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MARCHING ORDERS: APC MUSTN’T LOSE EDO –BUHARI

…like it did in Bayelsa, Rivers, Zamfara states

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday charged the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) not to lose the September 19 governorship election in Edo State as it did in Bayelsa, Rivers and Zamfara states. The President gave the charge yesterday while receiving the governorship candidate of the APC, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, even as he urged the party leaders and campaign team to do all that is legally and constitutional necessary to win the election. According to a statement by his spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, the president received Ize-Iyamu at the State House alongside the APC Caretaker Committee Chairman, the Governor of Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State; Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum, and Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State; and the APC Campaign Chairman for Edo State election, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State.

In the same vein, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, also received Ize-Iyamu, and commended Ganduje for the way he has handled the campaign so far, while enjoining the APC to ensure that no matter the provocation from the other side; they should run a very peaceful campaign. Buhari, who endorsed Ize-Iyamu, also congratulated him on his emergence as the party’s candidate after a “turbulent process’’, while assuring him of full support. He also advised the party leaders to avoid the pitfalls that affected the party’s victory in Rivers, Zamfara and Bayelsa states in 2019 election, He pointed out that with the resolution of the “acute crisis’’ in Edo State, he was optimistic that the party will regain its pride of place in winning elections, and serving the people, saying; “What I want is a transparent process so that the confidence of the people would be strengthened”.

Earlier in his remarks, Buni, who presented the candidate, told the President that: “Pastor Ize- Iyamu is a seasoned grassroots politician who is loved by his people’’, noting that Buhari’s blessings on the candidate further validate the party’s confidence. Buni made the disclosure that Buhari has endorsed Ize- Iyamu while briefing State House Correspondents after presenting the Edo APC candidate to the President.

Ganduje, said the APC will lead a clean campaign, devoid of acrimony, hatred and violence, noting that the campaign had started on a good and happy note, with the APC already taking over the state legislature with a majority of 17 out of 24.

You’ve endorsed corruption, PDP tells Buhari

In a swift reaction, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) reminded Buhari that Ize- Iyamu whom he endorsed as the APC candidate is standing trial for corruption, while insisting that Buhari’s endorsement was an encour-agement of corruption. PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodiyan, noted that the President’s action validates its “position that the Buhari administration is fighting perceived opponents and not corruption. “President ought to have been aware that Ize-Iyamu is standing trial over allegations of corruption, in addition to declaration by his party’s former national chairman that the APC candidate is a treasury looter, who should not be trusted with the position of the governor of Edo state.

“The presentation of flag to a person standing trial on allegation of corruption right in the villa has shown to the world that APC is indeed the headquarters of corruption.” The PDP also said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should perish the idea of threat to cancel the Edo and Ondo governorship elections because of violence. Rather, the party said the electoral umpire should invoke the relevant laws in the Electoral Act and punish those found to have been perpetrating violence. Ologbondiyan, who doubles as Secretary, Publicity Sub-Committee of PDP National Campaign Council, alleged that members of PDP were victims of APC instigated violence, noting that the party leaders were attacked at Oba of Benin’s palace.

“Our electoral law provides for punishment for electoral malfeasance and we believe in the People Democratic Party that we are the victims of the attack of APC. We were harassed at the Oba’s palace in Benin, INEC did not say anything. Our people are being harassed all over the place in Edo state, what has INEC said?

Alleged plot to rig

Ologbodiyan also accused INEC of collaborating with APC to rig the Edo poll, adding that PDP had uncovered plot by APC to procure extra result sheets, which the party intends to use to rig the September 19 election. According to him, APC leaders are mounting pressure on INEC to secretly provide them with ballot papers and form EC8 election results sheet to facilitate their plans for ballot stuffing and writing of election results. “We have further information that the APC and its candidate have marked Edo North senatorial district, as where the extra ballot papers and result sheets would be pushed to APC thugs, including those to be brought in from neighboring Kogi State, to doctor election results for Ize-Iyamu. “Already, a base has been established in a neighbouring town of Kogi State which will be used to serve for operations in their callous plots. “Edo North has a borderline with Kogi, a state where unimaginable electoral violence, including burning a woman alive, was perpetrated by the APC in their desperation for electoral manipulation,” he alleged. Ologbondiyan called on INEC and security agencies to live up to the challenge and ensure that the Edo election is conducted in a credible and peaceful atmosphere.

Obaseki a liability, says Ganduje

On the chances of the APC, Ganduje said it could have been a big problem if the governor performs well while governing his state. He said: “He could have been an asset to the PDP, but I assure you that the governor is a liability. In fact, it’s even better for us that we are contesting against a serving governor who failed woefully. He failed woefully in the area of human development. “He failed woefully in the area of providing infrastructural facilities to the good people of Edo State; he failed most woefully in the execution of constitutional provision in the state, especially pertaining to the legislature. “So, we are ready to fight somebody who has failed, and it’s an advantage to us. Luckily enough, the governor has failed his people, and that is a big advantage to the APC,’’ he said.

‘Inauguration of new speaker, members treasonable’

Governor Godwin Obaseki, has however described the “invasion” of the state House of Assembly complex as an attempted coup d’état that is tantamount to treason and contrary to the provisions of the nation’s constitution, while assuring residents of the state that his administration would take all steps necessary to defend the rule of law and democratic ideals. He warned: “Any person or group of persons who set out to test our will in this regard will meet with the full wrath of the law. These events portend grave danger to the safety and security of our polity. It had all the hallmarks of an attempted coup d’état. “The people of Edo State rose as one to prevent the desecration of our democracy. It is, however, worrisome that certain persons are willing to plunge the society into avoidable anarchy and conflict just to satisfy their illegitimate objectives. “I want to salute the resolve of all well-meaning Edo people in standing up to thwart the evil plans of these undemocratic elements that are bent on perpetrating an illegal assault on our democracy by the purported inauguration in a private residence. “These events portend grave danger to the safety and security of our polity. It had all the hallmarks of an attempted coup d’état. The people of Edo State rose as one to prevent the desecration of our democracy. “It is, however, worrisome that certain persons are willing to plunge the society into avoidable anarchy and conflict just to satisfy their illegitimate objectives. These acts are tantamount to treason, contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution,” he said.

Ize-Iyamu: APC has seized legislative power from Obaseki

In his response, Ize-Iyamu assured the President of his commitment to ensuring good governance if elected, recalling that he served as Deputy Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee of the APC at its formation. Ize-Iyamu said he was fully in charge of his campaign as a popular candidate who served the state as Chief of Staff and Secretary to State Government in previous administrations. He also debunked the allegation that 14 memberselect of the Edo State House of Assembly sat in his house on Thursday to impeach the Speaker of the Edo state House of Assembly, Frank Okiye and elected Victor Edoror as his replacement. He said: “Let me debunk the statement that 17 members of the State House of Assembly sat in my sitting room, it is not true.” Ize-Iyamu also declared that the APC had wrested the legislative arm of government from Obaseki with the sacking of the House of Assembly Speaker on Thursday, saying that his party now has 17 members out of the 24-member legislature. He said: “It is not the ven-ue that legitimises parliamentary sessions, the members and the symbol of authority the maze, once it is in place, they can seat anywhere, they can deliberate and there are many examples to that effect. “So what you saw yesterday is that the governor left the executive arm and invaded the legislative arm and took control. There is clear separation of powers. You have three governors here and in their state, the House of Assembly is autonomous. You don’t see the governors going there to go and operate. “But the governor of Edo and the deputy took over the House of Assembly and vandalised the place; they said they are renovating it. Ask them, the budget that they passed including the revised one, is there a provision for the renovation of the House of Assembly? There is none. “If there is no such provision, how can you begin to remove the roof during raining season if not because he has sinister motives? So that will tell you that, all what they were trying to do was to truncate legislative arm and stop them from sitting. So if anyone was doing a coup, they were the ones doing a coup against the legislative arm of government. And we are happy that our people have risen to it. Are you going to compare seven people to 17? “In a legislative arrangement, seven people will want to lord it over 17 people? That is an aberration. I have told you that even to form a quorum you need eight, they don’t even have eight members. Two third is 16 and these people have 17, so clearly what has been done yesterday is a triumph for democracy. “And we are happy that we have made it clear that APC is in charge of Edo State. The Governor has temporarily carried the executive arm to the PDP, but the legislative arm is fully for APC and that we have shown yesterday.

Market, spiritual women back Okiye

Meanwhile, market women drawn from various markets and PDP members from Edo South senatorial district in their thousands in Benin City embarked on peaceful solidarity march from Osadebay Avenue to the Enahoro legislature at the Kings square where they expressed their support for Obaseki and Speaker Frank Okiye. In addition, another group of women reputed for their high level spiritual prowess also placed curses on those to desecrate the sanctity of the assembly and in the process caused unsavoury situation in the state. Led by Edo south woman leader of PDP, Lady Uwa Osunbor, the women denounced the purported impeachment of Okiye by the 17 members who were allegedly inaugurated on Thursday at an unknown venue, with Mr. Tiger Victor Edoror as elected Speaker.

Swearing-in of house members’ elect, illegal – PDP govs

Governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have described as illegal and unconstitutional, the purported swearing in of some former memberselect of Edo State House of Assembly. The governors also stated that the purported election of new presiding officers in a private residence in Benin City without the legitimate officials of the House of Assembly as required by law, was an act of impunity. Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Government Aminu Tambuwal, said in a statement that such actions showed height of political brigandage and desperation. The statement, which was signed by the Director General of PDP Governors’ Forum, Hon. Cyril Maduabum, warned that any attempt to effect an unconstitutional takeover of either legislative or executive power in Edo State would lead to unpleasant consequences far beyond the shores of Edo State. Tambuwal called on President Buhari to caution the security agencies to remain neutral and even handed in the Edo State election. He warned that security agencies should not lend their “authority to unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional acts of a desperate gang of power mongers.

Okiye to AGF: Don’t allow politicians to use you

The Speaker of the Assembly, Mr. Frank Okiye, advised the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, not to allow his office to be used by unscrupulous persons to turn Edo State into a theatre of war. Okiye, in a letter written to the AGF, dated August 06, 2020, said he was certain that the AGF “did not have all the facts relevant to the matter, before it issued the advisory and directive to the Police to intervene in the affairs of the Edo State House of Assembly.” According to him, “My attention has just been drawn to a letter dated 5th of August, 2020, issued under your hand and addressed to the Inspector General of Police, wherein you issued an advisory and directed the Police to inter alia: provide adequate security for the purpose of the inauguration of the concerned members and the subsequent sittings of the Edo State House of Assembly.” Okiye said: “It would therefore be clear that the course of action which you have urged upon the Inspector General of Police would in fact amount to a grievous assault on the rule of law, separation of powers and respect for judicial authority. “As expected, the attempt to give effect to your said directive the very next day, 6th August, 2020, gave rise to serious breakdown of law and order in Benin City and almost degenerated into violence within the city as those persons who had surreptitiously obtained your endorsement, attempted to use the powers of the Police to takeover the premises of the Edo State House of Assembly in defiance of clear orders of competent courts to the contrary.”

Political thugs nabbed

Operatives of the Edo State Police Command have arrested seven suspected political thugs alleged involved in the siege laid at the state House of Assembly on Thursday. The suspected were arrested when the Police responded to an emergency call from 17 elected members of the House of Assembly who came under attack by thugs allegedly directed by Obaseki, to prevent plenary from holding at the complex. This is as members of the Democracy For All in the state yesterday demanded an immediate prosecution of the arrested thugs and their sponsors. The group in a statement in Benin described the invasion of the Assembly Complex as an ‘egregious crime and affront on the constitution and the rule of law’, insisting that the arrested thugs, who have confessed their ties to the Edo State Governor, must be made to face the wrath of the law alongside their accomplice no matter how highlyplaced. Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, of the state command, DSP Chidi Nwabuzor, when contacted yesterday said he was yet to be briefed on the matter and besides the Commissioner of police, Mr. Johnson Kokumoh has not given him the permission to speak on the arrest. I didn’t endorse anybody – Edo CP, Kokumo The Edo State Commissioner of Police, Johnson Kokumo, has refuted claims that he endorsed members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who visited him in his office on Thursday; warning that anyone caught using his office to heat up the polity will face dire consequences. The CP gave the clarification after the State Security Council meeting, Governor Godwin Obaseki held with heads of security agencies, at the Government House, Benin City, on Friday. The commissioner, who explained that he and his office remain apolitical and open to all, noted: “It is my statutory responsibility to provide security for lives and property irrespective of political affiliation.” On his part, Governor Obaseki expressed concern over the rising security challenges ahead of the September 19, 2020 gubernatorial election in the state. According to him, “We condemned the high level of thuggery, violence and increasing influx of arms into the state. ”

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