Wi d e s p read violence and arson marred the governorship elections held yesterday in Kogi and Bayelsa states, as no fewer than seven persons were allegedly killed and more than 20 seriously injured in separate attacks. In Kogi State, the violence was so rampant that at Lokongoma community in Lokoja Local Government Area, a helicopter allegedly aided ballot box snatching. Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were also attacked by some hoodlums in military uniform, who carted away electoral materials even as some ballot boxes were smashed.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan who arrived at his polling station at about 8:19am expressed his disappointment with the process, stating: “I got here around 8:19 am and there was nobody here; the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ad hoc staff were not here, voters were not here… I am a bit disappointed with what I see here,” Jonathan said.
Sunday Telegraph gathered that six people were killed and many injured at polling units by gunmen and hoodlums, who stormed voting centres, disrupting the process and carted away ballot boxes. A building belonging to an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain was also set ablaze in Lokoja, the state capital during the election, just as the polling unit where Senator Dino Melaye voted was attacked and one of the boxes destroyed. Some of the deceased whose names were given by the natives as Umoru Shuaib and Faruk Suleiman, died during gun battle between supporters of the ruling APC and main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Witnesses said the incident happened while voting was underway at Barrack Polling Unit 001 in Dekina council.
The assailants from all indications came for Umoru Shaibu, one of the victims in the attack. “They came in a bus while voting was taking place. They wore police uniform, so we didn’t suspect anything. Umoru had voted and was chatting with Faruk close to the poling unit, when the bus drove by.
None of the occupants who were in police uniform alighted from the vehicle. “We just heard gunshots and shouts from the victims as well as onlookers. The attackers drove off,” a resident in the community who identified himself as Michael said. The major street in the ancient town was deserted when our correspondent visited the area. Stones and sticks littered the road, while tyres earlier burnt by youths protesting the attack were still billowing. Three people were also killed in Adankolo in Lokoja, the state capital.
They were killed in different polling units by hoodlums who shut sporadically with the intent to cart away ballot boxes they were prevented by some electorate and residents in the community. A voter was also killed in Ayetoro-Gbede in Ijumu Local Government Area and two other people shot at by hoodlums who disrupted the voting process at Ayetoro Town Hall in Ward 03 of the local government. The hoodlums also snatched ballot boxes at Ayetoro Town Hall and Oke Ibukun in Ijumu Local Government Area. But the ballot boxes were later recovered.
Sunday Telegraph gathered that when the hoodlums stormed the polling unit in Ayetoro Town Hall, which was in front of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) office, the Civil Defence sought for safety as some of them hid their guns and identify cards. Five of them were later arrested by the security agencies including a fake police officer at the government official’s residence. There was also a report of the arrest of some suspects with thumb printed ballot papers and Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
They were alleged to be working for the sole administrator of one of the local government areas. Speaking on the disruption of the election process and snatching of ballot boxes in his local government, Ijumu and other parts of the state the PDP senatorial candidate in Kogi West, Senator Dino Melaye, said INEC, in accordance with their promise should not accept votes from polling units where ballot boxes were snatched by hoodlums and gunmen.
His words: “The hoodlums arrested in my local government made confessional statement that they were recruited by APC and a staff in the office of the deputy governor and that they came from his house. A policeman on illegal duties was also arrested and in custody of the police. “A group of thugs carrying bunch of PVCs was arrested, they confessed that …the Sole Administrator of Local Government Area gave them the PVCs and thumb printed papers.
“We already said that APC is not prepared for the election. But we are ready to prove that the ballot is stronger. The state government has terrorised the whole place and there are reports that they have taken over Lokoja and they have been collecting ballot boxes from polling units in Lokoja metropolis and their intension is to come back with already stuffed ballot boxes with written results that they will try to enter into the collation centre. But we don’t see how that is going to happen. We will fight with the last drop of our blood. “I am calling on security agencies and INEC to respect their promise that wherever ballot boxes are being taken away, it cannot be recorded and voting in that particular unit should be cancelled.
So, for all those areas they have taken ballot boxes away, should not be entertained at all at the collation centre, so that only where we had valid votes should be counted because once a ballot box or paper has been taken away, the integrity of the votes in it is completely questionable. I think INEC should respect their promise for election riggers not to have their ways.”
Our correspondents reports that there were also sporadic gunshots in some communities in Kogi East Senatorial District shortly after the commencement of voting. The gunshots were heard in Emewe Okapda, part of Ajiyolo communities in Dekina Local Government Area of the state. In Aikpele-Ajaka Polling Unit 002, Igalamela-Odolu Local Government, armed men wearing mask reportedly shot sporadically into the air, disrupting the exercise as voters and INEC officials took to their heals in all direction. Natives said the assailants snatched ballot boxes and drove away.
Similarly, at Opolo Ward 1, in Bayelsa State, armed thugs disrupted voting by shooting indiscriminately and succeeded in destroying some electoral materials, before the arrival of more than 50 police officers from F-SARS and IGP Monitoring Unit at the scene.
Also voting materials for Angiama Community were hijacked at Sagbama Local Government Area of the state but an ad-hoc staff, corps members who were conveying the materials were rescued by policemen.
In his reaction, Bayelsa State Governor, the Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson, accused the General Officer Commanding the 6th Division of the Nigerian Army, Jamir Sarham, of compromising security in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC) against the PDP. Dickson said that even though Gen. Jamir Sarham has been transferred to the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, he refused to move and waited behind to supervise the use of the Army to perpetrate heinous electoral crimes and irregularity in the Bayelsa gubernatorial poll.
The governor said that the GOC and the Brigade Commander of the Artillery Brigade, attached soldiers to all APC leaders in all the wards who they use to terrorise people from one polling unit to another. The governor said that the GOC moved to Yenagoa to personally supervise the undemocratic and illegal activities of the Army in the Bayelsa polls using the Brigade Commander of the Artillery Brigade as the commander of his soldiers in the orgy of violence on Bayelsans.
In a statement issued yesterday, Dickson said although, Major General Sarham was supposed to hand over to his successor, Maj. Gen Felix Aguguo, on November 5 he suddenly aborted the handover process till after the Bayelsa governorship poll. He recalled that the Stare Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party had alerted the nation of a plot by the APC to use the GOC and the Nigerian Army to undermine security during governorship poll in Bayelsa.
He said: “I am accusing the GOC of the 6th Brigade, Major Gen Sharham Jamil of delaying his handing over process after his transfer to the Nigeria Defence Academy, Kaduna, to perfect this illegal mission of rigging election in Bayelsa.
“He and the Brigade Commander of Artillery Brigade, Elele, Lt Col Wase, are the ones attaching soldiers to all APC chieftains in every ward to rig the election in all the polling units. General Sarham has defied his transfer posting and has stayed back to complete his mission to rig Bayelsa for APC,” he said.
Dickson called on President Buhari to address the issues and stop the killing and terrorising of the people. “The President has to wake up and do something. This is not a democracy; what is going on in Bayelsa in the name of an election is not a democracy.
The observers are everywhere and everyone knows what is going on. “I do not want to be pushed to the level of calling them to defend and protect themselves, I would not want to do that but please, there’s so much a people can take in the hands of their brothers and sisters in the name of an election,” he said.
Four INEC officials were said to have been abducted in Bumodi-Bgbene community in Eketiama clan, Yenagoa Local Government in the state, while a policeman on security escort was allegedly pushed into the creek but the corps member on duty managed to escape as the youths hijacked election materials. Meanwhile, INEC has described as unfortunate, the reported cases of thuggery and violence in yesterday’s governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states despite promises by the political parties to promote peaceful elections.
INEC in a statement by National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the commission unequivocally condemned the incident, observing that the parties signed peace accords before the elections. “We are still receiving, collating and evaluating these reports as we move into the critical phase of result collation,” Okoye said.
Ebonyi, ex-female lawmaker bicker over N80m entitlements
A former member of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Hon. Maria Ude Nwachi and the state government are trading words over an alleged N80million statutory entitlement of the former female lawmaker.
Nwachi, who represented Afikpo North East State Constituency in the 5th Assembly, alleged that the state government in connivance with leadership of the Assembly denied her statutory and privileged entitlements including severance allowance totaling N80million.
But the state government described her claims as nothing but one of the dimensions of the Ponzi trap for gullible people as no House of Assembly member’s allowance in Ebonyi State, whether in whole or in part was closed to the amount she claimed.
Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Uchenna Orji described it as laughable.
He said: “My office has noted as laughable the disdainful Ponzi arrangement of one Hon Maria Ude Nwachi which she orchestrated to trend in different Social Media platforms so as to attract pity with corollary pecuniary intentions. Most pitiable is the conspiracy of syndicates who are already sharing in different media classifications this manufactured ordeals of the said Madam Nwachi.
“Worst still are those who know the antecedents and potentials of this woman and would still desire to set trap for unsuspecting members of the public to make this Xmas profitable for the smartest arrangers But Nwachi also alleged that her aides were also denied their own entitlements till date.”
Nwachi, who contested for Afikpo North/Afikpo South Federal Constituency in 2019 general election under the platform of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) lost to PDP candidate, Hon. Idu Igariwey.
She accused the state government and the leadership of the state Assembly of humiliating her in all fronts throughout the end of the state 5th Assembly.
Nwachi said: “It is alarmingly worthy to note that I am owed to the tune of over N80million in statutory and privileged entitlements, including my severance allowance.
“Since I was elected into the State House of Assembly in 2015, and throughout my embattled four-year tenure which ended this year, I never received the monthly stipend of N500, 000.00.
“In April 2018, I was denied my N15million Constituency Projects
Allowance made to every member of the House. This is in spite of the fact that I had delivered an ultra-modern public toilet project among others with my personal funds. I have never borrowed money from a bank
in my life but I borrowed from Fidelity Bank to complete some of the
projects for my people. Thank goodness I have completely paid off that
loan; which was a thorn on my flesh.”
Security Trust Fund Bill scales first reading in Enugu Assembly
Enugu State Security Trust Fund and Other Connected Purposes Bill yesterday scaled first reading at the State House of Assembly.
The executive bill, which was presented by the Leader of the House, Hon. Ikechukwu Ezeugwu during the plenary, sought to provide money for the acquisition and deployment of security equipment, financial and human resources to prevent crime and preserve public security in the state. Ezeugwu said that the bill sought to promote efficiency of all security agencies as well as reserve part of the fund for training and retraining of security personnel in the state.
He said that the bill when passed would establish a board of trustees to manage the security fund to be headed by a chairman, who would not be less than 45 years of age and be appointed by the state governor.
Other details of the bill indicates that the chairman and members of the Board shall hold office for a term of three years and shall be eligible for re-appointment for one further term of three year and no more.
Ezeugwu listed the functions of the Board to include procuring and maintaining of equipment “including but not limited to patrol vehicles, armoured personnel carriers, water cannons, protection vans, lorries, buses, recovery vehicles, drones and helicopters as may be required for use in Enugu state by federal, state and local government security agencies”.
Speaker Edward Ubosi said that Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi would present 2020 budget proposal to the House of Assembly on17th December, 2019. Ubosi urged his colleague to get prepared as the bill would be deliberated on a later day.
Niger gov presents N148.2bn 2020 budget to Assembly
iger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, yesterday presented a budget of N148.2 billion for the 2020 fiscal year to the state House of Assembly.
The budget proposal represented a decrease of 13.2 per cent compared to the 2019 budget, which was N194, 698,816,253.00; including a supplementary budget of N30, 247,947,518.42.
The governor said the decrease indicated the readiness of the state to adjust its fiscal responsibility in line with the current economic realities of the state.
According to Governor Bello, “The budget, christened Budget of Inclusion for Sustainable Development, consists of Recurrent Expenditure of N69, 968,379,598.50 or 47.21 per cent and Capital Expenditure of N78, 243,549,951.32 or 52.79 per cent of the budget.”
He added that the budget was specifically anchored on the completion of projects that had attained 75 per cent completion and above.
Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Abdullahi Bawa Wuse, assured the governor that the lawmakers would ensure that the budget was scrutinised and given speedy passage.
He also expressed the readiness of the Assembly to partner with the executive and security agencies in ensuring that the security challenges facing the state were brought to an end.
NAVC/ICPC canvasses youth-empowerment as panacea for corrupt practices
Abia State Coordinator of the National Anti-Corruption Volunteer Corps (NAVC/ICPC), Rev Blessed Amalambu has said that if the war against corruption would succeed in Nigeria, the citizens should be empowered to hold government accountable, stressing there should be law to end impunity in the conduct of government business.
Amalambu, who made the recommendation in Umuahia during the 2019 Anti-Corruption Day with the theme “Together we can fight against corruption,” added that the clauses in the Constitution that had given undue rights and privileges to certain offices and positions for power of monopoly in decisions and policies should be removed as monopoly or power of discretion bred corruption.
He said: “There should be transparency and access to information. In Nigeria, there is law encouraging freedom of information, but it is not applied or enforced. Vital information should be made public as to create room for proper enlightenment of the general public. “There should be community monitoring initiatives in our various local governments. This will help to detect leakages of funds and improve the quality and quantity of services.
IPPIS: FG must correct anomalies in the payroll system – Rector
s the management of the Federal School of Surveying, Oyo, prepares for mass convocation of its graduates in the past ten years, the Rector of the professional institution, Surveyor (Dr.) Dupe Olayinka, has said that the school was not opposed to the Federal Government’s policy of Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System (IPPIS) unlike the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) but said that there were a series of anomalies in the system.
The Rector of the 111-year-old institution who spoke with journalists at the school during the 20th convocation press conference, disclosed that staff of the school had been captured twice in 2016, but in the recent capturing initiated by the Accountant-General of the Federation, 37 of the school’s staff were missing in the list released, while names of three staff already deceased surfaced on the list, and one staff that had voluntarily retired also had his name on the list. Due to the anomalies, the first female Rector and indigene of Oyo town lamented that staff’s November salary was yet to be paid.
Olayinka said: “It is better we are getting our salaries from the centre. If it is going to check corruption, there is no institution that would say no.
“The fear of ASUU and other unions is because some that have been captured have issues. After the exercise had been done in this institution, names of no fewer than 37 of our staff were missing from the list.
“Three staff who were deceased were surprisingly on the list, and one staff that had voluntarily retired had his name still on the list. This is confusing.”
Niger, foreign firm to revive Zungeru fertilizer plant
he Niger State government yesterday said it has entered into partnership with a foreign firm to revive the abandoned fertilizer plant in Zungeru to boost food and cash crop production in the state.
It will be recalled that the fertilizer plant in Zungeru, established by the military regime of Colonel Simeon Oduoye, had been abandoned for more than 20 years.
However, the state government on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Dubai-based firm, JMarine Logistics Limited, for the resuscitation of the plant and its operation by the company for the next 25 years.
Niger State Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmed Matane, signed the agreement for the government while Mr. Tahir Quresh, initialled the document for the firm.
The agreement, which provided that actual work should start in the blending plant within six months, also showed that the Dubai company would inject about $12 million into the procurement of new machines for the plant.
In an address at the occasion, Matane said agriculture cannot be modernised without the use of fertilizers and mechanised farming implements, which was why the government was determined to revamp the fertilizer plant.
assured the people that raw materials were available in the state for the plant to operate, pointing out that there was also abundant labour in the state.
Commissioner for Investment, Commerce and Cooperative in the state, Dr. Jibril Mustapha, said when the plant becomes operational, it would generate N4 million monthly for the government apart from employing a large number of people.
Mustspha added that the state government had provided additional land and security for the company, saying that the state and local governments also have a total of 45 per cent share in the plant.
Minister proffers solution to early girl-child marriage
he Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, yesterday said that she was committed to abolishing girl-child early marriage in the country by ensuring their education.
Tallen said the Ministry of Women Affairs was collaborating with the Ministry of Education towards addressing the issue of early marriage among Nigerian girls.
The minister spoke in Jos while addressing journalists after a town hall meeting with women from Plateau State.
She said educating the girl-child was key to unlocking access to economic and social development of the country, adding that her ministry and Ministry of Education was ensuring that girl-child education from primary to junior secondary school was free.
“Investing in girls and women education is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty and advance national development.”
The minister frowned at early girl-child marriage, saying her ministry would not accept nor encourage child marriage involving girls between 12 and 17 years old, but girls from 18 years and above.
“We say no to early child marriage from 12 to 17years, this is not acceptable, but we are working to end the practice such as liaising with local and religious leaders to prevail on their people to stop all practices that limit girls from achieving their potentials.”
Tallen said Plateau State was the first state to have signed the Child Rights’ Act, adding that her ministry was working towards ensuring total implementation of the Act, which was domiciled in all the states.
She said: “I commend the Plateau State government for signing the Child Rights’ Act, the benefits would lead to poverty reduction, better health outcomes, economic growth, reduced rates of child mortality and malnutrition; it would also help girls to achieve their potentials.”
The minister also said that her ministry was collaborating with female legislatures in the National Assembly towards sponsoring a bill that would protect women against violence and abuse of all kinds.
She therefore encouraged parents; stakeholders to value the girl-child to enable them have access to quality education and protection from all forms of abuse and molestation.
Harmattan: FCT Fire Service begins enlightenment campaign
he Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Fire Service yesterday commenced an aggressive fire safety enlightenment campaign in the rural areas to prevent fire disasters.
Director, FCT Fire Service, Mr. Opetunsin Julius, said the enlightenment campaign was to forestall fire disasters, by educating residents on basic fire safety measures.
Julius, who led a team of his Fire Safety and Public Education managers to Junior Secondary School, Pasali in Kuje Area Council, noted that the spate of fire disaster, not only in the nation’s capital, but across the country was alarming and needed some proactive measures to prevent it.
While inaugurating a Fire Safety Club in the school, Julius said the FCT Minister had given the fire service management a marching order to ensure that the effects of the harmattan season was properly mitigated in the territory.
He also explained that the idea behind the fire safety clubs in schools was to arouse the consciousness of preventing fire disasters in children.
According to him, the service would replicate the club in most of the schools across the territory, especially in the rural areas, to inculcate fire safety in the children, who will also assist their parents in the preventive measures.
“Prevention is better than cure, with the incessant fire outbreak in the country now, we have to do something about fire prevention, especially as harmattan season is approaching and we all know that the rate of fire outbreak during harmattan is very high than in the rainy season.
“We have to be very proactive by bringing this enlightenment programme to the people at the grassroots. I advise parents to be very vigilant at home, they should ensure that there are fire fighting equipment like fire extinguishers, blankets, they should also take some necessary safety measures to prevent fire outbreak.”
Court summons Dokubo, over alleged diversion of amnesty slots, stipends
A Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa on Tuesday summoned Prof Charles Dokubo, Cordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Office to appear before it on January 21, 2020.
The court, presided over by Justice Awogboro Abimbola, also dismissed an application by two ex-militants to join the suit alleging diversion of N65,000 monthly stipends for 75 amnesty beneficiaries from 2010 till date.
Ruling on application for joinder, Abimbola said that she found no merit in the application as the applicants were not a necessary part in the matter.
“I find no merit in the application for joinders as the rule for joinders require that only those whose inclusion will ensure the dispensation of justice, the application is hereby dismissed,” Abimbola said.
Two ex-militant leaders, Messrs Aso Tambo and Stephen Ebisintei had sought to be joined in a suit which alleged the diversion of stipends for 75 ex-militants who embraced the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
The ex-agitators had brought the application through their Counsel, Mr Stanley Damabide before the High Court
Army: Law-abiding Nigerians have nothing to fear about our operations
rehabilitates road in Ogun
General Officer Commanding (GOC) 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major-General Olu Irefin, on Tuesday, said law-abiding citizens in the country have nothing to fear about Exercise Crocodile Smile IV.
Irefin, who reassured Nigerians about the ongoing military operation, declared that only criminals, miscreants and “those on the other side of the law” should be ready for military onslaught.
He spoke at the flag-off of road maintenance from Alamala Barracks to Lafenwa Railway in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
New Telegraph reports that the rehabilitation of the deplorable road was carried out by the 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta in collaboration with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).
The GOC, who was accompanied by the Commander, 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta, Brigadier-General E.J. Amadasun, said the Army authorities desire a hitch-free festive period for Nigerians.
He explained that the Exercise Crocodile Smile IV was designed in line with military’s constitutional role of conducting internal security operation in aid of civil authority.
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