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Allegations against me over plot to destabilize Gov Alia’s govt laughable -Senator Moro

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By Chukwuka Kanu

The Senator representing Benue South Senatorial District Senator Abba Moro has described allegations leveled against him on plot to destabilize Governor Hyacinth Alia’s government as laughable and baseless.

This was contained in a statement issued and signed by the Benue Federal lawmaker on Monday night stating that:

“My attention has been drawn to a press release by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor of Benue State, Fr. Hyacinth Alia titled, THICK PLOTS TO DESTABILIZE ALIA’S GOVERNMENT UNCOVERED, wherein I was accused of knowing the root cause of insecurity in Benue State and discreetly cooking crooked plans to destabilize the state.

“The hastily concocted and attention-seeking press release should ordinarily not deserve a response from me but for the unsuspecting reading public that stands to be misinformed and misled if the records are not put into proper perspectives.

“It is absurd, uncharitable and laughable for the government of Benue State to accuse me of plots to destabilize Benue State after all my efforts to support the government of Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia. I want to believe that the governor did not see the content of the press release by his CPS.

“For the records, in his hotel room in Abuja and his house in Makurdi, I had severally advised the governor against dissolving the democratically elected councils in Benue State. I had advised that as a governor who’s a Reverend Father and who had sworn to uphold the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he should be different from the ordinary politician, but he yielded to the pressure from the hawks around him who believed it was their turn to take over the local government areas.

“Dissolving democratically elected councils and setting up caretaker committees is against the grain of the constitution, is an aberration, illegal and alien to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“It was when all my entreaties fell on deaf ears that I did that which any responsible lawmaker representing the people would do. I moved a motion to draw the attention of Nigerians to the illegality in dissolving democratically elected councils in Benue State and other states in Nigeria and called on the senate to resolve to reverse the trend. And to serve as deterrent, I urged the senate to resolve to urge the Federal Government to withhold federation account allocations to the illegal entities called caretaker committees as not to do so would amount to encouraging illegality and unconstitutionality.

“To be so paranoid about my innocuous legislative action and bringing it up at every conversation smacks of a government that has lost focus and the machinery of government. My motion never contained security or insecurity elements.If the Benue State Government now suddenly acknowledges that her action in desolving democratically elected councils has security implications then the responsible thing to do is to have the courage to reverse herself.

“I also advised the governor of Benue State at that early stage to appoint a security adviser and convoke a security Stakeholders’ meeting to review the security situation in Benue State. This certainly cannot be coming from someone plotting to destabilize Benue State.

“The penultimate press conference held by the National Assembly caucus of Benue State was intended to address the security situation in Benue State after the meeting of the senate and security Stakeholders, calling on the federal and state governments to review their security architectures and confront the menace of insecurity frontally. It nothing to do with the illegal sacking of the democratically elected councils.

“I find the aggressive response by the Benue State Government to the harmless and patriotic outcry of the Benue State National Assembly caucus concerning the suffering of Benue people in the hands of herders as very unfortunate and smacks of irresponsibility and cluelessness. And to single out senator Abba Moro and Hon. Phillip Agbese for attacks smacks of a contrived vendetta against a people.

“In the press release by the National Assembly caucus on Wednesday, which I read, the security situation in Benue was never attributed to the dissolution of elected councils. I wonder how governor Alia is comfortably carrying on like nothing is happening, when Benue people are being killed and chased away from their ancestral homes without any form of resistance and not even a visit to the affected communities by the Chief Security Officer of the state, the governor to identify with the people or even a statement fromgovernment house. Not even to provide camps for displaced persons in Zone C let alone ask the Benue State Emergency Management Agency (BSEMA) to provide relief materials to the people.

“I represent NINE LGAs, out of 23, in the Senate and cannot keep quiet and pretend that all is well with my people when all is not well. My effort and that of other senators resulted in the marathon meeting that the Nigerian Senate had with Service Chiefs and many other relevant persons on Tuesday, 13th February, 2024. This is in addition to the personal efforts I have been making towards alleviating the pains of those directly affected by the mindless attacks.

“As representatives of the people, we feel their pains and share in their worries and fears and we will continue to speak for them not minding whose ox is gored. We are not discreetly cooking any crooked plans to destabilize the state, as maliciously alleged, but only interested in a state where her citizens sleep with their eyes closed and can move about freely without fear of attack.

“I urge the state government to sit up and carry out its constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and property of the people rather than chasing imaginary enemies. If the governor and his handlers are not bothered and worried about the happenings in the state, we are worried and will continue to speak out until the right things are done and our people begin to have peace in their homes.

“The general public and the good people of Benue State in particular are enjoined to disregard the watery and baseless statement as it’s merely a calculated attempt by the authors to shift blames, run away from their responsibilities, divert attention from their failures and instigate the public against the Benue State National Assembly Caucus and I.

“My humble advice to the governor, as always, is not to soil all his plates with palm oil as he may not find one to eat with when the need arises.

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Bayelsa Governorship: Tribunal Reserves Judgment on Sylva, Diri

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The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, on Monday, reserved its judgment in the petition filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timipre Sylvia, challenging the re-election of Douye Diri as Governor of Bayelsa State.

The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Adekunle Adeleye, made the announcement shortly after parties adopted and argued their written addresses in the suit.

He assured the parties that the panel’s verdict would be delivered within the 180 days statutorily allowed by law, adding that the judgment date would be communicated as soon as it is fixed.

At Monday’s proceedings, the petitioners prayed the tribunal to annul the declaration of Diri as the winner of the November 11, 2023 election.

Their lead counsel, Dr Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), told the tribunal that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) embarked on wrongful exclusion of results before arriving at the declaration of Diri as winner.

Ikpeazu further stated that the electoral body did not debunk the allegation of wrongful exclusion of results by not calling the state election result collation officer to testify.

He therefore urged the tribunal to objectively decide the petition on the strength of the evidence adduced by the petitioners especially because INEC did not call a single witness to challenge all the allegations.

However, Diri’s counsel, Chris Uche (SAN), informed the tribunal that the petition by Sylva died on arrival because it is grossly deficient in quantity and quality of evidence.

He said that the petition was baseless, frivolous and vexatious and grossly lacking in merit because the two petitioners did not discharge the burden placed on them by law.

Among others, Uche said that Sylva predicated his petition on alleged refusal of INEC to collate results in three local governments areas — Southern Ijaw, Nembe and Ogbia — but failed to call a single collation officer to back up its claim.

Besides, Uche said that Sylva did not tender the voter register, BVAS machines and form EC8A used for the purported election in the three local governments to establish his allegations.

The senior lawyer also said that the petitioner himself, despite having a witness statement on oath, refused to give evidence before the tribunal to substantiate his allegations.

Uche pleaded with the tribunal to discountenance the evidence of a former police commissioner in the state on the ground that the police officer admitted before the tribunal that he had issues with Diri when the Prado Jeep earlier given to him was withdrawn.

Uche also urged the tribunal not to invoke the spirit of the judgment that brought Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, into office, adding that INEC has established beyond doubt that election did not hold in the three local governments due to resistance by some hoodlums to the use of BVAS machines.

Similarly, INEC, represented by Charles Edosomwan (SAN), and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), represented by Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), canvassed for the dismissal of the petition on the ground that the petitioners failed and neglected to discharge the burden of establishing their allegations against the election beyond reasonable doubt as required by law.

INEC had declared Diri of the PDP winner of the November 11, 2023 governorship election in Bayelsa State, having won majority of the votes cast at the election.

According to the Returning Officer, Prof. Faruq Kuta, the PDP and Diri polled 175,196 votes to defeat his closest rival, Timipre Sylva of the APC, who scored 110,108 votes.

Dissatisfied, Sylva and APC had approached the tribunal to challenge the declaration of Diri as winner of the poll.

The petitioners are asking the tribunal to hold that contrary to the position of the electoral umpire, election held in some polling units and winners declared at the said units, adding that it was wrong of INEC to disregard the results at the ward and local government level.

It is their claim that if the said cancelled results were restored by the court, they would emerge winner of the November election.

But the respondents, especially INEC, which conducted the election, submitted that election in three local governments of Southern Ijaw, Ogbia and Nembe did not hold due to incidents of alleged diversions of materials and disruption of the electoral process over alleged bypass of the BVAS machine.

They had tendered the Form EC40G to confirm that there were no elections in the said polling units.

In addition, the respondents brought Certified True Copies (CTCs) of results from INEC to prove that the results brought before the court as evidence that election held at the polling units were forged by the petitioners.

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Edo Guber: Labour Party Faults INEC Final List

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The Edo State chapter of the Labour Party (LP) has faulted the final list as published by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

INEC, in the final list released on April 22, named Oluyinka Faith Alufohai as running mate to Olumide Akpata rather than Alhaji Asamah Yusuf Kadiri, (SAN).

Recall that  the  Labour Party governorship candidate in the September 21st gubernatorial election, Olumide Akpata dropped Oluyinka Faith Alufohai and picked Alhaji Asamah Yusuf Kadiri, SAN as his running mate.

A press statement signed by Comrade Kelly Ogbaloi, the state chairman of the party, and made available to newsmen in Benin City, assured party members and supporters that “this is simply a technical error”.

Comrade Ogbaloi, said, “Our team followed all necessary procedures and submitted Alhaji Kadiri’s name and credentials as the deputy governorship candidate, well within INEC’s stipulated window.

“Unfortunately, a technical glitch occurred at the end of the National Headquarters of our party during the submission process, resulting in the incorrect name appearing on the final list.

“We are currently actively engaged with INEC officials to rectify this issue immediately and our team has provided all requisite documentation demonstrating Alhaji Kadiri’s valid nomination. We have been following-up with INEC diligently, to ensure it updates its candidate list with the accurate information.

“We recognise the anxiety this error may cause, but urge our supporters to remain calm and steadfast in their commitment to our party’s vision.

“Your unwavering support and activism have been invaluable thus far, and we need you to continue spreading awareness of our platform and championing the positive change we represent.

He further said: “The Labour Party is determined to contest the forthcoming September 21, 2024, Edo State Governorship elections fairly and transparently.

“We should not allow this minor administrative hurdle to dampen our confidence or impede our momentum.

“Together, we shall overcome any obstacle, minor or major, as we continue our march towards restoring Edo State to its pride of place nationally.”

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Ondo guber aspirant, Akinterinwa under EFCC custody

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has detained All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant in Ondo State Wale Akinterinwa.

He is being held in connection with the ongoing investigation of his tenure as Commissioner for Finance in the defunct Akeredolu administration.

Until the State Executive Council was dissolved by Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa, who succeeded the late Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Akinterinwa served as commissioner for over seven years.

The aspirant is being investigated for alleged mismanagement of billions of Naira, a source said.

Although Akinterinwa participated at the weekend direct primary from detention, EFCC said the timing of detention was at its discretion and choice.

According to sources, Akinterinwa was invited some weeks ago by the anti-graft body for interaction on some allegations, but was “allegedly too busy” to honour the invitation.

He, however, showed up at the anti-graft commission’s office on Thursday.

It was gathered that EFCC decided to be silent on the detention in order not to jeopardise Akinterinwa’s chances in the APC primary.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “In the past few weeks, the EFCC invited Akinterinwa for interrogation on the red flag on some issues during his tenure as Commissioner for Finance. But he has not been forthcoming.

“The commission had the option to declare him wanted, but it exercised restrained to avoid being dragged into politics because he was an aspirant for the APC governorship primary.

“But Akinterinwa voluntarily reported to the EFCC in Abuja. He was taken into custody for quizzing.”

The soure speaking yesterday, said: “Akinterinwa is still in our custody. We did not arrest or pick him up, but he came up to respond to our long overdue invitation. I can tell you that his detention has no political undertone.”

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