The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned the actions and utterances of political actors were likely to militate against peaceful conduct of the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State.
The National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood, who spoke, yesterday, when he visited the office of the Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council in Yenagoa, said unguarded actions and utterances of politicians could lead to the breach of peace during electioneering, voting and collation of results.
Mahmood, who was accompanied by senior officials of the commission and security agencies led by the Zone 5 Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Dibal Yakadi, also complained about the use of armed thugs to disrupt the voting and the collation processes.
Describing Bayelsa and Kogi as the most difficult states to conduct major elections, Mahmood further said the commission was further bothered about the ugly trend of voting buying insisting that democracy should not be on sale in the open market.
He said the commission was deploying 10,000 ad-hoc employees in different parts of Bayelsa for the exercise, adding that INEC would not allow anybody to attack them.
Addressing the council led by the Amayanabo of Twon Brass, King Alfred Diette-Spiff, the INEC boss said: “We have a few areas of concern.
“The first one is action and utterances likely to lead to the breach of the peace during electioneering campaign, during voting on the Election Day and during the collation of results.
“In 2015, up to the eight local government areas in Bayelsa State, we conducted elections conclusively and made declaration of results only in one local government area, Kolokuma-Opokuma.
“I have been asking all my friends in Bayelsa, what makes Kolokuma-Opokuma thick?
“Today, I have the opportunity finally to actually visit Kolokuma-Opokuma and I was in Kaiama and the staff assured us that just as it happened in 2015, it will happen again.
“Next is the recurrent problem where some unscrupulous actors follow voters to polling units with money on Election Day to induce them. It is called vote buying.
“Our democracy cannot be on sale in the open market. The citizens should be allowed to vote for whoever they choose in the Election Day.
“We appeal to you to continue to speak to politicians and their supporters on peaceful conduct during the campaign process and beyond”.
On why all eyes would be on Bayelsa and Kogi, Mahmood said: “First, this will be the first major election since the 2019 general election in Nigeria.
“What lessons have we learnt since the conduct of the general election that will help us to improve on the forthcoming governorship election?
“Secondly, Bayelsa and Kogi are not easy states when it comes to conducting major elections particularly governorship election.
“The challenge is particularly in terms of the terrain, and therefore, it has an impact on electoral logistics.
“But another great challenge is the attitude of the political class which has become a source of concern to the commission”.
The professor also said that the House of Assembly election would hold in Brass Constituency 2 in Brass Local Government Area on the same day scheduled for the governorship election.
Mahmood said the commission was ready to conduct peaceful, free, fair, credible and conclusive election in Bayelsa and appealed to the traditional rulers to make suggestions and contributions that would change the narrative in Bayelsa.
Ditte-Spiff commended INEC for seeking the advice of the traditional rulers in the state and appealed to the commission to prevail on security agencies to reduce military presence during the election.
Addressing Mahmood, he said: “The military presence in the last election was too much.
“They were brought here by one or two candidates. They also after the election eliminated one or two persons.
“You will need to appeal to the army in particular to try to contain their men so that they would not go off the handle and scare people away from the polling units. One or two areas are not approachable.”
Meanwhile, the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad has approved the request of the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Ndutimi Alaibe for the transfer of his suit against the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), flag bearer of the party, Senator Douye Diri over the disputed September 3 governorship primaries of the party in the state.
The presiding Judge of the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa, Justice Jane Inyang, while announcing her decision to accede to the directive of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, said the decision was based on the request of Chief Ndutimi Alaibe, dated September 27, 2019 and received by her Court on October 10, 2019.
According to her, Chief Ndutimi Alaibe’s letter did not question the credibility of the Federal High Court but expressed security concern in the state, “I hear by transfer the case”
The decision of the court, which came as a surprise to the defendant’s counsels elicited protest over the alleged secrecy and perceived ambush.
The National Legal Adviser of the PDP and counsel to the party, Emmanuel Enoidem (Esq), the Counsel to the 4th and 5th respondents, Chuks Oguru (Esq) kicked against the request of Chief Timi Alaibe, while the counsel to Senator Douye Diri, Barrister Chiemezie V.C. Ihekweazu declined comments.
Emmanuel Enoidem, while speaking with newsmen after the court session said, “We came in this morning only to be told that the matter has been transferred due to a letter by Chief Timi Alaibe. We are a bit taken aback at the turn of events and not because we are afraid of the case in Abuja. This is a man who wants to be governor of Bayelsa State and not the governor of the FCT or any other state in Nigeria. And if he is running from Bayelsa, I am afraid what kind of governor the person will make.”
“So, apart from the inconvenience such transfer may cause, we were told this morning. When the matter came up on the 2nd and slated for Friday, 18th, and later 15th. We were surprised. But for a man who wants to be governor of the state and running away on account of insecurity, what will happen to millions of Bayelsa people residing here? Instead of coming to confront the issue of insecurity he is alleging in his letter, he is running away. This is not how to be a good governor.”
The Counsel for the 4th and 5th defendants, Barrister Chuks Oguru, also complained that the letter of Chief Timi Alaibe, “Court matter is not done in the way of Robin Hood method is to lie in wait for innocent wayfarers. We should have been put on notice. We find the method of the plaintiff objectionable because parties are not allowed to go forum shopping.
“If you are sure of your facts, you go to court and argue your case. Anywhere they take us to, we will meet them with concrete facts for facts, jurisprudence for their law and we will match them constitutionality for their own constitutionality. Anywhere they go in Abuja or even the House of Lords, we are very prepared because we are sure of our grounds. You know the nitty-gritty of the case is that the plaintiff wants to torpedo the entire primary election that produced the 2nd defendant, Senator Douye Diri as the flag bearer of the PDP.”
But the lead Counsel of Chief Timi Alaibe, Barrister Ayodele Adedipe, said the decision for the transfer of the case to Abuja was the decision of the plaintiff and that he expressed security concern about the matter being heard in Yenagoa, “and the CJN found merit in his concern and direct the presiding Judge and acceded to the request”
Adedipe described the comments by the defense counsels as diversionary and petty.
“ The point here is that the plaintiff said he had confidence in the judge and sited an example of the incident where a Federal High Court was invaded sometime ago because of that he said. Let us have the legal battle on a neutral ground where people can come to court and lawyers can advocate without fear. And when people come and play to the gallery over the decision, I don’t have much comment on that.”
Alaibe, who approached the Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa in a suit numbered FHC/YNG/CS/99/2019, also included as defendants the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Douye Diri, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Embeleakpo Alale for himself and representing the elected local government chairmen, vice-chairmen and councillors of the PDP allowed to be delegates at the elective state congress of the PDP in Bayelsa State held on September 3, 2019.
Also joined in the suit as defendant is Doubra Kumokou, for himself and on behalf of the three ad-hoc delegates allowed to be delegates at the elective state congress.
Alaibe is seeking, with an application, for cancellation of the result of the primary election based on cited procedural flaws.
The suit, which was filed in pursuant to Order 3(9) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019, seeks answers to questions bordering on obvious non-adherence to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Electoral Act 2010, the People’s Democratic Party Constitution and Election Guidelines, by the state chapter of the party in the conduct of the ward congresses, inclusion of local government council officials in the delegates list and the procedure for inclusion of three ad-hoc delegates.
Citing specific sections of relevant laws and guidelines, Alaibe is asking the court to examine the entire processes that resulted in the primaries and rule in his favour in the light of violations committed in a desperate move to impose a pre-determined hand-picked candidate on the people out of 21 aspirants.
It would be recalled that the Timi Alaibe’s Campaign Organisation had raised objections against what it described as crass disrespect for legal procedures and party guidelines in the build-up to the conduct of the governorship primary election by the state chapter of the PDP.
The objection covered open disobedience to the party constitution and electoral guidelines and the manner in which ward congresses were conducted; among others.
COVID-19: Wike Committed To Saving Lives Of Rivers People – Nsirim …As 2nd Phase Of Street To Street Enlightenment Campaign Begins
The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirm said Governor Nyesom Wike is committed to saving the lives of people living and doing business in the State, following the various measures put in place to check the spread of the novel Coronavirus disease.
Nsirim who stated this while inaugurating a team of Volunteers on COVID-19 Mobile Enlightenment at the State Secretariat in Port Harcourt, said the Wike led administration will continue to intensify efforts aimed at containing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in preventing community transmission in the State.
Nsirim who is also the Chairman of the Rivers State Inter-Ministerial Committee for Enlightenment on Covid-19 said since the outbreak of the disease, Governor Wike has demonstrated remarkable capacity to check the spread of the virus in the State, noting that their inauguration is a boost to the street to street enlighten campaign that Covid-19 is real.
Members of the Inter-Ministerial Committee chaired by Pastor Nsirim include the State Commissioners for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Olisaelloka Tasie-Amadi, Commissioner for Youths, Prince Ohia Obi and their counterpart in the Ministry of Environment, Dr. Tamuno Igbiks.
According to Nsirim, “Our Governor has shown the right leadership. In fact, there’s no State in this country where a Governor has spearheaded the fight against coronavirus like our Governor has done. He was the first to close boarders, close markets, close schools. He was the first to sign executive orders. He was the first to chair and supervise an implementation committee that was going around this State to ensure that people adhere to the protocol.
“He has committed his time, his energy and resources to ensure that this State is safe. Continually he has been saying this. His primary goal this season is to save lives, Nsirim stated,
He further said street to street prevention campaign was critical in containing the virus and urged residents of the State to adhere to all the rules and directives including social distancing and compulsory wearing of facemask to avoid further spread of the pandemic in the State.
The Commissioner urged the volunteers to see their responsibility in the same spirit as the State Governor, which, Pastor Nsirim said is to save lives, urging them to discharge their duties with utmost dedication, adding that “All of you have been carefully chosen to carry out enlightenment and sensitization for our State.”
Continuing, he said, “The task before you is enormous. As you can see every day our State is recording new cases of Coronavirus. What do we do to ensure that we contain the spread? The only alternative left for us now is to move from street to street to pass the message of prevention to our people for them to obey the relevant protocol that have been established during this period.”
Nsirim emphasized that just as the Governor’s primary goal this season is to save lives, they should see their task of awareness creation on coronavirus as their own contribution to save lives in the State. “You need to let the people know that the virus is with us and that they must practice social distancing, wearing of face mask and maintenance of personal hygiene,” the commissioner stated.
Nsirim advised that people who have the symptoms of the virus which include dry cough, high temperature, loss of taste, body weakness and difficulty in breathing should seek medical attention, saying people should not be afraid of the symptoms of the disease because it is not a death sentence.
Governor Wike Appoints New Executive Director For State BPPP
RSG Warns Owner Of Proudest Hotel To Stop Blackmailing NCDC
Our attention has been drawn to a recent misleading petition, signed by one Mr. Needam Promise Gogorobari, Owner, Prodest Hotel and dated 24th May 2020,
to the effect that the convicted Manager of Prodest Hotel, Mr. Bariledum Job Azoroh, who recently tested positive for Covid-19 disease amongst 27 others, in a result released by the National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, may have allegedly been infected on the instructions of the Rivers State Government.
Much as we had restrained ourselves from responding to previous similar publications by this same person, since the subject matter was still before a court of competent jurisdiction, we are now compelled to reply this obviously spurious, deliberately misleading and intentionally provocative petition with a proper response, to set the records straight and caution the sponsors of this action from further pedlling such falsehoods in the public space.
For the avoidance of doubt and for the information of the general public, let us state categorically here that the FACTS of this matter are very clear, viz:
1. A Port Harcourt Senior Magistrates’ Court on May 18th, 2020 CONVICTED Mr. Bariledum Azoro, Manager of Prodest Hotel, Eleme and sentenced him to a fine of N50,000 for contravening paragraphs 3 and 4 of Executive Order RVSG 07 2020 on closure of hotels, guest houses and related outfits and provision of manifests in the state.
2. The Senior Magistrates’ Court also ordered that th convict,Mr. Azoroh should be quarantined at the Isolation Centre in Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Elekahia for 14 days to ascertain his coronavirus status.
3. That while in the Court Ordered Quarantine, competent health officials carried out mandatory tests on all suspected Coronavirus individuals at the centre, including Mr.Bariledum Job Azoroh, to ascertain their Covid-19 status.
It is important to state here that COVID-19 tests undergo World Health Organization, (WHO) and NCDC guidelines and are conducted under strict established medical protocols.
4. That prior to the publication of the test results, the owner of PRODEST Hotel Eleme, Mr. Gogorobari Needam had published one of his misleading petitions in an attempt to preempt the outcome of the test and the question we want to ask is: ‘Why did the hotel owner try to preempt the outcome of the test. Was he trying to cover up something?
5. That on Sunday, 24th May, 2020, the NCDC announced that Rivers State had 27 recorded positive cases including Mr.Bariledum Job Azoroh, from tests carried out in the state.
6. That following the official announcement of the result and confirmation of his Manager’s Covid-19 positive status, the PRODEST Hotel owner has once again released another statement and this time is now calling for a state of emergency in Rivers State because his manager tested positive for Covid-19.
7. Rivers people will recall that on May 19, 2020, we raised an alarm intimating the world of a clandestine plot by some Abuja politicians hiding under the cover of Covid-19 to instigate a State of Emergency in the state. Today, a hotel owner in Eleme, who lives in Lagos is also now calling for a State of Emergency. Is there any wonder therefore as to who is beating the drum for him?
8. Indeed there seems to be more to this than meets the ordinary eye and we are calling on all well-meaning people to see the need to interrogate this man and know that he is acting out a script. Infact, the entire petition sounds and reads like something lifted directly from the copy book of those who have been desperately trying to run down the Rivers State Government. This is desperation taken too far.
9. We even recall vividly that Mr. Needam Promise Gogorobari had, in an interview published in the Punch Newspaper of May 15, 2020 titled: “No ill feeling towards Wike for demolishing my hotel – Gogorobari”, actually stated categorically that he holds no grudge against Governor Wike for demolishing the hotel. His words: “Who am I not to forgive him? I don’t hold any grudge against him. I just feel that God wanted it to happen that way”. So what happened to make him change his mind? Is it not obvious that the agents of evil and those who do not mean well for Rivers State have reached him and are now beating this drum of dissent for him?
10. Again, We want to state categorically here that Government doesn’t conduct Covid-19 tests. Trained Health professionals follow the relevant medical protocols set down by WHO, the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, to conduct these tests.
11. The claim therefore that the PRODEST Hotel manager, Mr. Bariledum Job Azoroh, was infected while in detention is not only laughable and preposterous, but sadly and dangerously exposes the amazing ignorance and naivety of Mr. Needam Promise Gogorobari and those sponsoring him about the deadly nature of the Covid-19 disease. How does one even carry such a deadly virus around and infect people with it?
12. Rather than commend the Rivers State Government for stemming the tide of infection that would have arisen if the Hotel used for clandestine parties was not demolished and the Manager arrested, the owner is crying wolf where there is none.
13. We also want to caution Mr. Needam Promise Gogorobari to be very mindful of his claims that his hotel Manager “has been framed up by an unorthodox hired medical officers recruited by Governor Wike with a report that he has tested positive to COVID-19 whilst in detention with the Rivers State Government”.
This is a clear accusation and indictment of the reputation and authority of the NCDC.
14 We also want to call the attention of Mr. Needam Gogorobari that we take exception to his description of the Isolation Centre in Port Harcourt, as an “illegal detention facility in Stadium, Elekahia, Port Harcourt” and to inform him and his sponsors that the Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu and a team from the World Health Organization, were in Rivers State on a working visit in April this year and not only praised Governor Nyesom Wike for his leadership and handling of the Covid-19 outbreak. but also applauded his medical health team and all the facilities put in place in response to the Coronavirus.
We will therefore be keen to know how the NCDC will react, when they read your description of a facility they approved, as ‘a detention centre’.
15. Finally, we want to assure the good people of the state that the Rivers State Government remains resolute in its fight to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the state and we will not be deterred by cheap blackmail and misleading propaganda.
16 Governor Wike is determined to employ and deploy appropriate strategies to keep Rivers State safe.
17. We call on all residents to work together with the Governor to defeat Covid-19 in Rivers State and by the Grace of God we will be victorious.
Commissioner for Information and Communications
May 26, 2020
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