholic Women Organisation (CWO) in changing the narrative by sensitising, informing and guarding the youth against external influences from some international organisations, most especially those that promulgate LGBT agenda in contradiction of the African Cultural and religious beliefs, thereby contributing to the collapse of family values.
 
Through a two-day conference tagged 'Responding to the Challenges of Youth, family and society: The Millennial's Response', various speakers drawn from within and outside the country, including Catholic Bishops of Enugu, Awka and Nsukka, urged parents to embrace the challenge of training their children in line with the principles of the church, as bad parenting and neglect is bedevilling the future of young people. 

President, Catholic Women Organisation, Nigeria, Barrister Nwanneka Okolo; President, World Youth Alliance, Anna Halpine and Director, Quality Assurance And Research Development Agency, Dr Tessy Okafor, raised concerns about teaching "comprehensive sexuality education" in primary and secondary schools, which they say exposes children to the use of contraceptives at an early age. They warned that bizarre and wrong sexual orientation encourages abuse of their sexuality and in the long run are harmful to the development of the children, thereby promoting LGBT agenda alien to African culture.

The conference exposed participants to tactics employed by these International Donor Agencies in funding distribution contraceptives and condoms in schools and among young people.

Examples of how they penetrate lawmaking arm of government were cited during the conference. 

Legislators in the country were advised to be on the alert and acquire adequate knowledge on the terminologies and words that suggest LGBT rights, as found in some bills brought before national and state assemblies.

Other pro-life advocates, including directors of FACH, Dr Nkechi Asogwa, Dr Regina Akosa and member Mrs Ifeyinwa Agwu, among others, highlighted the importance of upholding "human dignity", which they described as the basis for "human rights".

Participants were enlightened by experts on health and psychological problems associated with using contraceptives for family planning and IVF. They were encouraged to embrace and spread the message of natural and safe methods of conception and child spacing to safeguard the health of African women.

These international organisations were urged to assist the country in fixing its infrastructural deficit as against funding initiatives detrimental to population growth and maternal health.

Despite the misconceptions by today's society about abstinence, which is often considered archaic, youth are being advised at the to embrace chastity as the pathway to happy marriage.
Youths were also encouraged to imbibe virtues that will strengthen their personalities and self-confidence such as volunteering. They were told to implore the effective and active use of social media to promote values and evangelise the message of Christ.

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2019 Presidential Election: I Stand With Sowore By Churchill Okonkwo

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 11:23am


More than two years before the former U.S. President Barack Obama declared to run for the United States President, Oprah Winfrey appeared on Larry King Live on CNN, described Obama as her favorite senator and hoped he would run for president.  In June 2008, after Obama secured the Democratic nomination, Winfrey said that “I'm euphoric; I've been doing the happy dance all day. I'm so proud of Barack and Michelle Obama and what this means for all of us ... the new possibilities for our country. And if he wants me to, I'm ready to go door to door.”

Nigeria is standing on the threshold of a crucial Presidential election that will determine the direction of the country for the foreseeable future. Twenty years from today, our kids born and unborn will look back at this moment in our checkered democracy and ask where I, you, we stood on February 16th, 2019. I want to state for the records, that I am standing with the African Action Congress (AAC) candidate Omoloye Sowore. Like Oprah Winfrey, I am euphoric in standing with Sowore, a presidential candidate with the promise of bringing new possibilities to Nigeria.  

This is based on my conviction that in our quasi-hypocritical democracy where the political leaders have turned themselves to mini-gods, playing on primordial feelings to deceive the poor masses; in a system where political followership has been reduced to blind support based on ethnic and religious sentiments; and in a poverty-stricken society where dangerously corrupt politicians are wooing voters on the premise that the looters in our party are less evil than the looters in your party, only a political rebel, Sowore, that has no respect for the status quo can change Nigeria.

My endorsement of Sowore is an endorsement of a leader that sees things differently. It is an endorsement for a leader that is attempting to re-engineer followership based on everyday issues that affect millions of Nigerians. You can disagree with Sowore’s style – bluntness; you can vilify him for being consistently consistent against corrupt politicians; the one thing you can't do is ignore him. It is only his types that change things. 

In endorsing Sowore, I am simply making a case for a political rebel that is willing to stand with Nigerian workers, student, peasants, and political orphans. Sowore understands that the success of Nigerian democracy over the past 19 years should be judged on the fairness of the political system on the people that lack personal advantages; the poor, the students, the civil servants in the lower carder and the rest of us that live under the perpetual condition of economic insecurity. 

Unfortunately, however, the citizens that hover on the edge of official poverty measure the quality of Nigerian democracy on the contentment of the same affluent political class in the APC and PDP that has impoverished us by devouring the national wealth. These forgotten citizens are like the pawns in a chase game. They are the cheap foot soldiers used at political rallies for instant videos and images that are shared on social media platforms as an indication of grassroots support.

Sowore understands that the dividends of democracy are not measured by the contentment of the affluent political class, but in how the political system has implemented policies and programs aimed at lifting the ordinary Nigerians, the political orphans out of poverty. The challenging conditions faced by the political orphans in Nigeria like high tuition fees for students; low wage for workers; poor health care; poor sanitation and nascence of potable water; were once part of the general equation that the political system considered when it decided the largest economic questions. That’s what Sowore’s candidacy has been fighting to restore. 

Mind you, though many these Nigerians hover on the edge or below the unofficial poverty line, these political orphans are not the idle poor or the lazy youth. There are hardworking Nigerians that perform the least glamorous but essential jobs and ranks but virtually exist in a perpetual condition of economic insecurity. Sowore understands this and was the first candidate to promise a minimum living wage of one hundred thousand Naira. 

Nigerian workers are invisible in the political debate among the elites of the two main political parties. Their absence is a critical element in the general democratic failure in Nigerian politics. Sowore remains the only visible Presidential candidate that is genuinely beaming the light on the everyday struggle of these Nigerians. He is reawakening the political consciousness that will open new possibilities for Nigerians. That’s why I am standing with him. 

The citizens of Nigeria do not know the political class kept us away from the everyday issues we should care about by manipulating sentiments. As a consequence, our political activism in social media has lost coherence and real energy needed to rehabilitate our democracy. They have succeeded in making us dwell in righteous isolation. We are thus, rendered ineffectual, unable to speak coherently for ourselves. Sowore has, however, taken our political activism to the mainstream of politics in Nigeria. That’s why I am standing with him. 

Aside from his focus on the peasants, Nigerian worker, students, and the poor masses, what resonated most for me in Sowore’s candidacy is his noncompromising stands on corruption. As you may have known by now, I am unapologetically for anti-corruption and that means that I am anti-anyone who corruptly enriched him or herself amid poverty in Nigeria. 

In the weeks leading to this election, many Nigerians acted as if we have only the APC and the PDP, full of political actors that have amassed illicit wealth during poverty. I tried for a moment, to forget Buhari’s caricature of fighting corruption, but the thought of a Nigerian government led by a thief, Atiku, made me choke. Atiku’s claim to “get Nigeria working again” made me clench my teeth. Make Nigerian work again? What? For who? The looters? 

Tifiakwa!

We need to stand with Sowore on February, 16th2019, if we want to stop them from using our looted commonwealth to keep us, the citizens in eternal subjection. We need to stand with Sowore in this long struggle for Nigeria’s soul. As Oprah Winfrey knocked on doors for Obama, I am knocking on the hearts and the political consciousness of all right-thinking Nigerians for Sowore. 

This fight is our fight. I will stand with Sowore on February 16th. What about you?

Together, we can. 

You can email Churchill at Churchill.okonkwo@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @churchillnnobi

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APC Thugs Attacking Our Members, Accord Party Claims

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 10:30am


Honorable Ayodele Adeluola, House of Representatives candidate of Mushin II, contesting on the platform of the Accord Party, has claimed that some thugs working for the All Progressives Congress (APC) have been attacking and intimidating its members in Mushin constituency of Lagos.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday in Lagos, Adeluola said the attack was to dissuade the party’s supporters from participating in the presidential election.

He disclosed that one of his party members was recently attacked and beaten to pulp.

He said: “One of our members was attacked and his head was smashed with an interlock block recently. He had to be rushed to the hospital.  The matter is still pending at the Area D Police Station in Mushin.

“We are constrained to cry out as the desperation of the APC is growing as the February 16, National Assembly and presidential elections approach. In Mushin federal constituency 1 and II, the choice of the people is the Accord Party. They know they can never win a free and fair contest.”

Adeluola maintained that the thugs are warehousing weapons and arms to attack members of opposition party, especially the Accord Party in Mushin constituency, noting that they had been informed that APC members are also making plans to resort to inducing voters.

“They (APC thugs) have stockpiled arms and other dangerous objects, which they plan to use to intimidate voters. They can be caught if the concerned security agencies act swiftly. Rigging in Mushin will be costly. The people are resolved to vote out the APC incumbent incompetent representative at the lower chamber of the National Assembly. Their thugs cannot suppress the will of the people.

“We also gathered from reliable sources that where violence and intimidation fail, they plan to induce voters with ill-gotten money and compromise the integrity of the process.

“We call on the Inspector General of Police, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, and other security agencies to provide adequate security for Mushin Local Government Area to forestall the breakdown of law and order on the day of election.

“We urge the security agencies to arrest and put in detention the known career thugs who are sympathetic to the APC in Mushin. We are sure the security operatives know them and their grandmasters and cohorts.”

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ASUP Suspends Two-Month-Old Strike

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 10:05am


The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) has suspended its strike after two months.

Usman Dutse, ASUP National President, announced this at a media briefing held at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.

He noted that the decision was taken in view of the progress made in its discussions with Nigerian government.

He said: “We have hereby decided to suspend our two-month strike. This decision was taken at the end of our National Executive Council meeting. This is in view of the progress made in the course of the union’s negotiations with government.

“The NEC of the union, after exhaustive deliberations and in due consultations with the respective congresses across the nation, resolved to suspend the current industrial action.”

Dutse stated that the government had shown willingness to make funds available for disbursement by April 2019. He also added that N16.7billion has been released for the payment of salaries and allowances.

“A circular had also been released to all rectors conveying increased personnel funding for 2019 and directing the payment of full salaries and allowances in Polytechnics. It is expected that the funds shall be made available for disbursement to deserving institutions by April 2019. Equally, the approval of the NEEDS assessment report shall be pursued with all diligence to ensure a sustained and effective intervention in the infrastructure and other needs of our institutions,” he said.

Dutse noted that the union would not hesitate to resume the strike if the government fails to review the Memorandum of Action and ensure full implementation before end of May 2019.

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AUDIO: Atiku's Spokesman Slams 'Janjaweed Keyamo' And The ‘Jagaban That Says Jagbajantis About Everybody'

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 10:03am

Video of Atiku's Spokesman Slams 'Janjaweed Keyamo' And The ‘Jagaban That Says Jagbajantis About Everybody' Atiku's Spokesman Slams 'Janjaweed Keyamo' And The ‘Jagaban That Says Jagbajantis About Everybody'

Segun Showunmi, spokesman of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation, has released an audio recording debunking the claim by Festus Keyamo, spokesman of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, admitting the “impossibility” of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winning the presidential election.

In the audio recording published on his Twitter page on Tuesday, he referred to Keyamo as President Muhammadu Buhari’s “manipulative Janjaweed”.

According to www.britannica.com, “Janjaweed, also spelled Janjawid, is an Arab militia active in Sudan, particularly in the Darfur region. The militia’s name is thought by many to be derived from the Arabic jinnī (spirit) and jawad (horse), although its etymological origins are not completely clear.”

Bola Tinubu, the APC National Leader, as well as the party were not left out of his rant, as he ridiculed the APC presidential rally held in Ogun State on Monday, during which various objects were hurled at the APC leaders.

His words: “I have been inundated by calls from fans, lovers and associates of our campaign, wondering whether the thunder has struck and I’ve said what the manipulative Janjaweed of Muhammadu Buhari has been pushing about.

"That interview was an interview conducted on BBC, where I was reacting to the fact that it is no longer possible, that statistically, Buhari can no longer defeat us in an election. Obviously, it is their stock in trade to manipulate things, to do innuendos, to tell lies, and to be looking for a messiah when they had already killed the Lord Jesus Christ with their mouth.

“That said and that completed, they have elevated propaganda, telling lies and blackmail to state policies. Little wonder, nobody believes them now. How are the mighty fallen! The people, who four years ago, will move through the town, and even the trees and the leaves and everything around there will shout ‘Sai Baba’, suddenly have become the people that are pelleted with stones and ‘pure water’ in their own rally like what we saw in Ogun State; have become a people that cannot even be able to get a reasonable crowd in the land of their leader, the so-called Jagaban, who doesn’t know what he’s doing; that opens his mouth to say ‘jagbajantis’ about everybody but himself.

“It is this same tendency that has now allowed them to be doing cut-and-paste manipulation of edited words; that will not save them. I repeat: It is statistically impossible now for Muhammadu Buhari to beat Atiku.”

Noting that at the time he made the comment about two weeks ago, the APC had not conducted rallies in states such as Lagos and Ogun, he continued: “It is clear to me that by their estimation that I know cannot be faulted, it is even bigger now. For the numbers I thought they were going to get in Kano, I have now adjusted it significantly, because there is no evidence they can win anything. This is the 13th hour. All that is required and all that Nigerians expect is for Nigeria to see a peaceful, transparent, fair and credible election.”

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'No Doubt We're Winning' — Sowore Says Saturday's Election Will Shock Nigerians

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 9:52am


Omoyele Sowore, presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), says the February 16 presidential election will shock Nigerians.

Sowore said this while addressing a crowd of supporters in Akure, the Ondo State capital, during his presidential campaign rally, noting that he would win the election if it is not rigged. 

He explained that he is contesting to become the next President because Nigerians deserve a better leader to pilot the nation’s affairs.

"Our intention is to completely create a new political order in Nigeria that would retire the backward, corrupt, inept and wicked political class in Nigeria," he said.

"It is going to be a revolution on Saturday, but the revolution is not a one-time event. It will be a series of events that would put an end to this very inhumane condition of citizenship in Nigeria and a leadership that is not concerned about the welfare of the people.”

Sowore also asked the youth to be ready for "total liberation" by voting out old, corrupt politicians from power on Saturday.

He said: "Saturday is an opportunity for us to vote for a new Nigeria. Join me and let us retire those who have plunged our country into a mess on Saturday. So, I have no doubt that we are winning this election. We are third on the ballot paper. Ensure that you vote for our party (AAC).

"We are reaching out to the people of Nigeria not to be afraid; they should not reduce themselves to two options only. They cannot reduce themselves to the option of the hard rock and the deep blue sea. Our destiny is not supposed to be caged that way; that is why we are providing a solid alternative and we understand our people are getting the message.

"A lot of people will be shocked on Saturday. They will find out that the Nigeria they thought they were in charge of is no longer the Nigeria of today. So, Saturday is our own date with history and we are going to make it happen.”

The AAC candidate expressed optimism about becoming the next Nigerian President, saying he doesn't feel threatened by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

"We have taken our revolutionary campaign to 34 states across Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), and we have visited all the six geopolitical zones. We have visited places twice. This is our third time in Akure, Ondo State. We have been to almost seven countries outside Nigeria, and organised about 240 political events," he said.

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Citizens’ Power And Access To Information In Nigeria By Femi Falana

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 8:01am


(Being a paper delivered by Femi Falana SAN at the Public Hearing on Improving the Capacity of Citizens on the Use of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 held by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in Lagos on Tuesday, February 12, 2019)

Introduction

Under section 22 of the 1999 Constitution, the mass media is required to uphold the fundamental objectives of the State and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people. While the duty imposed on the media has been frustrated by the denial of access to information on public affairs it is submitted that access to information is a fundamental right by virtue of section 38 of the Constitution which stipulates that "every citizen shall have the right to freedom of expression including the right to obtain information and impart ideas".

Access to information is equally protected by article 9 (2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act which provides that “Every individual shall have the right to receive information”. In SERAP & Ors v Attorney-General of the Federation (Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/640/2010) the applicants applied for information on the mismanagement of the $12.4 billion in the dedicated accounts in the central bank by the Ibrahim Babangida junta. Following the refusal of the Federal Government to release the report of the Okigbo Panel which had investigated the scandal a suit was filed at the Federal High Court by the plaintiffs seeking to compel disclosure of information of the fund pursuant to section 38 of the Constitution and article 9 of the African Charter. The trial judge dismissed the case for want of locus standi on the part of the applicants.

However, in Dododo v EFCC the Court of Appeal upheld the human right of the appellant to access information when it was said that he was entitled to a copy of the report of the investigation in respect of the petition alleging corruption by a public officer which he had submitted to the respondents. According to the Nwodo J.C.A. who delivered the leading judgment of the court, “The Appellant is entitled to the investigation report on his right as the complainant. See Article 9 of the African charter."

We have cited the aforementioned provisions of the relevant laws and cases to emphasize the point that the struggle for access to information in Nigeria predated the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act. All the same, the human rights community, the Media Rights Agenda and other media bodies which fought the battle that culminated in the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 deserve commendation. 

Basic provisions of the FOI Act

The essence of the law is to open up the government to the public, promote transparency and accountability in government. Thus, the law has recognized the right of every citizen to access information from any record under the control of the government or public institution. The law is also applicable to private institutions which utilize public funds, perform public functions or provide basic services. Private organizations like telecommunication companies and other public quoted companies fall into this category. Religious bodies which engage in business may also be asked to disclose information with respect to funds collected from the members of the public.

The law requires public officers to keep the records of the government. They shall be made available upon demand by interested members of the public including the media (section 1 & 3). An applicant is required to apply for access to information in writing and to provide sufficient detail in the application. An oral application is not allowed under the law. Under section 2(2) thereof an applicant is not obliged to give any reason or demonstrate any specific interest in the information. 

Upon the receipt of a written request the information shall be provided within seven days. The request shall be attended to by the head of the organization. If a letter is wrongly addressed to any department it shall be forwarded to the appropriate office as the case may be. There are adequate provisions for the information needs of illiterate and physically challenged people to access information. It is also important to note that there is protection for whistle blowers. Refusal of information shall be communicated within 7 days. Public officers may ask for extension of time within which to make requested information available to an applicant (section 6).

An applicant may be requested to pay reasonable standard charge for search, duplication and transcription (section 8). But where the information is in the public interest payment is not required. Where information is withheld it shall be communicated to the applicant within 7 days. The letter shall contain information that the applicant has the right to challenge the refusal in court. An applicant who has been denied access to requested information is at liberty to apply to the Court for a review of the matter within 30 days after the denial. An application for mandamus to compel disclosure shall be heard by a court summarily to prevent delay.

To ensure the implementation of the law the government is required to publish in the Gazette a description of its responsibilities, the records under its control, administrative manuals etc. Public institutions are compelled to keep records and information and organize them in a way that they can be accessed. The Act requires government and public institutions to provide training for officials on the public’s right to access information of public records.

The law has created reporting obligations on compliance with the law for all institutions affected by it. These reports are to be submitted annually to the office of Attorney-General of the Federation who in turn is required to oversee the effective implementation of the Act and report on the execution of implementation of the Act to the National Assembly.  

Penalties for violation of FOIA 

If it is proved that information has been altered or destroyed by a public officer or any person he shall be liable to be tried and if convicted he shall be sentenced to 1 year imprisonment. However, sections 29 and 30 have provided immunity for public officers from civil or criminal prosecution for disclosing information without authorization. In violation of the Act some public officers have been victimised for disclosing information to the members of the public, the media and the anti-graft agencies. 

Exceptions to the FOIA 

The exception to the FOIA includes information that could compromise national security, the conduct of international affairs, records that could expose trade secrets, test questions, architectural engineering designs, research materials under preparation, legal practitioner – client relationship, health worker – patient relationship and journalists’ confidential source of information (Sections 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 & 17). 

The disclosure of personal information is also exempted except where the person involved agrees to its disclosure or where the information is already publicly available, or where the disclosure is in the public interest. For instance, members of the public are empowered by the Electoral Act 2010 to seek information with respect to nomination forms submitted by candidates who are contesting elections in Nigeria.  

The Official Secrets Act and other ant freedom of expression enactments and regulations cannot be invoked to prevent the disclosure of official information. This is the purport of section 2(b) of the FOIA which has guaranteed access to official information notwithstanding anything contained in any other law or regulation.

Implementation of the FOI Act

Since the FOI Act was enacted on May 28, 2011 it has been invoked by civil rights lawyers and the human rights community to obtain vital information from some public bodies. Where information was withheld court orders have been sought and obtained to compel disclosure. Ironically, the media which led the campaign for the successful enactment of the legislation has not taken advantage of the law to seek information with a view to discharging the duty of promoting public accountability pursuant to section 22 of the Constitution.

Our law firm has invoked the law to obtain information from the Universal Basic Education Commission (on the total amount paid to the UBE Fund since 2005 by the Federal Government and disbursement of the fund to states), Nigerian Communication Commission (on the disbursement of the fine of N1 billion imposed on GSM operators for disrupting services), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (on the list of 197 persons who were convicted for drug trafficking but who were not found in prisons), Corporate Affairs Commission (on whether there was a move to ban the Nigeria Governors' Forum). 

In order to deny access to information some agencies have asked applicants for information to pay prohibitive fees. For instance, when our firm requested the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency to provide information on the Bonga Oil Field spillage we were asked (NOSDPRA) to pay N100,000.00. We made the payment and collected the report. But after collecting the report we petitioned the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation to protest the commercialization of access to official information by the NOSPRA. Upon the intervention of the then Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke SAN, the sum of N95,000 was refunded to us while the remaining  N5,000 was retained by NOSDRA for reproducing the report in line with the FOI Act.

Aceess to information through litigation:

The human rights community has filed majority of the cases filed under the FOI Act. Some of the cases include the following:

1.     In Olasupo Ojo v Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the EFCC under the leadership of Mrs Farida Waziri claimed that the CDHR was critical of the activities of the EFCC because it had been paid by some unnamed corrupt persons. The CDHR invoked the provision of the FOI to demand for the identity of those who had paid it to attack the EFCC. As there was no response the then CDHR president, Mr. Olasupo Ojo, approached the federal high court to compel disclosure. The order was granted.

2.    In Legal Assistance and Aid Project v National Assembly the applicant requested for information on the details of the jumbo salaries and allowances of national assembly members. When the information was not provided the applicant dragged the National Assembly to court. In a judgment delivered on the matter the federal high court ordered the defendants to accede to the request of the applicant. Dissatisfied with the verdict the National Assembly has taken the matter to the Court of Appeal.

3.     The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued the Federal Government to account for the repatriated loot of the late military ruler, General Sani Abacha. In granting the order of mandamus, the trial judge, Idris J (as he then was) directed the federal government to provide detailed information on the loot. Following the judgment, the anti-graft agencies as well as the ministries of justice and information have regularly provided information on the loot recovered by the Buhari administration.

4. SERAP has also sued the National Assembly to account for N500 billion spent on running costs from 2006 to 2016. Furthermore, SERAP has sued the federal Ministries of Agriculture and Water Resources to explain why millions of Nigerians have to drink contaminated water despite the trillions of Naira the authorities claimed to have spent on provision of water in the country. 

While the Act has been effectively invoked to hold the federal government accountable it has been difficult to promoted public accountability in the states. Apart from the Ekiti state government which has adopted the Act others have rejected all requests by concerned citizens to access information. In Alo v Ondo State House of Assembly the Court of Appeal held that the applicant, a journalist, was entitled to a copy of the audited accounts of the defendant between 2012 and 2016. According to the Court, "in a democratic dispensation such as Nigeria's, the citizens have been proclaimed owners of sovereignty and mandates that place leaders in the saddle." However, in Edocasa v Osakue, the Benin judicial division of the same court held that the Act is not applicable in states which have not adopted it. It is hoped that the Supreme Court will soon resolve the contradictions in the two decisions of the Court of Appeal. 

From the foregoing, it can no longer be business as usual in the running of public affairs by public officers and institutions under the federal government. Thus, by virtue of the FOI Act there is no more secrecy in the affairs of the federal government as information can be requested for on any aspect of the management and operations of public institutions including the award of contracts, disbursement of funds, recruitment of staff etc. Any public officer who withholds information is liable to be prosecuted apart from being ordered to disclose the withheld information. The human rights community should however ensure that the masses are mobilised to take advantage of the provisions of the FOI Act to demand accountability from public officers and officials of private institutions that render public service. 

Conclusion

From the foregoing, it has been demonstrated that the Constitution and the African Charter have recognised the right of citizens to information. The right has been strengthened by the FOI Act.  So far, the FOI Act has enhanced the legally enforceable rights of Nigerian citizens to official records, documents and information held by the federal government, public institutions and private bodies performing public functions subject to certain exceptions.

Since the law is designed to improve transparency in the conduct of public affairs by making it easier than hitherto to access public records and information that are deemed to be in the public interest, sufficient pressure ought to be mounted on state governments to adopt the Act. With guaranteed access to information I am confident that Nigerians will continue to challenge the quality of governance and use of public resources.

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BREAKING: Fire Razes Another INEC Office — The Third In Two Weeks

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 7:44am


In less than two weeks, a third office of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Awka, the Anambra State capital, was engulfed in flames on Tuesday.

Loads of materials for the presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for February 16, 2019, were affected by the inferno, which occurred at the INEC office near the Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka.

Card readers and other sensitive materials for the elections were razed during the incident.

The cause of the fire has not been determined as officials of the fire service are still trying to put out the fire.

Two INEC offices in Plateau and Abia states had been affected have been razed over the past few days.

The commission had called for improved security and the Inspector General of Police ordered tight security around INEC offices across the nation.

Details later...

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BREAKING: SDP Expels Jerry Gana, Suspends Donald Duke

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 7:12am


The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has expelled Jerry Gana, a former Minister of Information, and a contender for the party’s presidential candidate, for anti-party activities.

Donald Duke, another candidate seeking to contest for Nigeria’s number one position on the SDP platform, was also suspended.

Yemi Akinbode, Director of Media and Publicity of the party, made the announcement in Abuja on Tuesday while addressing journalists at the end of an emergency meeting of the party.

He said Gana was expelled for gross misconduct and anti-party activities, which violated the constitution of the party.

Details shortly...

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BREAKING: Game Over For Tonye Cole And Co As Court Crushes APC's Rivers Election Hopes

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 6:59am


Breaking News

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has lost the bid to reverse the judgement barring the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from fielding candidates seeking elective positions in Rivers State.

Earlier on Tuesday, Justice Amiru Sanusi had struck out the appeal by the APC in the suit marked SC/1333/2018.

In another judgment, the Supreme Court struck out the three other appeals filed by the two Rivers APC factions challenging the ruling by a Rivers High Court that barred INEC from recognising candidates from Rivers in the elections.

At the sitting of a five-man panel led by Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour on Tuesday, the Supreme Court struck out the three remaining appeals filed by the APC, Ojukaye Flag-Amachree and Tonye Patrick Cole, challenging the court’s decision.

According to the court, the appeals were filed outside the time allowed under Section 285(9) and (12) of the Constitution as amended by the 4th Alteration Act.

Reading the ruling of the court, Justice Amina Augie, said the appellants were not parties to the original suit were not allowed by the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, to appeal the October 10, 2018 judgment, because they filed their appeal out of the required time.

In the suit marked SC/81/2019 (another appeal filed by APC), SC/1332/2018 (by Ojukaye Flag-Amchree) and SC/1334/2018 (by Tonye Cole and others), Augie noted that the appeals are statute-barred.

The ruling comes as big blow to Tonye Cole, who, asides other candidates, had been expectng INEC to officially recognise him as the APC governorship candidate after the ruling, evidenced by how his supporters went into wild jubilation scenes right from the court premises.

 

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VIDEO: 'Rigging Audio' Was Cut And Manipulated By APC, Says Atiku's Campaign Spokesman

Sahara Reporters - 12 February 2019 - 6:45am

Segun Showunmi, spokesperson of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation, says the audio recording in which he said it’s impossible for his principal to win elections without rigging was manipulated.

An audio recording of Showunmi speaking on the seeming impossibility of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), winning the election had been published on Tuesday by Festus Keyamo. See Also Sahara Reporters AUDIO: Atiku's Campaign Spokesman Says Victory 'Practically Impossible' For Ex-VP Without Rigging 0 Comments 5 Days Ago

However, Showunmi has denied the authenticity of Keyamo's version of the recording, stating that the audio was manipulated.

Video of 'Rigging Audio' Was Cut And Manipulated By APC, Says Atiku's Campaign Spokesman 'Rigging Audio' Was Cut And Manipulated By APC, Says Atiku's Campaign Spokesman

He said: “My attention has been called to a manipulative video that our friends, the APC, are moving about. It was an interview conducted by the BBC when they wanted to know why we were resuming campaign upon the suspension for 72 hours on the Onnoghen matter.

“We have made a point; we have stood with the people; we have tried to demonstrate that leaders must act their words and that the independence of the judiciary, and indeed, of every arm of government was significant and important to our campaign.

“And that at that time I said that it is statistically impossible for Muhammadu Buhari to defeat Atiku. They have gone somewhere to cut off the Atiku and do the kinds of things they do. The APC must ask itself: ‘why is its message not resonating anymore with the people?”

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