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CACOL backs call for probe of allocations to states, LGAs

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CACOL backs call for probe of allocations to states, LGAs

The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has backed the call for the Federal Government to probe states and local governments their local councils’ for not just their allocations accruable from Federal Government but also other sources like their internally generated revenue (IGR) extracted from taxes, rates and usage of its properties and cognate holdings.

CACOL in a statement by its Chairman, Comrade Debo Adeniran, said the probe is primarily necessary to be carried out by the Federal Government as they all hold these fiscal functions on behalf of the people and not just on behalf of selves.

The statement reads in part: “In lending our voice to the general calls of Nigerians in groups and as individuals, for proper accountability and probity to be fostered in the country, we hereby call on the Federal Government through the office of the Attorney-General of the federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and other relevant anti-corruption agencies, to spring into action and probe how the allocations to all the 36 states and 772 local governments, including those local council areas created for ease of administration, were managed so far by those levers of government.

“This would go a long way in recovering much of the public funds and federal allocations that have been whimsically and carelessly siphoned by at those levels. This becomes germane when we consider how the states’ governments have shortchanged many of the local governments in their allocations by diverting such into their private pockets while on occasions, they both collaborate to loot such resources to the detriment of the general public and the society at large, which should naturally profit from those resources.

“As much as CACOL backs the calls for financial autonomy of the local governments without any let or hindrance, we must note that both the 1979 and 1999 Constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the United Nations Convention and African Union Charter Against Corruption, etc., clearly confer such oversight powers on the Federal Government and its agencies. This is so even if the polity is to restructure today for greater effectiveness and accountability.

“Without such leverage, the other tiers of government become a lord of the manor and consequently deny the people, in whose custody the sovereignty must rest, the benefits of government. This is why in other climes, the local councils as the nearest authority to the grassroots, usually provide those salient services like housing/council flats, primary health care, neighbourhood roads, good drainage system, interconnectivity within the areas, etc., which makes governance more impactful to all and sundry. The National Assembly is, on the other hand, empowered and mandated to perform similar oversight on the finances of the Federal Government towards discouraging incidences of impunity and conspiracy at mismanaging the collective resources.”

The group also added that: “Without any equivocation, it is very clear that the drafters of our Constitution and Presidential Model of governance, could not have wanted a ‘jungle Republic’ where anything goes as many of our office holders behave at different stage of governance today. For the entire country to be sanitised and ridden of corruption, the searchlight must be beamed on these other levers such that the kind of recklessness and official irresponsibility that led to a situation where a councillor was collecting higher salary and emoluments than a University Professor in our clime during this same dispensation in the past, would not rear its ugly head again.

“We are seriously convinced that if much of the wastage and mismanagement that afflict our state governments and their local councils are checkmated, governance would take on a more relieving nature and make life more abundant for our people.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sharyl Giddings

    November 13, 2019 at 11:25 pm

    very cool

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Change of baton in Ezza South

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Change of baton in Ezza South

The political ambiance of Ezza South/Ikwo federal constituency in Ebonyi State changed last week following the sack of Lazarus Ogbe, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) member representing the constituency by the Court of Appeal in Enugu. In this report, UCHENNA INYA writes on how the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the February 23 election, Comrade Chinedu Ogah, got his mandate restored

 

About nine months ago, precisely February 23, the National Assembly elections held simultaneously across the 360 federal constituencies of the country and new National Assembly members were elected to represent the constituencies and zones.

In Ezza south/Ikwo federal constituency in Ebonyi state, Hon. Laz Ogbe of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) was declared the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC).

According to the electoral body while announcing the outcome of the poll,  Ogbe polled 31,296 votes while Ogah  scored  27,700 votes.

But dissatisfied with the result, Ogah immediately filed a petition before the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abakaliki to challenge the outcome of the election.

Ogah, who is an APC chieftain alleged that the election was characterised by fraud and that he lost 10,000 votes in the ‘electoral fraud. He prayed the tribunal to declare him the winner by restoring the votes deducted from him.

The tribunal commenced sitting and entertained his petition. After all said and done, the lower court gave its ruling on the matter on September 9, 2019.

Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Sika Henry ruled that from evidence presented before the tribunal to back up his claim, Ogah scored 36,238 votes in the election while Ogbee got 33,263.

The tribunal ordered INEC to immediately withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Ogbee and give it to Ogah.

The tribunal said: “It is the first respondent that won the majority of the lawful votes in Ezza south. The total number of votes scored by the petitioner(APC) and first respondent(Ogbe) for Ezza south/ Ikwo federal constituency is tabulated as follows; Ezza south LGA APC 8, 311, PDP 17,139. Ikwo LGA APC 27, 927  PDP 16, 127.  The total votes for APC is 36, 238 and the total votes for PDP is  33, 200  votes.

“It is the petitioner that scored the majority of the lawful votes having scored 36, 238 votes as against the PDP candidate the first respondent who scored 33,200 votes. We entirely agreed with the petitioner that he scored the majority of the lawful votes from our own computation.

“The Certificate of Return issued to the 1st respondent by the 3rd respondent(INEC) as representing Ezza south/Ikwo federal constituency is hereby withdrawn forthwith and must be issued to the petitioner, Comrade Chinedu Ogah as the winner of the election conducted on the 23rd of February, 2019 to the membership of the House of representatives to represent Ezza South/Ikwo federal constituency”, the tribunal ruled.

Expectedly, counsel to Ogbee, Chief Roy Umahi protested against the judgment. Addressing journalists at the tribunal premises after the ruling, he said “I want to say that I am not altogether disappointed with the judgment because I expected that it will be this way. We will start drafting the notice of our appeal”.

But Chief Tofa Mba Okweni (SAN) who is the counsel to the petitioner, said “We looked at the entire result of the election when we reviewed the whole thing and found out that the polling unit result which forms the basis of the election was not what was collected at the ward level and we filed our petition challenging the result declared by INEC on the grounds that they did not collate the proper result of the election.

“What they collated did not reflect the outcome of the election at the polling units. We then asked the tribunal which has the power  to re-compute the result of the election based on the outcome of the election at the polling units to do so”.

After the tribunal verdict, Hon. Ogbee who was serving his second tenure before his sack by the tribunal filed an Appeal at Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu to challenge the tribunal ruling.

On Friday last week, the Appeal court dismissed the appeal as lacking in merit and affirmed Ogah as the winner of the February 23rd National Assembly election.

Justice Ignatuis Agube delivered the  judgment on behalf of Justice Veronica Dongban-Mensem.

Ogah while reacting the Appeal court judgment, said “My victory at the tribunal and Appeal court has shown truly that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man and it has also shown that the judiciary is the people that you cannot toy with, they are upright and doesn’t collect bribe to pervert justice. They believe in what is right and saw that my constituents voted for me the February 23 National Assembly election.

“The judiciary has restored the hope of the masses by restoring my stolen mandate. My coming into the National Assembly will bring tremendous changes in my constituency and the state in general in the sense that there will be no more time than the quota of Ebonyi in federal recruitment will be sold out as it used to be.

“I can’t be a legislator and there is quota of police in the recruitment for Ebonyi and it will be sold out. In the recent recruitment, Ebonyi quota was reduced from 150 to 100. I can’t be in the National Assembly and such a thing will continue to happen. I cannot be a National Assembly member and Ecological fund will be going to another place and it will not come to my constituency.  I am not going to the National Assembly to fight people, I am going there to do what is right and speak for my constituents”.

On his part, Ogbee thanked his supporters for their support. He opined that in the February 23rd election, he won against all odds. He alleged that the court truncated his victory at the polls and congratulated Chinedu Ogah for emerging victorious at the tribunal and Appeal court.

“I want to thank the people of Ezza south and Ikwo Federal constituency for all the supports they have given to me. I want to appreciate the Governor of our state, Chief David Umahi. I want to thank the Divine Mandate and PDP families. I want to specially appreciate my people-the people of Amazekwe for giving me their supports and I want to appeal to them to accept the verdicts of the court in good fate.

“By the special grace of God, I shall bounce back next time. I want to thank and appreciate my party, the PDP from my ward, local government, State to the national levels. I thank them for giving me all the opportunities all these while to serve. I thank them for all the various capacities I have served. In chronicling my journey in political positions, I want to sincerely appreciate God. God is a faithful God. I as Laz Ogbee cannot actually equate the love God has bestowed on me as an individual. From being a supervisory councilor in a military era from 1998-1999; I became a local government party chairman from PDP to ANPP.

“I came in again as supervisory councillor for education for Ezza East Development Center from 2005-2006. By 2007, I was appointed as the pioneer Coordinator of Ezza South East Development center. I was there for two years and two months and I resigned to contest for the chairmanship of Ezza south local government and I won. I was sworn in on November 1, 2010- 2013 and I contested again and I also won. By 2014, because of our support for the government of Ebonyi state today, the local government system was sacked and it was because of my support for the government that is in place in Ebonyi today.

“The local government system in Ebonyi was sacked through Court. By 2015, I won as Honourable member Federal House of Representatives, representing Ezza south and Ikwo Federal constituency. And by 2019, against all odds, I won again. To this I want to sincerely thank God Almighty and appreciate the people of Ezza South and Ikwo Federal constituency. They gave me their mandate and Court truncated it. I defended it to the Court of Appeal and the Court gave it to my opponent. On this note, I want to congratulate my opponent, Comrade Chinedu Ogah”, he said.

A constituent of the area and Public Affairs Analysts, Dennis Uzim said Ebonyi Central Senatorial Zone zone which Ezza south/Ikwo federal constituency is part of has remained the bastion of Ebonyi politics and a beehive of recalcitrant since 1999 in Ebonyi state.

According to him, in 2003 general election, Ezza/ Ikwo federal constituency returned ANPP candidate, Hon Francis Elem.

“Again in 2011 general election from the same Ebonyi Central Senatorial Zone, Hon Engr Peter Edeh of the ANPP was returned elected by Ezza North/ Ishielu Federal Constituency to represent them as member, Federal House of Representatives.

“Now in 2019, eight years after as usual, Comrade Chinedu Ogah have been affirmed by the Appeal Court as the duly elected representative of Ezza south/ Ikwo federal constituency all in Ebonyi Central Senatorial zone. All those took place while PDP held sway at the state level as the political party in the seat of power.

“All the above occurred during the election for the second tenure in office of Dr Sam Egwu, Chief Martin Elechi, and Engr David Umahi respectively.  Suffix it to say that Ebonyi Central Zone adds zest and verve to Ebonyi politics. In election for political offices in Ebonyi Central it is never over until it is over” Uzim said.

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Ekiti South: How Olujimi bounced back

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Ekiti South: How Olujimi bounced back

ADEWUMI ADEMIJU reports on the legal battle for Ekiti South Senatorial District seat between Prince Adedayo Adeyeye and Mrs. Biodun Olujimi, which was recently decided in favour of the latter by the Court of Appeal

 

There is no doubt that the wait for the outcome of the legal battle to determined the winner of the Ekiti South Senatorial District seat in the February 23 National Assembly election created a huge suspense in the minds of every Ekiti people both at home and in the Diaspora, especially the political conscious ones.

However, the legal journey between the two main contestants – Biodun Olujimi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Adedayo Adeyeye of the All Progressives Congress (APC) – came to a dramatic end on Wednesday November 6.

The duo initially belonged to the PDP before political ambition set them apart, and until the verdict of the Court of Appeal on the Ekiti South Senatorial District, Adeyeye was holding his first elective position as senator though has earlier held several political appointments, including minister and spokesperson of the PDP.

Olujimi, on the other hand, has held elective positions as a member of the House of Representatives, member of the Senate, where she served as a minority leader aside being a former deputy governor of Ekiti State as well as other political appointments.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Adeyeye winner of the Ekiti South seat and he was consequently inaugurated as the senator representing the district at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly.

But, Olujimi and the PDP headed to the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal that sat in Ado Ekiti and prayed it to declare her as winner of the election.

They premised their prayer on improper or outright lack of accreditation, contradictions between accredited figures on the voters register and the number of votes recorded in Form EC8A (1), over voting as a result of votes captured in the voters register being less than the total number of votes recorded in Form EC8 A(1), fictitious and fabricated scores unlawfully allotted the 2nd respondent, irreconcilable entries in Form EC8A(1)s and EC8B (1)s, mutilations of Forms EC8A(1) regarding the  number of accredited voters and discrepancies in the number of ballot papers issued and number of ballot papers used in the polling stations, among others.

According to them, two major issues for determination by the three-member tribunal, led by Hon. Justice D.D Adeck include whether the election and return of the 2nd respondent as the winner of the Ekiti South Senatorial District election is not invalid by reasons of substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), whether after reconciliation and deduction of total votes affected by the substantial non-compliance of the 1st Petitioner not to be declared as  duly elected and should be returned as the candidate who scored the highest number of lawful votes cast at the Ekiti South Senatorial District Election of 23rd February 2019 having satisfied the requirement of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended.

Counsel to Adeyeye, Barr. Raheem Balogun, however, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for lack of merit. He submitted that the fact that the petitioner failed to establish cases on noncompliance and criminal conducts during the poll and how it affected the outcome of the election rendered the petition incompetent.

But, the tribunal in its judgement on September 10, in a unanimous verdict, nullified Adeyeye’s election and declared Olujimi as winner of the poll.

Justice Adeck, who read the judgement, nullified elections in some polling units to declare Olujimi the authentic winner of the poll. She polled a total of 54,894 votes to emerge victorious over Adeyeye (then Senate Committee Chairman on Media and Publicity), who polled 52,243 votes.

The judge added that apart from nullification of elections in some units, the outcome of the tribunal’s verdict was predicated on the recount of the ballots by the contending forces as granted by the court.

Justice Adeck further noted that the petitioner was able to prove her claims of cases of criminal allegations and noncompliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and other corrupt practices raised in her petition beyond reasonable doubt.

According to judge, Olujimi was was able to prove cases of over voting in Ikere, Gbonyin and  Emure local government areas and votes in those units  were expunged from the ballots.

On the voting patterns, the tribunal judge held: “It is not tenable to say that marked ballots were not properly deposited in the boxes because when this did not happen, then it will lead to over voting and will affect counting at every level of collation.

“To avoid this pitfall, those votes must be expunged in order not to vitiate the electoral process. Therefore, after those votes were deducted, PDP was left with 54,894 votes, while the respondent polled 52,243 votes.

“The petitioner having polled the highest number of lawful votes should be declared the winner of the election. We hereby declare the petitioner the winner and he is hereby returned elected. We hereby direct the INEC to withdraw the ceritificate of return from the respondent and issue same to the petitioner.”

Dissatisfied with the judgement of the tribunal, Adeyeye filed a 19-ground appeal at the Court of Appeal and assembled a team of lawyers led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Dayo Akinlaja, to win back his mandate.

In the Notice of Appeal he filed, Adeyeye sought two reliefs in his bid to upturn Olujimi’s victory at the tribunal. He prayed the appellate court “to allow the appeal and set aside the declaration and return of Olujimi” as well as urged it to affirm his declaration and return by INEC as the winner of the senatorial poll.

Adeyeye in his appeal averred that the tribunal’s verdict was a miscarriage of justice, complaining that votes cast for his party (APC) were wrongfully nullified by the panel to arrive at its conclusion.

The Appellant maintained that the trial judges erred in law by relying on the evidence of Petitioners Witnesses (PWs) 1, 3 to 14, result sheets and voters registers to nullify the results of the election at the concerned polling units and consequently deducting 2,207 votes from the votes of APC and 933 votes from the votes of PDP.

One of the errors in law of the Tribunal, according to Adeyeye, was its acknowledgment that the report of the inspection of ballot papers came about after the filing of the petition.

He contended that the tribunal did not avert its mind to decided authorities of superior courts of the land in holding that it was proper for it to countenance the inspection report.

The Appellant claimed that the Petitioners/Respondents did not tender any ballot paper at the trial and failed to give evidence to show how the alleged alterations and mutilations of the result sheets prejudiced or affected the results of the election.

He argued that the tribunal had no justification to accord probative value to the evidence of PW 15 on the inspection report maintaining that the tribunal had found the evidence to be hearsay.

Counsel to the appellant, Mr. Dayo Akinlaja (SAN), while giving his final address, argued that the tribunal was wrong in declaring Olujimi winner of the poll.

He noted that the report of inspection of election materials of which the tribunal based its decision on was not included as part of the original prayers of the petitioner at the time.

But, counsel to the PDP candidate, Mr. Wahab Egbewole, maintained that the report labeled as Exhibit 385 was submissible since all parties involved in the case were present at the inspection.

The legal battle eventually came to an end on November 6, when the Kaduna Division of the Court of Appeal in its verdict, sacked Adeyeye as senator representing Ekiti South Senatorial District and affirmed the tribunal’s judgment, which declared Olujimi as winner of the election.

In a unanimous judgement, Justice Uzor Anyanwu upheld the judgement of the tribunal and ordered INEC to issue a fresh Certificate of Return to Olujimi.

Sequel to the development, the PDP in Ekiti State applauded the judiciary for upholding the victory of Olujimi, but the APC described the verdict as obstacle to democracy.

Ekiti PDP in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Jackson Adebayo, stated that “the judgement of both the lower tribunal and the appellate court did not come as a surprise because the result declared by INEC did not reflect true votes cast in the first instance.”

On its part, APC in a statement by its Director of Media and Publicity, Sam Oluwalana, dismissed the judgement, stating that the Court of Appeal ruling is against the wishes of people of Ekiti South Senatorial District.

However, the state governor, Kayode Fayemi, urged Adeyeye to be resolute despite the pronouncement, adding that the ruling, though shocking and unexpected, is not the end of his political career or his public service

“We must accept the decision of the appellate court, which is the final arbiter in this particular election petition, with equanimity, though quite painfully.

“The court ruling notwithstanding, Senator Adeyeye remains a credible politician with huge democratic credentials. While many may see this as a temporary setback, I urge him to brace up and see it as part of the sacrifice for the growth of democracy in the country.

“I am convinced that Senator Adeyeye will bounce back, in view of the pride of place he occupies in the hearts of his people,” the governor said.

The governor congratulated Olujimi and enjoined her to be magnanimous in victory and take Ekiti interest as priority at the Upper Chamber.

Olujimi, who described the development as a mixed feeling of relief and unbelief, said: “I am yet to fully grasp the import of God’s mercy and compassion. Let me state that the exercise was a great journey of soul searching and a great effort to unravel the mysteries surrounding the last senatorial election in Ekiti.”

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Bayelsa guber poll most peaceful since 1999 – Oshiomhole

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Bayelsa guber poll most peaceful since 1999 – Oshiomhole

Jonathan happy with Lyon’s victory, say APC govs  

Dickson made our job easy – Sylva

 

The National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has described last weekend’s governorship election in Bayelsa State as the most peaceful in the state since 1999.

Oshiomhole stated this after he was joined by the Chairman APC governorship campaign and Governor of Kebbi State, Mohammed Badaru; Chairman of APC Governors Forum, Atiku Bagudu and the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Silver, to present Bayelsa Governor-elect of Bayelsa State, David Lyon, to President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.

Lyon defeated the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Duoye Diri in the Bayelsa governorship election.

Oshiomhole, who spoke with State House Correspondents after the meeting, commended the role played by President Buhari and other party members in APC’s victory in Bayelsa State.

His words: “We thanked the President for his fatherly role as he insisted that we must ensure that while we are determined to win the election, we must play by the rule and ensure that the process is transparent. Above all, the President has always been concerned about peaceful election and we were proud to inform him that besides very isolated cases of snatching of ballot boxes, the election in Bayelsa can be described as the most peaceful.

“I believe since 1999, you as very seasoned journalists, who have covered elections in Bayelsa in the past, will agree that this is the only time we can say the election is truly transparent and peaceful.”

The APC national chairman, who also commended former President Goodluck Jonathan, who in line with his character of humane, simplicity and commitment, warmly received a delegation of the party’s governorship campaign for Bayelsa State, noted that Lyon’s candidature was easy to market because he is a good product.

He said: “We went to present the Governor-elect, David Lyon, to President Muhammadu Buhari. As the President and our father, he has a brand new baby boy, who would be sworn- in on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2020, as governor of Bayelsa State.

“Again, our candidate attracts support from across the political divides. When you look at territories and communities, where his victory is being celebrated, you will agree that not only did he get the support of the APC family; he got support from beyond the APC family.

“Of course, the President was very happy that we had a peaceful election in Bayelsa State. Overall, we are grateful to Almighty God for making this election successful. We appreciate the people of Bayelsa State, who have reposed confidence in our party and in our candidate.

“For the Governor-elect, this is a call for selfless service, the more support you get the more the expectations. As they say, to whom much is given, much is expected.

“When he takes over office in February, Bayelsans will see the difference between his government and that of outgoing Governor Serieke Dickson.”

Lyon, on his part, assured that he will not disappoint the people of Bayelsa, promising to keep his pledge of tackling insecurity and providing unprecedented development.

His words: “Today is one of the greatest day in my life. A great day because the great people of Bayelsa have spoken their minds by taking time to vote for our great party, APC.

“It is indeed a welcome development because at our campaigns, we promised that when elected and sworn-in, security and development will be our key agenda and with the support of Bayelsans, they have made this possible.

“On behalf of APC leaders, I promise Bayelsans that we will serve them and not for them to serve us. We also promise to respect leadership which is key for us. Today, their votes have been counted and the people of Bayelsa will be respected.

“I am sincerely grateful to our father, the President of this country for his fatherly advice this afternoon (yesterday). As one of his sons in APC, I want to say that we Bayelsans will not disappoint APC. We will consult with our leaders, traditional rulers and I believe there will be positive change in Bayelsa State. The incoming administration will make Bayelsans to see positive developments and that is key to us.”

Also speaking, Governor Bagudu explained that the election was not only free and fair, but that former President Jonathan was happy with the victory of the APC candidate.

He said: “Many people worked hard in making this happen, most importantly, Mr. President, who has always shown the party that win or lose, we should aim for free, transparent and fair elections because, that is what will guarantee peace, confer legitimacy and support for elected persons to proudly execute the mandate that they are given.

“In Bayelsa we have seen a demonstration of that. Everyone is talking about how free, transparent and fair the election was. We were in Bayelsa for over 72 hours and we didn’t see a tyre burning, we didn’t see people running, we didn’t hear a gunshot, everyone was celebrating in all the areas we passed, which shows acceptance of our candidate, our party and the process itself.”

Governor Badaru noted that the election was substantially peaceful and reflected the wishes of the people, saying: “We want to thank Baylesans, they know what they want, they know when they are frustrated, how to act and they have acted right.”

He added: “Like the chairman said earlier, we know the history of elections in Bayelsa and what they used to be, but for the three days of voting and counting, not a single soul to my knowledge was lost. Of course, there were pockets of violence, ballot box snatching, but when you look at the magnitude, they are so few compared to what use to happen in Bayelsa.”

In his remarks, Sylva said the party’s victory was made easier by the party’s choice of an acceptable candidate and the mis-governance of the outgoing governor, Seriake Dickson.

He noted that the victory now gives the APC more national look, with a footprint in the Niger Delta, which is very vital to strengthen the ruling party.

Sylva added that “it’s been a very hectic week, but I will like to bring in this Eritrean proverb, that if you marry a wife well, you will be blessed with another wife. Governor Dickson made our job very easy because he married the wife very badly.

“Of course this proverb pre-supposes that if you marry a wife badly, you will not get another wife. So, he did not marry the state very well and the state roundly rejected him.

“Like it’s been said earlier, we had a good candidate and when you have a good product, it’s very easy to sell it. So, we went round and sold this good product to Bayelsans and the result was an overwhelming success.

“We are happy with this victory because for us it is very significant. This gives our party a footprint in the Niger Delta, which is very key to us. It gives us more of a national outlook, we have always been a national party but this gives us even a bigger national outlook.

“I have always said that if our party doesn’t have this much of a footprint in the bread basket of the country, it is not too good for us. But now we have it and I want to assure you that from a small seed, the biggest tree will grow. From here, we will gradually grow the party in the South-South and South-East. APC is a good product just like our governor and we intend to sell that good product in the whole of the South-South and South-East,” Sylva stressed.

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Kalu salutes Bayelsa, Kogi Govs-elect

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Kalu salutes Bayelsa, Kogi Govs-elect

The Chief Whip of the Senate and a former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Kalu, has congratulated the Governors-elect of Bayelsa and Kogi states, Mr. David Lyon and Governor Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on their respective victory in the November 16 election.

He attributed the success of the APC in the poll to the general acceptability of the party in Bayelsa State and Nigeria at large.

Kalu said the ideals of APC will continue to place the party above other political parties, adding that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has repositioned the country despite all odds.

In a press statement by his media office, the senator called on the newly-elected governor to be magnanimous in his victory by imbibing the spirit of sportsmanship and extending a hand of fellowship to his closest rival, Senator Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other governorship candidates in the election.

His words: “Following the victory of Mr. David Lyon of the APC in the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State, it is clear that the electorate have confidence in the APC.

“The people have spoken with their votes and the newly elected-governor will no doubt live up to expectations.

“The governorship candidates of all the political parties must be commended for the level of maturity displayed before, during and after the poll.

“The results of the election were accepted across board in good faith. The Governor-elect must adopt a participatory approach to governance by running an all-inclusive government.

“The mandate given to the newly elected governor is for the entire citizenry of Bayelsa State, including the political opponents of the Governor-elect. The interest of the people must be placed above selfish ambitions”

Kalu, who also called on Bello to extend a hand of fellowship to his opponents, stressed that the re-elected governor will consolidate on his achievements in his first tenure.

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Dickson’s defeat, lesson to others – Nkire

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Dickson’s defeat, lesson to others – Nkire

The Chief Advisor, Sam Nkire Political Advisory, Chief Sam Nkire, has said the defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Governor Seriaka Dickson’s candidate in last weekend’s election should serve as a lesson to would-be despots in Nigeria.

Speaking after the announcement of the Bayelsa State governorship election result, Chief Nkire said Dickson kissed the dust the same way pompous despots kiss the ground in their final hours of humiliation.

According to Nkire, part of the reasons why the PDP lost in Bayelsa State was that “Governor Dickson did not believe in zoning, fairness or democracy and therefore, single-handedly chose a wrong candidate for his party.”

He was also of the opinion that another reason why the people of Bayelsa rejected Senator Douye Diri was that Governor Dickson, due to greed, wanted to replace Senator Diri at the Senate, a dream now “put on hold.”

The erstwhile National Chairman of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA),  seized the opportunity of the shocking Bayelsa experience as well as other recent experiences in other states, where despotic governors and political godfathers have bitten their fingers, to advise politicians to be humble and show gratitude to God and their people for the opportunities to serve.

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Bayelsa, Kogi polls: Buhari congratulates Lyon, Bello

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Bayelsa, Kogi polls: Buhari congratulates Lyon, Bello

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidates in Bayelsa and Kogi states in last weekend’s governorship elections in the two states, David Lyon and Governor Yahaya Bello, respectively on their victory at the polls.

The President also commended APC supporters in particular and Nigerians in general in both states for exercising their civic rights in a peaceful manner notwithstanding the pockets of unrest recorded in some locations during the polls.

While condemning the loss of lives, the President commiserated with the families of the victims, saying: “Violence during elections vitiates our commitment to demonstrate to the world and upcoming generation that we are a people capable of electing leaders in a peaceful and orderly manner.’’

The President noted that while officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies did their best within the ambit of the law to ensure free, fair and credible elections, it was unfortunate that pockets of unrest, mostly sponsored by desperate politicians, were recorded during the polls.

Buhari said he looks forward to working with the incoming governments in the two states to improve the lives of the people, while ensuring the security of lives and property of all citizens.

President Buhari urged Bayelsa State Governor-elect, Lyon, to carry other divergent interests along in the next phase of governance, imploring those not satisfied with the outcome of the poll to seek redress through the constitutionally established channels.

On APC’s victory in Kogi State, the President in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina described the election and emergence of Bello as “a race well run and a victory well won.”

He also commended APC supporters in the state for remaining steadfast and resolute even in the face of isolated incidents of violence.

President Buhari however consoled with families and loved ones of those who lost their lives as a result of regrettable acts of violence by thugs doing the bidding of their political sponsors.

According to the President, “all political actors and stakeholders must take deliberate steps to eschew electoral violence as a peaceful and orderly process is vital to our quest for enduring democracy.”

President Buhari urged Bello to see his renewed mandate as another opportunity to build on the foundations already laid towards improving the lives of the people of Kogi State.

He also enjoined the governor to imbibe the spirit of magnanimity in victory by extending a hand of partnership to opposition candidates, while urging those dissatisfied with the outcome of the election to approach the courts.

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APC, Tinubu dedicate victories to electorate

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APC, Tinubu dedicate victories to electorate

National Leader of the  All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has described the triumph of the ruling party in the governorship elections held in Kogi and Bayelsa States as evidence of the growing acceptance of the APC across the country. 

This is just as the ruling APC congratulated Nigerians, its teeming supporters and members for the hard-fought election victories, stating that the victories were as significant as well-deserved.

The APC had a double victory in both states at the weekend’s governorship elections with as Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State securing his re-election while Mr David Lyon won the election in Bayelsa State.

In a goodwill message to the victors, Tinubu said  the outcome of the elections showed  that the people of Kogi and Bayelsa States  believed  in the direction that President Buhari and the APC wish to take Nigeria.

According to him, the electorate in both states have demonstrated faith in the progressive reforms and vision of the party.

Tinubu also congratulated  to the National Chairman of the APC,  Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Chairmen of the party in Kogi and Bayelsa States   and other APC  leaders in the two states on the twin-victory.

“Their victories stand as testament to the growing acceptance of our party, the quality of our leadership and governance and the credibility of our promise to lead the people and the nation to the Next Level. It shows that people have no appetite to return to the failed policies and practices of the past.

“David Lyon’s election represents a significant shift in the politics of Bayelsa State. By voting APC, the people of Bayelsa have voted for progressive reform and Asiwaju joins them in their belief that David Lyon is the man to deliver the needed and desired reform.”

On its part, the APC in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa- Onilu, said, “we dedicate our party’s election successes to the good people of the two states, with a solemn promise that our victorious candidates would justify the confidence reposed in them.”

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Election petitions and the abolition of justice

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Election petitions and the abolition of justice

‘When all that says ‘it is good’ has been debunked, what says ‘I want remains’ – CS Lewis

On Friday November 1, 2019, the Appeal Court sitting in Enugu ruled in the legal contest between Senators Victor Umeh and Uche Ekwunife, and unanimously held for Ekwunife, thereby validating her election as the Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria representing Anambra Central Senatorial Zone.

My personal opinion on this matter remains that the position of the law with regards to Section 285(13) of the 1999 Constitution as amended was not given its proper interpretation, and it will continue to be a contentious and recurring discussion.

Section 285 (13) provides that “the court or tribunal shall not declare as winner any person who has not participated in all stages of an election”.

The appeal tribunal added to the confusion on the true position of the section given that in the matter between Hon. Dozie Nwankwo (APGA) and Hon. Ayinka Valentine (PDP) delivered in the morning of the same date by same panel of justices, the election of the PDP candidate was nullified on the grounds that Section 285(13) is both a pre-election and election matter and therefore can form the basis to challenging whether the nomination of a candidate complied with the requirement of the electoral act. Surprisingly, the same panel of justices in the afternoon of same date dismissed Umeh’s petition which was anchored on Section 285(13) as a pre-election matter. The volte face of the three-man panel was puzzling to say the least and will remain a legal mystery.

Do we now abolish the courts due to the uncertainty of justice? Why go to court to waste time and money when justice is not predictable no matter how white the law is? The law is fatally wounded when it strictly becomes what the courts say it is and not what the lawmakers enacted and codified in the law book. We have more often than not argued against executive interference in the judiciary, sometimes knocking our head to unconsciousness without paying adequate attention to the antics of judges who themselves handcuffed their hands due to hunches outside the much taunted executive interference. We sadly make men without chest and expect virtue and enterprise from them.

In the instance case, whatever is the argument against the judgement of the appeal tribunal is now like medicine after death. I know there is God’s hand in the affairs of men hence I concede to the will of God in this matter. The sensible thing to do now is to congratulate Senator Ekwunife for her hard-won victory at the Appeal Court. I wish her well and pray almighty God to give her the wisdom to serve well.

Many of Umeh’s critics are ignorantly celebrating that he has been defeated. They forgot that defeat is not the worst failure, that not to have tried is the true failure. I salute him for fighting hard and going through all the legitimate process as provided by law with decorum. He has proven he is a warrior, a positive force for good and a fair fighter who never lost his cool even in an awful battle.

The few months he was in the Senate representing Anambra Central, he discharged himself creditably. He showed what effective representation is. His accomplishments are things of pride. History will record him with greatness. We will continue to celebrate him as a hero and the voice of the people. I join his grateful constituents and all the people of Anambra Central in saying thank you Victor Umeh for a job well done, and wishing him well in his future endeavours.

What happened on November 1st is not a dead end. There is a great future ahead. There are new battles to be fought, problems to be fixed, challenges to surmount and wounds to heal. Above all, there is humanity and God to serve.

I also commend and congratulate everyone who stood on either side during this period for their contributions towards building a just and egalitarian democratic society.

In the same spirit, I extend my congratulations to President Muhammadu Buhari and his party for their victory at the Supreme Court over the legal challenge mounted by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Now that all the legal challenges resulting from the 2019 general election has been resolved, I think it’s time for the country to move on. Beyond politics, I believe in the peace, unity and prosperity of Nigeria. My partisan opposition against Mr. Buhari is over. I pledge to offer my prayers and support to him and his government which will be rooted in constructive criticism and advisory.

Moving forward let me remind the president that the 2019 elections fell short of expectations irrespective of what the courts have said. INEC also was unable to justify the huge expenditure invested on them. Thankfully, both INEC and the Civil Society Organizations who played key roles in the elections had all concluded their review and post-mortem of the election. Areas of shortcomings have been identified meaning there are rooms for improvements.

It is rather unfortunate that we are still grappling with the challenges of electoral rigging. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is still facing the issue of logistics with regards to movement of election materials so much so that all the general election were postponed with huge costs and other consequences. There is also the unnerving situation where security agencies like the military and police were involved in ballot box stuffing, ballot box snatching and mutilation of result sheets. It is sad that successive elections in Nigeria have been recording low voter turnouts because voters believe their votes do not count.

The Kogi and Bayelsa held last week already showed dangerous signs. Armed thugs were on the prowl, harassing and intimidating opponents while the security agencies look the other way.

All these flashpoints calls for an urgent need for electoral reforms and the need to revisit the electoral amendment bill which the president in an unprecedented manner rejected for a record four times for reasons bordering on inelegant drafting, cross-referencing errors or simply due to the closeness of the amendment to the last general election.

I have always maintained that President Buhari can shape Nigeria the way he will want to be remembered. He can leave a positive legacy or an embarrassing one. He can grow this democracy or destroy it further. The choice is his to make, but if I am to offer a valuable advice, my honest take is for him to think above self and the party and think of the nation. He can immediately set up a small committee to take another look at all the major electoral reforms beginning from the recommendations documented from the Justice Muhammadu Uwais electoral reform committee to Sheik Ahmed Lemu committee on post-election violence of 2011 to the 2014 National Conference report to the Senator Ken Nnamani presidential committee on electoral reform down to all major election observer reports and submit to the National Assembly for prompt legislative action. Unlike in 2015 when the National Assembly spearheaded the electoral reform process, President Buhari must, this time round, seize the initiative patriotically.

Some of the recurring key electoral reform issues include the need for electronic voting and electronic transmission of results; granting of voting rights to Nigerians in the Diaspora through Out-of-Country voting; enhancement of participation of marginalized groups in the electoral system through affirmative action for women, youths, and persons with disabilities; provision for early voting for millions of Nigerians who are disenfranchised from voting due to their election-day duties.

To safeguard our democracy, we need a law that will protect all institutions of democracy, especially the opposition parties from being attacked and weakened by the ruling government using the instrument of the states. Deliberate targeting of opposition candidates and their parties to gain political advantage should be criminalized.

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Bayelsa guber: Election didn’t hold in 25% PUs – YIAGA AFRICA

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Bayelsa guber: Election didn’t hold in 25% PUs – YIAGA AFRICA

YIAGA AFRICA said its Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology showed that the last Saturday’s governorship election did not hold in at least 25 percent of the polling units of Bayelsa State.
At a press statement in Abuja Monday, YIAGA AFRICA said it deployed 21 mobile observers and 500 citizen observers for its PVT to a statistical sample of 250 polling units located across all eight local government areas of Bayelsa State.
It also disclosed that eight LGA result collation observers were deployed to the LGA collation centers.
The statement, which was signed by Dr. Aisha Abdullahi and Ezenwa Nwagwu, Chair and Co-Chair respectively of YIAGA AFRICA, alleged that the collation process for the Bayelsa governorship election was manipulated, particularly for Southern Ijaw local government.
“This calls into question the official results announced by INEC and credibility of this election,” the statement added.
Although it said its PVT could not determine who has won the governorship election for Bayelsa, “regardless of the outcome, the PVT estimates suggest that the official results were manipulated during the collation process.”

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Bayelsa decides: Declare me winner, Diri urges INEC

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Bayelsa decides: Declare me winner, Diri urges INEC

The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)in the just concluded Bayelsa State governorship electin, Senator Douye Diri on Monday called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare him winner of the election.
He said since INEC could not produced the Appeal Court’s stay of execution order that All Progressives Congress (APC) claimed allowed them to partake in the election, he authomatically becomes the winner of the election.
Speaking in Yenagoa during a press conference to express his displeasure on the outcome of the electionl, he said: “PDP contested with other political parties and not with APC because they were not supposed to be on the ballot paper by law based on the judgement of a high court in Yenagoa”.
Hear him: “INEC should declare me winner of the election. It is a shameful and laughable act by INEC to declare 83,041 votes in favour of the APC in Nembe where they had driven away almost everybody out of town. I have the results from our monitoring room.
“Based on the results from our monitoring room, APC scored 55,903 while PDP scored 98,582. Based on this result, PDP is the winner of that election .
“The PDP agent at the collation center, Odiyovwi Osusu wanted them to provide a stay of execution judgement but they couldn’t provide it.
“Ogbolomabiri materials were hijacked by Gabriel Jonah. I see those figures that were used to declare David Lyon winner as a charade and rouse. No PDP supporter should mourn that we lost. We won the election. INEC will surely announce PDP winner whether today or tommorow.
‘”Democracy is under threat, raped and anarchy is looming because soldiers have become thugs working for the APC as they militarialised the electoral process in Bayelsa State.”

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