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Ex-NBA President, Akpata, Distances Self From Abure’s Arrest

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Former National Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and frontline governorship aspirant of Labour Party (LP), for the September 21st gubernatorial election in Edo, Olumide Akpata, on Thursday, denied involvement in the arrest of the party’s National Chairman, Julius Abure and five others in Benin City on Wednesday.

In a statement issued in Benin City, and endorsed by the LP gubernatorial hopeful, Akpata slammed another aspirant of the party for making reckless unfounded comments linking him with Abure’s arrest, describing Imansuangbon’s allegations as false and irresponsible.

“I have been made aware of reckless and unfounded comments made by Mr Kenneth Imasuagbon in the press yesterday, February 21, 2024, where he accused me of being behind the recent arrest and detention of Comrade Julius Abure, National Chairman of the Labour Party, Comrade Kelly Ogbaloi, Edo State Chairman of the Labour Party, and other party officials by the Nigeria Police Force.

“Let me categorically state that these allegations made by Mr Imasuagbon, who claims to be a lawyer and should therefore know better, are completely false and, frankly, very irresponsible. I had absolutely no involvement whatsoever in the arrests he referred to.

“As we have been told by the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Police Force Zone 5 Zonal Headquarters, the arrests stemmed from an entirely separate incident that occurred in Benin City on December 29, 2023, where one Comrade Anselm Eragbe, a former National Youth Leader of the Labour Party, was allegedly assaulted.

“Comrade Eragbe thereafter submitted a petition on the attack, accusing the arrested officials of orchestrating the incident. It was this petition that prompted a police investigation and subsequent arrests.

“I must make it clear that I have no connection at all to this unfortunate matter, beyond also being falsely accused on national television on December 29, 2023, of being responsible for the incident involving Comrade Eragbe.

“As someone falsely implicated in this matter, I have a strong interest in the outcome of the police investigation in order to clear my name fully”, Akpata said.

The LP governorship aspirant expressed concern over the arrest of the party’s National Chairman and other party officials barely 48 hours to the party’s governorship primary election in Edo State, just as he expressed worry over the delay of the release of the party’s delegates’ list of the ward congresses conducted last Tuesday.

“Given the timing of the arrests just 48 hours before the Labour Party primaries scheduled for February 23, 2024, the last possible day for political parties intending to field candidates in the September 21, 2024, Edo State Gubernatorial elections to conduct primaries, it raises some very serious concerns. It is imperative that the party be able to conduct free, fair, and smooth primaries as planned on Friday, February 23, 2024.

“I strongly urge the party leadership to explore all lawful options as provided by the party’s constitution to ensure the activities and operations of the Labour Party continue without obstruction. The party must urgently release the final delegate list from the ward congresses of Tuesday, February 20, 2024, which were monitored by INEC.

“It is worrying that we still do not have full delegate information more than 24 hours after the congress. I want to use this opportunity to caution Mr Kenneth Imasuagbon to cease his campaign of falsehoods and calumny against me, which he renewed with vigour on Tuesday, February 20, 2024 and has continued with his latest unwarranted attacks, where he attempted to link me to the party leadership’s arrest. Mr Imasuagbon is clearly intimidated by my aspiration and has resorted to spreading lies in a desperate bid to derail my campaign. I can no longer allow his disgraceful smear tactics to go unanswered.

“He should be ashamed for tarnishing my good name without justification. If Mr. Imasuagbon does not immediately stop his dishonourable attacks against me, I will not hesitate to pursue legal action to protect my reputation against his baseless claims.

“The time has come for him to face consequences for his deceitful conduct.

“In closing, I sincerely hope the detained officials secure and are allowed access to proper legal counsel, as is their constitutional right, and that this unfortunate matter is resolved quickly.

“However, I implore that the internal issues of the party must not hamper our preparations for the crucial primaries, as we have no wiggle room for error. I remain committed to the principles and values of the Labour Party and call for unity behind our shared vision,” Akpata stated.

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Don’t put commissioners under pressure’ — Aiyedatiwa warns Ondo citizens

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The governor of Ondo State, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, has cautioned families and friends of the newly inaugurated commissioners in the state against putting them under undue pressure that could affect their performance as members of the State Executive Council, SEC.

Aiyedatiwa, who also warned the new cabinet members against corrupt tendencies, urged them to steer clear of acts capable of having a negative impact on the affairs of the state.

The governor stated this while swearing in no fewer than 12 commissioners at the weekend into the State Executive Council, SEC.

Aiyedatiwa, who urged the new cabinet members to justify their appointments through dedicated service, stressed that his administration will accelerate development and good governance.

The new commissioners are Segun Ayerin, Olaolu Akindolire, Alhaji Amidu Takuro, Banji Ajaka, Boye Ologbese, and Sunday Akinwalire.

Others include Deaconess Lola Fagbemi, Mr. Saka Ogunleye, Rasheed Badmus, Olayato Aribo, Adewale Akinlosotu, and Barr Gbenga Olaniyi.

Aiyedatiwa said: “You must excuse corruption or any act that is not conducive to good governance and overriding public interest.

“Thus, I like to implore all friends, families, and well-wishers of the new appointees to refrain from putting undue pressure on them so that they can concentrate and discharge their duties in the overall best interest of the state.

“Let me congratulate the newly inaugurated appointees for being worthy of consideration as honourable commissioners in Ondo State. Some of you are returning, while others are new commissioners.

“In the main, you have a duty to justify your appointment or reappointment, as the case may be. I must inform you that this administration is in a hurry to deliver on its mandate and make life more meaningful for the people.

“The torch of accelerated development that we hold aloft in trust for the people is irreversible. You must guard your loins and hit the ground running in your various offices. You must foster a good working relationship with the workers, especially the permanent secretaries and other accounting officers.

“Let us bear in mind that the government and people of Ondo State are united in their thirst for credible performance, development, and good governance.”

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Students Attack LP Guber Candidate At UNIBEN, Akpata Fingers Govt Official

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The governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Edo State, Olumide Akpata, on Saturday accused a senior official of the state government of masterminding the attack on Friday afternoon at the University of Benin.

The LP governorship candidate, who was a guest at an interactive session organised by the University of Benin Staff Club, was violently interrupted during the event, which caused a crisis within the school premises.

In a viral video released on Saturday, Akpata said a senior lecturer who sustained injury as a result of the attack is currently receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital in Benin.

He also debunked allegations that his security personnel shot a student on the campus, noting that nothing like that happened.

He said, “My staff drew my attention to a video that is making the rounds currently of an individual who claimed to be shot at an event I attended on Friday and claimed to have been shot by my security agent.

“I looked at the video, and nothing could be farther from the truth. I only wished that the individual could show his face to determine the veracity of his story.

“I was invited to the University of Benin Senior Staff Club to hold an interactive session with members of the club. I’m told that a similar event took place a couple of weeks ago by the PDP candidate. To our surprise and consternation, this event was interrupted very rudely by some hoodlums who claimed to be students of the University of Benin.

“They disrupted the event, insisting that it shouldn’t be held without informing them. You can imagine how shocked we were, including the professors there. They barricaded the gate with their vehicles, there was a fracas in the precinct of the club, and a lecturer was injured and he is at the hospital.

“I had to be taken away by security personnel, and even as we attempted to leave UNIBEN, the highway was barricaded. It took my security personnel to remove the barricade before we continued our journey.

“We know what is going on. It is election season, and it is quite obvious that some of our old and very tired politicians are up to their usual antics and have learned nothing.

“I have it on good authority that those hoodlums were deployed by a senior official of the Edo State government, and I’m speaking directly to this official now. I know you, and you know me.”

Akpata added, “I want to place it on record that at no time was a student of the University of Benin shot. The video was done to bring misinformation, I was the one who was attacked alongside the professor.”

However, a statement by the Students Union Government of UNIBEN, titled, “Update on Security Threats and Institutional Disregard” and signed by its President, King Lemuel and Secretary, Eriamiatoe Miracle, also frowned against using “ students as a means of campaign” and noted that the President of UNIBEN Staff Club is being questioned by the appropriate authority.

The SUG alleged that the union was never informed about the interactive session involving the Labour Party candidate and added that the school security was not aware of any authorisation for such a meeting.

The SUG statement read in part, “While the saga continued, the Labour Party governorship candidate stormed out and drove out of the venue. We further heard gunshots sound at the school gate, and on getting there, it was made known to the SUG that the convoy forced themselves into the school premises to do whatever they liked.”

Meanwhile, the management of UNIBEN has condemned the attack on the LP governorship candidate, noting that an investigation would be carried out to unravel the cause of the pandemonium.

A statement signed by the Public Relations Officer of the institution, Dr Benedicta Ehanire, read, “The management of the University of Benin has condemned in strong terms reported violence during the visit of the Edo State Labour Party’s gubernatorial candidate, Mr Olumide Akpata, on the invitation of the Senior Staff Club of the institution.

“The violent incident, allegedly perpetrated by some students, is unacceptable. Consequently, management has set up a committee to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the violent action.

“The committee, headed by Prof Frederick Ekhaise, has one week to submit a report to management.”

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Interior Minister denies announcing Gov Aiyedatiwa as Tinubu’s preferred candidate

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The Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has disassociated himself from a report that President Bola Tinubu picked Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa of Ondo State as his preferred candidate for the Nov.16 Governorship election in the state.

A statement issued by Babatunde Alao, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Minister, on Wednesday, also described as false the purported appointment of the minister as leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Ondo State.

Alao, who was reacting to the social media publication, described the report as baseless and fictitious.

“Therefore, Tunji-Ojo completely disassociates and distances himself from the purported appointment as it holds no truth whatsoever,” he said.

The media aide added that there was no meeting held in Abuja between the minister and APC Chairmen and leaders from the 18 local government areas of Ondo State, as alleged in the article.

“The minister is aware that the party’s governorship primary election is days away, and he has advised aspirants to embrace the spirit of love and sportsmanship,” Alao said.

According to him, the President, as the father of the nation and as the leader of the party, is a democrat whose interest is always to promote unity and peace.

“Therefore, he would not want to involve himself in any action that would undermine that,” he said.

The special adviser urged the public to disregard the misinformation contained in the viral news article and to always rely on credible sources for accurate information.

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