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24 Hours After Hosting APC Meeting, PTI Management Stops Group's Election Summit

Thu, 2019-03-07 14:00

A Peaceful and Violence-Free General Election Summit to ensure peaceful elections in Delta State, organised by the Vanguard for Transparent Leadership and Democracy (VATLAD), at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Effurun, Delta State, was brought to an abrupt halt on Tuesday.

This came barely 24 hours after the venue was used for an event attended by national leaders and members of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The summit was scheduled for Tuesday with security agencies, officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Civil Society Organisations, among others, billed to attend.

According to VATLAD, the PTI management based its decision on the summit being a political gathering.

VATLAD had organised a similar summit in Abuja on February 7, 2019, which was attended by the acting Inspector General of Police, the Chief of Army Staff, among others.

Addressing journalists at the venue of the aborted summit, Odafe Emmanuel Igbini, VATLAD National President, frowned at the way and manner the PTI management abruptly stopped the proposed summit when the same premises was on Monday given to the APC to hold its political meeting.

He said: "We wish to draw the attention of the good and peaceful people of Delta State, and the general public, to the shocking decision of the management of Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Delta State, to thwart a scheduled summit focused on ensuring peaceful and violence-free general election in Delta State ahead of March 9, 2019. Just at the time respected invitees to the summit were arriving the venue and others on their way, the management of PTI decided to stop the event by refusing us one of its halls we had earlier applied to use.

"The management claimed that it could not allow us the use of the hall because it believes that the summit is a political gathering and that it is the policy of the management to prohibit the use of their halls and other facilities for political meetings or events.

"This is despite the fact that our organisation made several efforts to convince the management that the summit is not a political gathering. In addition, about a week before today, precisely on February 28, 2019, we submitted a formal application and names of invited guests for the event as demanded by the management.

"It is also important to inform the general public that our organisation has since year 2001 been consistently using these PTI halls to organise our Peace, Good Governance and Media summits. The last was held on 9th August, 2018. In all, we have never organised a political gathering or meeting there. What is even surprising is the fact that this management granted the APC permission to use its hall and facilities on Monday to host a large political meeting. Why then not extend same to our summit, which is not a political gathering but a summit of a few carefully selected respected people?

"This summit was solely aimed at bringing together respected national security chiefs, INEC officials, legal luminaries from Delta State, CSOs and the media. As at the time the summit was aborted by the PTI management, the Delta State Commissioner of Police represented by ACP Aiki James; Delta State INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner represented by Electoral Officer, Mr Akhigbe; former Delta State commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Victor Otomewo, journalists and many other Peace and Good Governance Advocates had already arrived the venue, while other invited guests were on their way.

"We are now very worried that preventing this critical summit at a time it is predicted that Delta State will witness massive electoral violence in the forthcoming March 9, 2019 elections,  could encourage desperate politicians to commit evils as predicted. We will continue to appeal to Deltans to remain law-abiding and peaceful before, during and after the March 9, 2019 elections. We also appeal to the candidates and their political parties to ensure the elections are not do-or-die, and that no supporter of theirs should engage in any form of violence and electoral crime."

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Now That The Elections Have Been Won And Lost, Shall We Discuss Governance And Development? By Abdullah Abdulganiy

Thu, 2019-03-07 13:59

The last few months had been a tortuous one for dear country. Since certain figures declared interest in certain political posts, the political atmosphere of Nigeria had been intense. Ever since then, governance had taken flight for politicking as discussions on how to move Nigeria forward were largely put on hold, and political discussions took the center stage.

Last year heralded the primaries of different parties and we all know the sham that characterized the whole exercise. Where dollars did not rain, figures were simply inflated through invisible party members who suddenly came out from the moon. And on other occasions, standard-bearers were cherry-picked by some oligarchs. This is Nigeria, and that is politics.

The atmosphere became more intense as we rammed into the electioneering year (2019) and the flagbearers of various registered political parties came to the limelight. More than 73 parties contested for the numero uno office in Nigeria. As we counted a week to the D-day, the tension became higher. Then, lies, rumours, fake news, baseless allegations, political witch-hunting, personal attacks, permutations and whatnot were already dotting the Nigerian political space. The last minute postponement of the election by the INEC on logistic ground also elicited mixed reactions.

Foot-soldiers on social media would not rest as they hurled abuses and diatribes at one another, obviously doing the biddings of their paymasters. Some of us that did not receive a dime from these aspirants but stood our ground based on our personal convictions also became victims of their ceaseless invectives. In fact, it got to a level that I was pushed to the wall, and had to enter into written missiles with some of them all in the name of who gets what, when and how (copyright: Harold Lasswell).

We told them that ceteris paribus the contest was between two parties, they shrugged it off. We proceeded that from all indications Buhari will re-emerge, they called us names. We also tipped them that Saraki would lose barring any last minute change, they said we knew nothing about politics. Finally, the dust is settled. Winners had emerged; losers should try again later. After all, there is always a lesson in failure.
Personally, I believe this year’s election was free, fair and credible. Though violence and inadequacies marred the electioneering process in few areas, the credibility of the election should not be ruled out outright. On a scale of 10, I will score the electoral umpire 7. At no time have elections been 100% free and fair in the history of representative democracy. Even in advanced democracies, inconsistencies are still pronounced in electoral processes; a pointer to the fact that perfection solely belongs to the Creator.

If a Dino Melaye who had been at loggerheads with the presidency could still win his seat back, it speaks volumes to the independence of the electoral commission. On the flipside, if an Ajimobi who is in the good book of the ruling party could lose his constituency, one thing is clear: the will of the people prevailed. The case of Bukola Saraki should be a story for another day. The man who boasted that he would teach Nigerians how to play politics as though he had a PhD in Political Sciences now understands that the electorate are the best tutors when it comes to democratic politics.

Moving forward, if an Osibanjo --- the second citizen of Nigeria --- could lose his polling unit, it shows the manifestation of democracy as government of the people in the exercise. In essence, I don’t think there should be much ado about the elections again. Those who are not content should head to the court rather than disturb public peace. The cumulative effect is that lawyers will get fatter (But why didn’t I do law? Well, I am pleased with my sociology).

Moreover, some governors who ran their buccal cavities in the outgoing dispensation; played God and dubbed themselves constituted authorities now know that when we talk of democracy the people are the “constituted authorities”. Some supposed godfathers of Nigerian politics now know their worth as they could not deliver their wards for their preferred candidates. It was not business as usual where the people would win the ELECTION, but the political stalwarts would win the COUNTING. In short, political actors should be humble; they should realize that democracy which operates in Nigeria is a government of the people and for the people. The people are the employers while they are mere employees --- servants if you like.

On a final note, now that the elections have been won and lost, shall relationships that had gone sour on the altar of politics go sweet again? I hope you know a man divorced his wife for supporting Buhari. Silly, right? I must also have offended some friends due to my political leanings in recent times, do accept my unreserved apologies. Shall our friendship retain its normal course again? Above all, shall Nigerians come together despite the differences in their political sentiments before the elections to ensure that governance and development prevail? Shall the winners see themselves as government officials rather than party-men, and thus encourage a level playing field for all? In all, let’s come together again to discuss how Nigeria can be better again. If you have to criticize, be civil and constructive. May the incoming dispensation be a turning point in the life of every Nigerian. Amin somebody!

Abdullah is of the better-by-far University of Ilorin. Reach him via 08090637356.

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Ibadan Mogajis Ask: 'What Is Tinubu's Interest In Oyo Governorship Race?'

Thu, 2019-03-07 11:17

Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Family heads in Ibadan land, under the auspices of Authentic Mogajis, have queried the interest of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the governorship election of Oyo State.

The group, on Wednesday, also admonished Adebayo Alao-Akala, former Governor of Oyo State, on his recent statement against Rasheed Ladoja, his former boss and the Osi Olubadan of Ibadanland.

Alao-Akala, who had initially been considered an initiator of a coalition of the opposition parties in the state, made a U-turn last week, dropping out of the gubernatorial race and joining the APC.

While addressing his supporters, Alao-Akala was quoted to have said Ladoja once said he could not become a governor of the state because he was not an Ibadan Indegene.

The former Governor claimed he took the decision to back of the coalition with the opposition in the state for the sake of posterity in Ogbomoso, his hometown, so that Ibadan people would stop considering themselves as the only thoroughbred indigenes of the state.

However, a statement issued on Wednesday by the family heads, berated Akala for insensitivity regarding the progress of Oyo State, by urging the coalition to field him as the governorship candidate when he knows he is not fit health-wise to be the governor of the state.

The statement read: “We believe that Ogbomoso and Ibadan are from the same mother, therefore, we don’t expect Akala to cause crisis between the two ancient cities.

"What is the interest of Tinubu in Oyo guber politics? It is an open secret that he is instigating two brothers against each other and it is not acceptable to us.

"The candidates of PDP and APC are sons and we don’t want external forces to create divisions among them.

"Both of them are gentlemen from Ibadan, but we realise that Seyi Makinde is more of a grassroots person than his younger brother. Therefore, we appeal to our people, especially the entire Ibadan indigenes, Ibarapa, Saki, Iseyin, Oyo and the entire people of the state to consider the closeness of Seyi Makinde to the grassroots before voting. We implore Adelabu to wait till 2023 to actualize his ambition.”

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Obasanjo Was A Brutal President, Says Buhari Media Organisation

Thu, 2019-03-07 11:11

The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has accused former President Olusegun Obasanjo of using brutal methods to govern while in office.

BMO also says the statement by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that he would continue to criticise President Muhammadu Buhari is a confirmation that his pre-election criticism was fueled by ego.

This was contained in a statement by the pro-Buhari group in response to  Obasanjo's insistence that he would continue to criticise the President.

The former President made the statement at an event to mark his 82nd birthday on Tuesday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

In a statement signed by Niyi Akinsiju, and Cassidy Madueke, Chairman and Secretary of BMO, respectively, the organisation said it was worrisome that Obasanjo had always insinuated that all the past heads of state and presidents he had criticised did not perform creditably in office.

The pro-Buhari group added that in terms of performance, Obasanjo had a  lot of failings in office, saying that the former President was averse to criticism throughout his tenures in office.

“It is a matter of public record that Chief Obasanjo did not entirely cover himself in glory while in office, especially with the removal and attempted removal of state governors in violation of the constitution. His methods were simply brutal and were in most cases spearheaded by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and in at least two cases, Anambra and Oyo States, led by his enforcers.

“And can anyone forget so soon how Senate Presidents were impeached unceremoniously under his watch, as well as the incident that eventually led to the death of former Senate President Chuba Okadigbo soon after he was tear-gassed at a political rally in solidarity with the then candidate Muhammadu Buhari in 2003.

“The previous elections under Obasanjo in 2003 were hardly different. Chuba Okadigbo, the running mate of the opposition presidential candidate at the time, could not leave his house to vote for himself because soldiers had stationed an armoured tank in front of his house with the nozzle directly facing his gate.

"General Yakubu Gowon is one Head of State who has no record of public criticism of his successors in office. He was Obasanjo’s boss for nine years, from 1966 to 1975 and not once did he utter a public criticism of the former President throughout his two tenures from 1976 to 1979 and 1999 to 2007."

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Perpetrators Of Electoral Violence Risk UK Visa Restrictions

Thu, 2019-03-07 11:08

The United Kingdom has warned against violence during Saturday’s governorship and state House of Assembly polls, saying perpetrators of violence and other dastardly acts during the elections could face UK visa restrictions.

Speaking through Tinuoluwa Adelegan, its Senior Communication Officer, the British High Commission made this known in a statement on Wednesday.

The UK expressed concern over reports of violence that marred the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections in some states.

The statement read: “We condemn all acts of violence and call for those responsible to be brought to justice. We call on all actors, including political parties and security personnel, to work together to provide a peaceful environment for Nigerians to vote on March 9.

“We remind all actors that anyone involved in violence or inciting violence, including on social media, could face restrictions on their ability to travel to the UK.”

The commission expressed hope that logistical issues which plagued the February 23 elections had been identified and resolved. They, however,  commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and its ad hoc staff for the role they played in the conduct of the polls.

"We hope they will be given every support and protection necessary to ensure the smooth and peaceful delivery of elections free from fear of intimidation or interference in the electoral process.”

The UK stated that it would be actively involved in Saturday’s polls by deploying observers to monitor the  elections “as part of our efforts to support Nigerian democracy.”

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Fayose’s Ex-aide Joins APC, Claims To Love Fayemi’s Leadership Style

Thu, 2019-03-07 11:03

Ayodeji Adu, former Special Assistant on Local Government Affairs to Ayodele Fayose, former Governor of Ekiti State, has defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Adu says he loves Governor Kayode Fayemi’s leadership style, hence his decision to join APC.

Speaking on Wednesday in Afao Ekiti, where he, alongside hundreds of PDP members, officially joined APC during the party’s campaign rally, he said: "This decision to dump the PDP for the APC was borne out of patriotism and it is for the betterment of my state and country home.

“Afao Ekiti, despite producing the governor of the state for eight years, is still in shambles without meaningful development, hence the need to embrace the right ideas that can take the town out of the current economic and social despondency.

“I pledge my commitment to the success of the APC candidate in Afao-Ekiti. I want to assure you that the APC will have a block vote in the town come Saturday."

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'No Alliances With APC' — Sowore's Party AAC Rejects Amaechi's Rivers Endorsement

Thu, 2019-03-07 00:08

The leadership of the African Action Congress (AAC) has clarified its stand on the endorsement of its Rivers State governorship candidate by the All Progressives Congress (APC), saying it has "no alliances or coalition with the APC or any other parties in Rivers state".

At a meeting with APC supporters in Rivers State on Wednesday morning, Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation and leader of the APCin Rivers State and the South-South, had pitched his tent with Awara Biokpomabo, the AAC governorship candidate in the state, saying: “This morning, the leadership of the party met and agreed that we would work with a party called African Action Congress (AAC), while we are still in court to reclaim our mandate.

“So, on Saturday (March 9), we will vote for AAC. You must go home and vote for AAC. There should be no excuse not to vote, because there will be security for everybody. You must prepare and make sure you win the governorship election."

However, in a denouncement conveyed in a press release signed byits Deputy National Chairman (Administration), Dr. Malcolm Fabiyi, AAC said: "We were made aware of the APC’s recent endorsement of the AAC’s Rivers State gubernatorial candidate in the forthcoming elections on the 9th of March. Rotimi Amaechi, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, has pitched his tent with Awara Biokpomabo, our governorship candidate in the African Action Congress (AAC).

"While we have no influence over who other parties might choose to endorse, we wish to make it unequivocally clear that we have we not entered any alliances or coalitions with the APC or any other party in Rivers State, neither have we made any decisions to dovetail parties or seek strategic alliances as we approach the state elections in a few days."

Fabiyi reassured the public that "the AAC, led by Omoyele Sowore, promised Nigerians a different style of governance at the national level; we also believe we can bring this new promise of transparency and progress to bear at the state level".

"We urge all PVC-bearing Nigerians to come out en masse on the 9th of March and vote for transformation and a true paradigm shift, the kind that only the African Action Congress can bring," he said.

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I'm Going To Daura To Settle Down After My Second Term, Says Buhari

Wed, 2019-03-06 23:08

President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to return to his hometown, Daura, after his second term in office.

He stated this on Wednesday, just before he addressed the nation on the forthcoming governorship and national assembly elections.

On the elections, he called on Nigerians to ensure that the governorship and state houses of assembly elections scheduled for Saturday, March 9, 2019, are better than the February 23 presidential election.

The President also restated his commitment to ensuring that he does the best for Nigeria.

His words: “At the end of this second and final term, I will, God willing, return to Daura and settle down. Until then, I will continue to do my best for Nigeria, in security, infrastructure, jobs, fighting corruption. I will work even harder than I have done; I will not let Nigerians down.”

In his national broadcast on the Saturday elections Wednesday evening, Buhari urged Nigerians not to be complacent but ensure active participation in the elections.


The second and final phase of the 2019 general election comes up on Saturday, March 9, with Nigerians voting for governors and members of the Houses of Assembly in the states.

Let me once again extend my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and who sustained injuries as a result of accidents or criminal violence during the elections.

The onus is once again on qualified people to turn out in large numbers to exercise their civic rights. With the presidential poll behind us, let us not become complacent or fail to vote in the gubernatorial poll. The forthcoming elections are as important for good governance as that of the presidency and the National Assembly.

Indeed, governance at the state level is closer to us and should touch our lives more directly. That is why it is vital for us to participate in the choice of who governs us at the state level. I, therefore, urge you to troop out massively on Saturday to elect your governors and state lawmakers.

As a member of the All Progressives Congress, I recommend those standing on the platform of the party to you as we are guided by progressive ideals and would not disappoint you. Equally, I urge you to comport yourselves properly as you turn out for the elections. Avoid all deviant behaviours like ballot stuffing, ballot snatching and any other action that does not conform to best electoral practices.

I assure you that the security agencies will be on hand to protect the voters, and ensure that the process is not undermined in any way. Let us make the gubernatorial polls much better than the presidential, which local and international observers have adjudged to be free and fair. May I repeat my appeal to our young people: Do not allow yourselves to be used to cause violence or to break the law or otherwise disturb the peace.

I pledged decent and credible electoral system for our country. I stand by that promise. Let us together do the right thing on Saturday so that the best hands can emerge in the states and take us faster to the next level.

Thank you and God bless our country. Amin.

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Court Sacks Adamawa APC Rep-Elect, Orders INEC To Swear In PDP Candidate

Wed, 2019-03-06 23:05

A Federal High Court Yola Division has nullified the election of Abdurrauf Abdulkadir Modibbo, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who was returned elected in the just concluded National Assembly polls.

Consequently, the court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw Certificate of Return issued to APC's Abdurrauf Abubakar Modibbo.

The Presiding judge, Justice Abdulaziz Anka, ordered that Abdurrauf, who was elected on February 23, should vacate the seat for the runner-up (Jafar Suleiman of the Peoples Democratic Party) on the ground that the primary election that produced him was inconclusive.

The suit, filed by Lawal Abubakar Garba, current member of House of Representatives, had the APC, Abdurrauf and the INEC joined as first, second and third respondents respectively.

"I hereby order the 2nd respondent, Abdurrauf Abdulkadir Modibbo, to vacate the seat for the member House of Representatives for Yola North/Yola South/Girei Constituency in the National Assembly," Justice Anka ruled.

"I hereby order that INEC withdraws the certificate of Return issued to him and issue same to the runner up in the general election conducted on the 23rd of February, 2019. This is the decision of the court. All parties have right of appeal."

SaharaReporters can report that Jafar Suleiman, candidate of the PDP, was runner-up in the February 23 national assembly election, having polled 48,476 votes to trail Abdurrauf of APC, who polled 80,453.

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'Nigeria Not At War' — CSOs, Women Protest Against Militarising Of Presidential Election

Wed, 2019-03-06 22:48

Civil Society Organisations under the aegis of Save Democracy Group have staged a peaceful protest at the National Human Rights Commissions (NHRC) against the killing of Nigerians during the February 23 presidential election.

The protesters, who are mainly women, besieged the headquarters of the commission on Wednesday in Abuja wielding placards with various inscriptions to convey their message to the world. 

Speaking on behalf of the group, the convener, May Ubeku, said they were protesting against the senseless killings of voters by the Nigerian military during the election.  

"We are here for a singular reason. Last Saturday's election, we believe it was a total charade. Categorically, the President said that he would deploy military for the election. This is against our constitution because there are three court judgements of Federal High Court in Lagos, Sokoto and Abuja that the President lacks power to deploy the military to supervise a democratic election " 

She stressed that Nigeria is not at war and there is no basis for military presence during election.  

She expressed shock at the brutality and harassment of innocent Nigerians who came out to exercise their franchise by the army.  She, however, asked the President to play the game by the rules, not to send military during the governorship election to prevent another bloodshed. 

Ubeku urged the human rights body to come out of their comfort zone and protect Nigerians from the jack boot army who are killing harmless citizens. 

"The human rights cannot be here and army are killing our people. We want this killing to be investigated by the human rights commission and we are also using this opportunity to tell Mr. President, you cannot claim you have integrity when you cannot obey court judgement," Ubeku noted.

Responding on behalf of the human rights commission, Director of External Linkages, Lambart Opara, said the commission had been working round the clock in monitoring of the election.

He assured the protesters that all the allegations raised in the petition would be thoroughly investigated.

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How Former Air Force Accountant Adigun Used His Companies To 'Siphon' N12bn

Wed, 2019-03-06 21:29

Tosin Owobo, an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has told Justice Chukwujeku Aneke of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, how Air Marshal Jacob Bola Adigun, a former Chief of Accounts of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), used his companies to siphon the sum of N12billion from the NAF intelligence account domiciled in Zenith Bank.

Adigun is the second defendant in a N22.8bn fraud charge preferred against Adesola Amosu, a former Chief of Air Staff.

Amosu is being tried alongside two other officers of the Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Jacob
Adigun and Air Commodore Gbadebo Olugbenga.

The trio are standing trial alongside other companies, namely: Delfina Oil and Gas Limited, Mcallan Oil and Gas Limited, Hebron Housing and Properties Company Limited, Trapezites BDC, and Fonds and Pricey Limited.

Led in evidence by Rotimi Oyedepo, the prosecution counsel, Owobo told the court that sequel to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Air Force, the total sum of N3billion was paid into the NAF Special Emergency Operation Account domiciled with Zenith Bank Plc in three tranches of N1billion on different occasions.

Owobo further said the money was paid into Right Options Oil & Gas Limited, Judah Oil Limited, Delfina Oil & Gas, McAllan Oil & Gas Limited and Lebol Oil & Gas Limited.

He said: “As part of the investigation, we invited the Managing Directors of Right Options Oil & Gas, Judah Oil & Gas and Lebol Oil & Gas Limited, who stated that they were Bureau De Change (BDC) operators and not oil dealers.

“They said when the monies were paid into their accounts, they gave the dollar equivalents to the account officers of the NAF Special Emergency Operation Account for the second and third defendants. They also stated that their companies were registered as oil and gas companies because they were given a high threshold of monies that could be transferred with fewer deductions.”

While giving further evidence on the account opening packages of Delfina Oil & Gas and McAllan Oil & Gas, Otobo told the court that the CAC documents that were used in opening the accounts bore Adigun’s name as Director.

According to Otobo, investigations further revealed that certain monies that did not originate from NIMASA were paid from other NAF accounts into the NAF Special Emergency Operation Account. The money, he said, was in turn paid into McAllan Oil & Gas Limited, Delfina Oil & Gas Limited and Trapezites BDC to the tune of about N15billion.

He explained that investigation revealed how these funds were used to acquire properties located in Abuja, Ikoyi, Victoria Island and United Kingdom, respectively.

In the first count, the EFCC alleged that the accused conspired to covert a total sum of N21.4 billion, property of the Nigerian Air Force “which sum they reasonably ought to have known formed part of proceeds of a criminal breach of trust”.

The anti-graft agency alleged that the accused persons diverted the sums using several companies.

The prosecution said the accused committed the offences on March 5, 2014, and the offences contravened the provisions of Sections 15 and 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.

The three defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Justice Aneke adjourned the case until Thursday, March 7 2019, for continuation of trial.

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CUPP, IPAC Accuse Bayelsa REC Of 'Unholy Alliance' With APC

Wed, 2019-03-06 19:48

The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) and the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in Bayelsa State have called for the immediate redeployment of the state Resident Electoral Commissioner over his “unholy alliance” with the All Progressives Congress in the state.

The groups at a press conference on Wednesday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, stated that they have lost confidence in the ability of the REC to conduct free, fair and credible elections on Saturday due to what transpired during the last presidential and National Assembly polls.

Tari Edwin, the CUPP Chairman, said: “We will not tolerate any manipulation this time around. There is an unholy alliance between the REC and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in the state to undermine the forthcoming state assembly elections.

“We are calling on INEC to immediately redeploy the state REC due to his poor handling of the last presidential and National Assembly elections where elections materials were stolen under his supervision.

"We don't see any reason he should conduct the Saturday elections. In the last elections you’re are all aware that materials were hijacked and carted away by thugs. A total of 63 card readers were stolen during the exercise in different parts of the state namely: Brass 1, Nembe 23, Sagbama 8, Southern Ijaw 24, and Yenagoa 6 council.

"The law stipulates that card readers must be used during the elections, but here where card readers were carted away and elections did not take place, results were announced.”

Also speaking, Eneye Zidougha, the state IPAC chairman, said they had lost confidence in the state election umpire.

“Another election is about to be conducted. We don't have confidence in the REC anymore. There is connivance between security personnel and INEC officials,” said.

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Ex-Skye Bank Chairman Ayeni, Former MD Oguntayo Arraigned For N456bn Fraud

Wed, 2019-03-06 19:46

Tunde Ayeni, the former Chairman of Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank), and Timothy Oguntayo, the bank’s former Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, were arraigned before an Abuja High Court on Wednesday.

They are standing trial on a four-count charge on allegations of fraud amounting to the sum of N456.6billion.

According to the charge, the offences were committed between January 2014 and December 2016, and involved depositors’ funds.

The offences contravene the provisions of section 96, 97 and 315 of the Penal Code Law.

They, however, pleaded not guilty.

Meanwhile, Ayeni and Oguntayo are already standing trial on different charges before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Ahmed Raji (SAN) and E.O. Akoni (SAN), counsel for the defendants, appealed to the court for bail. In response, Justice Valentine Ashi granted the request and admitted them to bail in the sum of N500million each, and two sureties in like sum.

The sureties must resident in Abuja or have landed property in Abuja.

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Keyamo Replies Obasanjo: Yakubu Gowon Is The Boss Of All Bosses

Wed, 2019-03-06 19:08

Festus Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and spokesman of the President Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation, has responded to former President Olusegun Obasanjo's coment that he would continue to criticise Buhari because he is his boss and he had held the position of President longer than anyone else.

Obasanjo made the comment in his remarks at an event organised to celebrate his 82nd birthday on Tuesday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

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

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

However, responding via his Twitter handle on Wednesday, Keyamo disagreed, arguing that Yakubu Gowon, not Obasanjo, has held the position for the longest period of time.

Keyamo wrote: “Just to set the records straight: The boss of ALL bosses today in Nigeria is Gen. Yakubu Gowon who holds the record of the SINGLE longest unbroken rein as Head-of-State. He’s  senior to ALL. And as access is always guaranteed, he goes into the Villa ANYTIME to offer useful advice.”

Just to set the records straight: The boss of ALL bosses today in Nigeria is Gen. Yakubu Gowon who holds the record of the SINGLE longest unbroken rein as Head-of-State. He’s senior to ALL. And as access is always guaranteed, he goes into the Villa ANYTIME to offer useful advice

— Festus Keyamo, SAN (@fkeyamo) March 6, 2019

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Nigeria 'Losing Billions Of Naira In Cargo Flights Due To Inadequate Tarmac Space'

Wed, 2019-03-06 18:38

The Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives of Nigeria (AFARN) has disclosed that Nigeria is losing billions of naira in revenue to neighbouring African countries in cargo flights due to multiple taxation, improper planning and inadequate space at its airsides nationwide.

Kingsley Nwokoma, the President of AFARN, disclosed this to newsmen on Wednesday at the Lagos Airport.

He expressed worry that if the bottlenecks were not checked, Nigeria may soon lose its status as a hub in cargo operations to other countries within the sub-region as it has lost passenger regional hub to Ghana.

Nwokoma lamented that in order to arrest the unpleasant situation quickly, the association made several calls to the government, but all to no avail.

He noted that since the diversion began, investors had also lost millions of dollars; this is aside billions lost by the country.

Nwokoma called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, address the situation, warning that this may lead to industry collapse if not nipped in the bud.

He suggested that the creation of a cargo village by the Nigerian government would also help in salvaging the situation for the country. He further called on the government to revisit the ease of doing business policy, saying that the policy had been “bastardised”.

He said: "If the airlines and stakeholders are complaining, it simply means there is a problem. Nigeria is very expensive. The cost of doing business is high comparatively to other African countries.

"Every businessman will want to go where the cost is comparatively good. These are things the government should look into. The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) should look at this, because the more the merrier. 

"If you are too expensive, if airlines are complaining of coming in here, if they are paying so much on landing, parking and other multiple charges, it is discouraging. So it is something we have to look at, so as to move the industry forward and also make it competitive.”

He, therefore, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to consider expanding the airports’ tarmac and increase the parking bays at the different airports to facilitate free flow of cargoes without hitches.

According to him, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), due to inadequate space, cargo aircraft are often moved to the passenger tarmac because the cargo apron cannot accommodate more than two aircraft depending on the aircraft type, leading to disruption in aircraft network punctuality.

“Once two aircraft are parked in that tarmac, we don’t have space for additional aircraft to park. So what is usually done is for them to ask the aircraft to go to the passenger terminal, which is also time consuming and also causes more fuel consumption. Network punctuality is also disrupted. Because if I have an aircraft coming to Lagos and it is supposed to be in Accra or Nairobi at a particular time, and it moves from one place to the other, there is always time wastage," he added.

He noted that incidents are recorded at the apron as aircraft wings sometimes collide in an attempt to park.

“The expansion of the apron is very vital. We implore the government to look into that. We have had some incidents due to parking in the apron in the past and we all know how expensive it is when there is even a little scratch on the aircraft. In order to avoid all these, we should look at how to put them in the budget,” he stated.

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JUST IN: Amaechi Declares Support For Governorship Candidate Of Sowore's Party In Rivers

Wed, 2019-03-06 16:31

Rotimi Amaechi, Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation and leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State and the South-South zone, has pitched his tent with Awara Biokpomabo, governorship candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC).

AAC fielded Omoyele Sowore, publisher of SaharaReporters, as its presidential candidate in the February 23 election.

He also urged APC supporters to vote for Biokpomabo in the forthcoming governorship election slated for Saturday, March 9, 2019.

He stated this on Wednesday at a meeting with APC supporters in Rivers State.

According to the final list of governorship candidates released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the APC will not participate in the Saturday elections as a result of a Supreme Court ruling on the matter.

His words: “This morning, the leadership of the party met and agreed that we would work with a party called African Action Congress (AAC), while we are still in court to reclaim our mandate.

“So, on Saturday (March 9), we will vote for AAC. You must go home and vote for AAC. There should be no excuse not to vote, because there will be security for everybody. You must prepare and make sure you win the governorship election.

“The moment the governorship election is won by AAC’s candidate this Saturday and the new Governor is inaugurated on May 29, 2019, by June this year; there will be local government’s chairmanship and councillorship elections.

‘So, you should all go out and vote and make sure that you are not rigged out.”

AAC has, however, not indicated if it is in support of Amaechi’s position.

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Buhari To Hand-Pick Next Senate President

Wed, 2019-03-06 15:32

Ovie Omo-Agege, the lawmaker representing Delta Central senatorial district, says President Muhammadu Buhari will determine the next Senate President.

He also stated that the next Senate President has to be loyal to the President.

According to NAN, Omo-Agege said the All Progressives Congress (APC) would work towards avoiding the issues that led to the emergence of Bukola Saraki as Senate President.

He said: “Anybody who is going to be Senate President in the 9th senate, must be somebody who is loyal to Mr. President, the party and the constitution.

“The Senate President will be determined by Mr. President. Mr. President will indicate to us through the party who he wants to work with.

“What I can tell you is that we are going to have a Senate that will work with Mr. President. The era of allowing renegades who rode on the back of Mr President, who rode on the back of the party to go in there and trade the party’s mandate, I think that era is gone.

“I am very hopeful that this time around, Mr. President will step in and decide not only the zone that will produce the Senate President and the leadership but also who it should be. We don’t want to erect another opposition leader in the Senate, as we had in the 8th Assembly.

“There are a lot of us in the Senate who are returning to the next Senate who fit into that position.”

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Despite Tinubu’s Denial, Ajimobi Absent As Adelabu Steps Up Oyo Governorship Campaign In Oke-Ogun

Wed, 2019-03-06 15:17

Despite the protestations of Bola Tinubu, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), about a SaharaReporters exclusive on the banning of Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi from the party’s governorship campaign rallies in the state, SaharaReporters can confirm that Ajimobi has been missing in the party’s campaign activities since the story was first reported.

On Monday, SaharaReporters had reported how APC’s woeful outing in Ajimobi’s senatorial district prompted protests from party leaders, with Tinubu now personally overseeing the campaigns in a desperate bid to prevent a potential surrendering of the governorship to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“The belief of Tinubu and other APC leaders is that it is Ajimobi that the people are angry with — not APC — therefore he should stay away from campaign activities,” an APC source very familiar with the development had told SaharaReporters.

“The fear is that Ajimobi’s appearance at Bayo Adelabu’s campaign rallies will be damaging for the party. In fact, there is a jingle of the party begging the people, explaining that Ajimobi, not the party, is the fall guy. Since the presidential and national assembly elections, Adelabu has been campaigning on his own — without the Governor’s involvement.”

Incensed by the report, Tinubu — according to a statement by Tunde Rahman from his media office —  described it as “beyond a lie… a vindictive attempt to sow discord because the writer is angered by the APC’s success in the presidential election”. 

“At no time did the issue of banning anybody, talk less of Governor Ajimobi, enter into the discussions,” he said. “We want and need Governor Ajimobi to be a visible figure at the forefront of this campaign during these final decisive days. He will prove pivotal to our hope for victory in the state.”

Surprisingly, for two straight days after issuing the statement, Ajimobi has not been “in the forefront” of the governorship campaign in Oke-Ogun, comprising 10 local governments.

SaharaReporters confirmed that on Tuesday, Adelabu was in Oke-Ogun to campaign, and he successfully touched places like Iseyin and Kajola without Ajimobi.

Today, he will be in Ogbomosho, with Ajimobi also missing. In fact, as of 11am, SaharaReporters confirmed that Ajimobi was at the Oyo State Government House, Agodi, Ibadan. Meanwhile, Adelabu was campaigning in Oke-Ogun. 

“Right now, he is on the sixth or seventh local government,” said a source monitoring the campaign for SaharaReporters. Throughout yesterday, Ajimobi was absent. They slept over in Iseyin. And one of the houses they slept in is that of Shina Peller." 

Those in attendance at the campaign were council chairmen, Adelabu’s friends, Commissioner for Works Wasiu Dauda and Adelabu's running mate Samuel Egunjobi.

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No Public Holiday On Friday, Says Lagos Govt

Wed, 2019-03-06 14:57

The Lagos State government says there is no public holiday declared in the state on Friday, March 8, 2019.

The clarification became necessary after reports emerged that the state government had declared Friday, March 8 as public holiday for civil servants as part of activities in the build-up to the governorship and National Assembly elections scheduled for Saturday, March 9, 2019.

A statement signed by Kehinde Bamigbetan, the Lagos Commissioner for Information and Strategy, on Wednesday, directed civil servants to be at their various duty posts on Friday and disregard any information to the contrary.

According to Bamigbetan, just as earlier announced by Dr. Idiat Adebule, the Lagos Deputy Governor, all public and private schools in the state are expected to proceed on the second mid-term break on Thursday and Friday.

Academic activities are scheduled to resume on Monday, March 11, 2019 in accordance with the revised school calendar for 2018/2019 academic year.

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INEC: Between Perception And Reality By Rotimi Lawrence Oyekanmi

Wed, 2019-03-06 14:54

The opportunity to serve in my current capacity at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has opened my eyes to many underlying factors that shape the conduct of elections in a way I would never have imagined from the outside. From my privileged position, I could not but appreciate the enormous challenges faced by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the National Commissioners and other hardworking staff members of the Commission, as they planned for and conducted each of the 195 elections that the Commission has so far conducted since the 2015 polls.

Organizing elections in Nigeria, just like practising journalism is a thankless job. Yet, for all the tremendous work that they do at INEC, Prof Yakubu and his team are more often than not derided by mostly ignorant individuals and those who, ironically, are at the fore-front of deliberately complicating the Commission’s work. Despite all the barrage of insults that have been thrown in his direction since he took the job in November 2015, the INEC Chairman has consistently, to my amazement, maintained his cool – a virtue and gift which I must confess that I don’t have. Some of us are simply wired in a totally different way.  A few times that I had prepared rejoinders to what I considered as nonsensical articles, Prof Yakubu had stopped me on each occasion, jokingly telling me that I was too emotional, but I don’t think so. Nevertheless, I have been appalled by some of the narratives I have read in some newspapers and on some social media platforms about him – tons of uninformed, visibly biased articles written by columnists of questionable character and supposedly senior journalists – containing distorted facts and outright lies. Unfortunately, some Nigerians believe these narratives, now popularly referred to as “fake news” and waste no time in sharing them.

I can understand when familiar forces – who like to refer to themselves as members of the Civil Society confraternity, commissioned Public Relations strategists, copy and paste “citizen journalists” and pseudo human rights activists engage in what they are famous for in every general election cycle.  But my worry is the realization that some reputable mainstream media organisations are also joining the fray. Thankfully, a number of media establishments have remained committed to the truth and the creed. They acknowledged it when INEC performed well and criticized it objectively when it faltered. Constructive criticism is healthy and acceptable. Yet, the sacred ethics of our journalism profession do not permit an intentional distortion of facts, foul language and character assassination in the brazen manner that I have seen in some newspapers, on social media platforms, and aired on radio and television. Yet, this INEC that they find pleasure in attacking unjustifiably belongs to all Nigerians. It is not anybody’s property. The Chairman and National Commissioners are holding their respective positions on trust and they all have a fixed term. Even the civil servants must leave at some point – either when they attain the age of 60 years old or 35 years in service, whichever comes first.  But INEC as an institution will remain.

There is no perfect election anywhere in the world. Not even in the United States, whose Presidential system Nigeria has copied – as the events that followed the last Presidential election which brought President Donald Trump to power have revealed. The allegations of Russia’s interference in that election have simply refused to go away. Estonia, which has embraced electronic voting has had to endure several cyber attacks allegedly from Russia, forcing it to team up with several European allies to deal with the problem.

Look at the last general elections held in Kenya on 8th August of last year, in which technology was fully applied and expected to perform some magic. President Uhuru Kenyatta emerged victorious in that election but the opposition leader, Raila Odinga successfully challenged the outcome at the country’s Supreme Court and got it overturned. Odinga never trusted the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of Kenya from the outset and had made some allegations against it long before the polls.

The general elections held in Liberia on 10th October 2017 also presented some interesting scenarios. No candidate won a majority in the first round, necessitating a run-off between the two leading candidates – George Weah and Joseph Boakai. However, Charles Brumskine who came third, challenged the results of the election in court because he felt it was marred by irregularities that pushed him to the third position. He lost. 

Let’s go to Venezuela where the controversy that trailed the Presidential election held on 20th May 2018 is still festering and threatening to tear the country apart. Although, the results showed that the incumbent, Nicolas Maduro won, but the two leading candidates, Henri Falcon and Javier Bertucci have rejected those results. I could go on and on. 

In the three instances mentioned above, lack of trust in the Election Management Bodies in the respective countries is the clear denominator, as is the case in Nigeria, for every election conducted since 1999. In Nigeria’s case, the do-or-die politics and winner-take-all attitude of the politicians make matters worse. In this clime, politicians don’t contest in an election with the understanding that they could lose. To them, they simply cannot lose. When a Nigerian politician wins an election, INEC will be described as “credible, dependable and fair.” But when the same politician loses, the Commission will be referred to as “fraudulent, unfair and deceitful.”

I am a witness to the sheer amount of energy that Prof.Yakubu and his team have invested in preparing for the 2019 General Elections. For those who know him like I do, his thoroughness and attention to details can, sometimes, be tasking. But his insistence on doing the right thing at all times is the virtue that I personally admire the most about him, not just at INEC but at the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) where he had served before becoming the Chairman of INEC.

Many Nigerians are oblivious of what it really takes to organize a general election in a vast country like Nigeria and deliver election materials to all the 36 states and 774 local government areas. There are 119, 973 Polling Units all over the country, 8,809 wards, over 84 million registered voters, 91 registered political parties and 23,316 candidates participating in the general elections. For the six elections taking place this year – Presidential, Senatorial, House of Representatives, Governorship (in 29 states), State Assemblies and the Federal Capital Territory Area Councils, a whooping 421.7 million ballot papers had to printed, in addition to 13.6 million result forms for the Presidential election alone. Some 180,000 Smart Card Readers (SCRs) were also deployed, besides thousands of ballot boxes and voting cubicles.

In order to deliver election materials to all the local government areas, INEC had to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with transport unions, enlist the Nigerian Air Force and request for the services of other aircraft companies. INEC does not own a single aircraft, yet it had to airlift the heavy consignments to the five zonal airports hubs – Abuja (for North Central), Port Harcourt (South-South and South East), Kano (North West), Maiduguri and Yola (North East) and Lagos (South West). Unfortunately, bad weather forced a slowdown of its efforts to deliver materials as scheduled, forcing the postponement the nation witnessed on 16th February. 

I have heard critics say that INEC had four years to prepare, therefore it should have no excuse. But it is not as easy as it seems. Take for instance the 640 court cases arising from the nomination of candidates alone, in which INEC was joined. As at 16th February, INEC had received 40 different court orders on whether to add or drop candidates. The implication? There is usually a window of 30 days for the Commission to print ballot papers and result sheets and ship them to all the Polling Units in the country. One month. Then, arsonists set fire to the Commission’s offices in Awka, Anambra state, Isiala Ngwa in Abia state, and Qu’an Pam local government office in Plateau state days to the opening of polls.

In Akwa, over 4,600 Smart Card Readers (SCRs), which take an average of six months to procure were destroyed. In Abia, hundreds of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) were burnt and in Plateau, printed register of voters, ballot boxes, voting cubicles and many electrical generating sets were also lost. These are monumental losses.

Let me digress a little bit. If it was that easy to organise logistics, why is it that no national newspaper in this country has been able to circulate in each of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT by 8am every morning? I remember the last time I visited Yola,  Adamawa state, the “latest” newspapers I could get from the vendors were two days old. 

The Presidential and National Assembly elections have come and gone. A winner has been declared and the Commission is now focused on the Governorship, State Assembly, the FCT Area Council elections and the supplementary National Assembly elections that could not be conducted on 23rd February due to violence and other infractions, that are all slated for 9th March. Although the February 23rd elections were not perfect, the Commission undoubtedly gave a good account of itself. Sadly, some ad-hoc and permanent staff and Resident Electoral Commissioners suffered one form of harm or the other. The Commission lost Mrs. Ibisiki Amachree, an ad-hoc staff who was killed by stray bullets in Rivers State, while some were raped. Some Nigerians were also killed by mindless human beings. Members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) form the bulk of the Commission’s ad-hoc staff. The Commission will find it difficult to conduct elections without them.

Yet, the familiar forces who find it convenient to castigate the Commission only for its shortcomings do not see any need to show some empathy for the victims who lost their precious lives and their families; those who were raped and even some of the Commission’s Resident Electoral Commissioners whose lives were endangered for insisting on the right thing. All they are interested in is are the results of the elections.

It is in everybody’s interest that INEC succeeds in carrying out its mandate at all times. It is also the responsibility of every Nigerian to support the Commission to achieve its goals. For If INEC fails, God forbid, we will all pay a very high price.  


Oyekanmi is the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman.

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