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I Stand On Side Of Truth, Justice -Yeeh

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Being text of a press statement on the 2019 governorship election in Rivers State by former African Action Congress (AAC) Deputy Governorship candidate in the State, Chief Akpo Bomba Yeeh on Monday, March 25, 2019 in Port Harcourt.
Excerpts:

The March 9, 2019 governorship election in Rivers State has been lost and won: lost by my party, the African Action Congress (AAC) and its candidate, Engineer Biokpomabo Awara and undoubtedly and overwhelmingly won by the Governor of Rivers State and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, His Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, CON, GSSRS, POS.
I was the Deputy Governorship candidate of the AAC in Rivers State up till today, 25th March 2019, when I decided to withdraw my candidature and resign from the party with immediate effect.
As the Deputy Governorship candidate, I ran the general elections with Engineer Awara in good faith. We both emerged from the primaries supervised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
However, shortly after our emergence, it dawned on me that the AAC was not serious about contesting the elections. The party did no other thing apart from submitting our names to INEC as candidates from the election.
The party did not field any candidate for the National and State Houses of Assembly seats. We printed no single campaign poster nor mounted any single campaign billboard in the State. Neither did we hold a single campaign rally or meeting throughout the campaign period. We never relayed any campaign broadcast or advert on radio, television or the print media. Nobody, I repeat: no voter, in Rivers State even knew what the logo or the AAC looked like.
However, 72 hours to the elections, we received the good news that the AAC had been adopted by the Hon. Rotimi Amaechi-led faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Governorship election, having been barred by the courts from fielding any candidates for the general elections in the State, except that of the office of the President.
In adopting the AAC, Rotimi Amaechi emphatically assured us that he was going to fund and do every other thing under the sun to give us victory at the polls.
He further disclosed to us that he had already assembled security personnel drawn from the Nigerian Army, the Police, Department of State Security (DSS) and Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) to provide adequate security cover and enablement for members of the AAC and APC to effectively rig the governorship election and have us declared as winners come March 9th, 2019.
The adoption and promise to deliver the AAC, was however, not without conditions that conferred de facto Governor to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi:

  • First, he must be the one to appoint ninety per cent of all political office holders, including commissioners, special advisers and chairmen and members of Government Boards, Agencies and Parastatals;
  • Second, he must be the one to nominate and produce all the 23 Local Government Council Chairmen and other principal officers of the Councils;
  • We, that is, Engineer Biokpomabo and my humble self must consult and take instructions from him on all financial, policy and fiscal matters, as well as the award and payment of contracts and other financial transactions upon our inauguration as Governor and Deputy Governor of the State;
    In addition, I was forced to sign an undated letter of resignation as the Deputy Governor of Rivers State to pave way for Rotimi Amaechi to nominate another person of his choice as the Deputy Governor.
    These were clearly slavish conditions for any rational politician worth his name to accept, but I pretended to play along because doing otherwise at that time would have been too dangerous a game for the safety of my life, given Rotimi Amaechi’s unconcealed desperation to remove Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike from office and install his stooge in the person of Engr. Awara against all odds.
    And so the AAC went into the March 9th, 2019 general elections as an adopted political baby of the APC and with full confidence that the Minister of Transportation would use his federal might and connections with the army to rig it into victory.
    But we are all witnesses to what happened on the day of the elections. Reports received in our situation room showed that despite intimidations from the army, the elections went on peacefully in virtually all the Local Government Areas of the State, except Abua/Odual where the army led by APC thugs prevented the distribution of election materials to the wards and units.
    Furthermore, records received from the agents of the AAC also showed that collation had been concluded in 19 out of the 23 Local Government Areas of the State before INEC abruptly suspended the collation process following the unfortunate attack on its State Headquarters office by a contingent of the army on the 10th of March 2019.
    The collated results further showed that contrary to the false claims of factions led by the APC/AAC alliance, the PDP overwhelmingly won all the elections in 18 out of the 19 Local Governments Areas, culminating in the declaration and return of the party in 26 State House of Assembly constituencies by the Constituency Returning Officers.
    This fact was confirmed on the 13th of March, 2019, when INEC stated, as a matter of fact, that it had in its safe custody collated results for 17 Local Government Areas as well as the declaration and return of the PDP candidates for 21 State Constituencies.
    The outcome of the elections on March 9th, 2019 clearly showed the preference and direction of the people of Rivers State. Even the blind can see, and the deaf can hear the echo, that Rivers people overwhelmingly voted to stick with Governor Nyesom Wike for the next four years to encourage him to continue with the good works he has been doing to reposition the State for greatness in the last three and half years.
    As a budding politician, I have a responsibility to promote and protect democracy, good governance and the rule of law.
    If we all agree that the desperation and failed attempt by Rotimi Amaechi to use the army to rig the Governorship election for his infantile AAC candidate was an affront to the democratic rights of Rivers people to freely elect their leaders; then, what can we say about the organised brutality, bloodshed and killings that he unleashed on the innocent persons in Ahoada West, Akuku-Toru, Asari-Toru, Degema, Emohua, Khana, Ikwerre, Okrika and Ogu/Bolo Local Government Areas of the State during the 2019 general elections?
    In case you haven’t noticed, the purported claim to victory at the polls by the Rotimi Amaechi-led APC/AAC alliance vanished the very day and moment INEC confirmed safe custody of the collated results in 17 Local Government Areas and its readiness to resume and conclude the collation process in Rivers State as soon as practicable.
    Regrettably, despite the national and international outrage against his desperate conduct and deplorable assault on our democratic rights, Rotimi Amaechi and his APC/AAC cohorts are still bent on subverting the manifest will of the people of Rivers State as expressed on the 9th of March, 2019 by planning to:
    (i) again use security personnel to violently attack and attempt to frustrate and or prevent INEC from resuming the results collation process from the 2nd – 5th of April 2019 as already scheduled, and or
    (ii) use security personnel to arrest, intimidate and force collation officers to change already collated results in favour of the AAC candidate.
    As a practising Christian, I have come to the rational conclusion that the actions and desperate attempts by Rotimi Amechi and the APC/AAC alliance to rig the Governorship and State House of Assembly elections in Rivers are both morally and legally wrong, reprehensible and inimical to the collective interest of the people of Rivers State.
    The Almighty will not forgive me if I continue to lend my support to the Rotimi Amaechi’s perfidy against the democratic rights of the people of Rivers State to freely elect their own leaders.
    I cannot in all conscience continue to defend the brutality, violence, bloodshed and killings of innocent persons in Rivers State on account of one man’s lust for power and influence.
    Power, they say belongs to God, and He alone gives to whosoever He pleases.
    God has returned Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to power as Governor of Rivers State for the next four years and there is nothing we can do about it, other than to support him to continue to move our dear State forward.
    Therefore, after due consultations with my immediate family, political friends and supporters, I, Chief Akpo Bomba Yeeh, the Deputy Governorship candidate of the AAC for the 2019 Governorship election hereby resign my membership of the AAC with immediate effect and announce my defection to the PDP to join hands with Governor Wike to move Rivers State forward.
    May God bless our dear Rivers State.

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Taraba Guber Poll: Tension Mounts As Appeal Court Decides, Today

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The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal will today deliver its verdict in the appeal brought by the All Progressive Congress (APC) seeking to reverse the judgment of the Taraba State Governorship Election Tribunal, which affirmed the re-election of Governor Darius Ishaku of the Peoples Democratic Party in the March 9, 2019 governorship poll in the state.
Already, there is mounting tension in the state among supporters of the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, ahead of the judgment.
This is demonstrated by their large turn up in Abuja where the judgment will be delivered.
A three-man panel of the tribunal led by Justice M.O. Adewara had in a unanimous judgment of September 20, 2019, dismissed the petition by the APC and its candidate, Abubakar Danladi on the grounds that the petitioners failed to prove their claims that the election was marred by irregularities and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
The tribunal further held that Danladi was not qualified to contest the March 9 governorship election.
It would be recalled that before the March 9, 2019 governorship election, the Federal High Court sitting in Jalingo, Taraba State, had disqualfied Danladi and equally restrained his political party, the APC from Fielding him as a governorship candidate.
Attempts by Danladi to overturn the order of the Federal High Court that disqualified him were unsuccessful at Court of Appeal and Supreme Court respectively.
Following the above development, the petitioners had on July 10, 2019, withdrew the petition on ground of the disqualification of Abubakar Danladi by the Supreme Court and the petition was accordingly disimissed.
However, on July 13, 2019, the petitioners filed a motion and prayed for an order setting aside the order of dismissal and asked that the petition be relisted.
The tribunal on August 9, 2019 granted the petitioners motion, set aside the order of dismissal of the petition and  same was relisted, thereafter, Danladi ceased to participate in the proceedings.
Delivering its judgement after close of hearing, the tribunal held that a Federal High Court in Taraba State had given a judgment on March 6, 2019, in a suit marked FHC/JAL/CS/01/2019, disqualifying Danladi from contesting the election.
It noted that the affirmation of the judgment by the Supreme Court implied that the APC had no valid candidate in the election.
Besides, the tribunal explained further that even if the petition was to be considered on the merits, the petitioners failed to lead  sufficient evidence to establish their claims that the governor was not validly elected by a majority of lawful votes.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of the tribunal, the All Progressive Congress, without its candidate, Danladi, approached the Court of Appeal marked CA/A/EPT/934/2019, on October 3, 2019, in petition No: EPT/TR/GOV/01/2019, for an order setting aside the decision of the tribunal.
In the said notice of appeal, the party contended that the tribunal erred in law and occasion a miscarriage of Justice in arriving at its decision dismissing the petition.
Meantime, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the Court of Appeal to dismiss the appeal with punitive cost as same is frivolous and unmeriterious.
The party in its brief of argument filed by its counsel, Chief Solo Akuma (SAN) noted that the appeal by the APC did not include the name of its candidate, Danladi as a person who would be directly affected by the outcome of the appeal.
Citing several case laws, Akuma argued technically,  that a party to a suit is not allowed to unilaterally alter a case as constituted from the trial court and that names of parties must be maintained on appeal except as may be ordered by the court.
He submitted that, the unilateral alteration of the parties in the petition, as shown on the face of the notice of appeal, without the name of Danladi, who was  the first petitioner at the tribunal renders the said notice of appeal incompetent and liable to be struck out.
Akuma specifically drew the attention of the Court of Appeal to its decision wherein it held thus: “It is now trite law that an appellant or a party seeking to appeal as an interested party cannot rearrange or reconstitute the parties to an action as constituted in the lower court at appellate court. The parties on record at the lower court must be retained at appellate level…the structure of the parties cannot by unilaterally changed or amended by any of the parties to an appeal.”
On the merit of the appeal, the PDP urged the Court of Appeal to hold that the appeal lacks merit and should be accordingly struck out.
The Court of Appeal is expected to give judgment today after the adoption of briefs of arguments by counsel to parties in the appeal.

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Cleric Tasks Leaders On Citizens’ Welfare

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A High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State capital, presided over by Hon. Justice E. Ita has ordered Governor Ben Ayade to conduct local government elections in the State.
The Court in a Suit No: HC/514/2018 filed by the APC through their Lawyer, Chief (Barr.) Utum Eteng against Governor Ben Ayade and the State Attorney-General, frowned seriously on the action of the defendants and stated that there was no alternative to obeying the constitution and the law in the matter of this nature.
The Court held that it is a breach of section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution for Gov. Ayade not to conduct election to usher in a democratically elected Local Government as stipulated by section 7(1) of the constitution and section 2(1) of the CRS Local Govt. Law 2007. The Court said that more than three years after the expiration in December, 2018 of the democratically Local Government Councils put in place in December, 2015 by the Gov. Liyel Imoke led State Government the Ayade Government had not found it proper to do the needful by conducting Local Government elections into the 18 Local Government Councils in the State.
The Court also held that the representation put in place by APC members, Engr. Obono Onen, Ekaha Effiom, Hon. Polycab Effiom, Rt. Hon. Mkpanam Obo Ekpo and Benedict Lukpata, representing other APC Chairmanship candidates to the 18 Local Government Councils was in order pursuant to the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2008.
The APC had stated that Gov. Ayade and the CRSG had no constitutional power to stop conducting local government elections in the eighteen local government areas in the state. The APC was represented by Chief Utum Eteng, who led two other lawyers from his chambers, Barrister Jude Otakpor and Ihua-Maduenyi.
They commended the Court for being on the side of the clear and unambiguous provision of section 7(1) of the 1999 constitution.

 

By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar

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Polls: SERAP Wants ICPC To Probe APC, PDP, Security Officials

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate whether the persistent crimes of corruption, violence and killings during elections in Nigeria, most recently in Bayelsa and Kogi states, and the repeated failure of the Nigerian authorities to address the crimes amount to violence against Nigerians and crimes against humanity.
The petition dated 16 November, 2019 was sent to Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor, ICC.
The organization urged Ms Bensouda: “to push for those suspected to be responsible for these crimes, mostly security officials, officials of the two main political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and other actors who contributed to the corruption, violence and killings during the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states, and are therefore complicit in the crimes, to be tried by the ICC.”
In the petition signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “The events in the Bayelsa and Kogi elections suggest criminal conduct within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
“The incidents of bribery and corruption, intimidation and violence witnessed in Bayelsa and Kogi states also strike at the integrity of the democratic process and seriously undermine President Muhammadu Buhari’s oft-expressed commitment to fight corruption and end impunity of perpetrators.
“The desire for power at all costs by politicians undermines Nigerians’ rights to open, transparent and accountable government that respects human rights and observe the rule of law. Election-related corruption and violence make public officials susceptible to corrupt incentives.
“The Nigerian authorities over the years have been unwilling and/or unable to prosecute suspected perpetrators of election-related corruption, violence and killings, which in turn has promoted the sense of impunity and emboldened those politicians and their accomplices who continue to commit these crimes against the Nigerian people during election periods.
“The violent events witnessed in the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states suggest the lack of political will by the authorities and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to respect the sanctity and integrity of the electoral system and to apply criminal sanctions to perpetrators of corruption, violence and killings during elections.

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