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2023: Fraud Allegations Rock Enugu APC

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Barely one month to the conduct of the general elections, the Enugu State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been hit by crisis over alleged fraud of more than N1.3 billion, involving the chairman of the party, Ugochukwu Agballah and the governorship candidate, Uche Nnaji.
Making the revelations in Abuja when aggrieved members of the party took a protest to the national secretariat of the party, leader of the protesters, Comrade Adolphus Ude and chairman, Concerned Members of Enugu State APC, said they were there to vent their concerns.
Ude who doubles as chairman, Mainstream Enugu APC and pioneer deputy chairman, APC, Enugu State, said there had been “impunity, gross misconducts, fraudulent administration, embezzlement of party funds, and impunity being perpetrated by the state chairman and the governorship candidate.”
The aggrieved members said the duo have misappropriated the sum of N283 million meant for the expression of interest and nomination forms to ensure that the party fields candidates for the governorship, and all the National Assembly and State Assembly seats in Enugu State to shore up their fortunes and also ensure that the party secures at least 25% of votes cast in the 2023 presidential election in the State.
They further alleged the embezzlement of about $1.5 million (N1.050 billion) being allowances for Enugu State delegates in the 2022 national convention and presidential election.
Speaking further, he said: “These and related matters such as the irregular and controversial emergence of the new state executive, which are also before the courts, were laid before the national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, while he was the chairman of the APC Reconciliation Committee.
“Our notable party leaders in the state were also on a protest visit to the national leadership in August 2022 where they submitted a petition calling for the removal of Ugochukwu Agballah as the State party chairman and appointment of a Caretaker Chairman to save the state chapter of the party from destruction and disgrace. The signatories and delegation included; Mr. Geofrey Onyeama, Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs; Sullivan Chime, former Governor of Enugu State; Barr. Eugene Odo, former Speaker, Enugu State House of Assembly; Ambassador Christian Ugwu, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Poland, among many others.
“Although the chairman promised to look into the issues, we can understand that pressing party matters such as the national convention and presidential primary, overseeing the various primary elections and the party’s preparations for the 2023 general election, which he had to undertake immediately after his election as the national chairman must have preoccupied him.
“Unfortunately, all the issues we forewarned against and more are happening in the Enugu State chapter of the party and we believe that unless urgent and drastic steps are taken, the party faces a disastrous and scandalous outing in the state in the forthcoming general election.
“There is also the issue of hijack of the funds provided for preparation for the forthcoming 11th January 2023 presidential rally in Enugu and visit by our presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima.
“Although serious damage has already been done to the party by the duo of Agballah and Nnaji, who in the real sense are not interested in the wellbeing and victory of the APC, but only in making brisk business at the expense of our party, we believe that the national leadership of the party; our presidential candidate, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu; his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima; and our President, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, could still work with the leaders and mainstream of the APC to remedy the situation before the general election.
“We are calling for the immediate removal of Agballah as the chairman of the APC in Enugu State and the appointment of a Caretaker Chairman to pilot the party through the 2023 general election.
“We call on the national leadership of the party to cause Agballah and Nnaji to immediately make available to the state’s delegates to the national convention and presidential primary election the allowances totaling about $1.5 million given to them.
“We call on the national leadership of the APC to cause Agballah and Nnaji to immediately account for the sum of N283 million released to them for the expression of interest and nomination forms for all the elective offices in Enugu in the 2023 general election.
“We call on the national leadership of the party to cause Agballah and Nnaji to release the funds made available for the preparations for the forthcoming presidential rally in Enugu.
“As loyal party members, we re-emphasise the need to address with dispatch these issues raised in our protest letter submitted here in order to reposition our party for resounding impact in the presidential election in the Enugu State.”
Fidelis Edeh, Director-General of Nwakaibie Uche Nnaji Campaign Organisation, told newsmen that the national headquarters of APC should confirm if such funds were released.
“APC should be the one to confirm and not the candidate,” he said.
Enugu State APC chairman, Agballah, said the claims made are untrue, insisting that they were yet to be mobilised financially by the national leadership.
“We’re yet to get any money. The governorship candidate is the person funding the campaigns,” he said.

 

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PDP Reschedules NEC Meeting For Sept 26

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has slated September 26 for its second National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the year.
The date was announced by the party through its 2024 adjusted timetable and schedule of activities for congresses, which were released to party members and stakeholders on Monday.
Ahead of the September NEC meeting, the party has slated July 27 for the conduct of ward/delegate congresses to elect ward executives as well as three ad hoc delegates in 23 out of the 36 states of the country, including Abuja.
The timetable also disclosed that, among other things, the NEC is expected to ratify the list of executives that will emerge from the congresses.
According to the timetable, local government congresses to elect council executives and national delegates in 21 affected states are expected to follow on August 10th.
Recall that in April, the PDP held its first NEC meeting after acrimonious elections in 2023, where many of its high-profile members were involved in anti-party activities.
The party remains polarised, with some members supporting former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the party, and others queuing behind the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) minister, Nyesom Wike.
The outcome of the election and issues surrounding the role played by its leaders led to the suspension of the National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, by his Igyorov Ward executives from the Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State.
However, the effort to remove the Acting National Chairman, Ambassador Illiya Damagum, to allow the North Central region where Ayu hails from to produce its successor was deferred to the next NEC meeting earlier slated for August, which has now been shifted to September.

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Edo, Ondo 2024: INEC Warns Personnel Against Corrupt Practices

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the success of any election largely depends on the professionalism and competence of those responsible for conducting it.
INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said this while warning its personnel against unethical and corrupt practices in the upcoming Edo and Ondo governorship elections.
He spoke on Monday in Abuja at a lecture in honour of late Abubakar Momoh, former director-general of The Electoral Institute (TEI), from August 2013 to May 2017.
Prof. Yakubu, represented by the National Commissioner, and Chairman, Board of Electoral Institute, Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, warned that any unethical practice before, during and after those elections would incur severe punishments under the law.
The theme of the lecture was: “Achieving Professionalism Among Election Personnel Through Effective Training in Preparation for the Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections.’’
He advised electoral officers to be guided by the principles of integrity, impartiality, transparency, professionalism, gender and disability sensitivity.
He said it was important for electoral personnel to be knowledgeable, skilled and well-equipped with relevant competencies to handle the complexities and challenges of the electoral process.
“Moreover, the crucial role election personnel play in upholding the integrity of our democratic processes cannot be overstressed.
“The manner in which they discharge their duties and responsibilities affects the degree of confidence voters will have in the electoral process, which will impact their participation and turnout,’’ he said.
Prof. Yakubu said that to ensure credibility and trustworthiness in elections and build trust among the electorate, INEC had always prioritised the professional development of its election personnel.
He said the commission identified effective and efficient electoral training as the key to unlocking professionalism among election personnel.
“The commission’s involvement in effective training programmes has empowered its staff to uphold the highest standards of integrity and professionalism in order to strengthen our processes and procedures to serve the interests of all Nigerians,’’ he said.
The Director General of TEI, Dr Sa’ad Idris, in his remarks, said that INEC, in pursuit of its mission and vision, had prioritised professionalism toward achieving free, credible, transparent and inclusive elections.
“As we prepare for the 2024 Edo and Ondo off-cycle governorship elections, the commission is assured that the outcome of effective training of election personnel will manifest in a high level of professionalism”, he said.

 

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Reps Propose Rotational Presidency, Six-Year Single Term

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A bill seeking a single term of six years for the President and state governors was brought up on Monday by 35 members of the House of Representatives.
The bill also canvasses the rotation of the presidency among the six geopolitical zones of the country.
The 35 legislators, under the auspices of Reform-minded Legislators, said the proposition would lead to a reduction in the cost of governance.
Addressing a press conference at the National Assembly Complex on Monday, the spokesman for the group, Ikenga Ugochinyere, added that the move would unite the country and ensure a seamless transition and unprecedented development for the country.
Hon Ugochinyere emphasised the need to interrogate the challenges facing the Nigerian state, saying, “We should not be afraid to meet and discuss our problems, challenges, fears, aspirations, and prospects as a people. We should not discuss in fear and we should never fear to discuss.”
Speaking on the bill, Hon Ugochinyere, who represents Ideato North/Idaeto South Federal Constituency of Imo State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said, “On governance, we are proposing a constitutional alteration to provide for the rotation of executive powers among the six geopolitical zones to ensure equal representation and reduce the desperation and tempo of agitation for the creation of states. We are proposing to amend Section 3 of the constitution to provide for the recognition of the division of Nigeria into six geopolitical zones.
“And also, to amend the constitution to provide for a single tenure of six years for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the state governors. This will bring about a reduction in government spending and wastage; promote efficiency in governance, and national stability by providing a single term of six years for the President and the governors.”
The lawmakers drawn from different political parties are also seeking amendments to the constitution “to create the office of two Vice Presidents from the southern and northern parts of Nigeria.”
Hon Ugochinyere explained that the First Vice President would be a succession vice president, while the Second Vice President would be a minister in charge of the economy, and both shall be ministers.
Hon Ugochinyere said the 35 lawmakers were also pushing for a “constitutional amendment to provide that the President and the First Vice President shall come from the same part of the country (North or South) and the First Vice President shall become President whenever the President becomes incapacitated, that is, VP (succession), VP (Administration and Economy).”
The bill also seeks financial autonomy and accountability of local government councils by prescribing an independent Consolidated Local Government Council Account solely superintendent by Local Councils. It prescribes long-term imprisonment for any misuse of local government funds.
On electoral reforms, the group proposed amendments to the relevant sections of the Electoral Act to ensure “that all elections (presidential, governorship, National Assembly, state Houses of Assembly, and local Governments) are held on the same day.”
Hon Ugochinyere said, “We are pushing for amendments to relevant sections of the Electoral Act to provide that no declaration of a winner of an election shall be done by the relevant Independent National Electoral Commission officials until such officer has compared the results with the list of accredited voters and ensured that the results to be declared are in tandem with the list of accredited voters and the B-VAS machine or any other electronic device.
“Amend the Electoral Act to provide that any INEC officer who declares a false result will be liable for civil and criminal action personally brought against him by parties in the elections.
“An amendment to the Electoral Act to provide that all election-related litigations must be resolved and determined by the Elections Petitions Tribunal, Appeal Courts, etc before the winners are sworn into the respective elective offices.

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