President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the review of the National Broadcasting Code and extant broadcasting laws to reflect stiffer penalties for violators of broadcasting regulations.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this, yesterday, in Abuja while inaugurating the National Broadcasting Commission Reform Implementation Committee, said that the President specifically approved the upward review of fines from N500,000 to N5million for breaches relating to hate speeches, inciting comments and indecency.
He said the President also approved that wilful repeat of infractions on three occasions after levying fine on a station should attract suspension of license.
The minister said Buhari also approved the upgrade of breach of political comments relating to hate speeches and divisive comments to “Class A” offence in the Broadcasting Code.
The President has also endorsed the implementation of reforms to end all forms of monopoly detrimental to the actualisation of the immense potential of the broadcast industry.
Other approvals by the President, according to the minister, are “Amendment of the NBC Act to enable NBC license WebTV and radio stations, including foreign broadcasters beam signals into Nigeria.
“Recruitment of more monitoring staff for the NBC. At the moment, there are only about 200 staff monitoring about 1,000 radio and television stations.
“Deployment of adequate monitoring equipment and technologies for the NBC and enhancement of welfare packages of NBC staff to avoid their being compromised in the line of duty”.
The President, according to the minister, said that the reviewed code must also ensure the independence of the NBC from political interference in the exercise of its regulatory powers, particularly with respect to the issuance and withdrawal of broadcasting license.
Mohammed said the decisions were a sequel to the deliberations at the Federal Executive Council meeting of March 27, on the unprofessional and unethical conduct of some broadcast stations, especially before and during the last general election.
“The President directed me to institute an inquiry into the conduct of the stations and report back to the council
“Consequently, I inaugurated a five-member committee on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 with the following terms of reference: ‘To find out to what extent the NBC was able to effectively carry out its regulatory role before and during the 2019 general election.
“Recommend measures that could strengthen NBC’s regulatory role and make it more effective.
“The committee submitted its report on April 24, 2019, with 26 recommendations, and I subsequently forwarded the report to Mr. President, who has since approved them’,” he said.
The minister, therefore, charged the reform implementation committee to carry out a thorough job that will reposition the NBC as a effective and efficient regulator.
The Terms of Reference of the Implementation Committee, as listed by the minister, include to immediately commence work on all statutory, legal and regulatory framework for further legislative action on the review of the NBC Act by the National Assembly; to immediately assess and propose equipment, materials and training needed to make the NBC a modern and well-positioned regulator and to liaise with relevant agencies to ensure the provision of the manpower needs of the commission to enable it function optimally.
He also said the committee is to immediately establish and publicize a new sanctioning, fines and penalty regime that is in line with international best practice, promote professionalism and serve as a deterrent to erring practitioners against misconduct, especially hate speech, violence and spread of fake news.
The committee is also saddled with the responsibility of establishing and publishing a new regulation for the licensing of Web and Internet broadcasters/International broadcasters in Nigeria, in addition to ending all forms of monopoly detrimental to the actualization of the immense potential of the broadcast industry.
The committee is chaired by the Director, Broadcast Monitoring of NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, while the Chief Press Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr. Joe Mutah, will serve as Secretary.
Other members are Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa, Acting Chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON); Mr. J.K. Ehicheoya, Esq, Director, Legal Services, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture; Hajia Binta Adamu Bello, Secretary General, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON); Mr. Ibrahim Jimoh, Director of Administration, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria; Hon. Agbo Kingsley Ndubuisi, Board Member, NBC, as members.
Meanwhile, the committee has six weeks to submit its report.
Also, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, declined to comment on the outcome of his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The agenda of the meeting between Buhari and Jonathan, which lasted for about 15 minutes, was not made known to newsmen.
The former president, who was escorted to his car by the State Chief of Protocol, Amb Lawal Kazaure, only answered greetings from State House correspondents and other staff.
When journalists tried to find out details of what transpired between him and Buhari, Jonathan simply shunned them, and hoped into his car, and drove off.
It would be recalled that Jonathan and Buhari had met behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja to discuss a number of national issues.
The former president arrived the State House at 3.00p.m, and went straight to the President’s office for the meeting.
The former president, who was visiting the Presidential Villa for the fifth time since the swearing-in of the Buhari administration on May 29, 2015, was last seen in the State House in 2016.
S’Court Validates Ganduje, Tambuwal, Bala, Lalong’s Elections …Wike Hails Sokoto Gov, People, As PDP, APC, Govs, Rejoice
The Supreme Court, yesterday, upheld the election of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State.
The apex court, in a unanimous judgement by a seven-man panel of Justices that was led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, dismissed an appeal the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Abba Yusuf, filed to challenge the outcome of the last governorship election in the state.
Yusuf had in his appeal marked SC/1450/2019, prayed the Supreme Court to set aside the concurrent decision of both the Kano Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, which affirmed Ganduje’s re-election.
The appellant contended that he scored the highest votes at the governorship contest that held on March 9, 2019, and satisfying section 179 (2) (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
In the notice of appeal he filed on November 30, he alleged that the Kano State Returning Officer had after results of 44 local government areas were declared, cancelled results in 207 polling units in the state and declared the election as inconclusive and scheduled a re-run election for March 23, 2019.
However, in its lead judgement that was delivered by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, yesterday, the Supreme Court, said it saw no reason to dislodge the judgements of the two lower courts.
It held that facts the PDP candidate adduced before it was inconsistent with the sole ground of his appeal, adding that he failed to demonstrate that judgements of the two lower courts were perverse.
Reacting, the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), has called on the opposition to come and join hands with him for the continued development of the state.
“We thank Allah for the victory that made it possible for the Supreme Court to reaffirm our victory after Election Petition Tribunal and Court of Appeal judgments. We also thank Kano people for a peaceful conduct of their affairs,” says the governor.
The governor, who spoke through his Press Secretary, Abba Anwar, also commended the Supreme Court judges that partook in the judgment while praising the Judiciary for strengthening democracy.
“We also commend all the Judges who partook in this exercise of deepening democracy. This shows the commitment of our Judiciary in strengthening our democracy. This is highly commendable,” he said.
He further called on the opposition to join hands with the government to move the state forward.
“I insist that our opposition should come and join us to move the state forward. We have a lot of developmental projects on the ground. And more are coming. Our free and compulsory education policy needs all hands on deck. Our security system also needs all and sundry, among others,” he said.
Following the victory of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of the ruling APC, the Kano State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Rabiu Sulaiman Bichi declared that they have accepted the judgement of the court in good faith.
“We are grateful to Almighty God for the current situation.
“As you know we were at the High Court where the decision was not in our favor and we went for appeal, there too it was not in our favor. We then exploited the final option and went to the Supreme Court.
“We have accepted the final judgement and we will forge ahead to move our party forward.”
The state PDP chairman also made called on party supporters to remain calm and steadfast and not to engage in any form of crises.
“My call to our supporters is for them to remain calm over the recent development. Let’s put hands together to move our party forward.”
Meanwhile, supporters of Governor Ganduje are trooping to the Government House to show support and celebrate the Supreme Court victory where party musicians are busy displaying their talents.
Security has been beefed up across the metropolis to avoid any break down of law and order.
Also, the ancient city of Kano, yesterday morning broke out in jubilation as the news of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s victory at the Supreme Court filtered in.
Our reporter observed that millions of residents deferred the cold weather and gathered in groups to discuss the Ganduje victory with happiness.
The anxiety that enveloped the ancient commercial city naturally melted away, as people were seen going about their duties without apprehension.
Reacting to Ganduje’s victory, Commissioner of Information and Culture, Malam Muhammad Garba, said it was the will of God and the desire of the people.
According to him: “We are most grateful to the Almighty God for this victory. This is not the victory for Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje alone, it is a victory for the good people of Kano state.
“We call on the Peoples Democratic Party to maintain peace and accept this verdict in good faith. This the real confirmation of our journey to The Next Level “
Similarly, the Supreme Court, yesterday, affirmed Aminu Tambuwal of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the valid winner of the last governorship election in Sokoto State.
The apex court dismissed an appeal the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the state, Ahmed Sokoto, filed to challenge Tambuwal’s re-election.
A seven-man panel of justices of the court headed by Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, held that the appellant failed to adduce any credible evidence to prove his petition against the outcome of the governorship election.
Justice Musa Abba-Ajji, who delivered the lead judgement, noted that whereas the appellant produced 12 witnesses before the tribunal, 11 of made their statements in the Hausa language while the English version was tendered in evidence.
It held that the appellant failed to tender the original version of the statements he tendered in evidence and also failed to produce the translator to confirm the authenticity or otherwise of the 11 statements.
Besides, the apex court held that the appellant was unable to prove that the election was invalid by virtue of non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
It held that he failed to discharge the onus placed on him by the law, and accordingly dismissed the appeal marked SC/1466/19.
Reacting to the judgment, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, congratulated the Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal over his resounding victory at the Supreme Court.
He described the victory as a confirmation of the overwhelming support given to him by the people of Sokoto.
“I enjoin Governor Tambuwal to work for the unity and growth of the state through an all inclusive governance,” he said in a statement signed by the state Information and Communications Commissioner, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim.
Wike also commended the Supreme Court for allowing the will of the people to prevail.
In their reaction, residents trooped out to almost all streets in Sokoto metropolis celebrating the affirmation of Aminu Tambuwal as the duly elected governor of Sokoto State by the Supreme Court, yesterday.
It was observed that the crowd, mostly youths, trooped to the streets chanting songs in favour of Peoples Democratic Party and Tambuwal.
Some of the crowded streets include Fodio road, Runjin Sambo, Usmanu Danfodiyo University road, Old market, Gobirawa, and Rijiya, among others.
The All Progressives Congress governorship candidate, Alhaji Ahmad Aliyu, had, on December 4, 2019, appealed the judgement of both the election petition tribunal and the Appeal Court at the Supreme Court for upholding Tambuwal’s election.
The Supreme Court, yesterday in Abuja, however, upheld the election of Tambuwal as the duly elected governor of the state, and dismissed the appeal by APC and Aliyu for lacking in merit.
One of the youth Aliyu Usman, who spoke with newsmen, thanked God for the governor’s success at the apex court.
Usman said the jubilation was to show gratitude to God over the victory of Tambuwal, insisting that the apex court’s decision was “an affirmation of the real mandate of the people.”
The Supreme Court also, yesterday, upheld the election of Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State.
The court, in a unanimous judgement by a seven-man panel of justices led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, dismissed appeal candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Jeremiah Useni, filed to challenge the outcome of the governorship election that held in the state on March 9, 2019.
In its lead judgement that was read by Justice Paul Galinje, the Supreme Court said it found no reason to disturb the concurrent decisions of both the tribunal and the Court of Appeal that returned Lalong of the All Progressive Congress (APC), as duly elected.
In his reaction, Plateau State Governor and Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Simon Lalong, said the affirmation of his election victory by the Supreme Court has finally sealed and confirmed beyond further questioning the overwhelming mandate willingly bestowed on him by the good people of Plateau State.
The governor while reacting to the Supreme Court judgement said all along he was never in doubt as to the validity of his mandate as he did not only campaign and engaged all stakeholders, but also delivered on his campaign promises during the first tenure which endeared the people to him.
He said “I again dedicate this victory to God and the people of Plateau State irrespective of their political, social, religious or ethnic affiliations. The highest court in the land has stamped the mandate I was given and this means that our administration is now clear of litigation distractions.
“The time now is for governance and actualisation of our next level agenda encapsulated in our 3 point vision of peace, security and good governance; Infrastructural development and sustainable economic rebirth”.
The governor, in a statement by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Makut Macham, repeated his call to the opposition to join hands with him in developing the state and pursuing projects and programmes that will promote lasting legacies for the people.
He asked the people to intensify prayers for the peace and stability of the state which will enable rapid development to take place, and also thanked the Judiciary for their impartiality and contribution to consolidating democracy in the state and Nigeria as a whole.
In the same vein, the Supreme Court, yesterday, affirmed Bala Mohammed of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the duly elected governor of Bauchi State.
It dismissed an appeal marked SC/1502, which the immediate past governor of the state and candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Mohammed Abubakar, filed to challenge the outcome of the governorship election.
Justice Mohammed Dattijo, who delivered the lead judgement, held that the appellant failed to demonstrate the perversity in the concurrent findings of the Bauchi State Governorship Election Tribunal and the Court of Appeal in Jos.
Other members of the seven-man panel of justices concurred with the lead judgement.
However, both Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State and his Plateau counterpart, Simon Lalong, have lauded the Supreme Court judgements that affirmed their elections.
The two governors, who spoke with journalists after the judgements, yesterday in Abuja, said that the apex court had proved that the Judiciary was the last hope of the common men.
Mohammed said that the court verdict had confirmed his mandate and that it was now time to concentrate on quality governance.
“I want to appreciate the people of Bauchi State who have voted for me across party lines.
“I will make sure I work with them without discrimination. I will make sure I give them good governance and ensure nobody is excluded.
“I am extending hands of fellowship to the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mohammed Abubakar.
He should come and join hands with me so that we can continue from where he stopped,” Mohammed said.
Also reacting, Lalong said that the judgement had rekindled his confidence in the Judiciary as the last hope of the common man.
He thanked God that the litigation had finally ended at the Supreme Court, freeing him to fully concentrate on serving the Plateau people.
“I thank the good people of Plateau who voted for me. Today, their mandate is validated. I will continue to serve them with all my strength and energy,” Lalong said.
He appealed to the people of the state to quickly put the protracted litigation behind and unite toward building a prosperous state.
“The election has finished; litigation is over and it is now time to serve the people. For me, I am going to embrace the opponent, especially our father, Sen Jerry Useni, who brought us through this journey.
“I know he is not tired. We will make sure we tap from his experience so as to build a state we shall all be happy to call our own,” Lalong said.
The Supreme Court yesterday affirmed the election of Mohammed.
Also, the apex court struck out the appeal challenging the return of Simon Lalong as duly elected governor of Plateau State.
The court in a unanimous judgement held that the appellants, Sen. Jeremiah Useni and the PDP, failed to prove allegations made against the victory of Lalong of APC in the March 9 governorship election in Plateau.
Nevertheless, the atmosphere remained calm in Bauchi, yesterday in spite of the confirmation of Governor Bala Mohammed of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) as the duly elected governor of the state by the Supreme Court.
The people went about their normal businesses, just as there were no incidents of wild celebrations as anticipated.
It would be recalled that the State Police Command had prohibited any form of celebration as a precautionary measure to guard against any breach of the peace.
Speaking shortly after the judgement was delivered, Bauchi State Commissioner of Information, Dr Ladan Salihu, said the apex court had confirmed to the people of the state, the person they chose to be their leader.
According to him, it is indisputable that Mohammed won the election, describing the time and resources spent in challenging his victory in court as needless.
Salihu called on all people of the state, regardless of their political affiliation, to join hands with the governor and develop the state.
In his reaction, Publicity Secretary of PDP in Bauchi, Alhaji Yayanuwa Zainabari, attributed the victory of the governor at the apex court, to ‘Devine intervention’.
“We appreciate the governor’s supporters for their fervent prayers by keeping vigil at mosques.
“The victory could not have been possible without the divine intervention of God and the sacrifice of people through night prayers,” he said.
He assured that the present administration under PDP, would deliver on its mandate as it was evident in most of the projects embarked upon by Governor Bala Mohammad.
The party publicity secretary further called on everybody, including members of opposition parties, to come and join forces with the present administration in taking Bauchi to greater heights.
Also speaking, Minority Leader, Bauchi House of Assembly, Alhaji Bakoji Bobbo (PDP) said that the victory would ginger his party to deliver on its mandate to the people.
He said the issue of election had come and gone now, adding that the only task ahead was to face the electorate and all campaign promises.
The efforts to secure reactions of All Progressives Congress (APC) officials proved abortive as they had either switched off their telephones or refused to pick their calls.
The APC governorship candidate in the state, Mohammed Abubakar, had challenged the return of Mohammed as the duly elected governor of the state, alleging electoral malpractices and irregularities.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday congratulated Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, and his Plateau State counterpart, Simon Lalong, for their victory at the Supreme Court.
He, however, failed to congratulate Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, both of the Peoples Democratic Party, whose victories were upheld by the apex court.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President congratulated his party, the All Progressives Congress, for the Kano and Plateau victories.
The President said, “I am glad this tortuous journey has ended in favour of the party and our governors. APC won the states and has proved it in court. It would have been a major blow if strategically important states like Kano and Plateau are lost.’’
While congratulating all the APC governors that the Supreme Court affirmed their elections, Buhari urged the electorate and politicians to strengthen the country’s judicial processes by always seeking redress in court.
“It has now become standard procedure for the opposition to challenge any poll or judgement that does not return its candidates.
“Election is good when they win. The opposite is the case if someone else emerges. But that is not the way it works. Democracy is not only about who wins or who loses, but also about the process. In disparaging every unfavourable result or judgement, they disparage the entire system,” Buhari said.
Imo: Secondus, Obi, Others Lead PDP Protest In Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, reiterated its confidence in the possibility of the Supreme Court to reverse its decision on the Imo State governorship election.
The apex court, it would be recalled, had last week nullified the election of Emeka Ihedioha and directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to issue a certificate of return to Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Leading a peaceful protest across major flashpoints of Abuja, yesterday, the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said all the justices need to do was to review the judgment and correct “the error.”
Joined by prominent party members, including the party’s Vice Presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Mr. Peter Obi, former senator, Dino Melaye, former deputy speaker, House of Representatives, Austin Opara, among other top leaders of the party, Secondus said the protest was intended to draw the attention of the world on the need to safeguard democracy in the country.
The protest, which took off at the party’s Presidential Campaign Headquarters, also known as Legacy House, also took the protesters to the Three Arms Zone, amidst chants of solidarity songs.
The National Chairman of the PDP asked the justices of the Supreme Court to be magnanimous enough to accept the fact that they committed an error and should be ready to correct the error.
The party chairman advised the Executive arm of government to stop interfering in the judicial process as well as to stop interfering in official engagements of security agencies and the electoral body.
Secondus said, “We are a nation governed by law, therefore, all we are seeking today is for our very highly respected jurists at the highest court of the land to review the Imo judgment. We are not against you, we are against the error. And by the special grace of God, I know you will revisit the error.
“All we are saying is that for you to review this error because the figures are not adding up. We, therefore, call on the leadership of the judiciary, to please, we are all human. God is the highest.
“They should revisit and reverse the Imo judgement because we believe that the figures are not adding up. That is why we are here so that the world will hear us. We are a democratic nation, and therefore, all democratic nations of the world are hearing us – the United States, United Kingdom, even the United Nations, the African Union and ECOWAS.
“We believe that people at the highest court of the land will hear our cry today, and revisit, review, and if possible, reverse, the judgement. That is justice that will be done, not only to the people of Imo State but for Nigerians who are crying. This is time to show courage”.
Secondus commended party members for comporting themselves during the protest and ensuring that it was peaceful.
“The PDP is the most peaceful party, and the largest party and well organised party in Africa. I want to congratulate you all for coming from all the nooks and crannies of this country, peacefully to register our protest”, the chairman said.
A number of the party’s National Assembly members, former governors, and former federal legislators also participated in the protest.
There was however a mild drama during the protest when one of the open trucks conveying some of the protesters was said to have skipped off the road and fell on its side.
A few persons were said to have been injured in the accident, which the organisers described as a minor incidence.
On his part, Obi tasked APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to recall how he became governor a few years ago.
He said that but for an independent judiciary, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole would not have been governor of Edo State for eight years.
Obi said himself and Oshiomhole were able to reclaim their stolen mandate from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra and Edo states because the judiciary under the then PDP Presidency was neutral.
The PDP had denied Oshiomhole his governorship victory in Edo state in 2007, while Obi’s was stolen by the PDP in 2003, but their mandate was eventually restored by the Supreme Court. Oshiomhole was then in the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) while Obi was in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
Addressing a protest rally organised by the PDP in Abuja on Monday, Obi said himself and Oshiomhole would not have recovered their mandate if the Supreme Court at the time had been tele guided by the Executive arm, “as it’s being witnessed today under the present APC administration”.
The PDP had staged the protest against the apex court’s January 14 judgement which voided the election of Mr Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP as governor of Imo state and affirmed Senator Hope Uzodinma of the APC as replacement.
Describing the apex court’s judgment in the Imo case as injustice, Obi charged the APC administration to emulate the politics of magnanimity displayed by the PDP during its 16 years rein. He cautioned the APC against derailing the democratic process.
Obi said, “I am speaking here, not just as a leader of the PDP, but one of the beneficiaries of the PDP’s 16 years government of doing what is right.
“I was in a minority party, I won election and PDP did not intervene. I went to court, PDP did not intervene. I benefited from it.
“Adams Oshiomhole wouldn’t have been governor, he wouldn’t have been a beneficiary of the judiciary if the PDP did what APC is doing today. He benefited from it.
“So, as a beneficiary, I am appealing to the judiciary to save this country. What happened in Imo State is enough to kill our democracy. Let us ensure that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man. My appeal to APC, is, please, do not kill this democracy”.
Also speaking, Minority Leader of the Senate, Enyinaya Abaribe said, “we have only one message to the Judiciary: if the figures don’t match, review.
But as the PDP was protesting, members of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has thronged the major roads off the popular Abuja Eagle Square and federal secretariat located in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja in protest of the alleged miscarriage of Justice perpetrated by the supreme court over the Imo guber appeal judgment.
The crow-pulling protest has also slowed down human and vehicular movements in the affected areas of the metropolis.
Addressing the party faithfuls, supporters and sympathisers, the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus said, “We believe that our big men will hear our cry today to revisit, review and reverse the judgment.
“It is a Justice not only to the people of Imo but Nigerians as a whole.
“This is the time to show courage. The Executive arm of government should stop interfering with the judiciary in its bid to deliver judgment.
“Police, DSS should stop interfering and preventing protesters from carrying out legitimate democratic practices and protest.
“What we want to correct is the ‘judicial malaria’ that took place last week.
“Protest obtains in all democratic environments all over the world”.
But no sooner the PDP speech ended than scores of hoodlums trooped out from unknown places, carrying banners in the name of supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
They chanted the anti-PDP songs which instilled the phobia of possible violence and mayhem and consequently scared and dispersed passers-by close to the protest ground.
Part of their placards reads, “The PDP wanted to buy judgment but they failed and resorted to anarchy”.
However, as at the time of filing this report, it was observed that despite the ensued tensions, there was no fracas or violent confrontations as envisaged.
Similarly, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ebonyi State chapter, yesterday, blocked the entrance of the Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki as they protested along major streets of the state over the sack of the former governor of Imo State, Chief Emeka Ihedioha.
The party, however, gave the Nigerian Supreme Court 24 hours to reverse the judgement it delivered on the Imo State governorship election.
Speaking to journalists in Abakaliki, shortly after the protest, the South-East Zonal Chairman, Austin Umahi, said the declaration of Hope Uzodinma as the governor of Imo State was a rape of democracy.
Recall that the Supreme Court had last week sacked Governor Emeka Ihedioha of the PDP as Governor of Imo State, and declared Hope Uzodinma of APC as the winner of the election.
But, the judgement has been trailed by controversy and protest across the country.
However, the protest was carried out by over one thousands party faithful in the state, who marched around the city to protest what they described as injustice and a rape on the democracy in the country.
They were carrying placards with the following inscriptions “NJC must act now”, Imo Guber case: Supreme Court must revisit judgement, Ihedioha must return as Imo State governor, Save Democracy in Nigeria, Judiciary is now the lost hope of the common man,” et al.
They all wore black attire to signify that they were in a state of grief over the judgement.
According to Umahi, “We are giving them 24 hours to reverse the judgment or else Nigeria will never remain the same. If they don’t reverse the judgment, then democracy has been murdered in Nigeria,” he said.
Also responding, the state chairman of PDP, Barr. Onyekachi Nwabonyi, condemned the ruling by the apex court, adding that the judgment has turned the Judiciary, which is the last hope of the common man into a lost hope of the common man.
Also, the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party, joined its counterparts across the country to protest what it called unjust and unfair ruling of the Supreme Court on the governorship of Imo State.
The protesters numbering thousands marched through the major streets in Uyo, the state capital clad in black attire.
They were led by party leaders, state Chairman of PDP, Obong Paul Ekpo, National Legal Adviser, Mr. Emmanuel Enoidem, and State Publicity Secretary, Ini Ememobong.
Speaking, Emmanuel Enoidem said the judgement of the Supreme Court is not known to law and lacks legal precedence and regretted that the Judiciary which is the last hope of the common man has been compromised.
He pointed out that the removal of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Onnoghen was part of the plot by the Buhari led administration to penetrate the Judiciary.
“On behalf of the body of PDP at the National, I stand here to say that Nigeria and Akwa Ibom State is mourning.
We handed over power to the APC in 2015 in compliance with democratic best practice and since that day, Nigeria moved into anarchy under the leadership of Buhari.
“In November 2019, Atiku Abubakar and the PDP lost a petition because the Supreme Court said the PDP had not brought enough witnesses to prove their case but turned around to uphold the election of Hope Uzodimma when there were no unit witnesses.
“Was it only Uzodimma that had the whole votes in those polling units they added for him? What were the votes of the PDP and other parties in those polling units? These questions need answers so we know where we are going as a country. The declaration of Uzodimma as governor of Imo state has no legal standing”, he said.
The Deputy Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Princess Felicia Bassey who spoke on behalf of the state legislators, said the Supreme Court judgement was a clear rape on our democracy.
The state party Chairman, in a statement earlier, Paul Ekpo said, the solidarity March was important because silence in the face of tyrannical occurrences may be interpreted as acquiescence.
“The March is to register our displeasure over the recent political robbery in Imo state, where the apex court strangely computed and announced results which are contradictory with the existing reality, in the Governorship elections which held in March 2019,” he said.
On his part, Chairman of ALGON, Mr Frank Archibong, who spoke for chairmen of the 31 local government councils in the state lamented, “When the Judiciary becomes compromised in a democratic dispensation, it means there is no hope for Nigerians”.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, said that it still stands by its declarations for the 2019 elections despite the Supreme Court judgments that reversed some of the election results declared by the commission.
The commission has recently come under severe criticism following the reversal of the Imo State governorship election by the apex court.
INEC in the Imo governorship election had declared the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Emeka Ihedioha winner with 273,404 votes, while the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Hope Uzodinma who was returned by the Supreme as the authentic winner was placed fourth with 96,458 votes by INEC.
The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC National Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, in a chat with newsmen, yesterday, stated that “once INEC makes a declaration, it stands by it”.
According to him, “the law provides for any aggrieved party or candidate to go to the Election Petitions Tribunal to contest a declared election result. Once INEC makes a declaration, it stands by it”.
Giving graphic detail of the conduct of the 2019 general elections, Oyekanmi, observed that, “a total of 807 post-election petitions were filed at the tribunals after the 2019 general election. Out of these, 582 were dismissed, 183 were withdrawn by the petitioners and 30 reruns were ordered.
“About 12 Certificates of Return have also been issued. When you consider the fact that elections were conducted into 1,558 constituencies for the 2019 general elections, you will agree with me that the overall elections have by far been credible, free and fair”.
On the use of university vice chancellors as returning officers for future elections, which has also been criticized, the commission disclosed that no decision has been reached whether to review the use of certain categories of academic staff of federal universities as returning officers.
It added that “while it is true that some of them made mistakes as human beings during the 2019 General Election, most of them performed excellently”.
On the January 25 rerun elections INEC revealed that, “our template for the conduct of elections has not changed since our actions are guided by the extant laws.
“The voting and declaration procedures have not changed. For instance, the Smart Card Readers will still be used and the “People’s Result Sheet” will still be pasted at a conspicuous place at the polling unit level where the rerun elections will take place. The Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) will also be used and it is fact compulsory. No PVC, no voting. Besides, the system of simultaneous accreditation and voting will also apply”.
“There is no proliferation of INEC sensitive materials and politicians do not have access to them. To be sure, our sensitive materials have special security features. If any politician is found with any sensitive material, it must be fake and such politician will be arrested and prosecuted.”
2023: Ohanaeze Backs S’South For Presidency …Threatens Another Civil War
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide has agreed to allow the South-South region to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 presidency.
It would be recalled that South-South elders had last weekend declared that the 2023 presidency should be ceded to the zone to avert crisis.
The elders argued that giving 2023 presidency to the North would tear Nigeria apart, as the expiration of Buhari’s tenure completes North’s two tenures of straight eight years.
The National Publicity Secretary of Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe, had said the South-South has used just one tenure, adding that it was only fair to allow the zone to produce the next president for another four years to complete the zone’s second tenure.
Reacting to PANDEF’s argument, yesterday, Ohanaeze, in a statement sent made available to newsmen and signed by the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, agreed to support the move by South-South, warning that any move by the government to hand over the presidency to the North would lead to another civil war.
The Igbo group called on Nigerians to unite and produce a Christian president from the South to ensure progress and security, stressing that “It is an invitation to anarchy and suicidal for a Muslim North or Muslim South to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari”.
The statement read: “The position of the South-South Elders Forum led by Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe on the North’s aspirations to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari by undemocratic elements, and any attempt by these Northern cabals to destroy the unconventional agreement of rotational presidency between North and South, will definitely plunge Nigeria into another civil war, civil disobedience and civil unrest.
“In a multi-facets democracy like ours where religion and ethnicity play a major role in our democracy, OYC advocates in 2023, that Nigeria should produce a Christian president from the South to ensure progress and security.
“It’s an invitation to anarchy and suicidal for a Muslim North or Muslim South to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari but definitely a Christian southerner is what is ideal.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide observed that in the 20 years of Nigeria’s democracy, Igbos supported Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan and Buhari, and deserve the support from Nigerians across-the-board, especially the Niger Delta in 2023.
“It’s on record that during 2011 and 2015, Igbo votes for Jonathan exceeded that of the entire South-South votes for Jonathan, the allusion the South-South will do one term is a ruse, as it’s only Goodluck Jonathan that is limited by Nigeria’s Constitution for one tenure until he declares interest. 2023 Igbo Presidency project remains the hope of Nigeria.
“We advise Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe to follow up with the footsteps of the leader of Niger Delta, and Elder Statesman, Pa Edwin Clark, who had declared support for 2023 Igbo Presidency project for peace, justice, and fairness.
“Apart from Goodluck Jonathan, every other South-South aspirants are entitled to the constitutional provision of two terms. So, OYC urges Sara-Igbe to support Igbo Presidency project as he observed that Igbos had never been in the saddle 50 years after the Biafra War.
“OYC wishes to correct an erroneous but false impression, that the North doubts Igbo’s sincerity of Igbo Presidency project over Biafra, as a myth of falsehood created by proponents of instability and undemocratic anarchists fanning the embers of disintegration and unity of our beloved country through promotion of hate and malice, with evil intent aimed at halting a Nigerian President of Igbo stock in 2023 through the spread of lies against Igbos, who are more Nigerians than tribe with investments worth over N221trillion in the North.
“We wish to remind Sara-Igbe that it was resource control agitation being championed by the Niger Delta that led to the compensation for Jonathan’s six years presidency.
“It was the activities of Boko Haram and insecurity in the North that motivated Nigerians to support President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, and it was NADECO and OPC militia activities that led to Olusegun Obasanjo’s Presidency in 1999.
“So, definitely, Igbos are looking for Igbo Presidency in 2023, and Biafra agitation, which includes South-South region is now championed by their prominent son, Alhaji Mujihad Asari Dokubo, who is the supreme leader of the Biafra National Council.
“Definitely, it is the turn of South-South region to support a Nigerian President of Igbo stock in 2023 for posterity sake”, the group argued.
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