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Cole, Abe Emerge Winners In Rivers As Explosions Rock APC Parallel Primaries |RN

                   Senator Magnus Abe

Chukwudi Akasike and Sampson Itode, Port Harcourt

TWO candidates, Mr Tonye Cole and Senator Magnus Abe, emerged winners of the parallel governorship primaries conducted by both factions of the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State.

Cole came out victorious in the indirect governorship primary held in Port Harcourt on Sunday when he polled 3,329 votes while his closest rival,  Dr Dawari George, got 491 votes.

Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs came a distant third with 38 votes while Abe got one vote.

Eighteen votes were declared void by the Jafar Isah-led Rivers Governorship Primary Committee.

It was, however, a different story at the primary held by the APC faction loyal to Abe as the senator was declared the winner of the Sunday’s direct governorship primaries conducted in the three senatorial districts of Rivers State by the APC.

The returning officer, Dr Chigbo Sam Eligwe, made the announcement in a press conference at its Secretariat in Port Harcourt on Sunday.

Abe who won with 144,929 votes followed by Dumo Lulu-Briggs who got 3,344, Dawari George getting 1,606 and Tonye Dele Cole 882 votes.

Meanwhile, there was tension in Rivers as the APC in the state held two parallel governorship primaries in different parts of the state.

While the Rotimi Amaechi-led APC conducted an indirect primary on the Igboukwu field in D-Line, Port Harcourt, the Magnus Abe faction adopted the direct governorship primary across different local government areas of the state.

Earlier before the exercise in Port Harcourt by the Amaechi-led APC, there were explosions near the secretariat of the party at about 12.30pm.

The last explosion scared supporters of the Amaechi-led APC as most of them rushed out to have a glimpse of what happened less than 50 metres away from the party secretariat.

However, the exercise went on peacefully as of the time of filing this report.

Before the primaries, a governorship aspirant on the platform of the APC in the state, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, accused the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, of trying to impose his preferred aspirant, Tonye Cole, on the party.

Lulu-Briggs also claimed that certain persons had been handpicked from various wards as delegates to the primary in breach of the party’s constitution and guidelines.

He explained that names were being added and deleted from the delegates’ list.

Lulu-Briggs, however, called for the postponement of the governorship primary in the state, saying this was necessary in order to enhance transparency.

“When the NWC reached the decision that indirect primaries be adopted for the governorship primary in Rivers, as a loyal party man, I accepted the decision in good faith despite the fact that there are pending litigations in various courts, which might vitiate and truncate the process.

“I thus ramped up my campaign, but soon discovered that our party structures from the state executive committee, local government and ward excos across the state have been directed by Rotimi Amaechi, leader of our party in the state, not to allow me access to our party faithful and delegates, but to only support the aspiration of his preferred aspirant, Tonye Cole.

“It is clear from the foregoing that the minimum standards to guarantee a free and fair primary today (Sunday) are nonexistent and any primary held today will be a mere sham and a perfidious travesty.

“To this end, I, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, most graciously appeal to the National Chairman of our great party and  the NWC to, as a matter of utmost urgency, postpone the governorship primary for Rivers State so as to correct the anomalies herein complained of because the current arrangement falls short of the minimum standards stipulated by the Electoral Act and our party constitution.”

Reacting, the state APC Publicity Secretary, Mr Chris Finebone, dismissed Lulu-Briggs’ claim, saying, “It is not correct.”

However, a source close to Amaechi urged governorship aspirants to leave the minister alone and face the primaries.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, maintained that the leadership of the party would meet with all stakeholders after the governorship primary in the state.

In another development, a faction of the APC in Rivers State, led by a governorship aspirant and lawmaker representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District, Senator Magnus Abe, conducted its governorship primaries across the three senatorial districts of the state.

The polling officer in Omuanwa, Ward 7, Ikwerre LGA, Eleonu Ndidi, said voting was peaceful.

He said “We started accreditation started by 7.30am, voting started 8.00am and the entire process ended by 12.30pm. The entire election was peaceful and the turnout was impressive. We are packaging all votes, which will be taken to the local government collation centre.”

Also, voting was peaceful in Ward 3, Elele, Ikwerre LGA, where Chidi Wihioka, a lawmaker representing Ikwerre/Emohua Federal Constituency exercised his franchise.

Wihioka maintained that delegates were currently non-existent in Rivers State as the State High Court had annulled the earlier state congresses held by a faction of the party.

He insisted that National Executive Council of the party had approved direct primary for the APC in Rivers.

But vote counting was ongoing in Port Harcourt at about 7 pm, even as two of the governorship aspirants, Abe and Lulu-Briggs, were absent from the place, where an indirect pattern of voting was adopted.

The leader of the party in the state, Amaechi; Director-General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside; and a former acting MD of NDDC, Ibim Semenitari, were at the voting centre in Port Harcourt.  (Punch)

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Court Of Appeal Sacks Sekibo, Upholds Abe’s Election |The Republican News

From Godwin Tsa, Abuja

The Court of Appeal  Abuja division, yesterday dismissed an appeal filed by George Sekibo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Sekibo was challenging the judgment of the Rivers State National Election Tribunal which sacked him as the senator representing Rivers East Senatorial District.

According to the appellate court, Sekibo’s appeal lacked merit as it did not show any reason the decision of the lower court should be set aside.

In a unanimous judgment, a three-member of the appellate court dismissed Sekibo’s appeal and upheld the judgment of the Rivers State election tribunal which earlier sacked him on June 29, 2017.

Consequently, the appellate court ordered that Sekibo be replaced by Andrew Uchendu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The court pointed out that the lawmaker only reproduced his closing remarks at the end of the tribunal hearing and did not challenge the judgment itself, which meant the Court of Appeal had no business considering it.

The state election tribunal had in its judgment also held that Sekibo’s opponent, Uchendu, was the true winner of the senatorial seat and directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue him a certificate of return.

Uchendu had contested INEC’s decision to award the December 10, 2016, victory to Sekibo after neglecting to recognise the results of some wards and polling units in the districts.

Sekibo was declared the winner by INEC Returning Officer, Oji Ekumankama on December 12, 2016.

According to Ekumankama, Sekibo won 93,098 votes to defeat Uchendu, who had 34,193 votes.

However, the panel, sitting at Apo Quarters in the Federal Capital Territory, agreed with Uchendu, saying he won the lawful majority votes cast and instructed INEC to withdraw the certificate of return that had been issued to Sekibo.

Sekibo, 60, was first elected to the Senate in 2007, and also won his first re-election.

In another judgment, the same panel of the Court of Appeal upheld the election of APC’s Magnus Abe as a senator representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District.

The court affirmed the judgment of the legislative election tribunal delivered on June 27, 2017, and dismissed the appeal by Olaka Nwogu of the PDP on the grounds that it lacked merit.  (The Sun)

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Federal Agencies Can’t Cow Me, Says Gov. Wike |The Republican News

Chukwudi Akasike, Port Harcourt

Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, said on Friday that no amount of intimidation or blackmail from Federal Government agencies would force him into selling the state to external predators.

Wike urged the people of the state not to panic, insisting that nobody could take the state by force despite the “sustained blackmail” by the police and the Department of State Services.

Speaking when he granted an audience to the Rivers State Elders Council of Ministers, Wike said, “This is a turbulent period. However, we will overcome. They can cow other governors, but not me.

“None of them gave me the mandate. The people of Rivers State gave me this mandate and I will never sell the interest of this state for whatever reason. I will not bring out the money of Rivers State to sponsor other people outside the state.”

The governor also alleged that security agencies were frustrating the security architecture of the state to further their “devilish plot” to declare a state of emergency and thereafter bring a lackey to loot the state.

Meanwhile, Wike denied sponsoring anyone to protest in Abuja against the Federal Government, pointing out that those who planned to protest in his (Wike) favour must have taken a cue from those who protested against him in Abuja.

In his remarks, the leader of RISECOM, Archbishop of Niger Delta Province, Most Rev. Ignatius Kattey, commended the governor for his development strides in the state.

In the meantime, the lawmaker representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Abe, has said that the All Progressives Congress would challenge the Commission of Inquiry set up by Wike to investigate the act of violence during the December 10 rerun elections in the state.

Abe, who spoke at a media parley in Port Harcourt on Friday explained, “I think this is the joke of the year. Like every other joke that has been reduced to pen and paper, we are going to treat it seriously. We will challenge that so-called commission in the court,” he said.

Abe maintained that such a panel should be unbiased, adding that past commissions established by the governor had demonstrated that the intention was to indict APC members and exonerate PDP members from any culpability. (Punchng.com)

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