The supremacy battle within the Ogun State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) came to the fore again yesterday when violence by rival members of the party marred the campaign rally of President Muhammadu Buhari in the state.
The venue of the rally, MKO Abiola International Stadium, Abeokuta, became charged during the event as rival supporters of Governor Ibikunle Amosun and the APC governorship candidate in the state, Prince Dapo Abiodun, clashed in a test of might and popularity by both camps. The crisis boiled over when restive party supporters hurled missiles at the President and the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, during their separate speeches at the event. The APC National Leader and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was also not spared in the process as suspected hoodlums threw various objects at his direction.
Tinubu did not make any speech at the rally. In fact, he stormed out of the venue in anger. As the president raised the hands of Abiodun as the APC gubernatorial candidate in the state, a cross section of the crowd, who were displeased, jeered and one of them, in the process, threw an object at Buhari, but security operatives quickly shielded him. The rally came to an abrupt end at this point.
New Telegraph reports that tension began to build up when it became clear that APC supporters loyal to Amosun and Abiodun, as well as loyalists of the Allied People’s Movement’s (APM) gubernatorial candidate, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, were desperate to outshine one another. Amosun, who is opposed to the candidature of Abiodun, is supporting Akinlade as his anointed candidate for the March 2 governorship election in the state. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Tinubu, Oshiomhole and former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, are reportedly backing the aspiration of the APC governorship candidate.
At exactly 3:00pm, Buhari made a triumphant entry into the stadium in company with Osinbajo, Amosun, Abiodun and other chieftains of the party. Trouble, however, started when the Director-General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council and Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, remarked that the rally was an APC campaign, a statement which was greeted with resounding shouts of “no” from the stands. Amaechi, who was apparently unfazed by the reaction, also told the crowd to vote all APC candidates in the general elections. But Amosun, who spoke after the minister, asked the aggrieved party members to swallow their pride and subdue their anger. The governor, however, assured Buhari of total victory in the state during the presidential election.
He also applauded the president for honouring the state and immortalizing the late Chief MKO Abiola by declaring June 12 as the nation’s Democracy Day. Amosun said: “All of us in Ogun State are for Buhari. I don’t want them to go away with the impression that we are not for Buhari.
We are supporting President Muhammadu Buhari because of his performance. “President Muhammadu Buhari was just in the saddle for just four years; look at what he has done for the nation and Ogun State. He is somebody who we can hold to his promise.
He said he would fix all our roads. Look at the infrastructure and the railway. This is one man that walks his talk. “Some people said they are Afenifere; they have never defeated us since they started politics. I assure you; we will use our PVCs to let them know that we are the real Afenifere.
“Who is Afenifere? Is it those ones that make life better or those who came to loot? Never mind the opinion poll going around. We will show them the real opinion poll on Saturday.” The governor, who was speaking against the backdrop of the festering feud in the party, declared that APC members who defected to APM would return to their former party by March 3, after the governorship election. Obviously miffed by Amosun’s submission, which he perceived as indirect campaign for APM, a former governor of Osun State, Rauf Aregbesola, urged people of Ogun State to rather vote APC candidates all the way. Aregbesola also lashed out at non-members of APC, who displayed their campaign materials at the event, describing them as “hypocrites.”
He said: “We are happy to be here, but we are also not happy because there are many hypocrites among us. We are APC; we are not known for any other party. All those carrying the banners of another party are hypocrites. “What we will tell you is that we have come to meet our president here and we will vote the president on Saturday for all members of the broom party. On the 2nd of March, we are also going to vote the broom party (APC).” Speaking in the same vein, Oshiomhole also asked the people to vote all APC can- didates and reject other parties, but he was stoned and booed by some angry party stalwarts. He said, “I’ve come here to fulfill the primary purpose of today’s event, to solicit support of the great people of Ogun State for our presidential candidate, who is the sitting president, Muhammadu Buhari.
“My second responsibility this afternoon is to present APC governorship candidate, Prince Dapo Abiodun. On Saturday, you will vote APC.” The APC national chairman subsequently presented the symbolic flag to Abiodun to the chagrin of Amosun’s loyalists. Amosun again stepped in, pleading with the aggrieved members to shelve their anger “for God’s sake” and not disgrace him before the president. On his part, Osinbajo urged Nigerians to re-elect the president as a result of his achievements since assumption of office in 2015. The vice president promised that Buhari would tackle youth unemployment, epileptic power situation and ensure credit facilities for traders if elected for a second term. He said: “Our president wants to achieve three things for the Next Level phase in second term.
The first is employment for our youths; the second is power that we must fix. The third is credit facilities for our traders and business people. “These three are the immediate things to be done when President Muhammadu Buhari is re-elected. There is nothing that we can do if we don’t have an honest and upright person in power. Even, all the enemies of President Muhammadu Buhari know that he would not steal.”
But in his address, Buhari promised to consolidate on his achievements if reelected for another term of four years. The president, as he did at his party’s presidential rally in Owerri, Imo State, also asked members of the party in the Gateway State to vote for any candidate of their choice after the presidential election. He said: “I am here specifically to thank you for coming out in your numbers and defying the weather to see and listen to us. I will like to remind you in 2015, our party, the All Progressives Congress, made three undertakings on security, economy and fighting corruption.
“Wherever I go, I try to update Nigerians on our performance for the past three and half years. The people of the North East are the ones mostly affected then by insecurity. Boko Haram has virtually been degraded in the whole region; the problem in the North West and North Central is about the stagnant farmers, which is under control. “We have now achieved food security. Lagos, Ogun, Kebbi, Ebonyi, Jigawa are among the states which are doing well in producing rice. We are virtually self-sufficient in rice. “When we talk about infrastructure, we are building roads, rails and power. You will be the witnesses by the time we complete the next four years
“I urge you to practice your civic right, come out next Saturday and on the 2nd of March to choose whoever you like across the parties. This is your right. So, there is no problem about it. I have no problem about it and you shouldn’t have problems about it.” The president subsequently raised the hand of the state APC gubernatorial candidate, Abiodun, an action, which made dissatisfied stalwarts to hurl missiles in his direction.
Before the arrival of the president, rival supporters of Amosun and Abiodun clashed as both engaged in a test of might and popularity. This was despite the fact that the MKO Abiola International Stadium, Abeokuta, venue of the rally, was heavily guarded by security personnel, comprising Army, Police, DSS and NSCDC officials, who screened people that tried to gain entry into the stadium and its main bowl. At some point, armed security agents had to disperse the surging crowd with tear gas.
However, in the heat of the clash, which left several people injured, Amosun accused Police and DSS operatives of bias, saying they prevented a lot of people and admirers of the president from entering into the venue. Tension began to build up when it became clear that APC supporters loyal to Amosun and Abiodun, as well as loyalists of Akinlade, were desperate to outshine one another. The governor, who was around to make sure everything was in place for the president’s visit at the venue, went on the podium to make an announcement.
He claimed that his efforts to allow the people enter through the stadium gates were frustrated by the security operatives. He said: “DSS and Police, don’t create crisis for us in Ogun. I notice you are using tear gas. Please don’t try it. Any moment from now, we are going to allow our people because they are outside. “I have called everybody. We are going to open the gates. I assure you nobody will climb the tartan tracks. So, security operatives, I’m putting you on notice. Some of our people travelled five hours to come here.
Help us to help you. We don’t mean any harm. “I beg you in the name of God, stop that tear gas. People have been here for four days working to make what we are seeing happen. Please, don’t come and destroy it. Don’t come and cause stampede.”
Immediately Amosun finished his announcement, he alighted from the podium and went out with some of his aides to the admiration of his cheering supporters. Shortly afterwards, hundreds of people were sighted entering into the main bowl of the stadium ostensibly after the security personnel relaxed access. Meanwhile, security operatives yesterday arrested four suspected thugs who were at the stadium with axes, charms and other dangerous weapons. The suspects were said to be trying to smuggle the weapons into the venue when they were intercepted. They were later taken to an undisclosed police station as at press time.
Northern govs condemn increased banditry in N’west
The Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has condemned the increasing wave of armed banditry in the North West region of the country.
Lalong, in a strong worded statement issue and signed by his Deputy Director of Press and Public Affairs Mr Solomon Gujor and made available to news men in Jos on Monday, expressed shock over the killing of 37 innocent citizens in Sokoto State by armed bandits in Goronyo Local Government of the state.
Lalong who commiserated with his Sokoto State counterpart, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and the good people of his state over this ugly development, said what is happening in the states of North-west region in the area of insecurity has become a source of concern other governments and people of the region in general.
He expressed his determination and that of his other Northern counterparts in conjunction with the Federal Government to bring to an end this senseless bloodletting.
Lalong described the perpetrators of the evil acts in the North as enemies of God and of humanity whose evil desires have beclouded their sense of reasoning.
Ooni to Buhari: Drums of war sounding in Nigeria
…says South-West forests overtaken by strangers
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi yesterday told President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja that the drums of war were fast sounding loud across the country.
Oba Adeyeye was at the Villa in view of the rising insecurity challenges in Nigeria, including banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and insurgency.
Speaking to State House Correspondents after the closed-door meeting, the traditional ruler explained that the South-West does not want to experience any other war.
The royal father said that he came to speak to the President on behalf of traditional rulers towards improving security situation in the country.
He said: “I came to speak on behalf of other traditional rulers. Before I came here I discussed with the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, who has been there for close to 50 years and we cannot tore away such a very massive experience in terms of knowing the structure of Nigeria.
“And also by virtue of that Alaafin is in constant touch with Awujale of Ijebuland and very much we are all on the same page.
“So, I’m here and I had a discussion that is very fruitful with Mr. President about what we all know – the security situation in the country.
“We made him to know that the issue at hand in the South-West is real – the issue of insecurity. We live in the remote and rural areas of the South Western part of the country, most of the bushes and forests are being occupied by strange people and we decided to work with the government to fish them out.
“Why I’m here again is, everybody is beating the war drum. We don’t want war. Who can stand war? We want something better for our youths. We should better use them for something good other than shouting war and anarchy. We don’t want that.
“We told the President that and he is on the same page with us. Politicians should be careful not to throw things out of proportion. We should make sure things are right and the President has given good directives to security chiefs, including the Inspector-General of Police to visit all traditional institutions in the South-West.” Oba Adeyeye stressed that everything must be done to put all security agencies to good use and work with the locals to separate the bad eggs.
“We shouldn’t keep overhyping war and we still want to keep the peace in the South-West. We don’t want anarchy,” he restated.
According to him, President Buhari, during the closed-door session, assured him that he will explain his side of the story on the issue of Ruga settlement because it was being taken out of context.
According to him, traditional rulers are disturbed with the reactions of citizens to the proposed Ruga project and cautioned against stigmatization of the herders.
“Another thing that he assured me of before leaving – which I will go and give back to much more experienced traditional rulers in the South-West and even our leaders across bound – is that he would say his own side of the story about Ruga (settlement).
“He wants to let the world and Nigerians in particular to know the true side of the story because he is being read out of context.”
The first class monarch frowned at political elites misinforming and instigating youths to beat the war drum in the country.
“What is important for me is for the youth in Nigeria not to take laws into their hands, they should not go into all those places and start to kill and maim. We don’t want that. The drums of war are resonating too much and we are very worried.
“We need more federal apparatus to defend ourselves, reinforcement from Federal Government.
“We understand more than anybody. We don’t want war and we want to work with government to bring peace.
“A lot of them are mixed up with the good ones. We are not saying all Fulani are bad. It’s not only about the Fulani, it’s about the bad miscreants that are even hiding under the name of Fulani.
“We want to try as much as possible to work with the government right now. They have all the security apparatus that are meant to defend us. That is what we are looking out for now. We have to stand up and meet with Mr. President and he has given us a listening ear and you see a lot of result going forward,” he added.
Nigeria’ll spend N2.5trn on debt servicing in 2019 – Atiku
Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23, 2019 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has said that Nigeria is losing her independence to her creditors through unsustainable debt. Atiku, who was reacting to the revelation by National Bureau of Statistics (NBC) that Nigeria spent a whopping N610.2 billion on domestic debt servicing in the first quarter of 2019, said by the end of the year, the total debt servicing would amount to N2.5 trillion.
The former vice president, in a statement yesterday by his media adviser, Paul Ibe, noted that these monies go for paying interest only, not in repaying debt. “How could an administration double our national debt from N12 trillion in 2015 to N24.9 trillion today and still has no tangible evidence of development to show for it?” Atiku asked.
He noted that the N610.2 billion spent in debt servicing in the first three months of 2019, is more than the nation’s combined entire budget for education. According to him, the projected N2.5 trillion debt servicing by the end of the year is more than the nation’s capital budget.
“The older generation should sacrifice for the youth. We must not be a vampire generation that squanders the financial lifeblood of Nigeria and bequeath financial bondage to the next generation,” Atiku warned. The former vice president recalled that he had urged for immediate action to address Nigeria’s unsustainable debt burden.
“This is especially as the National Economic Council (NEC), which I chaired in 2006, paid off Nigeria’s entire debt under the leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo,” he stated. He further warned that the deeper the nation go into unsustainable debt, the more of it she loses her independence to her creditors. In a veiled reference to President Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku stated that “no matter how much resources you give a man who does not know how to create wealth, it will never be enough.” He noted that not long ago, he had outlined a robust strategy for the funding of the country’s development needs without resort to indiscriminate borrowing.
Eko Disco kicks as customers’ assault on staff worsens
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Buhari to Fulani herdsmen: Don’t leave Southern Nigeria
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Fulani herdsmen and other Nigerians to ignore a recent call by the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) and the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) for herders to relocate from southern Nigeria to the northern parts of the country.
The controversial order, issued on Tuesday, was based on the claims that the safety and security of the Fulani herdsmen and their cattle could no longer be guaranteed in the southern part of the country.
The President, in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said going by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, all Nigerians were free to reside in any part of the country.
The President, therefore, called on all Nigerians to help keep the peace in the country.
“All citizens of Nigeria are free to move and live within any part of the country they please, whether or not they are originally from there.59
“In line with our country’s constitution, the government of Nigeria and the administration of President Buhari will protect citizens of Nigeria wherever they find themselves.
“No one has the right to ask anyone or group to depart from any part of the country, whether north, south, east or west,” the President said.
The President questioned the intentions of the NEF and the other so-called leaders in delving into issues with unsolicited, ill-intentioned advice.
“They have no one’s authority to make such pronouncements. The polarising role of the Northern Elders’ Forum and all those other groups dabbling into issues of security to score cheap political points has, for long, been a sore point in Nigeria’s body polity. They should not be allowed to mislead anyone, least of all the Fulani herders.
“The Buhari administration is fully devoted to finding a lasting solution to the herder-farmer clashes in different parts of Nigeria – one that would be acceptable to all the parties involved,” the statement read.
Chairman of NEF, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, who gave the order on Tuesday, had said the order had become necessary following reports that the herdsmen have been exposed to some danger in the hands of some hostile communities in the southern part of the country.
“…If it is indeed true that their safety is not guaranteed in the places where they are residing, we would rather have them back into areas where their safety is guaranteed, and they should be coming back as much as possible to the North,” Abdullahi said.
Also, the spokesman for the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said “… we feel obliged to advise the leadership of the Northern Elders’ Forum to consider calling on the Fulani to forego their right to live and flourish anywhere in the South and relocate to their various states in the North to ensure their safety.”
But, there seems to be a split among the political elite in Northern Nigeria over the order directing the Fulani herdsmen in Southern Nigeria to relocate to their various states in Northern Nigeria.
A prominent member of the NEF, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, yesterday kicked against the move to relocate the herdsmen to the North over security concerns.
Yakasai, a former presidential adviser during the Second Republic, condemned it in strong terms and has asked the herdsmen to remain in their current places of abode in Nigeria.
In a response to the order, Yakasai argued that the proposed relocation would amount to a breach of the 1999 Constitution and a violation of the rights of the herdsmen to live anywhere they choose within the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to him, the Fulani herdsmen were bona fide Nigerians who must not be intimidated and harassed out of any community in Nigeria.
“Leadership of the Northern group should be aware that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has bestowed right to every Nigerian to live in any part of the country he or she wishes to reside and that no authority, group of people or an individual, no matter how highly placed, can deny any Nigerian to exercise this inalienable right.
“Section 4 of the constitution has guaranteed not only the right for any Nigerian citizen to reside in any part of the country he so wished, that section has also guaranteed to every Nigerian, the right to hold and express opinion without let or hindrance.
“Like other Nigerians; Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and members of other Nigerian ethnic groups, Fulani are indigenes of this country and are entitled to enjoy all the rights and privileges other Nigerians are enjoying and nobody can put any hindrance to prevent them from enjoying those rights.
“I am a Hausa man, not Fulani. But I will defend the right of the Fulani and other Nigerian people to enjoy all the rights I and other Nigerians are enjoying. I appeal to all well-meaning Nigerians to join me in this fight so that together, we shall make our country a place where our people can live in peace and enjoy peaceful coexistence with one another,” he said.
Yakasai blamed the mutual suspicion and conflict among the various groups in Nigeria on some unpatriotic elements who do not believe in the unity of the country.
“I call on all northerners and other Nigerians to be weary of the unpatriotic elements living within our midst, northerners and non-northerners alike, who do not believe in the unity and oneness of our beloved country not to allow themselves to be misled by the antics of those unpatriotic elements who have nothing positive to contribute towards making this country great. Our nation has all it takes to make it the envy of many.
“What we lack is good leadership. I believe we shall, one day, overcome this misfortune,” he said.
Meanwhile, a member of the House of Representatives during the Second Republic, Dr. Junaid Mo hammed, has agreed with former President Olusegun Obasanjo on his recent letter to President Buhari over the security situation in the country.
Mohammed, who hardly agrees with Obasanjo on critical national issues, observed that the latest letter to President Buhari was right on point.
He said that while some Nigerians may accuse Obasanjo of mischief, the letter and its contents cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand given the reality of the security situation in the country.
“Obasanjo may have his own motivations, but the fact of the matter is that those who are supposed to answer to what he is saying have not been doing so themselves… People are going to believe Obasanjo and not the Presidency.
“I don’t know what insecurity means to this government, but what it means to Nigerians is that there is no peace, there is no security and without these, there can be no development. Whichever way you want to look at it or that you choose to handle it, this absence of peace does not go down well with the country.
“There is an undertone of blame game, but whoever you choose to blame, the fact is that this violence, terrorism or farmer/herder clashes, is nobody’s imagination. It is what is happening in the country. Whatever is the cause of it? It is the responsibility of this government to make sure that it handles it and handles it well. If it is not handled well, the government itself could come to an end in a very bad manner.
“The people of this country do not think that this government is performing as far as security is concerned and, of course, you should understand that in politics, perception is everything. If the government is perceived not to be performing in one area as it is doing, I can’t see how the government can survive,” Mohammed said.
NBS: Nigeria’s inflation rate drops to 11.22%
The consumer price index (CPI) which measures monthly inflation rate crashed to 11.22 per cent in June compared to May figure of 11.40, a data of National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) obtained yesterday has shown.
The reduction represents 0.18 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in May 2019 (11.40) per cent.
“The composite food index stood at 13.56 per cent in June 2019 compared to 13.79 per cent in May 2019. This rise in the food index was caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, meat, oils and fats, potatoes, yam and other tubers, fish, vegetables and fruits. On month-on-month basis, the food sub-index increased by 1.36 per cent in June 2019, down by 0.05 per cent points from 1.41 per cent recorded in May 2019. The average annual rate of change of the Food sub-index for the 12-month period ending June 2019 over the previous 12-month average was 13.42 per cent, 0.05 per cent points higher from the average annual rate of change recorded in May 2019 (13.37 per cent),” NBS explained.
The ”all items less farm produce” or Core inflation, which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 8.8 per cent in June 2019, down by 0.2 per cent when compared with 9.0 per cent recorded in May 2019.
On month-on-month basis, the core sub-index increased by 0.85 per cent in June 2019. This was up by 0.10 per cent when compared with 0.75 per cent recorded in May 2019.
The highest increases were recorded in prices of medical and hospital services; cleaning, repair and hire of clothing; repair and hire of footwear; repair of household appliances; actual and imputed rentals for housing; major household appliances, whether electronic or not and tobacco.
The average 12-month annual rate of change of the index was 9.64 per cent for the 12-month period ending June 2019; this is 0.13 per cent points lower than 9.77 per cent recorded in May 2019.
According to NBS, increases were recorded in all COICOP divisions that yielded the headline index.
“On month-on-month basis, the headline index increased by 1.07 per cent in June 2019, this is 0.04 per cent rate lower than the rate recorded in May 2019 (1.11 per cent). The percentage change in the average composite CPI for the 12-month period ending June 2019 over the average of the CPI for the previous 12-month period was 11.29 per cent, similar to the 11.29 per cent recorded in May 2019,” the report stated.
The bureau, in the inflation report, noted that urban inflation rate increased by 11.61 per cent (year-on-year) in June 2019 from 11.76 per cent recorded in May 2019, while the rural inflation rate increased by 10.87 per cent in June 2019 from 11.08 per cent in May 2019.
On a month-on-month basis, the urban index rose by 1.10 per cent in June 2019, up by 0.05 per cent from 1.15 per cent recorded in May 2019, while the rural index also rose by 1.05 per cent in June 2019, up by 0.02 per cent from the rate recorded in May 2019 (1.07 per cent).
On state-by-state analysis, all items inflation on year-on-year basis was highest in Bauchi (15.40%), Kebbi (14.73%) and Kaduna (13.91%), while Delta (9.46%), Kwara (9.01%) and Bayelsa (8.56%) recorded the slowest rise in headline year-on-year inflation.
On month-on-month basis, however, June 2019 all items inflation was highest in River (2.28%), Lagos (1.72%) and Cross River (1.57%), while Bayelsa (0.42%), Kaduna (0.37%) and Sokoto (0.31%) recorded the slowest rise.
Customs refers mentally unstable officer for rehabilitation
Mr. Nura Dalhatu, an Assistant Superintendent of Customs who attempted taking over the position of Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) has been recommended for mental rehabilitation.
Customs Chief Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah, made the disclosure to New Telegraph in his Abuja office yesterday.
He, however, didn’t disclose the rehab’s location. He said the decision to send officer Dalhatu, who hails from Katsina State, for rehabilitation was based on doctor’s recommendation.
“I think from what I know, he is recommended for rehab. He wasn’t in the proper frame of mind when he took the action. Doctors have recommended him for further medical attention,” he said.
Dalhatu, an Assistant Superintendent of Customs, two weeks ago, dressed himself with official rank of Comptroller General of Customs (CGC) and showed up in the office, preparatory to take over from incumbent CGC, Hameed Ali. He claimed he had the permission of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He was taken to the medical facility of the Nigeria Customs Service for medical attention, during which his mental health status became a concern.
Meanwhile, successful candidates who applied for the various posts in the recent recruitment exercise advertised by the Service would soon go for interview in the capital of their state of origin.
However, majority of the applicants applied in error. Atta said the Service advertised for recruitment of support staff/professionals such as medical doctors, nurses, mechanical engineers and other areas of core professionals, but that majority that applied were people with degree in sociology, geography, economics and other disciplines
“The process of inviting successful candidates for interview is ongoing. Any moment from now, we will invite them for interview that will take place at their state capital,” Atta said.
‘Atiku’s witness: Election results mutilated in Borno to favour Buhari’
Prosecution Witness 23 in the ongoing hearing of a petition filed against the February 23 election which produced President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, told the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja that all the results sheets in Borno State were mutilated to favour Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and his party had approached the tribunal to challenge the outcome of the election.
The witness, who was collation agent for the PDP, Nicholas Msheliza, added that virtually all the result sheets from the various local governments in the state were mutilated.
He equally stated that there was zero accreditation of voters in over 200 polling units out of the 3,933 statutory polling units in the state.
He further told the tribunal that there were a total of 5,078 voting points, including the polling units.
Msheliza also said the total votes of 911,786, declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was well over the accredited voters across the state.
Under cross examination, when asked to reconcile the seeming contradiction between his claim that the results were already collated before he got to the collation centre and his deposition that he observed when the figures were being tendered, the witness said: “They were merely announcing the results to the hearing of people present.”
When asked if he visited the polling units in the state as the state collation officer for the PDP, he said: “I could not have visited the polling units because of the peculiar security challenges in Borno State.”
However, Prosecution Witness 21, Jafaru Usman, who served as the PDP’s local government collation agent for Zaria, Kaduna State, told the Tribunal that results in his area were rigged in favour of the APC.
But the witness, who is a lawyer, said he signed the Form EC8C, the local government area result sheets, not as authentication of what was contained in it, but as a mere witness.
Under cross-examination, Usman said the polling unit results contained in Forms EC8A ought to be transmitted to the ward result sheets, Forms EC8B, and then transmitted to Form EC8C, which is the local government result sheet, but that was not the case in his area.
“The correct results were not transmitted,” Usman said.
But when asked if he signed the Form EC8C, he said: “I signed in line with the provision of the Electoral Act.
“I signed it, but I did not authenticate what was contained in it. I only signed as a witness in line with the Electoral Act.
“What I signed was not a contract.
“All those who were in attendance were required to sign in line with Electoral Act.”
Asked if any of those who perpetrated the rigging were convicted in court, he said, “I made complaints, they did nothing.”
Prosecution Witness 24, John Makama, who served as the PDP’s collation agent in Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State, in his own testimony, said the results of the poll in the stronghold of his party were cancelled by INEC officials.
He alleged in his evidence-in-chief that the election in Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State was marred by illegal cancellation of votes.
Under cross-examination by the respondents’ counsel, Makama said the results were cancelled in his presence at the local government collation centre by the INEC’s local government collation officer and not at the polling units where the election took place.
He said: “It is an aberration that results from wards and polling units were cancelled.
“The election held at the polling units, but the cancellations happened at the local government collation centre.
“The results from the petitioners’ stronghold were illegally cancelled. It is an open fact that political parties have stronghold where they are dominant.”
He said of the 11 wards in Sanga Local Government Area, the APC was only strong in three.
Still under cross examination, Makama could not find an answer when told that cancellation of results in Sanga Local Government Area was not part of the case presented by the petitioners in their petition.
Other witnesses are Major Yahaya Sikko, Dr. AbdulRaman Usman, Khalid Yelwa Kugo and Adam Ali Sanni.
Sikko, in his evidence-in-chief on the alleged election malpractices in Kaduna State, told the tribunal that wrong figures were accredited to Buhari and APC, making him to refuse to sign the result sheet as required by law.
The witness told the tribunal that in his presence results were doctored by APC agents with full backing of security personnel.
Answering a question from Buhari’s counsel, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), the witness said that he protested against the wrongdoings at the collation centre, but was ignored.
He, however, admitted that accreditation was done by smart card reader.
Dr. AbdulRaman Usman, in his own testimony, alleged that form EC8A were not made available to agents of the petitioners as required by law and thereby making him not to sign form EC8C being the result for Kaduna North Local Government because of his objection to the wrongful entries made for the APC.
Also testifying, Adams Ali Sanni admitted that he did not sign results sheets as agents of the petitioners because results were altered in his presence while votes cast for Atiku and PDP were reduced also in his presence.
He alleged that apart from unlawful cancellation of results, PDP agents were chased away by thugs loyal to the APC to allow free falsification of results in favour of Buhari.
Another witness from Bauchi State, Yau Yusuf, in attesting to claim of rigging, harassment and intimidation of voters, said election results was torn by a particular agent of the APC in the presence of INEC officials at INEC headquarters and yet nothing was done.
He claimed that the results announced by INEC were a reproduced copy, adding that the police took the torn copy with a promise to prosecute the perpetrator.
The petitioners at yesterday’s hearing called seven witnesses, increasing the number of witnesses called so far to 28.
The tribunal has adjourned till today for continuation of hearing.
NJC recommends Ibrahim Muhammad as substantive CJN
The National Judicial Council (NJC) has recommended Ibrahim Muhammad to President Muhammadu Buhari as chief justice of Nigeria (CJN).
Soji Oye, spokesman of the council, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday.
Muhammad has been occupying the office in acting capacity since January when Buhari suspended Walter Onnoghen, former CJN, who was accused of false declaration of assets.
Atiku, PDP defeated Buhari in Katsina, party chairman tells tribunal
Salisu Maijigiri, the state Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Katsina State, told the Presidential Election Tribunal, on Tuesday, that his party’s presidential candidate in the February 23 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, defeated President Muhammadu Buhari, in the state.
Katsina is Buhari’s home state.
Atiku and the PDP are challenging the victory of Buhari and the All Progressives Congress at the poll. A five-man tribunal led by Justice Mohammed Garba is hearing their petition.
The petitioners, at the Day 4 of the presentation of their case on Tuesday, called as their eighth witness, Maijigiri, who said he served as the party’s collation agent in Katsina State for the presidential election in state.
The case is still continuing.
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