The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says that the violent rigging of the Kogi and Bayelsa states’ governorship elections by the All Progressives Congress (APC) cannot stand.
In a statement, yesterday, in Abuja, after an emergency meeting of the NWC, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “The NWC maintains that there is no way the PDP will fold its hands and watch the mandates clearly given to its candidates, Engr. Musa Wada in Kogi State and Senator Douye Diri in Bayelsa State, left in the hands of repressive usurpers, manipulators and murderers.
“Indeed, the nation is still at shock over the brazen show of violence, where security forces coordinated the invasion of polling units, shooting and killing of voters and carting away of ballot boxes to government facilities where results were altered and fictitious figures given to INEC to declare the APC candidates as winners.
“Nigerians watched with horror as APC thugs and security forces traumatized and held voters hostage, murdered our compatriots, injured and maimed many more in violent attacks that involved the deployment of police helicopters.
“Our party has been made aware of the roles played by the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu as well as the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in the elections.
“While we urge these officials to do some introspections on the anguish they have caused the people since the rigging of the elections, the PDP NWC assures that it will never hesitate to expose such ignoble roles at the appropriate time.
“The irreversible fact remains that though evil may appear to thrive for a while, truth and justice will always prevail at the end.
“The APC and its candidates must bear in mind that what they could not get through the ballot box, they cannot get by violence, manipulation and killing.
“The PDP is therefore undeterred in the determination to use all legitimate means available and allowed within our democratic practice to confront the usurpers and retrieved our mandate in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
“The PDP will also file legitimate actions against identified INEC and security officials who aided the APC in the violent rigging of the election.
“The NWC therefore urges all members of the PDP as well as all Nigerians of good faith to remain strong, united and undeterred as the NWC commences lawful actions in the pursuit of our mandates.
“Our party once again mourns our compatriots killed by the APC in this election, including our Woman Leader, Acheju Abuh, who was burnt to death by APC thugs at her home on Monday.
“While invoking the wrath of God on the perpetrators of the gruesome killings, the party calls on the police to immediately track down and bring their killers to book.
“Indeed, their death will never be in vain as the mandates for which they were killed will surely be recovered”, Ologbondiyan added.
Similarly, the Bayelsa State Governor, Hon Seriake Dickson has said that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would challenge the result of November 16 governorship election in court.
Dickson disclosed this while addressing a world press conference in Yenagoa, yesterday.
He maintained that the PDP did not lose the election as it was characterised by violence and widespread malpractices which were carefully documented.
Dickson, however, said he would set up a transition committee to work out modalities for smooth handover on February 14, 2020.
“Our candidate, Senator Douye Diri and the party chairman have been speaking about the charade called an election that took place in Bayelsa on Saturday, and the invasion of our state by security forces.
“The dehumanisation of our people and how in the majority of areas and places, our people were denied the right to vote for the candidate of their choice.
“The story is all out there that what took place in the state on November 16 was not a democratic election.
“So, today, I’m here to add my voice to all that has been said already. It was so brazen, it has never been like this in this state before,” he said.
Dickson added, “I know that in 2015, we went through a very tough time, there was a display of federal might, but at least, it was not as bad as this.”
He said the endorsement of Mr David Lyon, the governor-elect by ex-president Goodluck Jonathan was regrettable and a ploy by the APC to strategically take over the state.
He said that the perception that he alienated PDP stakeholders including the former president was unfounded, adding that the primary election that produced the PDP candidate was credible.
“Jonathan remains my Oga (boss) and I respect him, but there are lots of efforts by certain interest to create a rift between us, there is no politician that has been there for the former president than me.
“He has also helped me but it is unfortunate that I am being misconstrued in this matter of the election. I tried to meet Jonathan 16 times and he opted to support a candidate that does not wish me well.
“I will soon write my memoirs and people will have a fair view of what happened, the visit of some APC governors to Jonathan who congratulated the APC candidate without congratulating the candidate of his party.
“It is strategic for APC leaders to use Jonathan to legitimise the illegitimacy that happened on Saturday,” Dickson said.
However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has rejected the outcome of the November 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
The Minority Leadership, led by the Minority Leader, Hon Ndudi Elumelu, stated this while briefing newsmen, yesterday, at the National Assembly.
The minority leader called on President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the violence that marred the election in the two states, while disclosing that the party will approach the court.
“We are not impressed with what happened in the just concluded Bayelsa and Kogi elections. We are not in favour of the outcome of the election, us as PDP members and other minority parties and therefore we are 100 per cent not in support of the outcome of the election.
He continued, “We have also come here to register our grievance contrary to the Point of Order earlier raised by our colleague, Hon Abejide Adeleke (ADC, Kogi) commending the outcome of the election adjudging to be fair and credible. We want to state that, we are displeased with the violence actions meted out on innocent Nigerians which led loss of lives and properties”
Adeleke, who is a member of the Africa Democratic Congress from Kogi State, had earlier during plenary, yesterday, used the word “We” when thanking for the election, and the minority leader, rejected the statement, disclosing that the PDP caucus was not in support of the statement.
Also speaking at the briefing, the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu said, “We are particularly sad with the loss of lives whereby the PDP woman leader was burnt alive and the killing of Senator Dino Melaye’s nephew was quite disheartening. We condemn the violence perpetrated in that election. I want to state clearly that we would contest the elections in court. I also feel this is the time to amend the Electoral act, we need to correct the imperfections.”
Later, Adeleke also addressed newsmen concerning the controversy.
He stated: “At plenary, the speaker asked me to brief the house about Kogi election, which I did by raising a point of order whereby I thanked my colleagues for their prayers and success of the election that this time around, the election was not inconclusive.
“ However, on the issue of whether lives were lost, I told them that the election was peaceful in my own area. So, I didn’t do anything wrong as my colleagues in the PDP are already agitating.”
Meanwhile, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the North, Aminu Yakudima, says the party should sanction, suspend those who worked against its interest in Bayelsa State.
Recall that the flag-bearer of the opposition, David Lyon emerged winner in the election with 352,552 votes to defeat Douye Diri, candidate of the ruling PDP, who polled 143,172 votes.
Lyon’s victory means that the APC has broken the 20-year reign of the PDP in the state.
According to Yakudima, “Some people worked against the interest of the PDP; therefore, the national leadership should investigate and discipline them to serve as a deterrent to others.
“Those found guilty should be suspended or sanctioned in line with the provisions of the PDP constitution. By and large, there was this issue of persistent thuggery but also, there was a problem within the PDP.”
The ex-President Goodluck Jonathan is one of those who may be suspended for the PDP’s failure in the state because some of the party’s leaders believe that his indifference gave the APC an easy ride to power.
It would be recalled that Ogbia Local Government, where Jonathan hails from, with over 40,000 votes, heightened suspicion on the role of the former president in the PDP’s defeat.
The former president’s hosting of two APC governors in Otuoke; the visit by Lyon and other APC leaders in the state; his non-support for the PDP candidate during the primary election; his non-attendance of the PDP grand rally; his visit to Buhari at the Presidential Villa, and the prayers made by his mother in support of Lyon have fuelled the speculations.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party’s National Working Committee will investigate why the party lost in Bayelsa and Kogi.
“The National Working Committee (NWC) will meet soon to conduct a post-mortem on the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states,” he said.
A former member of the PDP board of trustees (BoT), Sam Nkire, blamed the party’s loss on Seriake Dickson, governor of the state.
Rivers PDP To Inaugurate Zonal Offices In Senatorial Districts
The Rivers State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has announced its readiness to inaugurate zonal offices across the three senatorial districts in the state.
The state party Chairman, Amb Desmond Akawor, disclosed this, yesterday, while receiving the members of the Forum of Former Local Government PDP Chairmen at the state party Secretariat in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the party zonal offices would serve as a closed medium to settle some minor differences at the grassroots.
Akawor urged the former party chairmen to be committed to the party’s activities, saying that the party cannot make use of somebody who does not show concern in the affairs of the party.
He commended the former chairmen for their commitment to produce two-term governor from the party in the state.
The party state chairman also commended the forum for producing members of the PDP as elected officers in almost all the elected offices, including local government council chairmen across the 23 LGAs in the state.
Akawor urged the forum to use their political experiences to support the party’s new executives in their various LGAs and the state to ensure that the party maintains its standard in subsequence elections in the state.
“Please, don’t say because you are no longer chairman and ignore party activities, involve in party activities and support the governor and the new party leadership to maintain the position of PDP in the state.
“Governor Nyesom Wike knows all of you as former party chairmen by name, some of you now are council chairmen, special advisers, members of the state party executive, among others. I am sure the rest of you would definitely be recognised again before this tenure runs out.
“But you must be loyal and committed to the progress of the party in your various LGAs”, Akawor advised.
Akawor said that no individual would be imposed on the party as council chairman come the next LGA election either because of personal relationship or position, saying that every aspirant must pass through the due process of the system.
In his speech, the Coordinator of the former chairmen forum, Hon Ikechi Chinda, said the forum was committed to support the party despite the fact that some of them were no longer in any position.
The coordinator used the opportunity to commend Governor Nyesom Wike and the leadership of the party for the support to ensure PDP reclaimed Edo State at the just concluded governorship election.
He appealed to the party leadership to always include them in the affairs of the party in the state.
By: Enoch Epelle
Ogoni Clean-Up: Minister Hands Over Seven Completed Sites In Ogoniland
The Minister of Environment, Dr Mahmood Abuakar, has handed over seven completed remediated oil spill polluted sites in Ogoniland in Rivers State to the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) for scientific certification.
The sites are among the first 21 sites awarded to contractors by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) for clean-up in Ogoniland.
The seven sites are Lots 2,5,6 and 8 in Eleme Local Govenrment Area; Lot 10 in Gokana Local Government Area; and Lots 17 and 18 in Tai Local Government Area.
The minister, while handing over the completed sites during a colourful ceremony, yesterday, in Nkeleoken-Alode community in Eleme Local Government Area, expressed delight that the contractors that handled the sites were able to complete them for onward handover to NOSDRA for certification, and thanked the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for his support to the project.
He said after certification by NOSDRA, the sites would thereafter be handed over to President Muhammadu Buhari, who initiated the clean-up project in the first place.
Abubakar further thanked the people of the various communities in Ogoniland, particularly the youths for their cooperation and support to the clean-up project, stressing that the completion of the seven sites is a pointer to the fact that Buhari was determined to change the negative narratives of the people of the Niger Delta who have suffered over four decades of environmental pollution.
“It is a day of promise kept and kept to the letter in terms of standard and depth of work done”, he said, adding that, “a total of 208, 300 cubic metres of soil was treated from the seven lots using bio-remediation option, a method that is environmentally friendly and effective in removing pollutants from the soil.”
He said so far, progress has been made in the clean-up project but hinted that the Federal Ministry of Environment still yearns for more progress, as it does not want the clean-up to be done haphazardly.
“It is a project we want to ensure that it is done very well,” the minister said.
Abubakar further indicated that the clean-up project has created over 2,,000 direct jobs for Ogoni youths, stressing that the contractors would have completed their work earlier but for some factors that slowed down the pace of work.
“As a project, we would need your support and cooperation to achieve set goals, which goals are for the benefit of the Ogoni people,” he said, and appealed to host communities to the remediation sites to allow contractors to do their work without undue interference.
He said HYPREP is already training 1,200 Ogoni women in alternative livelihood skills in agro-allied ventures being handled by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNTIAR), adding that the first batch of 400 women drawn from the four Ogoni LGAs is ongoing.
He assured Ogoni people that “We will sustain progress on the clean-up of impacted sites and all other recommendations contained in the UNEP Report”.
On his part, the Project Coordinator of HYPREP, Dr Marvin Dekil, thanked the minister and the Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, and the community leaderships as well as staff of HYPREP for their support.
He said the minister’s commitment and input gave a new impetus to the clean-up project, “thus, making us come thus far on the project”, stressing that he (the minister) has left indelible marks on the project that can be copied for similar projects elsewhere.
He hinted that the bio-cell technology adopted for the clean-up of less impacted sites is a success that could be adopted for remediation elsewhere.
“In awarding the contracts for remediation, we factored in the training of community workers in basic remediation skills as a way of developing local manpower so that the skills acquired can be used elsewhere at the end of their contracts,” he said, adding that technical assistants for the project which constitute over 90 percent of the workforce are Ogoni young scientists were trained in Switzerland.
The minister and his entourage, before handing over the completed sites paid a courtesy visit to the King of Eleme Kingdom, Emere Philip Osaro Obele, who assured that Eleme people would give 110 per cent support to the clean-up project.
Among those on the minister’s entourage included the Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor; Director General of NOSDRA, Alhaji Idris O. Musa; the Cross River State Commissioner for Environment, Hon Mfon Bassey; and a host of other personalities.
Ikeazor, in a speech, urged HYPREP to engage more community people, and expressed joy that a reference laboratory to facilitate NOSDRA’s work is located in Port Harcourt, which she commissioned in January this year.
By: Donatus Ebi
40 Killed In Kogi Tanker Inferno …As Gas Plant Blast Rocks Lagos
Tears flowed freely yesterday morning in Felele, a community on the outskirt of Lokoja along Abuja-Lokoja highway, as a tanker truck laden with fuel caught fire and roasted no fewer than 40 people to death.
Most of the victims were said to be school children and their parents who were said to be going to school.
Also, five students of Kogi State Polytechnic living in the area, were reported to have been killed as they were heading to school along the highway
Several passersby, Okada riders and taxi cabs were also said to be trapped in the inferno which caused serious traffic gridlock on the highway.
A witness, who spoke to newsmen said no fewer than 40 corpses were counted on the scene, including those who were roasted beyond recognition.
But the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), confirmed 23 deaths, including seven school children.
Its Sector Commander for Kogi, Idris Ali, said the seven school children comprised 10 male adults and six female adults.
The commander said 10 vehicles, including five cars, three tricycles and two motorcycles were burnt in the inferno.
He said bodies of victims had been deposited at the Kogi State Specialist Hospital, Lokoja, where the only survivor was also receiving treatment.
He said 11 corpses had been claimed for burial by their relations.
The incident threw some schools that lost their students in the accident into mourning forcing them to hurriedly shut down.
One of them, the Baptist Group of Schools at Ganaja, lost three pupils and their parents to the accident, and its management immediately closed the school till September 28 in honour of the deceased.
The accident occurred when an Abuja-bound fuel tanker had a brake failure and in the process fell down at a spot close to GT Plaza and spilled its content on the road, which immediately caught fire.
The fire engulfed the entire spot and extended to other parts of the area, including a major a bus stop where school children, workers and other people were waiting to board vehicles to their various destinations.
Meanwhile, the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, has expressed shock and sorrow over the accident.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Mohammed Onogu, yesterday, lamented the loss of lives and property in the accident which he described as sad and tragic.
Reacting last night, President Muhammadu Buhari, described the frequent petroleum tanker explosion and fire incidents as a national scandal caused by indifference to safety standards.
In a statement by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari said “these frequent incidents that result in loss of lives and property are a national scandal caused by our indifference to safety standards.”
He insisted that “many accidents are preventable if proper proactive and precautionary measures are put in place or properly observed as routine policies.”
Reacting, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, expressed shock over the petroleum tanker explosion in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital which resulted in the death of about 30 persons.
The PDP, in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja, expressed worry over the slow pace of response by concerned authorities, saying “our party is extremely distressed by this horrid and traumatizing incident, which, in a very painful manner, cut short the lives of hardworking compatriots, brought instant anguish to families and painful material losses to many.
“It is even more disturbing that the fire raged without any intervention by authorities, which would have helped mitigated the effect.
“Indeed, the absence of fire and other emergency facilities around the area, despite the frequent occurrence of such accidents in the past signposts the failure and insensitivity of both the federal and Kogi State governments towards the dangers that daily confront the people.
“The PDP demands the Federal Government to put instant traffic measures to forestall such accidents as well as immediately establish emergency facilities in the area.
“Our party also calls on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fasola, to leave the comfort of their offices in Abuja and immediately visit the area as well as undertake a tour of our highways to witness the sorry state of infrastructure across our country, under their administration.
“The PDP commiserates with the families of the victims, the Kogi State Polytechnic, parents of the school children as well as the entire people of Kogi State,” the statement read.
However, to curb the incessant incidents of oil tanker explosions leading to loss of lives and property, the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), yesterday, met with the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) to discuss truck renewal project.
Speaking at the conference, the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki, noted that tanker accidents caused more deaths in Nigeria than most deadly diseases and stressed that the meeting was timely to address the tanker explosion situation.
The minister, who was represented by the Assistant Director of Mass Transit Administration, Mrs Angela Keyede, said: “It might shock you to know that road crashes is a serious ‘epidemic’ in Nigeria that produces more deaths than HIV/AIDs and Tuberculosis (TB) put together annually. The ministry through the Nigeria Shippers Council under Public Private Partnership arrangement has identified some locations for Truck Transit Parks in the country.
Also speaking, the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, recalling the explosion which claimed over 30 lives, last Wednesday in Kogi State, charged MOMAN and NARTO to do proper safety examination of drivers, trucks and tankers before allowing them to move on the roads.
He said: “We have been battling with the tankers that are falling and killing scores of people. We need to really address these unnecessary killings on our highways, just yesterday around 30 people died in the Kogi explosion and a whole family was claimed. And if you listen to the comments of President Buhari, yesterday, you will notice he charged the relevant agencies and stakeholders to act. And I’m happy that MOMAN and NARTO are here today to address this”.
The Managing Director of MOMAN, Mr Adetunji Oyebanji, said that 80 per cent of the trucks involved in hauling products from the south of the country to the north do not have the relevant safety equipments needed for preventing ghastly explosions.
In his remarks, the National President of NARTO, Yusuf Lawal Othman, urged his members to renew their fleets and solicited support from MOMAN in the purchasing of trucks.
Meanwhile, panic gripped residents of Lagos and Ogun border communities, yesterday, following an explosion and massive fire.
The explosion, which was heard as far as Harmony Estate and Obawole, Ogba, Iju in Lagos as well as Akute Ogun State, was said to have occurred around 3:30pm around Balogun Bus Stop in Ishaga.
Contacted, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) confirmed the incident, urging residents to stay away from the area.
NEMA’s South-West Coordinator, Ibrahim Farinloye told newsmen, that the agency’s officials were on ground and fire service has been contacted.
He said: “Yes, a tanker exploded at Balogun Bus Stop, Iju Ishaga. Our people are already there and fire service has been informed.
“The tanker was trying to enter a gas plant when it exploded. There were domestic cylinders there and so, those ones also started exploding.
“The fire has not extended to any building. It is still within the gas plant. People sustained burn injuries but no deaths reported yet. We have contacted fire service. We appeal to people to stay away from the area,” he said.
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