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We’ve Never Been At War With Igbos, Okocha Reminds Critics

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The former President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Onueze C.J. Okocha, has posited that Rivers State has never been at war with the Igbos of the South-East.
Okocha, who was reacting to the curfew imposed on Oyigbo Local Government Area by the state government, in Port Harcourt, last Wednesday, asserted that the decision of the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, based on advice of the State Security Council, was constitutional and done in good faith.
He described the incident that happened in Oyigbo, where members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), killed 10 security operatives, leading to imposition of curfew in the area, as unfortunate.
He said that Rivers State and the Igbos have always enjoyed cordial relationship in areas of marriage and trading, adding that the two groups were not ready to be dagger-drawn.
The SAN stated that over 60 per cent of businesses in the state were owned by the Igbos, regretting why some individuals would be fanning embers of war among the two groups.
He said, “Our relationship is very cordial, it is only these political boundaries of states of the federation that have tended to divide people. Igbos control 50 to 60 per cent of commercial activities in Rivers State. I have many of them as my friends.
“I wonder why anybody will raise this banner of ethnic jingoism. We have never, as Rivers people, had problem with Igbos. Most of us, including myself, my mother came from Onitsha, which is one major kingdom in Igboland.”
Okocha noted that many Igbos have been appointed to serve in the state as commissioners, special advisers and heads of ministries of government under Governor Nyesom Wike, wondering why some people would claim that Igbos were hated by the state.
“So, why should anybody begin to allege oh, some of us don’t like Igbos, and I heard that unfortunate label being labelled as an accusation that our governor hates the Igbo. How can? There are Igbos in his government who are serving in Rivers State. How many Rivers people are in any government, cabinet, in that matter, anywhere else apart from Rivers State?
“But Igbos are serving in the governor’s cabinet, Yorubas are on his advisory council, are on his executive council, and many of them are activists here in Rivers State. We even have a political organisation called Indigenes Without Borders (IWB),” he said.
The legal luminary explained that the governor had the constitutional right to impose curfew on any part of the state under him, if there were threats of breakdown of law and order, to avert anarchy.
Okocha said that it was wrong for the banned IPOB members to cause public unrest in the state, having been proscribed by law, adding that the governor acted in defense of law and order, as it was a constitutional responsibility of government to do so.
“So, it is totally unlawful for anybody to begin to carry that banner of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and begin to wreak the kind of havoc that we saw play out in some parts of Port Harcourt: Mile One, Mile Two area, Emenike, Ikokwu axis, and then, in Oyigbo, a place which is the neighbouring town between us and Abia State. Most unfortunate!
“Lawlessness and unlawful assemblies ought not to be tolerated in a country that is working to have law and order, and peace to face the development of our country. So, it was very unfortunate.”
He explained that in any part of a state where there is breakdown of law and order, a governor was constitutionally obliged to impose curfew, which was exactly what Governor Wike did.
“But he has assessed the security situation, and based on the advise he got from the security agencies, I believe he was perfectly justified to impose curfew in those parts of the state where there was total breakdown of law and order,” he stated.

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Only Your Votes’ll Decide Fate Of Candidates, INEC Reassures Nigerians

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reassured Nigerian voters that only their votes will be the sole determinant of the winners among the 15,322 candidates nationwide contesting in next year’s general election.
The commission reiterated its commitment to ensuring that it delivers a credible, free and fair election, reassuring that the votes of the electorate will definitely count.
INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, gave the assurance in his keynote address at the Annual Conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, held in Lagos, yesterday.
He admitted that with the lifting of the ban on political campaigns, the tempo of political activities has increased with parties, candidates and their supporters commencing campaigns, rallies, processions and media advertisements to canvass the support of the electorate.
The chairman, however, warned that the commission will pay particular attention to the conduct of parties, candidates and their supporters, stressing that as the regulator, it will play its role to ensure compliance with the provision of the law as well as our guidelines and regulations.
“The 2023 general election is fast approaching. It is now 141 days to Election Day. Polling Units will open at 8:30 am on Saturday, February 25, 2023, for national elections (Presidential and National Assembly) and the same time on Saturday, March 11, 2023, for state elections (governorship and state assembly).
“Campaign in public by political parties officially commenced on Wednesday, September 28, 2022. Therefore, the tempo of political activities has increased as parties, candidates and their supporters commence campaigns, rallies, processions and media advertisements to canvass the support of the electorate.
“The commission has published the final list of 15,322 candidates for the General Election contesting for 1,491 seats (one Presidential, 28 Governorship, 109 Senatorial, 360 House of Representatives and 993 State Assembly constituencies).
“I wish to restate once again the commitment of INEC to credible elections. Votes will continue to count and will be the sole determinant of the electoral outcome,” he assured.
The electoral umpire boss further explained that technological innovations introduced by the commission will guarantee and protect the sanctity of the choice made by Nigerians at the polls.
“For this reason, the commission has introduced many new innovations, supported by the deployment of appropriate technology, to protect the sanctity of the choice made by Nigerians at the polls ranging from voter registration to voter accreditation and result management,” he said.
“The deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) with its dual fingerprint and facial biometric accreditation process has ensured that only genuine voters are accredited to vote during election. This has curtailed the incidence of multiple voting and other sharp practices associated with voter accreditation during elections.
“The BVAS has come to stay and will be the only means by which voters will be accredited in the 2023 general election.
“Furthermore, the introduction of the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) Portal has made the result management procedure more transparent. Polling Unit results are now uploaded in real-time to the IReV portal for public view.
“This has enhanced the transparency, credibility and consequently public confidence in the outcome of elections. The IReV has come to stay and polling unit results will be uploaded to the portal in real-time in the 2023 general election,” he said.
Yakubu further emphasised that; “as campaigns commence, I also wish to remind political parties and candidates that you all signed the Peace Accord organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC) in which you committed yourselves to peaceful electioneering campaign. I urge you to be guided by the letter and spirit of the accord.
“For our part, the commission will pay particular attention to the conduct of parties, candidates and their supporters. As a regulator, the commission will play its role to ensure compliance with the provision of the law as well as our guidelines and regulations.
“We will pay particular attention to a peaceful campaign devoid of abusive, intemperate and slanderous language as well as the use of innuendoes or insinuations likely to provoke a counter-reaction resulting in the breach of the peace.
“Similarly, we will pay special attention to the observance of limits on party and candidate finance. I urge political parties and candidates to carefully study the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and familiarise themselves with their obligations as well as the penalties under the law.
“As you are aware, elections are a multi-stakeholder activity. As the commission is doing its best to ensure a credible process, we also appeal to the media for a continuous partnership. Managing the electoral process for credible outcomes is the responsibility of all of us. As campaign activities get underway, the media will continue to play an important role. A lot of the activities will take place in the media of which the new media is a critical player.
“We must continue to work together against the spread of fake news, misinformation and disinformation that seek to create or exacerbate tension or de-legitimise processes and outcomes,” Yakubu charged.

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2023: Era Of Ballot Box Snatching Over, Banigo Insists …Lauds Wike For Reappointing Danagogo

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Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, has expressed gratitude to Governor Nyesom Wike for the reappointment of Dr. Tammy Danagogo as Secretary to the State Government.
Banigo stated this during a meeting with leaders and critical stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area at the Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The deputy governor, who congratulated Danagogo for his re-appointment, described the re-appointment as well-deserved.
Banigo said she does not take lightly the call to represent Rivers West at the Senate, and noted that her kind of representation at the Upper Legislative Chambers would bring glory to God.
“I encourage you to tell your people to collect their PVCs, because this time around the votes will count, as the new Electoral Act does not allow what they did in 2019, they cannot try it as nobody can carry ballot boxes”, the deputy governor stressed.
In a related development, Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, has commended leaders of the PDP in Ahoada West Local Government Area, for keying into the Divine Kingdom Mandate.
Banigo made this commendation while meeting with them at the Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday, preparatory to the commencement of her campaigns in the upcoming elections.
She motivated the people to exercise their franchise, by collecting their PVCs to vote for credible candidates of the PDP.
“They should come out and vote, because this is our opportunity to chase out this bad All Progressives Congress-led government at the federal level, as they have brought so much untold suffering, untold hardship, bloodshed and kidnapping. We have seen the developmental strides of our governor so much development is going on in Rivers State, and we are poised to give you more”, Banigo added.

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Wike Signs Instrument To Withdraw Omehia’s Recognition As Ex-Gov, Today …Re-Appoints Danagogo As SSG

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, will today sign the official instrument to withdraw the recognition of Sir Celestine Omehia as former governor of the state.
A statement signed by the Special Assistant on Media to the Rivers State Governor, Kelvin Ebiri, yesterday, said that the ceremony would “take place at the Government House, Port Harcourt, on Friday, 7th October, 2022 by 12 noon”.
The statement further read, “His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, is to sign the instrument on cancellation of the recognition of Sir Celestine Omehia as a former governor of Rivers State.
“The cancellation of the recognition is sequel to the resolution of the Rivers State House of Assembly adopted on Thursday, October 6, 2022, to derecognise Sir Celestine Omehia as a former governor of the state”, the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has approved the re-appointment of Dr Tammy Danagogo as the Secretary to the State Government.
A statement signed by the Special Assistant on Media to the Rivers State Governor, Kelvin Ebiri, last Wednesday, said that “the appointment takes immediate effect.”
It added, “His Excellency, the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has approved the re-appointment of Dr.Tammy Wenike Danagogo as the Secretary to the Rivers State Government (SSG).”

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