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INEC Lacks Power To Withhold My Certificate Of Return – Okorocha |RN

        Rochas-Okorocha                                            Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha

Chidiebube Okeoma and Gibson Achonu

 

Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, on Wednesday said the Independent National Electoral Commission lacked power to withhold his certificate of return as the senator-elect for the Imo West.

He described the electoral body’s decision to withhold his certificate as part of efforts aimed at making him irrelevant ahead of the 2023 presidential election.

Okorocha said this at the Government House, Owerri on while addressing some youths who paid him a solidarity visit.

He said only a court had the power to nullify any election after a winner had been declared.

He denied the allegation that INEC’s returning officer declared him winner of the senatorial election under duress, describing the allegation as an insult.

Okorocha said, “My certificate of return has not been issued and I wonder why INEC will withhold my certificate for a frivolous reason, without hearing from me.

“I am not a violent person and those who know me know that. This is why we have peace in Imo State.

“The returning officer could not have done that under duress under the watchful eyes of the police, the DSS (the Department of State Services) and party agents.

“I am not unmindful of the facts that those who are fighting me from Abuja are anxious to see me removed as a senator. I urge INEC to do the right thing immediately by releasing my certificate.”

The governor said he was not fighting anybody and those who were fighting him would fail.

He added, “My INEC certificate cannot be touched or seized. Doing so is belittling democracy in Nigeria.

“It is only the tribunal that has the right to say otherwise once a result is declared.

“INEC cannot seize my certificate because of a mere petition written by somebody in a case I was not given the opportunity to present my own side of the story.”

Okorocha also described the governorship and state house of assembly elections in the state as “a sham and a mockery of democracy.”

He said he had lost confidence in the nation’s democracy.

He accused INEC of complicity in the conduct of the polls.

He insisted that the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance, Uche Nwosu, won the governorship election and had the required spread of 25 per cent in 21 out of the 27 local governments in the state.

The governor said, “It is obvious that INEC in Imo State is not guaranteeing us free, fair and credible elections.

“Uche Nwosu, the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance actually won the election, but INEC criminally disbanded electoral officers of the commission and introduced people from Abia College of Agriculture who arrived the state midnight.

“They brought people they had been training for weeks in Anambra before the elections.”  (Punch)

 

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Police In Akwa Ibom Confirm Arrest Of 153 Suspected Thugs ‘Imported’ From Edo State |RN

Joe Effiong, Uyo

 

The Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State command, Mr Ibrahim Kaoje, has finally confirmed the arrest of 153 suspected thugs from Edo State who stormed the state on the invitation of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Kaoje who spoke through the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the command, Mr Odiko MacDon, told the press on Thursday at the police headquarters, Ikot Akpanabia, Uyo, that the IGP Special Tactical Squad, Uyo, while on intensive patrol, in Ikot Ekpene local government, arrested the suspected thugs loaded in 11 buses and led by one Jerry Egbom.

The CP admitted that the group came from Edo State.

“They were suspected to be coming into Akwa Ibom State for the purpose of causing havoc during the March 9, 2019, gubernatorial/ state Houses of Assembly elections.

“However, a preliminary investigation into the matter by the state Criminal Investigation Department reveals that the suspects were APC youths from Edo extraction, who were on their way to the state to attend the final APC youth rally scheduled to hold on March 7, 2019.

“Investigation further revealed that an on-the-spot search was conducted on all the suspects, and nothing incriminating was found on any of them after the arrest.

“However, the command has not foreclosed further investigation into the matter to determine any likely culpability in accordance with rule of law,” the police said.

The police also confirmed the alleged shooting at the APC governorship candidate, Nsima Ekere’s campaign headquarters in Uyo where one person, Ndifreke Sunday, was injured.

He said the injured person had been taken to police clinic for treatment even as the investigation was ongoing to apprehend those responsible for the shooting.

The police boss pledged that the force would continue to be apolitical, neutral and committed to free, fair and peaceful 2019 general elections. He stressed that the command has zero tolerance for violence would not accommodate any form of thuggery.

To buttress the claim, the CP said four units of mobile policemen with a total of 248 men, two special protection units, four commissioners of an assistant inspector general of police among others had been deployed to supervise the governorship and state Assembly elections next Saturday.  (The Sun)

 

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Okota Mayhem: AIG, Lagos CP, Eze Ndigbo, Oba In Peace Talk |RN

Perpetua Egesimba

 

In an effort to quell the election crisis in Ojota area of Lagos, the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 2, Lagos and Ogun, AIG David Folawiyo and the new Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Mu’azu Zubairu, have engaged community leaders, the Osolo of Isolo, Oba Kabiru Adelaja Agbabiaka and Eze Ndigbo and Chairman Council of Ndieze Lagos State, Eze Christian, Uchechukwu Nwachukwu and other community leaders in peace talk.

Zubairu while speaking at the palace of Osolo of Isolo on Monday evening said, what happened on Saturday was a matter of concern for everybody, including the security agencies, the Oba and the residents.

According to him, everybody was aware of the issues in the area but not aware of the true facts. He said he was in the area on Saturday with the AIG and without knowing that what happened in Okota, the election was wonderful.

“They said three people were killed and nobody had seen one corpse anywhere in this area. The gentleman who was attacked was immediately rescued, rushed to the hospital and he is getting better in the hospital. But you can see the negative news being sprayed about this area which is not good for everybody.

“If there are issues of elections in Nigeria, it should not be in Lagos and if there is any problem of elections in Lagos, why should it be in Okota where you have peace-loving Nigerians living together?

“This is why the AIG and myself have come here to reemphasise the peaceful co-existence which I believe has been happening in this kingdom for so many years. This kingdom is not known for any violence or crisis. It is known for living together in peace; why is this area trying to get a new name now? A place of crisis and chaos?

The CP said he believed the meeting was going to cement the relationship between the communities in the area.

“It is going to tell our followers that we are all one, and that what we need is peace. On our own side as a security agency, we are going to tell the people that we are here for everybody. We assure them that we are going to give the necessary safe and secure environment for the remaining elections.”

He urged the leaders to allow people vote candidates of their choice. “Party A or B doesn’t matter because that is what is bringing the problem. That it must be a particular party must be erased from our minds. Let us focus on good leadership. Nobody must be compelled to choose a party or candidate of any party.”

Earlier, AIG Folawiyo had said they were lucky to have the community leaders in attendance at the meeting. He urged them to shun violence in the area, adding that the police do not have problems with the community leaders but need their assistance.

“We want them to assume leadership and let the people know that we are working for them. They should lower their guards, enjoy the grace, go and vote with discipline. We have also assured them of additional security. I think we are expecting good outing in the next round of election,” Folawiyo said.

Eze Nwachukwu said, the meeting with the oba was very necessary and was about what happened during the last election.

According to Nwachukwu, there was a disagreement and the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba communities were ready to sort it out and agree among themselves that if such should happen, they should report to the police or the oba.

“What happened was that some hoodlums high jacked some polling units and suddenly somebody did not go to the police nor the oba and went ahead and took the laws into his hand. And nearly take someone’s life. Nobody died but there were some injuries.

“We have agreed that everyone should go home and talk to their people so that peace can reign. We have talked about peace for the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba communities. We have agreed to be meeting from time to time to discuss our common problem for the interest of everyone.”

Oba Agbabiaka urged the Igbo leaders to always report any issues or disagreements to the police if they cannot come to him.

“Anytime you have any problem or any grudge with any people, you should please if you cannot come to me, call the police. You cannot take the laws into your hand or give judgement by yourself.

“Ndigbo, you see sometimes, it is good to show signs of appreciation. Majority of you know me, either you had your property through us or through the government.

“All you should know is that you are within Isolo and there is nothing that I do that I don’t carry you along. And that is what brought the idea of handing about four or five of you chieftaincy tittles.

“Also, the government means well for you. Luckily, in the last election, the House of Representatives winner in this area is your man, an Igbo, and the House of Assembly representative is also your man, two councillors are from you and also one supervising councillor.”

The oba said there was nowhere in Lagos State the Igbo could see such gesture, adding that the government of Lagos State was trying to look after them and therefore them to be grateful.

“Anywhere you are living, where you have your property, you are living better and your business is growing well, you should also try to make sure that there is peace and harmony. Nobody is ready to fight you; you are not a trouble maker, neither the Hausa, Yoruba or the OPC or any other person.”

The Oba also dispelled the rumours of death in his area, urging the Igbo community to support him and the police in making sure there is peace and security in the area.

“We need your support and you people should also know that you need our support too. Except you are telling us that your people who have been representing us in the House of Assembly, we have been making the mistake of allowing them to sit in that position.”

Others who were present at the meeting included Lagos House of Assembly member representing Oshodi/Isolo constituency II and the Chairman, Isolo Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Shamsudeen, Abiodun Olaleye among others.   (The Sun)

 

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JUST IN: US Expresses Concern Over Tampering Of Votes In Nigeria Elections |RN

Chris-Smith-US

by Matt Hadro

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, issued the following statement on the elections in Nigeria:

“Yesterday, Nigeria voted. Today, votes are being counted. I am very concerned by credible reports that the vote is being tampered with. To avoid any manipulation of the tally, it is critical that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announce without delay actual results — which are certified by party agents and observers — at each polling unit as the vote is tabulated.

“Well-placed sources report that in some states and localities — including Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, Abia — INEC commissioners are receiving enormous pressure to alter poll results. This must not be allowed to happen.

“The eyes of the United States, of Africa, and the world are upon Nigeria and INEC. I also ask Secretary Michael Pompeo to hold accountable anyone who seeks to cheat the Nigerian people — who have waited patiently — of their vote or foments violence.”

 

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Afenifere Condemns Attacks On Ndigbo In Lagos, Blames Dirty Political Merchants, Their Thugs

Afenifere-on-attacks-on-Igbo

File Photo: Afenifere leaders

 

 

By Ike A. Offor, Editor

The Yoruba sociocultural organisation, Afenifere has unequivocably condemned the various attacks meted out on the Igbo in Lagos during the Presidential and National Assembly elections yesterday in Lagos.

The Republican News earlier on its Facebook page has published some gruesome commentaries from some Young Oduduwa Leaders eulogizing the political violence against the Igbo in Lagos. These young Yoruba leaders, who mostly are in diaspora, mainly in the UK, promised more deaths and to make more wives of the Igbos widows.

One of such commentaries stands out on its specifics and it came from one Samuel Olumide, who suggested that they should go out and kill the Igbo in large numbers.

One Prince Afefe Agbaye responded by telling him ” death awaits them especially in Okota…..my people don’t be sad, relax and see how their wives become widows.

There was also one case of alleged OPC leader, who reportedly was attacked by Igbo youths for carrying away ballot boxes and burning ballot papers in Ago Palace way in Okota, Lagos.

It is very deserving for the authentic Yoruba leaders to condemn such acts of violence and that they actually did, to set the record straight.

Below is the press statetment:

PRESS STATEMENT

Political Violence: Afenifere Condemns Attacks on Ndigbo in Lagos

Afenifere condemns in the strongest terms the political violence visited on Nigerians of Ndigbo extraction in Lagos during the Saturday Presidential elections.
Dirty political merchants and their band of thugs apart from engineering political disenfranchisement of Ndigbo, went ahead to visit violence on them and burning their votes en masse.

The political vandals they used were said to have been calling themselves OPC but our checks with the genuine leaders of the group have shown that the deragend elements had no affiliation with the OPC known by Afenifere.
We frown seriously at the failure of the security agencies to give adequate cover to Ndigbo in the affected communities as these thugs went berserk carrying out the instructions of their sinking political godfathers.
We want to assure our Igbo Brothers and Sisters that the bond of friendship the Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndigbo have built particularly under the dynamic leadership of Chief John Nwodo remains strong and will not be broken by the nefarious activities of a few strange children in our midst.
We are already in discussions with Ndigbo leadership on the matter and we appeal for calm as these political vandals are only engaged in death kicks .
We call on the security agencies to give adequate security covers to Ndigbo in subsequent elections as we encourage them not to succumb to intimidation and harassment by political vampires .
Our historical connectivity with Ndigbo will survive the Saturday madness and the perpetrators will be shamed eternally.

Yinka Odumakin.
National Publicity Secretary.

 

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JUST IN: Hoodlums Burn Ballot Papers, Cart Way With Ballot Boxes In Lagos |RN

Ismail Omipidan

 

Hoodlums, numbering about 30 were said to have carted away ballot boxes and voting materials in four polling units in Okota, Ago Palace Way area in Isolo council.

Although, they had left before our reporter got to the scenes, there were visible signs of destruction, including broken bottles and canopies as at the time of the visit.

At Nwanchukwu Drive of the area, eye witnesses said the hoodlums came in motor cycles and overpowered the unarmed police men deployed to the area.

They were said to have cause havoc in polling units 035, 036, 037 and 038. They were said to have led by a renowned ‘area boy’ in the vicinity, known simply as “Bullet.”

“Bullet is well known in this area. In 2015, he beat up voters here. This year too, he did the same. He said he knew we would not vote for them. This election has to be rescheduled because our votes must count,” one of the residents said.

Before our reporter left the area, some ballot boxes were said to have been recovered. A domestic observer who declined to give her name, confirmed the development.           (The Sun)

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Mahmood To Buhari: “You Are Wrong, Mr President, There Is Electoral Law” |RN

Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, has said that contrary to the directive President Muhammadu Buhari gave to the police and the military to shoot ballot box snatchers, culprits of electoral violence would be punished in accordance to the Electoral Act.

Although Part VIII, Section 129 (sub IV) of the Electoral Act stipulates that anybody who snatches or destroys any election material shall be liable on conviction to 24 months imprisonment, President Muhammadu Buhari had revealed during an emergency national caucus meeting that he had ordered security agents to shoot on sight anyone caught in the act.

However, reacting to the directive during a media parley to update Nigerians on the progress made by the commission ahead of this weekend’s poll, the electoral INEC boss said: “The position on the shoot-on-sight order is that the violators of the Electoral Act should be punished according to the provisions of the Electoral Act.”

Yakubu had equally reacted to the trending speculation on the invitation of the commission’s officials by the Department of State Services (DSS), the INEC chairman dismissed such arrest.

“No commissioner of the commission was picked up by any security agency. No house of any commissioner of the commission was raided. No commissioner of INEC has been picked up by the security agents. The particular commissioner you are referring to as mentioned in the social media is, as we speak, in his office in the commission. Similarly, no director was picked up by any security agency,” he insisted.

While giving an update on the readiness of the commission for the poll, he said: “Let me, therefore, present to you the level of implementation so far achieved. By Monday evening, all issues relating to the delivery of the materials were identified and virtually addressed. Ballot papers, result sheets and a host of non-sensitive materials are now in location across the 37 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (PCT).

“Our state offices commenced the process of inviting stakeholders to the Central Bank of Nigeria to examine the retrieved materials deployed last week and to witness the dispatching of materials according to local government areas (LGAs). This is ongoing at the moment and is expected to be completed today Tuesday, February 19, 2019.

“The movement of materials to LGAs for batching according towards and polling units shall take place on Wednesday and Thursday, February 21, 2019. A11 Registration Area Centres (RACs) are to be activated by 9.00am on Friday, February 22, 2019. Personnel and materials should be at the RACs by mid-day on Friday, February 22, 2019.

“Refresher training for ad hoc personnel should take place at the RACs on Friday, February 22, 2019. Personnel and materials must arrive at the polling units latest 7 am on Saturday, February 23, 2019. The opening of polls nationwide will take place at 8 am on Saturday, February 23, 2019.

“You would recall that in my address to stakeholders, I mentioned that we intended to reschedule the elections for just 24 hours to enable us to deliver the final batch of sensitive materials for the elections. However, our ICT team notified us that it would require more time to reconfigure the Smart Card Readers (SCRs) in time for the elections.

“Let me explain why. The SCRs are configured to only open for use at 8 am on election day, and to automatically shut down by 10 pm. This is designed to forestall any illegal use of the SCRs before the appointed time of elections. There are roughly 180,000 SCRs to be deployed for the elections and the ICT team said that they would require 5-6 days to complete the configuration. 1’m glad to say that as at today, about 98 per cent of the SCRs have been reconfigured and we are confident that by tomorrow all would be ready, which is a day earlier than scheduled,” he said.  (The Sun)

 

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2019 Elections: Era Of Landslide Victory Gone – INEC Chief |The Republican News

•Call politicians to order, FG urges monarchs

 

Fred Ezeh, Abuja 

 

TheFederal Government has asked traditional rulers to caution politicians against utterances that could affect the peace and unity of the country. 

President Muhammadu Buhari said this at the 10th general assembly of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN) in Abuja, yesterday, with the theme: “Building a synergy towards free, fair, credible and violent-free 2019 general election-the traditional rulers.

Buhari, who was represented by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, described the traditional institutions as repository of local intelligence, hence, the periodic consultation and regular meetings with government for a better Nigeria. 

He said: “We have had in the past, various degrees of violence during previous elections which was the outcome of irresponsible utterances, hate speech by some ‘desperate politicians’ apparently designed to provoke or incite violence. That would not be tolerated again.

“Your positions as traditional rulers accord you considerable influence and respect of your subjects. So, I urge you to take up your responsibility of guidance and counselling, and enlighten your subjects on the need to shun animosity, conflict and violence during or after the elections.

“It’s also important that you mobilise them to participate in the electoral process by voting candidates or party of their choice; without fear of molestation, intimidation or harassment.”

On his part, the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad, who is the co-chairman of Council, expressed worry over the rate of insecurity in Nigeria, which, he said, could mar the credibility of the forthcoming elections.

He, however, challenged government to step up security, ahead of the elections, so they could guarantee safety of voters in and out of polling stations.

He equally challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to harvest views and suggestions of all stakeholders which are relevant in accordance to law, to ensure free, fair, credible and globally accepted elections by all parties.

Meanwhile, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the era of landslide victory in Nigerian elections are forever gone.

Yakubu linked his statement with the outcome off-season elections conducted in several states, before preparations for the general election.

He particularly said Osun state governorship presented the first case scenario in Nigeria where the difference between the leading candidate and the runner-up was little above 300 votes.

“That might have prompted the option of re-run that eventually produced the winner of that election,” he explained and also, made references to several by-elections conducted in Plateau and other states, which produced surprised outcomes.

Yakubu said the developments were clear indications that Nigerians are wiser, politically aware and enlightened in the governance processes and are determined to participate in the electoral process that would herald the emergence of new political leaders.

He thus challenged politicians to re-strategise on their campaign messages and device best ways to reach out to Nigerians and convince them to buy into their political ambition instead of relying on rigging and other malpractices hitherto used win elections.    (The Sun)

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2019: Don’t Succumb To Plot To Derail Nigeria, Adamu Warns Electorate |RN

Linus Oota, Lafia

 

North Central presidential director of Buhari/Osinbajo campaign organisation, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, has appealed to Nigerians not to succumb to plots by enemies of Nigeria to derail the country through the ballot as the 2019 general election draws near.

Senator Adamu who represents Nasarawa West senatorial district at the National Assembly, made the call on Thursday in Toto, headquarters of Toto local government, during the flag off of the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial campaign in the state.

He said the gang up against the government of President Muhammadu Buhari was a plot against the collective prosperity enjoyed under the leadership of the current administration.

He urged Nasarawa voters to vote for the APC governorship candidate, Mr Abdullahi Sule, having seen what Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura had accomplished in the past eight years in the state.

In his remarks, the APC governorship candidate, Mr. Abdullahi Sule, lamented that despite being christened “Home of Solid Minerals,” Nasarawa State was yet to harness and enjoy the benefits of its rich mineral endowment.

Sule, the immediate past Managing Director of Dangote Sugar refineries, promised to deploy his experience in the private sector to take Nasarawa State to its next level of development.

Also speaking, Governor Al-Makura appealed to the people to vote for all APC candidates from the presidential to the House of Assembly.   (The Sun)

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2019 Elections Will Define Nigeria’s Future – US Ambassador |The Republican News

 

United States Ambassador to Nigeria Stuart Symington has stated that the forthcoming elections will define the future of the country and urged stakeholders to promote credible and peaceful elections.

Symington, while addressing journalists after meeting with the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, at the Government House, Port Harcourt, declared that all institutions of government must do what is right.

He said: “All of the institutions of government must do what is right. An election is not a matter of life and death.

“It is a matter of defining the future of Nigeria. There must be free, fair and credible elections,” Symington emphasised.

He said that the idea of a free people with the ability to make free decisions remains the most important idea in the world.

He said: “I am quite confident that on election day, the sons and daughters of the powerful will not be out there causing violence”.

The US envoy urged people to have the courage to reject any call for them to be engaged in violence during the elections.

On the campaigns, he charged the electorate to always ask their political leaders to outline ways through which they would actualize their promises.

He said that President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, believe in the votes of the people making a difference during the polls.   (The Sun)

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