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2023 Enugu governorship contest: The heist cannot stand

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By Emeka Nwosu

The just concluded General election came with its twists and turns across the length and breadth of the nation. The attendant fraud and malpractices have continued to reverberate in the land. In Enugu, the polls recorded high drama and subterfuge, never witnessed in the annals of electoral history in Nigeria. The election was not only brazenly manipulated but eventually stolen by the ruling PDP in the State, thus denying the Labour Party (LP) the clear mandate which the people of Enugu State freely gave to its flag bearer, Hon. Chijioke Jonathan Edeoga.

It is unfortunate that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) allowed itself to be used to subvert the popular will of the people of Enugu State in the March 18, 2023 rescheduled gubernatorial election, using the over-bloated votes of Nkanu East Local Government Area (LGA) as the staging post. It will be recalled that the Returning Officer for the election, Professor Maduebibisi Iwe, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture (MOUA), Umudike, had, while announcing the controversial Nkanu East result which purportedly gave victory to Mr. Peter Mbah of the PDP, stated that he was acting under a higher authority.

In other words, what Professor Iwe was actually saying was that he was cajoled, intimidated and directed to declare the manipulated figures from Nkanu East, even when he knew that the figures in question were totally contrived. And how do you compare Iwe and his counterpart, Professor Nnenna Oti, the Returning Officer in the governorship election in Abia State, who stood her ground and firmly refused to be swayed by the powers that be who wanted her to admit and announce falsified figures from Obingwa LGA which would have tilted the outcome of the election in favour of the candidate of the ruling PDP, Chief Okey Ahiwe, as opposed to the flag bearer of the LP, Dr. Alex Otti, who was leading Ahiwe with about 91,000 votes?

In the case of Enugu State, the LP candidate, Edeoga, was cruising to victory, having defeated his main opponent, Mbah, in majority of the 16 out of the 17 LGAs in the State declared by INEC, remaining the controversial Nkanu East LGA. Having realized that Edeoga has virtually won the election, the PDP generated for itself 30,500 votes from the LGA to wipe the lead which Edeoga was maintaining with the impressive votes he received from Nsukka LGA. Unfortunately for the PDP and its candidate, the voters accredited by the BVAS machine in Nkanu East were not more than 9,000 persons. It was, therefore, unthinkable that 30,500 votes were being recorded for the PDP.

Under the 2022 Electoral Act, once the number of votes in any polling unit, ward or LGA exceeds the total number of those accredited for an election, those votes are supposed to be cancelled in line with the law. But what played out in the case of Nkanu East was not only bizarre and unconscionable but totally despicable. It will be recalled that following the stiff protests by the LP and election observers, the collation of the falsified Nkanu East results was temporarily halted. The Returning Officer was summoned by INEC to its Headquarters in Abuja for a review of the controversial Nkanu East results.

The least action that was expected from INEC Headquarters was the cancellation of the entire Nkanu East results or the pronouncement of the results based on the BVAS accreditation. Even if all the 9,000 valid votes cast at the election in Nkanu East based on the BVAS accreditation were given to Peter Mbah, the LP candidate, Hon. Barr. Chijioke Edeoga would still have won the election.

It is, therefore, surprising that INEC, after the so-called review in Abuja asked the Returning Officer, Professor Iwe, to proceed with the announcement of results that had no bearing to the true outcome of the votes in the Nkanu East LGA. That fraudulent action is nothing but an act of impunity that defies logic and rationality. The heist must not be allowed to stand.

It is unfortunate that Professor Iwe who is said to be the Head of the Scripture Union in the academia in Nigeria lacked the strength of character and moral courage to do the right thing unlike Professor Nnenna Oti who refused to be compromised. Professor Iwe cannot be exonerated from allegations of complicity and conspiracy by saying that he acted under authority. That proclamation alone merely showed him as a simpleton who was used as a tool to subvert the will of the people of Enugu State.

The likes of Professor Iwe, by the ignoble roles they played in the 2023 elections across the country have brought dishonor to themselves and the academia. Their shameful actions will continue to haunt them for the rest of their lives. Nevertheless, people like Professor Oti still give a modicum of hope that all is not lost with the academia.

Let it be stated clearly that the Enugu matter cannot be swept under the carpet. The retrieval of the stolen mandate from the PDP is a task that must be done. It is gladdening to note that the LP and its candidate have gone to Court to seek redress. It is a straightforward case. All objective political observers are hopeful that at the end of the day, Hon. Edeoga would retrieve his stolen mandate which was freely given to him by the good people of Enugu State.

Dr. Emeka Nwosu, A Political Analyst, wrote from Abuja

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Imo massacre: Armoured vehicles procured for police used to rig elections – LP

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Labour Party, palpably in anguish at the slaughter of eight soldiers in Imo State on Tuesday by some rampaging gunmen, has raised questions over the whereabouts of the nine Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) Athan Achonu, it claimed its governorship candidate for the November 11 election, repaired and donated to the authorities in the state.

The party, all but called out the leadership of the Imo State Police Command, to whom they claimed the equipment were handed over, alleging that the last time they APCs were seen was during the last general elections, where they were used by members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party in power in the state to snatch ballot boxes for candidates in the national and state assemblies.

The claim, was made when Nick Opara-Ndudu  and Nnaemeka Onyeka Obiareri , chieftains of the party appeared as guests on The Morning Show, a breakfast programme on Arise Television to sell the candidacy of Achonu, whom they said would never have allowed the type of insecurity in the state to endure under his watch.

Both men, who said that Achonu, whose highest political office so far, was his short stint in the Senate, where he served via the 2015 election before he was removed through the courts, remained the only solution not to the insecurity, in the state and even the South East,  but the one to rescue the people from years of underdevelopment from poor leadership.

Obiareri, spokesman of the LP in the state, argued that if the APCs had been in place, Tuesday’s incident in which the military men were killed alongside some policemen and officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), would probably not have happened, said a check on the social media would reveal how they were used by party men of the APC for rigging the 2023 general elections.

He said: “The military men that were killed if they had armoured vehicles patrolling, they wouldn’t have been shot by those criminals. Athan Achonu, go and confirm from Innoson, paid hundreds of millions of naira to Innoson, Innoson is still alive, you people can still go and interview him, to repair nine armoured vehicles for the police. Five were supposed to be in Okigwe zone. Till today, we don’t know where those nine armoured cars are.

“If you go to Youtube, you’ll see Youtube record of members of the House of Assembly in Imo State using those APCs to carry ballot boxes. It’s there on Youtube, you can search it out. What Athan Achonu will do is very simple. Every local government area will have one humvy vehicle for the police. Police stations had been totally burnt in Imo State and Athan repaired most of those police stations.

“Then, there will be community vigilante. We’ll train those 50 youths per community – train them, equip them and arm them. They should guard their communities. When you have over 50,000 hectres of land, reclaimed from the bandits, and you have youths who are not only just farming, but who are trained to protect their communities, they’ll do the job.

“Then, we have to set up a security trust fund. Ndi-Imo are not scared. As at today, there are some communities in Imo State, where bandits – unknown gunmen, are ransacking and collecting levies from the communities. Basically, Athan Achonu will provide training, recruitment for people donated by the communities. Communities know those who are the terrible ones in their midst. And I tell you, in six months, they will flush them out.”

Opara-Ndudu, who dismissed the claim by the state governor, Hope Uzodimma that the carnage and other killings in the state were politically-motivated, blamed the governor for misplacing his priorities and failing to provide jobs for the teeming youth population in the state, questioning why nobody had been arrested and prosecuted fully in the courts if the insecurity in the state was all about politics.

Hear him: “The security problem has to do with objective conditions in the state. The young people are frustrated. The government is not making any investments in the areas that are required. We’re busy pursuing projects that are designs in deception. Look at the roads that are being done in Imo State, you know for you to deal with the problem of poverty and other economic challenges, you have to deal with the problem of infrastructure.

“In Imo State, the government has dedicated all of its time and half of its time to reconstructing federal roads without any attention – little or no attention paid to the rural areas. If you go to length and breadth of Imo State – Ngor Okpala, Ezinifte Mbaise, even in the governor’s local government – everywhere in Imo State, you find that the rural areas are looking desolate and abandoned.”

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Police find body of missing female student dumped in the bush, vow to get killers

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Operatives of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), command, have vowed to fish out the killers of a university student, Blessing Karami, whose body was said to have been picked up from the bush days after she was declared missing on September 11.

The FCT police, which released the painful news on Thursday, said in a statement by its spokesman, Josephine Adeh that the remains were found in the woods in the Karimu area of the city.

The police spokesman acknowledged that her disappearance was reported to the police authorities last,  Thursday, September 14 added that 26-year-old Blessing, a student of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), was declared missing after leaving her place of work in Garki, Abuja.

She said in the statement: “The body of Blessing Karami Moses, a 26-year-old woman who had been missing since September 11, 2023, was tragically discovered in a wooded area in Karimo. Her disappearance was reported to the authorities on September 14, 2023,” the statement read.

She said Commissioner of Police, FCT, Haruna Garba, had directed that command should conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident, adding: “While we are working closely with the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) to facilitate the respectful retrieval of the decomposed remains acknowledging the sensitive nature of this task, we will continue to provide updates to the public as our investigation progresses.”

Adeh, a Superintendent of Police (SP), also commiserated with Blessing’s family and loved ones over the incident.

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Ogun cult massacre: DSS raid home, pick up PDP lawmaker, five others

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Damilare Bello Mohammed, a serving member of the Ogun State House of Assembly (OGHA), is currently telling operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) his side of the story, after he was picked up over his alleged involvement in the rival secret cult clashes that occurred in Sagamu town.

Mohammed, recently elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to represent Sagamu State Constituency 1, was picked up on Wednesday by the agency over the incident in which at least eight persons were killed last weekend during the violent clash in the town, alongside five other suspected cultists allegedly involved in the cult violence.

The five other suspects; Debbo Animashaun, Bamidele Saheed, Ismaila Onitire, Adewale Otesanya and Tobi Owoade, were arrested by the DSS operatives during a sting operation after a tip-off at the early hours of Thursday within the residence of the lawmaker.

Lekan Adeniran, spokesman to Dapo Abiodun, the Ogun State governor, announced the development in a statement on Wednesday, saying the secret police tracked the six suspected cultists to the official residence of the lawmaker.

Accusing the lawmaker of providing shelter to the cultists, Adeniran, said in the statement, that the suspects were presently undergoing interrogation in DSS custody after many dangerous weapons, including guns, were recovered from them.

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