Local Government Electoral Officers (EOs) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have confirmed that governorship election held in all the 23 local government areas of Rivers State.
Testifying at the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, yesterday, five INEC Electoral Officers stated that the governorship election on March 9, 2019 was conducted in line with the Electoral Act and INEC Guidelines.
Speaking during a cross-examination by African Democratic Party’s lawyer, Dolapo Tella-Attoni, INEC Electoral Officer for Okrika, Okemanu Clems Okechukwu, stated that the election held in all the 12 wards of the LGA.
He noted that the result sheets from all the wards were signed by him and transmitted to the INEC office at the state level.
Also answering questions from 2nd Respondent, Governor Nyesom Wike’s lawyer, Okey Wali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Okemanu Clems Okechukwu noted that “materials were received and results announced at various polling units. The results were properly signed by INEC and party agents present”.
Also testifying before the Justice J. A. Orjiako-led panel, Patrick Uzoka, Electoral Officer for Degema Local Government Area, stated that result sheets from the polling units of the wards in the LGA were signed and recorded by INEC officials on duty.
Reacting on question of violence in the area during the election, he said, “I did not get report from any party agents that the results announced were concocted, and I did not also receive any report of violence during the election.”
He noted that some units were cancelled, and added that he did not notice presence of an ADP agent at the collation centre.
The Election Officer for Omuma LGA, Ijeoma Obari, told the tribunal that no official or party agents made any lawful allegation against the governorship election as regards to Omuma.
He added, “We conducted ourselves in accordance with guidelines issued by INEC.”
The INEC Electoral Officer of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area, David Edak stated that the Governorship Election in the area was conducted under a peaceful atmosphere, adding that the voting was devoid of violence.
The Electoral Officer for Ikwerre Local Government Area, Stephen Koko Bassey said that the Governorship Election held peacefully in the area.
Speaking with journalists outside the courtroom, Attorney for INEC, Dr Garba Tetengi (SAN), noted that five INEC witnesses testified in court.
He disclosed that the commission still has seven days to present more witnesses.
“We have called five witnesses today and we will continue tomorrow. We have seven days to conclude our own witness testimonies. By our reply we have listed 24 witnesses, but from the way the petition was presented, the evidence given will decide as to the number of witnesses we will call.
“The five witnesses are all Electoral Officers of INEC in Ikwerre, Omuma, Degema, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni and Okrika Local Government Areas.”
Meanwhile, the African Democratic Party (ADP) candidate in the March 9, 2019 gubernatorial election in Rivers State, Victor Fingesi has denied being an ex-convict, but admitted that he couldn’t complete his university education at the University of California in the United States of America.
Testifying during cross-examination by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Counsel, Godwin Obla, SAN, at the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, Fingesi said he scored 1,860 votes during the March 9 Governorship election.
He also admitted during cross-examination that he did not restrict himself at his voting unit during the election, and also visited other polling units in his Ward 9, Okrika Local Government Area.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Port Harcourt, had last Tuesday, stopped four witnesses from testifying for the Action Democratic Party (ADP), against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), PDP and Governor Nyesom Wike, because their statements didn’t align with the INEC press statements tendered in court as exhibits.
The Counsel to Governor Wike, Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, had reminded the court that all evidence by the witnesses must be in alignment with the press statements made by INEC on March 10 and 15, 2019.
Trans-Kalabari Road: Banigo, Stakeholders Condemn Abduction Of Expatriate
Kalabari traditional rulers and stakeholders have condemned the recent abduction of an expatriate staff of Lubric Construction Company working on the Trans-Kalabari Road.
Speaking at a meeting at the Government House in Port Harcourt, last Friday, Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo said she was deeply pained by the unfortunate incident carried out by unknown miscreants.
According to the deputy governor, who said that the State Chief Executive Officer, Nyesom Wike, was desirous to bring more development projects to Kalabari Kingdom, regretted that this act was capable of discouraging him.
“I want to reiterate that our governor is very desirous to do more developmental projects in our communities, there are many more things he has in the card to do for us, and if we allow this ugly thing to surface, that attitude will discourage him”, the deputy governor noted.
Banigo, who said that perpetrators of the heinous crime did not drop from the sky, insisted that they were community people, and must be fished out and dealt with decisively, while calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the abductee.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Chief Ferdinand Alabraba, expressed regrets that a project as important as the Trans-Kalabari Road would be tampered with by persons who do not mean well for the Kalabari people.
“If their intention is to run down the good works of our dear governor, over a project which the Kalabari people have been yearning for over the years, then, I am sure God Almighty will not allow them to get away with this dastardly act of kidnapping one expatriate”, Alabraba stressed.
Alabraba further said, “It is important that we talk to ourselves and ensure that everything possible is done to ensure immediate release of the victim, and ensure that measures are put in place to forestall this type of thing in the future”.
Presenting a seven-point communique, Amanyanabo of Minama, King Iboroma Talbot Pokubo, who represented the Amanyanabo of Abonnema, King Disreal Gbobo Bobmanuel, demanded for the immediate and unconditional release of the expatriate, and reassured Governor Wike of their unwavering support for the governor.
Buhari Approves Incorporation Of NNPC, Appoints Board Members
President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited be incorporated.
He also approved the appointment of the Board and Management of the NNPC Limited with Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as chairman.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari, was appointed chief executive officer.
This was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, saying that the president acted in accordance with the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
The statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari, in his capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources, has directed the incorporation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.
“This is in consonance with Section 53(1) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, which requires the Minister of Petroleum Resources to cause for the incorporation of the NNPC Limited within six months of commencement of the Act in consultation with the Minister of Finance on the nominal shares of the company.
“The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Mele Kolo Kyari, has, therefore, been directed to take necessary steps to ensure that the incorporation of the NNPC Limited is consistent with the provisions of the PIA 2021.
“Also, by the power vested in him under Section 59(2) of the PIA 2021, President Buhari has approved the appointment of the Board and Management of the NNPC Limited, with effect from the date of incorporation of the company.
“Chairman of the board is Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, while Mele Kolo Kyari and Umar I. Ajiya are chief executive officer, and chief financial officer, respectively.
“Other board members are; Dr Tajudeen Umar (North-East); Mrs Lami O. Ahmed (North-Central); Mallam Mohammed Lawal (North-West); Senator Margaret Chuba Okadigbo (South-East), Barrister Constance Harry Marshal (South-South); and Chief Pius Akinyelure (South-West).”
Reject Buhari’s Fresh Loan Request, SERAP Tells NASS
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; to reject the fresh request by President Muhammadu Buhari, to borrow $4billion and €710million.
SERAP said if such request must be granted, the Federal Government should publish details of spending of all loans obtained since May 29, 2015.
The group also expressed fear that if the fresh request is granted, it may take Nigeria’s to over N35trillion.
Buhari recently sought the approval of the National Assembly to borrow $4,054,476,863 and €710million, on the grounds of “emerging needs.”
The request was contained in a letter dated August 24, 2021.
In an open letter dated September 18, 2021, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation expressed “concerns about the growing debt crisis, the lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of loans that have been obtained, and the perceived unwillingness or inability of the National Assembly to vigorously exercise its constitutional duties to check the apparently indiscriminate borrowing by the government.”
SERAP said, “The National Assembly should not allow the government to accumulate unsustainable levels of debt, and use the country’s scarce resources for staggering and crippling debt service payments rather than for improved access of poor and vulnerable Nigerians to basic public services and human rights.
“The country’s public debt has mushroomed with no end in sight. The growing national debt is clearly not sustainable. There has been no serious attempt by the government to cut the cost of governance. The leadership of the National Assembly ought to stand up for Nigerians by asserting the body’s constitutional powers to ensure limits on national debt and deficits.
“Should the National Assembly and its leadership fail to rein in government borrowing, and to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of public loans, SERAP would consider appropriate legal action to compel the National Assembly to discharge its constitutional duties.
“SERAP notes that if approved, the country’s debts will exceed N35trillion. The government is also reportedly pushing the maturity of currently-secured loans to between 10 and 30 years. N11.679trillion is reportedly committed into debt servicing, while only N8.31trillion was expended on capital/development expenditure between 2015 and 2020.
“Ensuring transparency and accountability in the spending of loans by the government and cutting the cost of governance would address the onerous debt servicing, and improve the ability of the government to meet the country’s international obligations to use maximum available resources to ensure the enjoyment of basic economic and social rights, such as quality healthcare and education”, SERAP added.
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