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Car, cash gifts: Oti receiving rewards for hatchet job in Abia gov polls – Ikpeazu



Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia State Governor, has frowned at the rain of gifts currently going the way of Nnenna Oti, the Returning Officer (RO) for the March 18 governorship election in the state, saying it was a pointer to where her loyalty actually laid during the exercise despite her claim to neutrality.

It was also a day the governor, who accused her of betraying the confidence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), through her actions during and after the exercise, challenged the former electoral officer to name those who bullied and attempted to bribe her during the collation of election results in Umuahia.

Against the backdrop of claims by Oti, Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, (FUTO), Imo State, that she was bullied and offered bribe by those she has yet to name, to skew the results during the collation of results in Umuahia, Ikpeazu, accused her of actually doing a hatchet job instead during the exercise.

Throwing the challenge during a chat with reporters in Umuahia, he said that the VC gave herself away when she was seen participating in the victory dance of the governorship candidate of the Labour Party, Alex Otti, in contradiction of the expected neutrality of INEC officials.

Stating that he actually harboured some fears about Oti’s neutrality, which he expressed openly, he said he had to let go of the issue after securing an assurance from INEC which said they had confidence in her.

Ikpeazu, who swore that he neither met, nor had any contact with the former Returning Officer, he said: “I wish I knew those who bullied her. I think she has been making too much noise out of nothing. The returning officer’s duty is essentially to tally results already collated from the wards through the local government and declare them. She can’t change results because she has no right to do that unless she went ahead and did something like that.

“But her reactions have betrayed the fact that she was overly excited about something. When you come to that kind of position dispassionately, whatever the outcome should not excite you. But the victory dance she participated in and her statements which are akin to confessions have betrayed the fact that she came for a hatchet job. It could be to reject or accept some results.

“I want the world to know that she is celebrating what she has no right to do. I have never met her before. I don’t have her telephone number but I’m aware that if she came to do the right thing, she has no right to change anything.  In fact, she has no right to even reject results because those results were generated from the polling units and wards. Her celebration is unfortunate and unbecoming of somebody who was given that kind of responsibility at that level.”

The governor also questioned the propriety of Oti accepting the gifts, she was said to have been showered with since the end of her duties in the election, including vehicular and cash, saying it amounted to some form of corruption.

His words: “You know that bribe can come before or after the event. If I tell you if you do this or if this is the outcome, this is what you will get, it is an inducement. It is also an incentive to behave in a certain way. So, could this be a fulfillment of a promise that if this is the outcome, this is what will happen? I think it is unprecedented, I don’t know where this has happened in Nigeria before, and it has opened a new vista of inducement during election. You are my friend, and you are running for an election. I can tell the returning officer to do everything to announce my friend and I will give you something after. And when I keep my promise, it becomes inducement. It is very unfortunate.”

Dismissing the allegations that the collation of results was disrupted in Obingwa LGA, he stated that his investigations revealed that there was a plot to cancel all results from Obingwa LGA which was resisted by youths of the area, adding that the refusal to collate results at the ward level and attempt to move the collation centre to Umuahia angered the youths of the area.

“I’m not aware of the hostage taking of any electoral officer in Obingwa LGA. I visited the area, but before I got there, the Commissioner of Police in charge of election in Abia South was there, the Police Area Commander for Aba was there. The DSS was there. And when these high ranking officers of these agencies go to such places, they do so with a retinue of their men.

“In fact, there was an armoured personnel carrier manned by soldiers stationed at the local government headquarters. There couldn’t have been a report of holding any election staff hostage. There is a limit to what I can say because the matter is already at the election petition tribunal. But I want to remind us that this is not the first time an attempt has been made to cancel election results from Obingwa LGA. The first attempt was in 2015. In 2019, an attempt was made to bomb Obingwa LGA headquarters to ensure that votes from the area didn’t count.  And I insisted that results must be collated at the various wards according to the stipulations of the Electoral Act.  But in 2023, I offered the same advice and INEC failed to heed it. The Electoral Act says that you must announce results at the polling units and collate at the wards.

“So, why do you want all the results to be taken to LGA headquarters, is it to make it easy for you to cancel them?  This is because it puts the powers on the shoulders of one man. If you collate the results as they arrive from the various units in the wards, you will ensure that even if there are problems in one or two wards, you can get some wards results. Why do you bring it to one place where there may be a problem and from there, you say you want to go and collate them in Umuahia?

“So, what the youths of Obingwa LGA did was to say that results must be collated at the LGA headquarters before being taken to Umuahia. I salute their courage because some of the results taken to Umuahia for collation were manipulated. The results were changed at Umuahia. Results must be announced at the units and collated at the wards and brought to the local government for tallying only. Any election worker that tells you he wants to collate it centrally at the LGA is giving a recipe for fraud.

“He may even tell you that he no longer wants to collate results at the LGA level and wants them to be collated at Umuahia. And how will the agents at the polling units appear at Umuahia to give reports about what happened? Will you be expecting them to rely on the testimony of the man you sent to do a hatchet job? It seems to me that they were prepared to reject and cancel all election results from Obingwa LGA,” he said.


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



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



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



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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