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Appeal Court Rules On Osun Gov Poll

The Abuja
Division of the Court of Appeal has fixed today for judgment on the dispute
arising from the September 2018 governorship election in Osun State.

The
court, on yesterday, issued hearing notices for the judgment and had them
served on all the parties to the four pending appeals relating to the disputed
poll.

A
five-man panel led by Justice Jummai Sankey had, on April 24, heard three
appeals and a cross-appeal filed in relation to the Osun State governorship
election and reserved its judgments on the appeal.

With
Justice Sankey presiding, other members of the appeal panel which heard the
four appeals were Justices Abubakar Yahaya, George Mbaba, Isaiah Akeju and
Bitrus Sanga.

At
the hearing on April 24, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State, his party,
the All Progressives Congress, and the Independent National Electoral
Commission urged the court to upturn the March 22, 2019 majority judgment of
the state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which nullified the
governor’s victory at the September 2018 poll.

But
the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, who
were declared the winner of the election by the tribunal, urged the Court of
Appeal to affirm the tribunal’s judgment.

INEC
had declared Oyetola and the APC the winner of the Osun State governorship
election on the basis of the cumulative results of the September 22, 2018 main
election and the September 27, 2018 supplementary poll.

Dissatisfied
with the result declared by INEC, the PDP and Adeleke had filed their petition
before the three-man Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal,
contending that they were the true winner of the election as they had already
won after the September 22, 2018 poll and that there was no need for the
supplementary election held on September 27, 2018.

The
tribunal, in its March 22, 2019 split judgment of two-to-one, nullified
Oyetola’s victory and declared Adeleke and the PDP the winner of the election.

The tribunal’s chairman, Justice Ibrahim Sirajo, in
his minority judgment, dissented from the majority judgment credited to
Justices Peter Obiorah and Adegboye Gbolagunte.

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Politics

Reps To Probe Amnesty Programme

The House of
Representatives has resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the
alleged fraudulent activities  in the
Presidential Amnesty Programme.

The
resolution followed a motion presented by Rep Tajudeen Obasa (PDP-Lagos)
at  plenary on Wednesday.

Moving
the motion, Obasa expressed concerns over the outcry by some people, alleging
massive looting at the Kaiama Amnesty Centre in Bayelsa State between February
14 and 16.

“The
coordinator of the centre, in collaboration with security agents and other
unknown persons, allegedly took away equipment worth billions of naira with the
knowledge of the Special Adviser on Amnesty to the President. It has become
imperative to investigate these allegations for the good of the Niger Delta
people and that of the nation at large.The failure of the House to act in time
will lead to the wrecking of the amnesty programme and the essence of it will
be eroded,” he said.

Obasa
noted that the programme was a lofty initiative by the Federal Government to
quell arms struggles by the Niger Delta agitators.

He
said the programme was meant for a better deal in the nation’s oil producing
areas and the cardinal objective was to grant pardon to the agitators.

The
lawmaker said further that it was meant to rehabilitate the agitators through
productive ventures and build the capacity of the youths in the area.

Obasa
said that government had spent huge resources in training the youths locally
and abroad, adding that recently, N8.5bn was paid into the programme’s account
to further implement the initiative.

The  Speaker,
Mr. Yakubu Dogara, said that when the committee is finally constituted, it will
turn in its report to the House within two weeks for further legislative
action.

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Politics

Patience Jonathan Tackles EFCC

Former First
Lady Dame Patience Jonathan Wednesday urged the Federal High Court in Lagos for
time to respond to “weighty” allegations against her by the Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice
Mojisola Olatoregun, on April 26, 2017, ordered the temporary forfeiture of
$5.7million and N2, 421,953,522.78 allegedly belonging to Mrs. Jonathan.

The
judge made the order based on an ex-parte application by the EFCC.

The
commission said the N2.4billion was found in an Ecobank Nigeria Ltd account
numbered 2022000760 in the name of La Wari Furniture and Baths Ltd.

Following
the temporary forfeiture, Mrs. Jonathan, through her lawyers Chief Ifedayo
Adedipe (SAN) and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), appealed.

The
Court of Appeal, last January 12, upheld the temporary forfeiture.
Dissatisfied, Mrs. Jonathan appealed to the Supreme Court.

The
Supreme Court, on March 15, affirmed the Court of Appeal judgment. It directed
the appellant to return  before Justice
Olatoregun to show cause why the money should not be permanently forfeited to
the Federal Government.

The
Supreme Court also rejected her prayer to strike down the provisions of Section
17 of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, which EFCC relied on in securing the
forfeiture.

  EFCC’s lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo said he received
two affidavits from Ozekhome on April 29. One of them, he said, is a
counter-affidavit to the motion on notice for final forfeiture; the other is a
further affidavit. He said EFCC filed and served its reply to the SAN’s motions
on Tuesday.

Responding,
Ozekhome said: “We got their affidavit at 5.5pm on Tuesday. A plethora of
exhibits were attached. Their affidavit is replete with new facts. 

Granting the adjournment, Justice Olatoregun said
there must be an end to litigation.. Justice Olatoregun adjourned until May 24.

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Politics

Journalists Decry Marginalization In Service

Journalists have decried the marginalization of media
practitioners in the country.

This
was the conclusion of speakers and media practitioners during the occasion
celebration of the 2019 World Press freedom day held at the Ernest Ikoli
Centre, of the Nigerian union of journalist (NUJ) in Port Harcourt.

Former
Vice President of NUJ, Mr. Vincent Ake who was the chairman of the occasion
said the yearly event was instituted to acknowledge the enormous role of the
journalism profession in information dissemination and social stability.

Ake
who is the General Manager of the Rivers State Newspapers Corporation,
publishers of The Tide Group of Newspapers, regretted the conditions under
which journalists operate in the country, stressing that journalism as a
profession has become the weeping child of other professions.

Earlier
in a welcome address, chairman of Rivers State chapter of the NUJ, Mr. Stanley
Job Stanley, said the occasion is in line with the United Nations declaration
on the freedom of information and its importance to the advancement of the
society.

While
reviewing the critical roles of journalists in socio-political and economic
development, the NUJ chairman emphasized the fundamental role media
practitioners played in the just concluded elections in the country.

Job
expressed dissatisfaction at the maltreatment and harassment of journalists
during the exercise.

He
regretted that most journalists who covered the elections were subjected to
unwarranted public intimidation, assault and others forms of harm and damage to
their personnel effects by overzealous security agents.

The
chairman stated that in the elections of 2019, journalists covering the conduct
of elections were barred from accessing polling and collation centres; thereby
depriving the public of the needed information’s on the elections.

“Many
journalists at various times have been detained and tortured by the authorities
over the content of their stories and reports and in some case forced to
disclose the source of their reports”.

The
chairman insisted that this should never be accepted as it goes against the
ethics of the profession.

He
charged practitioners to resist such obnoxious acts of repression from any
quarter, and described such actions as quiet inimical to the tenets of
democratic practice worldwide.

The
World Press Freedom Day with the theme: ‘Media, Democracy and Election in Times
of Disinformation’ also featured series of lectures. The lecture on the topic,
“The challenges of reporting politics in times of disinformation’, was
delivered by Dr. Chris Ochonogor of the Linguistics and Communication department,
University of Port Harcourt.

The second lecture which
dealt on’ “objectives in reporting in the era of media
commercialization”, was delivered by Dr. Faustinus Nwachukwu also of the
linguistics and communication department, of the same University.

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Politics

The Imperatives Of Rivers Elders’ Conference

The victory of Governor Nyesom Wike in the governorship
election in Rivers State may have come and gone, however the drama and the
shenanigans that characterized the exercise will linger for long. There are
indeed fundamental lessons to imbibe from the entire episodes of the tragic
comedy.

For one the elections and outcome after weeks of suspense
and gerrymandering go to buttress the salient point that the will and power of
the people will always triumph over the narrow interests of the few who
believed that violence, bloodshed and intimidations have the capacity to cow
the people to submission in a democracy.

Also the scenario that ensued all through the election
debacle in the state seemed to have brought to the fore the realities and
critical facts that Rivers State is in dire need of true elders and statesmen
who can hold their voices up, without dancing to the wind, when critical
occasions demand. We need to face the facts that “Rivers today, lacks elders
with the courage and wisdom of its founding fathers. The creation of Rivers
State in 1966, was the result of hard work, commitments and sacrifices of great
elders and statesmen such as the sagacious Chief Harold Dappa Biriye, Chief G.
K. Amakiri, Senator Obi Wali, Justice Nabo Graham Douglas, Chief Nwobidike
Nwanodi, Senator Francis Ella, Chief E. J. Oriji, Professor Isaac Dema, Chief
Paul Birabi, G. B. Leton, Chief E. N. Opurun and Ken Saro Wiwa among other
personalities of that era.

To painstakingly list these persons is to elucidate the high
quality of individuals who staked their lives for the state. Unfortunately,
those to whom these great men handed over the baton seemed to ignore the
wisdom, tact and courage to lead the new generation in a manner devoid of
parochial interest and political bias.

Since 1999, when politics and elections took the centre
stage of Nigerian democratic process, the state has watched in dismay the
actions and body language of elders and statesmen who rather than build
cohesiveness among the numerous and diverse ethnic constituents in the state,
choose to engage in fanning the embers of social divisiveness. Thus the adage
that elders do not sit at home while the female goat delivers while tied
explains the role of some elders while the election face-off in the state
lasted.

The fact of the matter was that elders of the state who as
statesmen should have passionately tackled the crises that arose from the
election bearing in mind the interests of the state, decided rather to remain
ominously silent or play to the gallery

So worrisome, it is in Rivers of today that notable and
respected elders have unwittingly fallen into the odious conspiracies of the
political class, taking sides on political issues in a bid to feather their
nepotic interest to remain relevant to the source of what firmer governor Ayo
Fayose described as stomach infrastructure. In African tradition and culture, it
is infidelity of the mind and debasing for elders in the community to abandon
their crises-ridden homefront, and go abroad in frantic search for strange
solutions to critical family and community issues confronting the people.

Men of wisdom and courage do not run away from troubling
issues of the community but would rather consciously galvanize the people,
building  and confidence in the people
towards charting pathways out of seeming intractable situations. This is done
so that the society can move forward peacefully into the next level
development.  

The critical political and social situation confronting
Rivers State have risen to the crescendo due largely because elders abandoned
their esteemed responsibility while the younger generation of men and women who
forcefully took over the mantle of leadership seem to lack the requite
knowledge to sustain the values that brought the state to its enviable height.

Today, our highly revered treasure base of the nation is
obviously riding in the crest of socio- political mess it has found itself
because those to whom the people looked for direction and guidance have somehow
surrendered their roles as social stabilizers and are now chasing shadows and
rats.

It is on this note that one could opine that those men and
women in the name of Rivers Elders who took the flight to Abuja to call on
President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the 
political standoff following the March 9, governorship and state
Assembly elections cannot be said to have acted as true elders of the state.
Preposterous as it was, the whole episode was a drama taken too far. For the
elders to leave the crises at home and embark on such expedition, amounts to a
man who ignited fire on his clothes and goes about calling on the bystander to
rescue him from the flame.

Inviting the president of Nigeria to intervene in the
political situations occasioned by the March 9 elections in the state exposed
the elders and their promoters as a group lacking the wisdom of Solomon and
proper political calculation.

President Buhari himself from all ramifications would have
known that he would be committing illegal and unconstitutional acts if he had
yielded to the biddings of such promptings. It is common knowledge that the
contradictions that attended the March 9, election were precipitated by
desperate politicians from the state who believed that force and brutality were
the instruments needed to wrest power from an incumbent to prove that the
touted political strength already portrayed was no fluke. This is the truth and
these elders know it. Rivers people had expected that rather than go to Aso
Rock, these Elders should have sought home-grown solution to the issues. The
point is that, we must wake up from this self-pity that we have invariably
imposed on ourselves as Rivers people, selling out our incapacitations instead
of making use of the roundtable in solving problems.

By implications the elders were calling on the president to
declare a state of emergency on the state; as a way to ease out the incumbent
from being reelected. Quite unfortunate. How this will benefit anybody is open
to conjectures

Significantly, the two antagonists in the political battles
in the state, the incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike and former Governor Chibuike
Amaechi were offshoots and props of these elders of yester-years politics. When
these two men prior to the 2015 election fell apart and began to build
fortresses of loyalties, none of these elders stood boldly to seek for a truce
or a compromise at least in the interest of the state.

In the words of Chief A. K. Horsfall, the attempts of some
Rivers elders to bring the warring politicians to a roundtable prior in the
just-concluded elections in the state did not materialize. According to him
while Governor Nyesom Wike positively responded to their overtures, the
Minister of Transportation failed to respond. Chief Horsfall, while berating
the two men for causing so much pain to the state, as a result of their
acrimonious political activities, also warned that both of them cannot continue
to behave as if they were too big to answer to the calls of the Elders of the
State.

The point to be situated here is that elders in Rivers state
are obviously in confusion and disarray on how to handle matters of the state.
President Muhammadu Buhari, it must be noted, despite his position as the
leader of Nigeria is a total stranger in solving certain socio-political issues
in the state. The Amaechi-Wike political onslaught can only be resolved by
genuine Rivers people who actually know the genesis of the problems. No
stranger can be more Rivers than the Rivers people.

What is required of the Governor, Nyesom Wike is to remain
magnanimous in victory and ensure that the olive branch he has raised to his
opponents, stands unwavering. The time of reconciliation should begin in
earnest. The government should during this period constitute a truly elders
council that will comprise  all senior
and elder citizens of the state irrespective of political, religious or social
affiliation.

Governor Wike should also as a matter of urgency convene an
all Rivers Conference  of ethnic
nationalities to discuss all issues confronting the state, including the issue
of political power rotation and succession among the divides of upland and
riverine areas of the state. These are issues that true statesmen can
deliberate upon and bring the needed enduring peace and political conviviality
to Rivers State because peace is an indispensable necessity to move Rivers
State to the next level of growth and prosperity.

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Politics

Groups Apologise To Army Over Elections

Some civil society organisations and Human Right groups have
apologized to the Nigerian Army over the conduct of the governorship elections
in Rivers State.

The civil society organisations and Human Right groups in
conjunction with some concerned youths in Rivers State,  embarked on a   solidarity march to the Headquarters of Six
Division of the Nigerian Army.

The groups particularly requested for more support from the
military and other security agencies for the peace and security of lives of the
Rivers people.

In a letter delivered to the Six Division by the Chancellor,
International Society for Social Justice and Human Right, Omenazu Jackson, the
groups apologised to the Nigerian Army over what they described as unguarded
and ill-fated comments from some individuals and selfish politicians in the
state.

The groups insisted that like the 2015 general elections,
without the military in this year’s elections, Rivers State would have recorded
more deaths and violence  and   requested for more involvement of the
military in elections and other activities in the state.

  Colonel A.D
Abubakar, who received the letter on behalf of the General Officer Commanding
Six Division Nigeria Army, Port Harcourt, commended the people and assured that
their letter will get to appropriate authorities.

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Politics

NASS Leadership: APC Insists On Winner Takes-All

National Publicity Secretary of the APC Mallam Lanre
Issa-Onilu said the party does not envisage an election on the floor of the
Senate. saying “it is winner takes all. Once you win, you take whatever you
won. There is no room for power sharing. We do not need it because we do not
need them (PDP) to run this government”.

 Mallam Lanre
Issa-Onilu who stated this in Abuja, while reacting to PDP’s press statement,
staid, “I have listened to the PDP react to this and in their usual style, they
exhibited gross ignorance. What we practise in Nigeria is called the
Presidential System of Government and in such a system, it is winner takes all.
Once you win, you take whatever you won. There is no room for power sharing. We
do not need it because we do not need them (PDP) to run this government.

We have enough number to run this government and in any
case, when we were campaigning, we never told Nigerians that we were going to
share power with any other party. We told them, ‘please, entrust power to us
fully’. And Nigerians have graciously assented to that. It would be a betrayal
of that trust to go ahead and start sharing power with a party, particularly
the PDP that has been rejected by Nigerians.

 “We are starting from
the experience of the last four years, precisely what happened in 2015 when
some traitors in the APC fold sold our birthright to an opposition party and
some people now considered that to be the new normal. It is not. In fact, that
was undemocratic. It was treachery and we thank God also that Nigerians have
punished the people that are involved. They were rejected. Many of them are now
on compulsory retirement from politics.

That is the verdict of the people of this country for those
who dared to compromise basic democratic principles which says that in a
presidential system of government when you have the majority, you have the
trust of the people to form a government without conceding anything to the
people they have rejected. If they wanted PDP, they would have voted for the
PDP.

We patterned our Presidential system of government after the
United States of America USA. When last did you see them go to the floor to
elect the Speaker? Any party that has the majority automatically has the
speaker. If you remember, Pelosi was the Speaker of the US House of
Representatives. Immediately, the Republicans got a majority, she became the
Minority Leader. It is automatic except where you have traitors; people who do
not have a commitment to values whose only interest is to foster their own
selfish desires. In the last election in the US, when Democrats became the
majority, Pelosi reverted and became the Speaker”, he explained.

We don’t envisage an election “All the Principal Officers
are determined by the simple majority and because Nigerians have given us more
than what we had even in the outgoing dispensation, we have enough to elect all
our officers. We do not need a single vote from the PDP and in any case, we
don’t actually envisage any election on that day because we are going to
present to our members to occupy these positions and it is the collective
position of the party and all our members are very experienced politicians who
understand what this means. When they get to the floor, they are going to read
out the names and if the PDP so desire, they can bring a candidate and follow
that candidate with the number they have got. So, it will be an exercise in
futility for PDP to nurse the ambition to share from what Nigerians have taken
from them. \

“It is not the party that will determine whether there will
be an election or not. By the time we announce these names, having a clear
majority on the floor, anyone that wants to oppose would have to present his
candidates, backing them up with numbers. So, there is only one person being
put forward and then you have a consensus. So, even if there is going to be an
election it would just be a mere formality. We do not envisage a situation
where two APC senators would stand as candidates for a position. That would
only happen if this party has done its homework”, Issa-Onilu added

He said Sen. Ali Ndume who has been reported as expressing
interest in contesting against Lawan was merely expressing his democratic
rights, but that he must subscribe to the dictates of the party.

“The day he subscribed to be a member of the APC, he signed
off to abide by the dictates of the party and we take what has happened in the last
24 hours as an expression of how badly the news hit him, but we are also
conscious of the fact that Sen. Ali Ndume is a respected member of the APC, he
is a leader in this party and we know he knows the right thing to do and on
whose side he rightly belongs and that also includes any other person who has
such grievances”, he added.

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Politics

Jonathan, 62 Others Bag Ijaw Heroes Award

The former president of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
who bagged a grand award of “Ijaw Man of All Seasons” was among 62 others that
were honoured by the Ijaw Republican Assembly (Patriotic Front) in conjunction
with Ijaw Media Action Initiative for their various meritorious services and
contributions to the nation in different stratas of life.

The ceremony with its theme, “Scions to Icon” was held at
Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt on Saturday.

The Vortex correspondent gathered that Mr. Atedo Peterside,
Prof Nimi Briggs, Prof. Kimse Okoko AIG Hilda Harrison (Rtd), Amb. Boladei
Igali, Odein Ajumogobia (SAN), Dr Doris Cowan, Senator Inatimi Rufus Spiff, Ken
Etete, Ndutimi Alaibe, Tele Ikuru, Dr Stanley Lawson and Amaopusenibo Bobo
Sofiri Brown bagged the distinguished awards of Ijaw Excellence Award while the
Presidential Adviser on Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Quaker Dokubo was
honoured as the Ijaw Man of the Year.

The first military governor of Old Rivers State and
Amanyanabo of Twon Brass in Bayelsa, HRH, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, Prof. Joe
Ebiegberi Alagoa, Justice Francis Tabai, Alabo T.O. Graham – Douglas, HRH D. M.
Fubara, Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo clerk, Amb – Nne
Kurubo and Coach Monday Sinclair were honoured with life Time Awards. Chief
Dumo Lulu – Briggs and Senator Ben Murray Bruce also bagged Merit Awards as
politicians.

Post Humous Awardees were Prof Eyo Ita, Mr. Ernest Sissei
Ikoli, Jonathan Adagogo Green, Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson, Major Isaac Jasper
Adaka Boro, Prof. Tekena Tamuno, Prof. Lawrence Ekpebu, Mrs Christiana Graham
Douglas, Justice Ambrose Alagoa, Chief Melford Okilo, DSP Alamieyeseigha, High
Chief Lulu- Briggs and Amb. Joseph Iyalla while Iconic Development Partners of
Ijaw Nation Award was bestowed on Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther and Prof. Kay
Williamson.

Other awardees include Owei Lakemfa with best Journalist
award, Anthony George Ikoli (SAN) and Iboroma Akpana Esq with Legal Luminary
award, Iniruo Wills and Dr. Mina Ogbanga – Environmentalist award and Dr.
Dagogo Jack – Medical Practioner award while Ifie Sekibo, Arobo Michael, Ms.
Boma Godhead, Rosemary Naimgba and Yibo Koko bagged Finance, Entrepreneur,
Legislator, Ijaw Woman, Innovative Artist and Producer awards respectively.

Burna Boy (Ogulu), Ibinabo Fiberesima and Timaya were
honoured with Entertainers’ award as Amaopusenibo Stephen Benstowe and Anthony
Otokito bagged Ijaw Diaspora Archivist awards.

The Youth award was presented to Dabesaki Ikemenjima and
Oraye St. Franklin while the Public Servant Award goes to Dr. Dakuku Peterside
and Arch. Amagbe Kentebe.

Speaking with newsmen at the occasion, the President of Ijaw
Republican Assembly (Patriotic Front), Alatubo Charles Harry said time has come
for the Ijaw people to celebrate their own for their numerous services and
achievements to their fatherland.

Charles Harry noted that Ijaw people must recognized and
honour themselves as people of great nation and believed strongly that Ijaw
issues must be intellectualize and not militarilize as they are the fourth
largest ethnic group in Nigeria.

According to him, it is time to hold their own and stop the
attitude of complaining and wining as most of our problems are self-inflicted.

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Politics

Re-Elected Umahi Denies Plot To Defect To APC

All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship candidate in Ebonyi State in last Saturday’s election, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji has alleged that Governor David Umahi would defect to the APC on or before May 29.

 Ogbuoji made the allegation in Enugu, at a
press conference on the outcome of the February 23 governorship and state
assembly elections in Ebonyi state described the elections as a mock exercise,
where people were coerced to reject a happy future. 

He accused some  APC members as moles and denied he worked for
victory of his opponent at the polls.

“We
therefore reject in its entirety, the shambolic exercise, the processes that
led to it and the result or outcome. I am aware also of those among us that
desired the change we targeted to bring, seemingly worked for it but in the
actual sense worked in contrary direction and deliberately frustrated the
change they claimed to belong to.

 “A clearer picture of this is the
information we have now that while the governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi,
had acted as a mole in PDP all along, he has started making moves to ditch PDP
and cross over to the APC on before May 29.

“We are
aware that the votes that enthroned Umahi were procured with the connivance of
the system, a reason there are gloomy faces all over the state after the
announcement of the claimed victory,” Ogbuoji alleged. 

Governor
Umahi’s spokesman and Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Uzor however denied the
claim, saying “It’s one of the new propaganda of the APC, having been
rejected by the people of the state. Umahi is more concerned on delivering
quality development to the state and thinks less about politics.” 

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Politics

How Soldiers Stopped Us From Monitoring Polls- EU

The European Union Observation Mission to Nigeria says soldiers barred them from monitoring elections in Rivers State. The observers made the allegation in their preliminary report in Abuja on Monday.

Addressing
journalists, the Chief Observer, Maria Arena, noted that they came to Nigeria
on the invitation of INEC to monitor the elections and make recommendations.

Arena, who is
a member of the EU Parliament, however, faulted the elections. She said,
“Observers, including EU observers, were denied access to collation
centres in Rivers, apparently by military personnel. This lack of access for
observers compromises transparency and trust in the process.

“In
Rivers, INEC suspended until further notice the elections due to violence in
polling units and collation centres, staff being taken hostage and election
materials, including results sheets, seized or destroyed by unauthorised
persons. There is no doubt that the electoral process there was severely
compromised.”

Arena
lamented the violence, underage voting and vote-buying that marred the
governorship and House of Assembly elections in some states.

She said the
EU deployed 73 observers following voting, counting and the collation of
results in 22 states. The chief observer said they monitored 223 polling units
in 81 collation centres.

According to
Arena,”although election operations improved, the elections were also
marked by an overall low turnout and violence, including against election
officials and voters. However, at eight polling units observed, we saw
indications of vote-buying. Eight cases of obvious underage voting were also
observed. Our observers saw that the counting of ballots transparent
overall”.

“Positively,
in almost all cases, party agents received copies of the result forms, although
they were often not displayed. The environment for these elections has been
difficult, with cases of violence and intimidation, including attacks on
election administration officials.”, she said.

She stressed the need for electoral reforms in the country,
adding that the problems evident in the 2019 electoral process had shown that
there was a  need for an inclusive
national discussion on reforms for greater electoral integrity and
participation.

Arena also noted misuse of power of incumbency by the
governors of the All Progressives Congress and Peoples Democratic a Party on
state-owned media houses.

She added, “While there can be many reasons for a low
turnout, and it is not for me to speculate, it is surely disappointing that
overall, only a relatively small portion of what is by far and away Africa’s
largest electorate actually cast a vote on both election days. We hope that
after these elections, parties and institutions look at what is needed to make
voters want to take part in elections.”

Also speaking the Deputy Chief Observer, Hannah Roberts,
criticised INEC for not providing specific information on the cancellation of
votes in the February 23 elections.

She said,
“While this number did not affect the outcome given the margin of win,
this was not a good process. INEC did not provide sufficient information on
these cancellations, the specific reasons for them, and the precise local
government areas affected. This undermines public confidence in the
process.”

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