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2023 Elections: Buhari Battles Violent Governors

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By Eric Elezuo

It is no longer news that most state governors have become an impediment to smooth electioneering in their various states as they have blatantly denied opposition the free access to campaign for votes. While most of them are clandestinely perpetrating the restrictions, some are brazenly carrying out the policy of restriction with impunity.

Consequently, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has read the riot act against any form of violence or use of thugs and thuggery as the campaigns, which kicked off across the country on September 28, 2022 progress. But much as the riot act sustains, some governors have continued to perpetrate themselves as lord of the manor, not heeding to the calls of the Federal government or give obedience to the Peace Accord signed by the party leaders on September 29, 2022 under the supervision of former Head of State and Chairman, Peace Committee, Abdulsalam Abubakar.

Recall that barely two weeks after the signing of the Peace Accord in Abuja, the presidential campaign train of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was attacked by hoodlums in Kaduna, Kaduna State in total disregard to the accord..

Senator Shehu Sani, a former representative of Kaduna Central Senatorial District in the 8th Assembly, who brought this to immediate attention, said the thugs invaded the rally venue with “swords and machetes”.

The attack was later confirmed by the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar on his Twitter page, saying. “I have just received emergency reports of attacks on @OfficialPDPNig supporters by thugs sponsored to scuttle the ongoing PDP campaign rally in Kaduna State. This is undemocratic and against the Peace Accord all parties signed up for just a few weeks ago.

“I urge President Muhammadu Buhari to call on all parties to call their supporters and members to order and to ensure that campaigns, just as with the elections themselves, are kept free, fair and safe,” Atiku, who has so far managed to rein him his supporters said.

Shortly after, supporters of the PDP in Zamfara State were attacked by thugs allegedly recruited by the ruling APC in the state, though the party, in their rebuttal, claimed that it was the opposition party that attacked its members.

The Zamfara Police command said one person was killed, while 18 others sustained injuries following a clash by two youth groups in the state suspected to be members of the PDP and APC.

Trouble started when the Governor Bello Matawalle-led administration denied the PDP access to campaign in the state, claiming that it had placed a ban on political campaign activities in the state, through an Executive Order on the basis of insecurity. It added that the ban was to forestall attacks by bandits hiding under political campaigns to cause mayhem.

The PDP said no Executive Order can override the Constitution of the country where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) derived its powers to lift ban on electioneering. The action of Zamfara State government was a replication of the Kaduna State government, which toed the same line.

It is also believed that Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who had been at loggerheads with his party, the PDP, has also restricted campaigns of the PDP and other opposition parties in the state. Wike had made it clear that it is only those he allow to campaign that will campaign, making a veiled reference to his party presidential candidate, Atiku.

On November 9, 2022, barely three weeks after the Kaduna attack of October 17, another set hoodlums suspected to be members of the All Progressives Congress attacked supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubarkar, during another campaign in Maiduguri, Borno, the home state of the APC vice presidential candidate, Senator Kashim Shettima

It was reported that about 74 persons were injured and hospitalised while a good number of vehicles were vandalised. This attack was followed by the burning of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Ogun State, critical election materials including over 65,000 uncollected PVCs were destroyed in the fire.

The attacks got the Federal Government into action as Buhari’s National Security Adviser NSA, Babagana Monguno, declared that rogues, in whatever guise and position, who plan to disrupt the forthcoming elections will be dealt with.

During an emergency security meeting organised by INEC, with members of the inter-agency consultative committee on election security, Munguno lamented that in just one month at least 52 cases of electoral violence across 22 states in the country had been reported, saying the situation was a bad signal that must be dealt with decisively.

He said: “We are all aware of the fact that the president, as far as he is concerned, is committed to upholding and safeguarding democracy. This is what the people want.

“The president has also given his directive through me to all the operational intelligence and law enforcement agencies to ensure that the 2023 elections are held in an atmosphere void of any rancour.

“The president is extremely pleased with the results of the elections in Anambra, Ekiti, and Osun and he wants a repeat of such performance – a manifestation of the people’s will triumphing over any obstacle that might dismantle the democracy we’re trying to protect.

“Now, I want to assure you that security agencies have been given clear-cut instructions to deal with any situation in which any rogue organisation or institution decides to embark on what we consider to be a fundamentally criminal undertaking.

“Any political party, including the party of the president, that wants to have a hand in violence, will face the consequences.

“Now, for those people who control these groups that have a tendency for unleashing violence, those people who have gangsters working for them, I want to send a very clear categorical and unequivocal warning, regardless of any party including the party of the president. For as long as you decide to scatter the election process, the law enforcement agencies will be uninhibited and equally visit you with the consequences of whatever actions you take.

“Those people who have a history of organising and controlling groups, please re-assess, re-evaluate. Hold your people and advise them that as long as they behave in a manner that suggests non-compliance with the election laws, they will be held accountable.

“Therefore, it is important to call the people under your control, those thugs, those bloodthirsty-trigger-happy, straining-at-the-leash, foaming-at-the-mouth, desperate to harm the election process — they will be brought to law. Already, intelligence agencies have been tracking these people; this I can guarantee you.

“Have a nice, quiet fireside chat with them and tell them to lay down whatever plans they have because whoever wins in any state, whichever party wins, has won. This is the intention of the president of this country. There will be no excuse whatsoever.

“So, if you think you can stretch security agencies, I think you’re making a mistake. You will be brought to book. If you think we have a history of not following through with whatever instructions given to us, I think this time you will be in for a real shocker.”

But like a heedless warning, the attacks persisted culminating in a fracas erupted in Gombe Stae, again as Atiku embarked on a presidential campaign. It was reported that no fewer than three persons sustained varying degrees of injury in the clash, which involved a local gang, Kalare Boys, and supporters of Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Three vehicles, a bus, a car and one Keke NAPEP, were reportedly damaged as they were ambushed along Pantami Stadium Road in the state.

Eyewitness account said that the Kalare boys, who were armed with cutlasses, swords, clubs and other weapons, pounced on innocent party supporters, who were on their way to their respective houses.

Again, the NSA rose to the occasion, warning politicians against the use of thugs to cause violence during the 2023 general elections.

This second phase of warning was issued at a ministerial media briefing organised by the presidential communications team at the State House in Abuja. He said promoters of violence during campaign rallies would face the full wrath of the law, adding that security operatives had been directed to ensure the smooth conduct of the elections.

“One thing I can assure you is, the president has given clear directives. The people’s will must prevail. What happened in Anambra or Osun and Ekiti is what we want to happen all over the country.

“Let the people choose their leaders. Whoever they want, then later, they can decide. But in the process of electing who governs them, we must be mindful of the fact that there are people who are hell-bent on forcing to do their bidding.

“It’s not even a function of numbers or a function of money. It’s a big problem. It’s a problem that’s also linked with the complexity of society because if you are really who you are, you don’t need to hire thugs.

“If you cannot restrain your thugs, the government will do that for you. And you will be called on the carpet and you will answer questions. We have a lot of politicians, and I’m not being specific about any politician or party. This virus has to be contained.

“I have given a clear warning that any politician who engages in any unpalatable activity – the use of thugs, and I know we have a lot of political thugs, straining at the leash, foaming at the mouth, desperate to bite and taste blood – we are going to apply everything within the powers of the government,” Munguno reeled out.

The NSA did not minced words in warning state governors using thugs to prevent opposition parties from mounting campaign materials in their domains that security agencies would soon descend on them. He also cautioned governors who present spurious excuses to deny opposition spaces for campaign. It is note worthy that states like Zamfara, Ebonyi, Rivers, Abia, Kaduna, Enugu and many more have at one time or another denied the opposition space for campaign, and accused of destroying campaign billboards and other materials.

Monguno, in his reaction on reports of state governors implementing policies that prevent the presence of opposition campaign materials in their states, described such governors as suffering from inferiority complex.

Sadly across the country, gathering of some opposition parties had been attacked by miscreants, said to be working for the state governments, especially in Rivers State, and in Kaduna, where a woman leader of the Labour Party (LP), Mrs. Victoria Chintex, was brutally murdered in her home by suspected assassins. Also, bill boards and campaign materials of opposition parties have been destroyed.

“So, those elements, who think they can deny other people the air to breathe, the political air to breathe, and reach out to the local community, they have another thing coming. These political elements should call the thugs, their capo regimes to order,” the NSA added.

There has also been skirmishes of attacks against opposition. The Labour Party political meeting has been attacked in Aninri, Awgu, Oji River, and Igboeze North local government areas all in Enugu State by niscreants believed to be political thugs. There were also incidents at Umuida, Enugu-Ezike, in the Igbo-Eze North local government area of state.

It is still not known what will become the election proper if the ‘violent’ governors continue this way. This is taking into cognizance what happened in Lagos State in 2019 when the ruling APC threatened and denied non indigenes and sympathizers of opposition parties from voting in the election. They disruption ongoing elections, and publicly burnt ballot papers and boxes in full glare of the daylight, and till date, no one has been brought to book.

“By the grace of Almighty, they (elections) will take place in an atmosphere bereft of intimidation and violence. We’ll try as much as possible to maintain that,” Munguno promised.

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, speaking through the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Operations, Dandaura Mustapha, on his part said no governor would be allowed to prevent opposition political parties from holding rallies in their states.

“Some try to manipulate the campaigns. Some even sponsor thugs to pursue the opposition, remove their billboards, remove their posters and destroy their offices. We are aware and we have full reports.
“Based on this, the IG has categorically directed all commissioners of police that on no account should any serving or sitting governor stop other political parties from conducting their campaigns in the nooks and crannies of their states.”
With the elections approaching with full speed, stakeholders are watching to see how much Buhari can subdue the recalcitrance of the violent governors.

 

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You’ve Nothing to Offer Nigerians, Only Insults, Akwa Ibom Gov Slams Tinubu

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Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, on Monday, replied the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, saying that he (Tinubu) always resorts to abusing and insulting people during campaigns because he has nothing to bring to the table for Nigerians.

He also said that despite being insulted by the former Lagos State Governor, he would prefer to allow peace to reign by ignoring him and focusing on helping install good governance to rescue Nigerians from their present woes.

Emmanuel spoke on Monday evening at Government House, Uyo while inaugurating newly appointed Permanent Secretaries, Chairmen and Members of Boards and Commissions, as well as a Transition Committee to ensure the smooth transition of power to the next administration.

Recall that Tinubu had during his rally in Uyo Monday afternoon, reportedly said, “Akwa Ibom, that boy wey bring Atiku here, wey de call himself Governor, tell him enough is enough! He lives in my backyard in Lagos, If no be say we be one, I would have driven him home. You see that mansion he is living, I would just use lizards, pigeons and scorpions to put him inside.“

But reacting few hours later, the Akwa Ibom State Governor said, “for the country to remain in peace, one party must ‘play saint’ and that is why he would refrain from replying Tinubu.

Emmanuel who is the Chairman of the PDP presidential campaigns said, “I also go to other states, and if you watch our campaigns, my principal (Atiku Abubakar) has never spoken about any Governor, he has never spoken openly about Asiwaju before.”

He added that it was unfortunate that Tinubu, who was granted state-owned facilities such as the airport, security, stadium, and a good atmosphere to come in and sell his manifesto, ended up coming to insult the integrity of over 7.9 million Akwa Ibom people.

The Governor wondered if it is possible for any Akwa Ibomite to go to Lagos that Tinubu stays or the actual state that he hails from, to insult Tinubu in like manner and still be allowed to safely return home, “but here our people at the stadium including some state governors just laughed and applauded him.”

“What makes him think he will govern Nigeria? If I reply him now, people will call me and say, haba oga you are not like that. But I will reply him one day. There is nothing like ‘emilokan’ (it is my turn) here, Nigeria is in God’s hands.”

He maintained further that despite being the highest revenue contributor to the federation account, Akwa Ibom State has not gotten a single kilometre of road from the APC-led Federal Government for nearly 8 years adding that the poor response from the Federal Government also caused the delayed commencement of the seaport in the state.

Meanwhile, the governor thanked the newly appointed Permanent Secretaries for accepting the onerous task of service, and urged them to see themselves as ambassadors and work towards raising the bar of leadership which would encourage productivity and promote good working relationship with subordinates in the service.

“This is one thing I promised Akwa Ibom people that appointment of Permanent Secretaries shall be totally on merit and not by mercy, let those that can do the work be given the opportunity. Permanent Secretary is not a promotion, it is an appointment on merit.

Governor Emmanuel also reiterated his commitments towards enhancing efficiency within Civil Service, noting that during his administration civil servants have been promoted on yearly basis.

He assured that before he exits office more Permanent Secretaries would be appointed into the service to fill vacant positions left by the ones who retired.

Addressing Chairmen of Boards and Commissions, Governor Emmanuel who described them as pillars in government, acknowledged their commitment particularly, Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection & Waste Management Agency, Prince Akpan Ikim, for winning laurels for the state through his outstanding performance in keeping and making the state the cleanest in Nigeria for five consecutive years from 2018 through 2022, and tasked others to create an impact that will stand them out.

In the same vein, the Transition Committee members were handed the task of ensuring a seamless transition of government to an incoming administration, and also verify all projects executed by the present administration.

The newly appointed Permanent Secretaries are; Mfon Inuaesiet Edemekong Esq., Dr. Stephen Effiong, Atim Chelly Okoko, Iquo Okon Abia Esq., Uwem Sunday Andrew-Essien, Isaiah Robson Ntekim and Emaeyak Nyong Akpan as Auditor-General for Local Government.

The Transition Committee has Mrs. Ekereobong Umoh -Chairman, Uko Udom SAN, Prof Augustine Umoh, Dr. Ini Adiakpan, Mrs. Nsemeke Daniel, Dr. Nathaniel Adiakpan, Mr Elijah Udoiyak, Mrs. Esther Inyang, Pastor Uwem Andrew-Essien, Mr. Isaiah Ntekim, Mr. Effiong Ekpenyong and Mrs. Bella Akpanya as members.

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PDP Condemns Attack on Buhari in Kano, Blames Tinubu, Ganduje

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The Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Council, has blamed the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, for the attacks on the convoy of President Muhammadu Buhari, during a visit to the state on Monday.

The spokesperson of the campaign council, Dino Melaye, who shared one of the videos from the reported attack, wrote, “The fight between Tinubu and Buhari is entering a new dimension. The attack in Kano was properly coordinated and funded allegedly by Asiwaju.

“The meeting to push Buhari to submission or face sponsored attack in the north was said to be hatched in Bourdillon. Me, I am busy with Atiku.”

A political activist, Deji Adeyanju, who shared another video of the reported attack, said, “They are showing Buhari and APC Shege in Kano and many northern states.”

Similarly, the PDP in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, on Monday also blamed Tinubu and the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, for the attack.

According to the party, the attack was designed to undermine the Presidency, cause confusion, trigger violence in the country, disrupt the conduct of the 2023 general elections “and derail our democracy having realised that he cannot win in a peaceful, free and fair electoral process.”

The statement read in part, “The PDP invites Nigerians to note how Governor Abdullahi Ganduje attempted to abridge President Buhari’s movement and even tried to stop him from visiting Kano State.

“More disquieting is the fact that the APC Presidential Campaign sought to humiliate and harm President Buhari while performing his official duties in Kano.

“It should be noted that the APC presidential candidate has been displaying open aversion and making inciting statements against President Buhari since Mr President’s declaration, in line with democratic best practice all over the world that Nigerians should freely vote for any candidate and party of their choice in the 2023 general elections.

“The apparent frustration of Asiwaju Tinubu to resort to encourage or condone violence is fueled by his entitlement mentality, that it is his turn to be President, despite his numerous ineligibility and disability baggage.”

Ologunagba reminded Nigerians about Tinubu’s infamous statement in London where he declared to his supporters that “political power is not going to be served in a restaurant, it is not served a la carte.”

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Organ Harvesting: Ekweremadu Battles for Freedom, Appears in Court Tuesday

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A former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, will on Tuesday appear again in court in the United Kingdom where he has been accused of human trafficking.

The lawmaker was in June 2022 arrested at Heathrow Airport in London after Staines Police Station received a report from a young man claiming to have been trafficked into the UK.

The young man, who made the report shortly after arriving in the UK from Nigeria, also alleged that he was made to undergo some medical tests, none of which he consented to.

Ekweremadu was immediately arraigned before a Magistrate’s Court for bringing a child into the UK to harvest his organs.

While the lawmaker had been in custody since June 23, his wife, Beatrice, who was arrested with him, was granted bail by a criminal court in London shortly after their arrest.

Monday (today) makes it 221 days since Ekweremadu was placed in the custody of UK authorities.

The case against the lawmaker which had been slated for May was later scheduled for January 31.

The 60-year-old, who denied the allegations against him, will again appear before High Court Judge, Mr Justice Johnson.

His daughter, Sonia, had on November 7, 2022, appeared in court to defend the accusation of trafficking a homeless man into the UK to harvest his organs for herself.

According to Daily Mail, the 25-year-old, who is battling a kidney-related illness, pleaded not guilty to the charge level against her when she appeared again in court on January 13.

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