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Mass Protest Rocks S’ East Over S’Court’s Sack Of Ihedioha …As PDP Begins Nationwide Protest, Today …Says S’Court Destroying Nigeria’s Democracy

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members in Imo, Abia and Anambra states, yesterday, shut down Owerri, Umuahia and Awka, the states’ capitals, in protest over the removal of Emeka Ihedioha by the Supreme Court and the declaration of Senator Hope Uzodinma as the duly elected governor of the state.
This is even as security operatives, including policemen and army officers took over the nooks and crannies of the states to maintain law and order.
Adorned in black attires, the PDP members in Imo paraded the state capital, calling on the apex court as well as the jurists that presided on the Tuesday’s verdict which sacked Ihedioha, to revisit their judgment.
The dissatisfied party members said that the protest would persist if the apex court refused to revisit the matter.
A member of the House of Representatives, Hon Henry Nwawuba, who spoke to journalists, said the Supreme Court jurists had murdered democracy in the state with their judgment.
Nwawuba, who represents Mbaitoli/Ikedduru Federal Constituency of Imo State, said that the apex court had done grave injustice to the people of the state.
He said, “I am a Lawmaker and I believe that the Supreme Court must redeem the Judiciary. Since the judgment was delivered, the state has become a graveyard (and) this is unlike what was happening when PDP was holding sway”.
Nwawuba, who was first elected into the House of Representatives in 2015, said that the state had become a graveside since the Supreme Court delivered the judgment.
“How the Supreme Court justices gave victory to a candidate who came fourth in an election remains a mystery to many of us. We call on them to revisit the Imo case and do justice. “
Also, the PDP Women Leader in the state, Maria Mbakwe, who burst into tears while speaking to journalists, said that women in the state are devastated with the verdict.
She said, “I have never seen this kind of injustice since over 50 years I have been in Imo State. Imo women in the market and all over the state are crying. We are begging the Supreme Court justices to revisit the matter. We know that they are human beings and they can make a mistake.”
However, the Nigeria Police Force, Imo State Command said it barricaded Owerri, the state capital, to forestall possible clash between the members of the People Democratic Party and those of the All Progressives Congress, an action which caused traffic gridlock in the state.
The police spokesperson in the state, Orlando Ikeokwu, told our correspondent that the police were being “proactive instead of being reactive.”
Ikeokwu said that the inasmuch as the PDP had the right to embark on a peaceful protest, the police did not want them to clash with APC members.
He said, “We barricaded the town because we don’t want protesting PDP members to clash with APC members or for hoodlums to hijack the protest. We are being proactive instead of being reactive. The police do not want any bloodshed.
“The PDP members have the right under the law to protest peacefully but we do not want anybody to hijack it or threaten the peace of the state,” adding that the situation could turn worse should APC members also take to the streets.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party in Imo State, yesterday, said that the Supreme Court was destroying the country’s democracy with its Tuesday judgment which sacked Emeka Ihedioha and declared Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress as the duly elected governor of the state.
The PDP Publicity Secretary in the state, Damian Opara, said that the justices of the apex court had “ ridiculed and annihilated democracy “ by sacking Ihedioha from office.
Describing the judgment as “ provocative “ and at variance with the tenets of the law, the PDP spokesperson said that the jurists arbitrarily awarded votes to Uzodinma, when the APC did not win a single seat at the state’s House of Assembly when the elections held the same day.
Describing the judgment as “infamous”, the main opposition party said that it did not agree with the verdict of the Supreme Court justice as it concerned the state’s governorship debacle.
It, therefore, urged its supporting members to remain law-abiding, saying that the apex court increased the valid votes in favour of the APC.
He said “ In the wake of the infamous judgment of the Supreme Court on the Imo State gubernatorial election petition, the State Executive Council of THE State’s chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party met and thoroughly examined the atrocious judgment that removed Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as Governor and Hon. Gerrald Irona as Deputy Governor of Imo State.
“Arising from the meeting on Friday, January 17th, 2019, the party described as unbelievable, ridiculous and annihilation of democracy, the decision of the apex court to void the lawful election of its candidate, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, who polled 276,404 votes and awarded victory to Sen. Hope Uzodimma of the APC, with just 96,458 votes.
“The party in the state finds it difficult to understand how the Supreme Court arrived at its verdict, even to the point that the seven panellists who sat on the petition gave a unanimous judgment.
“The party noted that It is on record that the Total Accredited Votes as declared by INEC stood at 823,743, with Total Votes cast and Total Votes cancelled amounting to 739,485 and 25, 130 respectively, while Total Valid Votes remained 714,355.
“The Supreme Court increased the Total Valid Votes to 950,952 which accounts for 127, 209 votes in excess of Total Accredited Votes of 823,743.
“The apex court unilaterally manufactured votes from 388 units where INEC rightly did not turn in results for obvious reasons such as violence and electoral malpractice and awarded the same to Senator Hope Uzodinma/APC.
“It is shocking that the Supreme Court by its judgment said that all the votes from the alleged 388 polling units were for the APC alone, in an election that was contested by over 60 candidates.
“Even where the Supreme Court awarded all extra 127, 209 accredited votes it manufactured to Senator Hope Uzodinma/APC, it was not enough to make him the winner of the March 9 election. It will be 223,657 votes, still less than Ihedioha and PDP’s votes of 276,494, with a difference of 42,747 votes.
“The party further questioned the rationale of the Supreme Court in declaring Senator Uzodinma winner of a gubernatorial election that simultaneously held with that of the State Assembly [both having one accreditation] in which the APC did not win any of the 27 available seats in the Imo State House of Assembly whereas PDP won 13, AA won 8, and APGA won 6.
“The PDP Imo State Chapter, therefore, resolved that it does not agree with the judgment, as it is unfair, unjust and provocative.
“However, the Party advised her teeming supporters to remain law-abiding in the face of this adversity and extreme provocation.
“The Party in the state also urged its members to be united, resilient and be more committed to the party in this trying moment.”
Similarly, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Abia State chapter, has asked the Supreme Court to reverse its January 14, 2020 judgment which sacked Emeka Ihedioha from office and declared Senator Hope Uzodinma, as the elected governor of Imo state.
The party described the Judgment as an attempt to destroy democracy, stressing that it believes that the Supreme Court can reverse the erroneous verdict for the sake of posterity.
The Chairman of Abia PDP, Chief Johnson Onuigbo, who stated this while addressing PDP faithful during a protest march over the judgment, in Umuahia, yesterday, explained that the PDP national office had mandated state chapters of the party to organise demonstrations to register their disgust at the pronouncement of the apex court.
The party faithful, who marched through Ikot Ekpene, School and Bende roads to the PDP secretariat at St. Finbarrs Road, also displayed placards which read; “We cherish democracy passionately, Judiciary, please don’t truncate it”. “Can a government that doesn’t obey the rule of law allow justice to thrive?”, “Judiciary, stop being cowed by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, “President Buhari, leave judiciary alone”, amongst others.
Onuigbo told journalists that the Supreme Court appeared to have acted under pressure which was why they postponed the initial judgment from 13th to 14th January.
In the same vein, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State, yesterday, protested the judgment of the Supreme Court of January 14th, which sacked it’s candidate for the 2019 Imo Governorship election, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha for Senator Hope Uzodinma of All Progressives Congress (APC).
Members of the party in their thousands who thronged the Anambra State Judiciary complex, led by the state chairman, Mr Ndubuisi Nwobu, called President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly wade in, while also urging the judges of the Supreme Court to reverse themselves, describing the judgment as a travesty of Justice.
Nwobu, who addressed journalists at the complex said, “We request that the Judiciary should act as an independent arm of government.
“PDP in Anambra wish to state clearly their unreserved rejection of the Supreme Court Judgment delivered on January 14, 2020 with respect to the Governorship election of Imo State.
“They want to foist Hope Uzodinma on the people of Imo State. There is no way a panel of seven judges, no matter how erudite can sit and decide the fate of the entire Imo people, after the people have made their choice.
“There have been instances where the Supreme Court reversed itself, so we are calling to question that judgment and asking the judges to accept their mistakes and remedy it urgently. That is what we urge the Supreme Court to do and not to ever make such a mistake,” Nwobu said.
Also, the former governorship candidate of the party in the state in 2017, Mr Oseloka Obaze speaking on the court being the Apex court in the land said the judges are not infallible, and should be able to accept their mistakes.
“The only thing that is impossible is to live forever. The judges that passed this judgment are not infallible and the things (judgment) they did is not right and they must find the courage to reverse themselves.”
Members of the party who dressed in all black and numbering over 3,000 carried placards with different inscriptions against the Supreme Court to protest the recent judgment.
Meanwhile, the National Secretariat of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has directed its chapters across the country to begin a nationwide protest, today, against the judgment of the Supreme Court in the specific case between Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha and Senator Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
A notice by the party, last Friday, directed all stakeholders to commence the protest from 7am in all the states, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
In the same vein, the former governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha has said the Supreme Court judgment nullifying his election has placed the nation’s democracy on trial.
Ihedioha stated this, last Saturday, while playing host to the National Working Committee (NWC), of the Peoples Democratic Party, which paid him a solidarity visit in his Abuja residence.
Decked in light green attire with a trademark green cap to match, Ihedioha was full of life and betrayed no sign of anyone battling psychological pain.
Addressing newsmen, the former House of Representatives deputy speaker said the event of last week has thrown up more questions than answers, noting that in the fullness of time, truth would win.
He said: “I believe that that event will define obviously our democracy. I am certain that the judiciary and electoral system are well aware that they are on trial.
“We are as shocked as yourselves; it (judgment) was never anticipated. All legal pundits and democratic watchers never imagined and anticipated it, so for us, it remains a mystery. But we take solace in the Book of Ecclesiastics 3:1 that to everything, there is a season and time for every purpose under heaven.
“And what is fundamental about this is that the facts of the matter as relates to Imo State governorship election is that the foundation of our democratic processes, the elections in Imo were closely monitored, well advertised and everybody in Nigeria followed it through. The results were very clear, the electoral umpire still have the results, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has stated clearly that the results in question and the figures are not summing up.
“It is not about Emeka Ihedioha, it is not about Imo state. It is about the future of our country and democracy. It’s about what do we do tomorrow. Do you go into an electoral process without having an idea?
“It has to be resolved one way or the other. I am calm and we are calm, and that is why you see in Imo, there is calmness. The calmness is coming out of shock; it is coming out of belief. It is coming out of the fact that people are saying let us still see, can this be possible? We are waiting for answers and I believe there will be answers”.
And despite the loss of the plum seat, Ihedioha said his faith in God remains strong and unwavering.
“We are faithful believers in God and God does not sleep. This will make history in many ways and so this is a historical process, historical action, and I am sure there will be historical answers at the end of the day”, he added.
He chided those who have rolled out the drums in celebration, saying, “this is not the time to celebrate, I pity anyone who is celebrating that sad event. If anyone is celebrating, that person is not a student of democracy.”
Earlier in his remarks, PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, charged eminent Nigerians to speak up on the Imo Supreme Court judgement, saying what happened was too dangerous for silence.
“Very eminent people are not speaking out. Today, it is at the door of Imo, tomorrow it will be at the door of another person. So, people must speak out. The truth is what we are seeking,” Secondus added.

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COVID-19: Wike Hails Compliance To Govt’s Order …RSG Solicits Support, Releases Bank Details

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has appreciated Christian faithful across the state for complying with the directive of maintaining social distance during church service to check the spread of the novel Coronavirus.
Addressing journalists after he led the Task Force on Enforcement of the Ban on Public and Religious Gatherings to monitor compliance, yesterday, Wike said that the churches ensured that each service had about 50 worshippers as agreed during the meeting at Government House, Port Harcourt.
Wike, accompanied by the service commanders, monitored compliance at the Saint Thomas’ Anglican Church, Mile Two, Diobu; Saint John’s Anglican Church, Rumueme Deanery; Saint Peter’s Anglican Church, Rumuepirikom Deanery; Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Rumuapara District; and Abundant Life Evangel Mission Cathedral.
They also monitored compliance at the Saint Andrew’s Anglican Church, Rumuobiokani; Saint Michael’s Anglican Church, Rumuomasi Deanery; the Eternal Sacred Order of Cherubim and Seraphim, Mount of Grace, Elekahia; Saint Barnabas’ Anglican Church, Elekahia Archdeaconry; and Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Diobu.
The team moved through Corpus Christi Catholic Cathedral, Port Harcourt; Living Faith Church, Kaduna Street, D-Line; and churches on Aggrey Road in Port Harcourt.
All the churches visited had running water, soap and hand sanitizers to disinfect worshipers before and after service.
Wike said, “The compliance is very much appreciated, except for two churches that did not completely comply: Saint Thomas’ Anglican Church and Holy Trinity, Rumuapara. I have told the pastors that I don’t want to shutdown the two churches.
“In all, we are satisfied with the total compliance. That shows that the people appreciate what we are talking about. For us, the safety of our people remains key. We are happy today.
“For the two churches that failed to comply, we will review the situation and take action. As you can see, we went to different churches.”
It would be recalled that the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike met with religious leaders at the Government House, Port Harcourt where it was resolved that no church service should exceed 50 persons.
He said “This is a trying period. The state government owes the society a responsibility to protect lives and property.
“This is an interface to inform you of the measures that the State Government is taking.”
He urged the churches to ensure social distancing of about 50 persons who worship at a particular time.
The governor advised all religious groups to spread out their worship time to admit fewer people per time.
Earlier in a statement by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, the Rivers State Government had dismissed claims that the government banned church services in the state, clarifying that the government only directed churches to ensure that they adhere to 50 worshippers at every church service in order not to fall foul of the social distancing rule.
Similarly, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has expressed satisfaction with the level of compliance in respect of the state government’s directive on the closure of markets, saying that the state government is committed to checking the spread of Coronavirus in the state.
Speaking, last Saturday, after leading the state Task Force on Enforcement of the Ban on Public and Religious Gatherings to monitor compliance with the directive of the state government, Wike urged Rivers people to make sacrifices to ensure that the virus is contained.
He said: “We are satisfied with the level of compliance, even though there are those who thought that the closure of markets will not take effect from the first day.
“We will also go out tomorrow. After tomorrow, we will know if we will apply more stringent measures on Monday.
“What we are doing is to protect the lives of our people. Some people may talk about the inconvenience, but you must be alive to talk about food.
“This is the time everyone must make sacrifices. This disease affects the entire population. Whatever measures we bring out is to curtail the spread of this deadly virus.
“Today, we have gone round and we are happy with what we have seen. We will review tomorrow whether the churches are complying with what we agreed on.”
Wike said that his administration is taking very tough measures because Port Harcourt is a hub that attracts people from across the globe.
He said: “Port Harcourt is a hub where you have the oil companies and the rest of them. We have two seaports. It is a place where people like to come and do business.
“We think that the measures that we have put in place have checkmated the spread of the virus.
“While we pray to God for his intervention, we will continue to do our best to protect our people.”
The Rivers State governor stated that the state government will consider palliatives in the next phase of intervention, noting that the focus for now is to check the spread.
“When you talk of palliative, you are aware that the Federal Government gave Lagos State N10billion as support. And so many people in Lagos have also made various donations.
“But in this state, we have not received a dime from any person. For the time being, people should make the sacrifice.
“The issue of palliative will be in the second phase,” he said.
Meanwhile, the “Rivers State Government has opened the following COVID-19 Support Accounts: Rivers State Government COVID-19 Support Account: Access Bank Account No.:1384199858 and Zenith Bank Account No.: 1017227518.
“Interested individuals and organisations wishing to support the efforts of the government are advised to direct their contributions to the two accounts.”

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COVID-19: RSG Intensifies Contact Tracing Of Index Case

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The Rivers State Government says it has intensified efforts in tracing those who had contacts with the 19-year-old female model that tested positive for the novel Coronavirus in the state in a bid to prevent more persons from contracting the disease.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, and Chairman of the state Inter-Ministerial Committee on COVID-19, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, stated this during a live radio programme in Port Harcourt, last Saturday, and monitored by The Tide.
Nsirim also clarified that the state government did not ban church programmes but emphasised that government only directed religious leaders to scale down their activities and observe social distancing.
He explained that as a proactive leader, Governor Nyesom Wike did not wait for Coronavirus to hit the state before he set up a five-man inter-ministerial committee to mobilize and enlighten Rivers people on the pandemic.
“We did that with the media and developed Radio and Television jingles, and set up billboards. We distributed handbills, had stakeholders’ engagements with relevant stakeholder groups to ensure that these messages got to the grassroots before we had the news of the pandemic hitting Rivers State.
“Now, His Excellency does not want this Coronavirus to spread. That is why he has also introduced all the painful measures of border closure, market closure, to ensure that social distancing is appreciated by the people living and doing business in Rivers State.
“Now, for the index case that has been recorded, government has ensured that contact tracing is going on and to make sure that it doesn’t spread to other people living and doing business in Rivers State.
“I try to explain to people who have been calling me everybody in Rivers State, now is vulnerable because of the index case that we have. The young lady that came into Port Harcourt came in a flight with some people. Those people are scattered all over this state now.
“The lady stays somewhere with her parents and siblings. They have had contact with people. You don’t know who they have had contact with, and the governor, in his wisdom, is saying ‘let’s restrict movement so that we can do what it takes within our powers to ensure this thing is contained’.
“I can assure you that the relevant authorities and those who are given the mandate to tackle this epidemic are doing their best, having full cooperation of those that are involved in the contact tracing, and I believe very strongly that the cooperation they are getting will help us to tackle this pandemic here.
“The treatment centre is fully functional, and the index patient is doing very well. So, now, it behoves all those living and doing business in Rivers State, to comply with the various measures that have been put in place, including security agencies who will be manning the various border posts to ensure that the restriction order is actually implemented to the letter.
“The governor has also set up a 12-man task force headed by himself, because it is something he takes dear to heart as a patriot. He doesn’t want to delegate this responsibility. He set up a 12-man task force he is heading, has all the service commanders, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Attorney General of the State and Commissioner for Justice, the Commissioner for Health and myself as secretary, as one that will go round and ensure compliance.
“All commissioners and special advisers have been directed to move to their various local government areas, be part of the enlightenment drive, and to also ensure and enforce all the directives up to the ward level. That is where we are as a state right now, and we believe strongly that with the cooperation of all those living and doing business in Rivers State, we will overcome this challenge,” the commissioner said.
On the perceived misunderstanding concerning church activities, Nsirim reiterated that the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, only directed that the number of persons for every service should be reduced.
“Government cannot ban churches from holding their programmes. His Excellency is a peoples’ leader. Before a pronouncement was made on this matter, all the religious leaders were called to Government House for an interaction. At that forum, the pros and cons of everything were weighed, and the decision was that for smaller churches, let the services not go beyond 50 persons per session.
“For the bigger ones, a 100 or so that we can maintain social distancing in these churches,” he stated, adding that “churches must provide places where people can wash their hands and possibly provide sanitizers and equipment to check temperature of those entering the church”.
On alleged reports that people were being allowed into the state despite the Executive Order by the governor for the closure of all land and sea borders, Nsirim said, “That information has filtered in and government is investigating. The governor cannot be at the border posts.
“This is a responsibility that he has delegated to the security agencies to handle. So, it will be quite unfortunate if there is a compromise at the borders,” Nsirim said, noting that appropriate punishment will be meted out to anyone found culpable in sabotaging government directives.

 

By: Dennis Naku

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Wike Orders All Markets Closed From, ’Morrow …Confirms Index Case …Directs Civil Servants From GL 1 To 10 To Stay At Home

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has confirmed the index positive case of Coronavirus in the state, declaring that the state government has commenced contact tracing of all those she had contact with.
Wike also announced that all markets in the state are to remain closed from Saturday, March28, 2020.
The governor also directed that all civil servants from Grade Level 1 – 10 are to remain at home from today until further notice.
In a broadcast, yesterday, Wike said: “It is, however, unfortunate that despite all the preventive measures we put in place, our state has recorded a positive case as confirmed by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“The positive case is a 19-year-old female model from Edo State who resides in Port Harcourt. Her travel history reveals that she travelled to France, Italy and Greece before returning to Port Harcourt on March16, 2020. ”On arrival to Port Harcourt, she was asymptomatic and commenced self-isolation in her family house before her samples were collected and sent to the Reference Laboratory, Irruan in Edo State.”
The governor added: “The patient is presently being managed at the State Treatment Centre and she is doing excellently well.
“As it is in normal established practice, intensive line listing and contact tracing of all those she came in contact with has commenced in full force.
“In addition, samples have been collected from high risk contacts for further evaluations while decontamination process has also commenced.
“As the State Chief Executive, I want to sincerely thank this young lady for her patriotic spirit which aided health officials to get relevant information in this direction.
‘May I, therefore, urge you all to remain calm because there is no cause for alarm. The state government is fully prepared to ensure that the incident is contained to avoid further spread.”
Wike outlined additional measures to check the spread of Coronavirus in the state.
He said: “All civil servants from Grade Levels 1 – 10 are to remain at home from Friday, March 27 until further notice.
“All markets in the state, no matter how small, are to remain closed with effect from Saturday, March 28, 2020.
“All local government chairmen are to head task forces in their various local government areas that will ensure that markets remain closed. Council chairmen are empowered to confiscate the goods of defaulters.
“All commissioners and special advisers are to monitor the compliance of the above directives in their various local government areas.
“Security agencies have also been directed to enforce all the decisions taken by the security council.”
Wike said that the state government cannot relax the measures as requested by some organisations.
He said: “After our announcement about border closure, we have received requests from the following companies, Nigeria LNG Limited, Total E&P Nigeria Limited, International Breweries PLC, Oilserve Limited and Nigerian Gas Company to the effect that government should relax the measures because of their activities.
“Government cannot grant their requests now because the protection of human life is more important than any other thing, and we shall do everything necessary to fulfill our obligation in this direction.
“However, we shall review our restrictions concerning their activities when we are fully convinced that it will be reasonable to do so. Let me reiterate that we have taken these painful decisions because we cannot afford to lose any life in this state.
“It is very important at this stage that all citizens continue to practice hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and social distancing to keep our dear state safe.”
Wike pleaded with Rivers people to continue to cooperate with the state government for the containment of Coronavirus.

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