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Edo gov poll: PDP opens door as Obaseki loses APC ticket [Punch]

  • Disqualification unjust, I won’t appeal, says embattled governor
  • No law stops party from screening Obaseki again –Oshiomhole
  • No shaking, Obaseki’ll contest, win election, says aide
  • APC will suffer dire consequences for barring incumbent –Odigie-Oyegun

Following his disqualification by the All Progressives Congress, there are indications that the embattled Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, may consider running on the platform of another political party to realise his second-term ambition, Saturday PUNCH has learnt.

The screening committee of the party, headed by Prof Jonathan Ayuba, while presenting the committee’s report to the party’s National Working Committee, said the governor was disqualified from participating in the party’s June 22 primary because of the discrepancies in his names and certificates and for taking the party to court in contravention of the party’s rules.

In the report received by the National Chairman of the party, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, Ayuba noted that Obaseki claimed to have obtained a Higher School Certificate from the Institute of Continuing Education in Benin but that he did not produce the certificate and that the document he produced only attested to his attendance.

He said further that the governor’s National Youth Service Corps certificate reads ‘Obasek Godwin’ and that while this could be an error on the part of NYSC, the governor never took any step “to correct the anomaly.”

Obaseki and two other aspirants, Chris Ogiemwonyi and Mathew Iduoriyekenwen, were disqualified from participating in the party primary ahead of the September 19, 2020 governorship election in the state. Those cleared to take part in the primary were Mr Osaro Obaze, Dr Pius Odubu and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.

Obaseki and Oshiomhole had been at loggerheads over the governor’s reelection bid.

Sequel to the disqualification, the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has declared the party’s doors open for the governor. It was, however, not clear if the governor would get automatic ticket in the party if he decides to run on its platform.

Authoritative sources close to the leadership of the party however said the governor might be considering joining the PDP given that it is the only party that has the structure both in the state and at the national level.

The source said, “We will not send him away if he wants to join us. We will welcome him like every other defector if he wants to take refuge under our umbrella. That is what I can tell you.”

Asked if the governor could still be accommodated in the party’s primary slated for June 23 and 24 in the state, the source declined to give a definite answer.

The PDP had screened its governorship aspirants via a committee, headed by a member of the House of Representatives, Kingsley Chida. Other members of the committee were Oladimeji Fabiyi; Sen. Joy Emordi; Aishat Hasindu and Boyele Debekeme.

The three aspirants who were screened were Gideon Ikhine, Ogbeide Ihama and Kenneth Imansuangbon.

While the first two aspirants were physically screened, Imansuangbon was screened virtually.

One of our correspondents gathered that the PDP could replicate in Edo State the consideration it gave Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State in 2019 when the APC denied him its ticket to contest for a second term.

Ortom, who was then having a running battle with his political godfather, Senator George Akume, was received by the PDP when the former governor allegedly used his connection with the national leadership of the APC to deny Ortom the party’s ticket.

Meanwhile, PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, told one of our correspondents in a telephone interview that the PDP was big enough to accommodate anyone who showed interest to be part of it.

He said the party was not going to deny the governor membership of the PDP if he decided to join it.

He added, “He is a sitting governor who ought not to be treated that way. If he contested four years ago and was allowed to fly the flag of the party, what has changed between then and now?

“For now, we are not against anyone who wants to join us. Our doors are open and if he decides to join us as an individual, we will welcome him. That’s the only thing I can say for now.”

Asked if the governor could be considered to be the party’s governorship candidate, Secondus said he was not competent to speak on such an issue, but stressed he was confident the party would win the governorship election.

“The PDP ticket is not won on the pages of newspapers. Our members decide who will be their governors or representatives,” he added.

Citing the outcome of the 2019 governorship election, Secondus said the outcome of the 2019 presidential election was an indication that the state belongs to the PDP.

“Remember that in that election, the PDP had 275,691 votes representing 49.17 per cent of the total votes while the APC got 267,842 votes. That just represents 47.77 per cent of the votes,” Secondus added.

Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan said the party would readily accept Obaseki if he desired to join the party.

He told one of our correspondents, “We are open to anyone, including Obaseki, The party is open to him and anyone who wants to join. Mind you, it is not all the members of the party who are interested in contesting election. Therefore, membership does not mean interest. We will welcome Obaseki with open hands, just the way we do for other.”

APC panel disqualifies three, clears three

While submitting the report of the screening to Oshiomhole, Ayuba said the report was conclusive.

He added, “Every member signed and has agreed with what we have decided at the committee level. This is essential because we want to be judged by what we have done and what we are presenting.

“We were thorough in the manner in which we conducted the exercise. We recorded live the interaction with each of the aspirants. The unedited clip is what we are giving as part of our report. We want to be judged by what we have done and not by what a third party says or by rumour.”

He said out of the six aspirants screened, three were eligible to contest while three were deemed ineligible to contest.

Giving details of Obaseki’s disqualification, the panel chairman said, “Though His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki, in his nomination form claimed to have obtained a Higher School Certificate from an Institute of Continuing Education, Benin. It was observed however, that no educational certificate such as HSC is known in Nigerian educational system. Even then, the same HSC was never presented in the course of the screening exercise. The aspirant admitted that he has never collected it.

“The attestation from the Institute of Continuing Education, Benin from where the alleged HSC which was indicated in the field of attendance as obtained is of no consequence, as it only attests that Obaseki was a student of the institute. So, what we had was just an attendance, it was not a result.

“Although, the committee received a petition on his University of Ibadan Bachelor of Arts Classics certificate which he submitted to INEC in 2016, when he first contested as governor. The committee on further probing was presented with original certificate issued by the university and the original was sighted.

“On the NYSC certificate dated 6th August 1980, the committee observed that he bears the name ‘Obasek’ Godwin. While this may be an error on the part of the issuing authority, we observed however that the aspirant has not taken any step ever to have the anomaly corrected by the issuing authority.

“In our interaction with issues raised, we concluded that (the) HSC was defective, the NYSC certificate (too) and based on the party’s constitution, this has made us to recommend that  Obaseki is not eligible to participate in the election.”

While receiving the report on behalf of the APC NWC, Oshiomhole expressed gratitude to the panel and urged all those who were unsatisfied with the report to approach the appeals panel.

No law stops party from screening Obaseki again — Oshiomhole

When asked for his reaction to Obaseki’s disqualification during a programme on ‘Democracy Day’ on Channels Television on Friday, Oshiomhole said no law stopped the party from screening someone already occupying a political office, noting that the APC was just following its constitution to ensure that nothing was being taken for granted.

He said, “We are following our party constitution and we have a screening committee that turned in a report, which is subject to the Appeal Committee.

“If it is assumed that anybody who has been screened before or who has contested election before should not be screened again, then it would have been so expressly stated in our constitution.

“We have a sitting senator who contested as deputy governor in Bayelsa State and we all assumed that having passed screening and being a sitting senator, the requirements of being a senator is exactly the same with any other office. But the Supreme Court found out that there were discrepancies that were not observed and for which the man was disqualified and we (APC) lost the state.”

I won’t appeal, says embattled gov

Meanwhile, Obaseki has said he will not appeal the his disqualification, saying it will be an effort in futility.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, in a statement said, “We have watched the mockery of the democratic process which Mr Adams Oshiomhole is administering and superintending over in our great party, the All Progressives Congress.

‘‘It has been an unfortunate, disheartening, and dreadful spectacle. We had initially asserted that going by the open display and enthronement of illegality by one man in the party that comprises several organs and eminent personalities, there is no way that Governor Godwin Obaseki would get a fair assessment in the run-up to the nomination of candidates to fly the flag of the party in the forthcoming Edo governorship election.

“It is unfortunate that this open show of shame, illegality and travesty of justice is the brand of democracy which Mr Oshiomhole has reduced the APC to.

“We have, therefore, decided that it would be an effort in futility to appeal whatever the unjust outcome of the evaluation and screening process of the APC will be. We wish Oshiomhole well in his maladministration of the party and trust that the Almighty will help our country to find the path to true liberty, freedom, and justice.”

Obaseki also called on his supporters to remain calm and wait for further directives from him.

Shortly after he was disqualified, he tweeted, “We call on all party members and our teeming supporters to remain calm and await further directives, in the light of the announcement of my unjust disqualification to participate @OficialAPCNg primary election in Edo State by the screening committee.”

‘No shaking, Obaseki’ll contest, win election’

Another aide to Obaseki confirmed to one of our correspondents that the governor would “certainly” contest the forthcoming elections, but declined commenting on the platform he would use.

The aide, who asked not to be named, said, “I don’t know whether he is going to PDP or not, but I know that he will contest the election. That is the much we are sure of. He will contest the election and win.”

APC’ll suffer dire consequences for barring incumbent — Odigie-Oyegun

Meanwhile, former National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has said the party will suffer “dire consequences” in Edo State for disqualifying Obaseki. He described the outcome of the screening as a hatchet job to instal a stooge that will allow some people unfettered access to Edo treasury.

In a statement by his media adviser, Chief Ray Morphy, in Abuja, on Friday, Odigie-Oyegun said, “While not a surprise, that disqualification is clear indication that internal democracy has been murdered in APC; a party which we founded on the principles of fair play and good conscience.

“I dare say that APC will suffer dire consequences in Edo State if this disqualification is not speedily reversed. As a matter of fact, Oshiomhole is indeed the one who is guilty of anti-party (activities), not Obaseki. I hope Oshiomhole will not go down in history as the undertaker of APC.”

Let’s close ranks, Ize-Iyamu urges

One of the aspirants cleared by the screening committee, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who is believed to be the preferred candidate of Oshiomhole, has urged members of the party to put the disqualification of Obaseki behind them.

In a press statement by the Director of Communication and Media of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s Campaign Organisation, Mr John Mayaki, on Friday, he said, “As we prepare for the primaries and the election itself, it is time we bind together and close ranks, remembering that the greatest goal is the progress of Edo State, the moving forward of our great homeland and the betterment of life for all of its people.”

Obaseki will be reelected as governor — Ojezua

The APC Chairman in the state, Anselm Ojezua, has called for calm among party members and supporters over the outcome of the screening exercise.

Speaking to journalists in Benin City after the announcement by the committee, Ojezua said, “I want to appeal to leaders and members of APC in Edo State to remain calm. The validity of the screening committee has not been established. A proper response to the report has yet to come as the leadership of the party in the state will meet tomorrow (today) and at the end of the meeting give an appropriate response.

“They didn’t say he will not contest the election but that he will not contest under the platform of the APC.”

Reps caucus backs Ize-Iyamu

The APC caucus in the House of Representatives has adopted Ize-Iyamu as their preferred aspirant for the primary election.

In a joint statement on Friday signed by Prof Julius Ihonvbere (Owan Federal Constituency); Mr Johnson Oghuma (Etsako Federal Constituency); Mr Dennis Idahosa (Ovia Federal Constituency); Mr Peter Akpatason (Akoko-Edo Federal Constituency) and Mr Patrick Aisowirien (Orhionmwon/Uhunmwode Federal Constituency), they expressed support for the method the party chose as their preferred method for the forthcoming primaries in Edo.

They added, “In reaching this conclusion, we considered safety, security and logistics reasons as well as political inclusiveness and compliance to Covid-19 regulations.”

Also, a former Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Pally Iriase, on Friday applauded the disqualification of Obaseki, saying the screening committee signalled that nobody is above the law.

Any party can win now – Momoh

An Edo APC chieftain and former Minister of Information, Chief Tony Momoh, has also said the APC should not expect the forthcoming election to be an easy ride owing to the crisis at the state chapter.

He told the News Agency of Nigeria, “There is crisis in Edo APC and like I said before, they need to manage the crisis well, otherwise they should not expect the election to be a tea party. As for the disqualification of Obaseki, I won’t say much because it is still a party affair. Obaseki is the sitting governor and if his disqualification stays, it might affect the party.

“With what is happening in Edo APC, I think any party can win in the governorship election.”

 

Twenty-two-year-old policewoman killed in Kogi robbery had yet to collect her first salary –Cousin and food vendor spared by masked gunman [Punch]

  • Families of slain cops grieve over cruel killings

It’s like Ibidun was in dreamland when news filtered in that her younger sister was among the eight cops and two civilians killed by daredevil robbers in Kogi State on June 4, 2020.

But reality of the situation sorrowfully manifested on Monday when the remains of 40-year-old Remilekun Adesanya were interred at a cemetery in their hometown, Ekinrin-Adde, in the Ijumu Local Government Area of Kogi State, amid profound sobs and angst.

Remilekun, a warrant sergeant, was killed when the robbers invaded the Isanlu Divisional Police Headquarters, killing eight cops; three of whom were policewomen, before proceeding to rob a branch of a popular commercial bank in the sleepy town. Two other civilians lost their lives to the daylight bloodbath.

Isanlu is in the Yagba East Local Government Area of Kogi State. It is bordered by a rocky mangrove forest in the West and vast level plain towards the East. The major source of livelihood of the people is agriculture thus making food production the dwellers’ major industry.

Ibidun, who is also a policewoman based in Ekiti State, said she was at work when she heard of the incident.

In a sober voice worsened by tear-jerking recollections, she said,” I was at my station when I heard the news. This was someone who wasn’t sick but suddenly said to be dead. She was the most active woman in our family. Everybody in the family and town cried when they heard of her death because she was good-natured. She was my immediate younger sister.

“Our father who died two years ago retired as a superintendent of police. We, four ladies in the family, decided to follow in his footsteps by joining the Force. We often spoke at least every two days. She had only a boy. Our last discussion was on her inspector rank which was on the way. I told her she would soon be rubbing shoulders with me and she laughed in her usual manner. She said there was a difference between old inspector and new inspector. We laughed heartily over it. We were expecting her promotion any moment before she was killed. Our father had two wives who bore five children each. From my mother’s side, with the death of Remi, I had lost two siblings remaining three of us. It’s only God that can help us.

She stated that the incident was so scary that some family members had advised her to quit the Force.

Ibidun added, “We trust in God to help us out. She had no premonition about her death. I nearly cried my eyes out when I heard the news. I will miss her so much. She was so nice that many people in the town who had an encounter with her were sad to hear of her death. She was so nice that if anyone approached her over any matter, she would ensure its quick resolution. She was a role model to many. She will be sorely missed. I know that someday we shall meet to part no more. Good night my wonderful dear sister.’’

Saturday PUNCH gathered that one of the slain policewomen was a nursing mother identified as Charity Adekeye.

One of our correspondents learnt that the woman, described as easygoing and God-fearing, was married to a police officer who once served as an orderly to an ex-commissioner in the state.

The widower has been terribly heartbroken since the incident occurred. He posted about the occurrence on his Facebook page twice on the first and second day after the attack, with friends urging him to take heart and praying to God to cater to the young children Charity left behind.

In the first post, the bereaved announced his wife’s death in the incident, while the second post read thus, “My mummy, my twin sister; twins do things in common. You are the prophetess I know. If you told me about this battle that took you away from me, you know I don’t run from war, a war that took you away, I would rather die than lose you to cowards who can kill a helpless woman. They kill you. They took advantage of your simplicity, most likely for what salvation has done in your life. Who says you will ever give up without a fight?”

One of those who commented on the post wrote, “It is well. Heaven will send an angel to you and the children. Please think less because of these children.”

Searches by Saturday PUNCH on the Facebook page of Charity showed that her last activity was the posting of her baby’s photographs and offering of prayers for the baby two days before the deadly encounter with the robbers.

Bloody encounters

Twenty-two-year-old Rekiyat Yusuf was until her death a fresh graduate from police college. She was posted to the Isanlu station in May and yet to collect her first salary before she was brutally killed in her prime by the robbers.

A cousin to the deceased who preferred to be identified only as Stella, who operates a restaurant within the town, said she slept on a long bench in her shop when she was jolted from sleep at 3.45 pm by bullet sounds.

She stated, “The effect of a pill I took the previous night made me fall asleep and then I started hearing of gunshots in what appeared to be a dream. At first, I thought it was fireworks. I rose up in my oblivious state and saw a man approaching my shop. I started shivering because the person wore a mask. He spoke in Pidgin English to me, ordering me to run as fast as I could. I came out of the shop and started walking towards the palace. I could not even run. I just walked briskly away. That was when I discovered that those in the market behind my shop had all run away. I guessed I slept so deeply. It was later that I recalled that the masked man was one of the robbers. The place was close to the attack area.’’

She said when everywhere was calm and she returned to her shop, she saw that her purse which dropped on the floor beside her shop when she walked away was picked and thrown into her shop by the masked man. Stella added that the two doors leading to her shop were fastened and the man took nothing away from there.

But Stella was to later discover that despite the pleasant attitude of the masked man to her, they had earlier killed her cousin, Rekiyat, when they attacked the police station.

She noted that Rekiyat’s father is also a police officer and serving in one of the northern states. Stella said, ‘‘Rekiyat’s parents have remained inconsolable since the incident occurred. She had yet to collect her first salary when she was killed.” She also said the deceased who was the first of four children of her parents was buried last Sunday in accordance with Islamic rites. She described Rekiyat as a bright and lovely young lady whose death worried the family.

The station’s DPO, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, Tajudeen Adegbola, was also killed by the robbers.

The late Adegbola, who it was learnt had only two months to go on retirement, was described as a pleasant officer by some of the inhabitants who spoke to Saturday PUNCH. They noted that he always advised those granted bail to refrain from things that would return them to the station.

A commercial bus driver identified only as Kolade could not hide his emotions while describing how nice the deceased was. He narrated to one of our correspondents how Adegbola helped him when he had a brush with the law sometime last year.

The DPO was said to be advising a suspect who was about to be released when the robbers struck. It was gathered that he attempted to escape through the back door when he saw the robbers but it was too late as bullets hit his back.

However, two officers were said to have escaped the brutal attack: the Area Commander, Assistant Commissioner, Thomas Okoye, who escaped through the back door into the bush and Inspector Ola Lewu, who alighted from the patrol van to buy food for himself and colleagues shortly before the patrol van entered the station. He was said to have fled on hearing the gunshots.

Saturday PUNCH further learnt that after attacking the police station, the robbers ordered the driver of the police patrol van, whom they had earlier spared, to drive them to the commercial bank located one-kilometre away and used dynamites to destroy the entrance to gain access.

The robbers were said to be unable to gain access to the strong room as the branch manager reportedly went to Lokoja, the state capital, that day and went with the keys. It was gathered that they only made away with available cash on the counter.

After the operation, they were said to have ordered the police van driver to drive them through a bush path to the outskirts of the town and later ordered him to flee but one of them shot him dead as he moved.

Two civilians lost their lives to the attack; one died in stray bullets including a commercial motorcycle rider said to have been warned of an ongoing robbery operation but insisted on checking his family safety along the road.

One of our correspondents who visited the town on Monday observed that though normalcy was gradually retuning to the town, residents had yet to put the incident behind them. However, activities have returned to the police station located opposite the GYB Multi-Purpose Hall. None of the officers met on duty was ready to speak with our correspondent.

Saturday PUNCH observed on Tuesday that the Isanlu branch of the attacked commercial bank located opposite the Oba Market is currently under lock and key. One of the workers was said to have been hit during the attack and currently receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital.

We’ve never experienced such incident –Monarch

“We have never had this kind of experience in the past. This town is known for its peaceful nature, with no record of violence of any form. Last Thursday’s robbery incident came as a shock to us in Isanlu, “said the Agbana of Isanlu, Oba Moses Etombi, while speaking with Saturday PUNCH.

Oba Etombi said he was at the palace attending to some cases when he started hearing what looked like sounds of fireworks and later became worried when the sounds persisted.

He said, “Later, palace guards came to inform me that the branch of a commercial bank located a stone’s throw from the palace was under attack by gunmen. I immediately called the Divisional Police Officer, Tajudeen Adegbola, but the calls rang out. I later got to know that the robbers had earlier visited the police station and killed the DPO.’’

The monarch said he had been holding meetings with members of the community and security agencies to fashion out ways of improving the security architecture of the area. He noted that he had assured the people that they wouldn’t be left alone during the trying period.

He commended the Yahaya Bello¬-led administration for promptly responding to the incident by sending a delegation to the area and approving some money towards the burial expenses of the victims.

The royal father urged the people not to despair or be discouraged, noting that efforts were in ongoing to prevent a reoccurrence.

He said he received the assurance of the state governor and security agencies that the state’s security architecture would be overhauled to prevent a repeat of the incident.

We’ll arrest the killers –Police

The state police Spokesperson, Deputy Superintendent of Police, William Aya, said the command was closing in on the perpetrators of the brutal act.

“We are closing in on them. I can assure you. We will get them,” Aya told one of our correspondents in Lokoja on Tuesday.

He added, “The command lost the DPO, three members of the state Criminal Investigation Department and three women to the gruesome attack; one of whom was a nursing mother and another young newly recruited posted to the station last month, Rekiyat Yusuf. The robbers also traced the policeman attached to the bank, who was not visible on the bank premises as the rules prescribe, to where he sat and shot him at close range.

“Three of the slain officers were on a special assignment, patrolling the area and only returned to the station to rest with their arms and ammunition still in their patrol van when the robbers struck.’’

 

Sometimes, I threatened to kill my daughters if they didn’t sleep with me –Man arrested for having sex with his children for seven years [Punch]

Peter Ayemoba, 50, of New Golden Prime Street, Rafin-Sanyi in the Suleja Local Government Area of Niger State was recently arrested by the state police command after a complaint by his relation that he was sleeping with his two daughters who are now 22 and 20 years old. He admits to ENYIOHA OPARA that he has been sleeping with his daughters since they were 15 and 13 years old respectively

You were arrested for sleeping with your daughters, for how long did that happen before your arrest?

I started sleeping with my daughters seven years ago; I lost my wife in 2013, a situation that made me to start sleeping with my daughters. The death of my wife got me confused that I don’t even know when I started sleeping with my daughters. In fact, I don’t know what came over me. After my wife’s burial, I started having a deep affection for my daughters; I would go to their room and play with them until it metamorphosed into having sexual intercourse with them on a regular basis.

I was sleeping with them separately but with their consent and it continued until I was arrested. Honestly, I cannot explain how I could do that to my own daughters but there was a spirit that kept on telling me that I wasn’t the first man that slept with his daughter, so I should not worry too much about it.

When my daughters rejected my overtures, I normally told them that I wanted to be closer to them since their mother was dead; and at times, I threatened to kill them and commit suicide if I didn’t sleep with them. One day, I referred them to the Bible passage about how Lot had sex with her daughters and was not punished by God. I told them intercourse between father and daughter was normal and in the Bible.

Were you having sexual intercourse with them for ritual purposes?

God knows I will never use my daughters or any of my children for ritual purposes; any father that does that is subhuman and evil. So, I will not do that. I am a father of six children – two daughters and four sons. I love them so much that I cannot harm them, let alone use them for rituals. The internal source of wisdom would never forgive me if I do that.

Just as I said, the death of my wife got me devastated to the point that I didn’t know what I was doing. What I suspect is that somebody must have placed a curse on me because what I did for seven years is not normal, to be frank. What I did after my wife died was to bond with my children and they became closer to me until gradually, I started sleeping with the girls, but it was not for ritual purposes.

Did you not marry after the death of your wife?

Yes, I got married few years after my wife died. My daughters forced me to remarry so I could satisfy my sexual urge because my actions were abominable.

Despite that, I still made love to them at the slightest opportunity or when my new wife was not at home. It went on like that until I was arrested by the police. It is quite unfortunate. Honestly, what is happening to me is not normal; I need to sort myself out, either physically or metaphysically so that I will have peace of mind.

Considering what you did to your daughters, do you see yourself as a responsible father?

It shows that I am an irresponsible father to the core. Do you know that people have been asking me if they are truly my biological daughters? I don’t know what made me have sex with my biological daughters for seven years repeatedly. I deserve any punishment meted out to me as far as this case is concerned. I suspect that somebody wants to destroy me.

How many times did your daughters abort your babies during the seven years?

Honestly, I don’t know. Moreover, I don’t follow them around. I’m surprise none of them conceived after several years of having sex with them. It beats my imagination but girls of these days are something else when it comes to that. Again, I’m really surprised; they might have been taking drugs in order not to put the family to shame.

Was your second wife aware that you were sleeping with your daughters?

She was not aware because it was a secret between me and my daughters. Nobody knew about it until it was reported to the police. Their stepmother did not bond with them; she was treating them like strangers and because of that, they were not close enough to discuss matters like this.

Now that your wife knows you were sleeping with your daughters, is she planning to divorce you?

Definitely, I need not be told that she will leave me. She was sharing me with my daughters; I don’t think she will accept that. I’m sure she would have moved out of the house by now. The worst offence you can commit against a woman is sleeping around, let alone sleep with your daughters. It is a mortal sin that would never be forgiven. I think I have insulted human race and I’m ruined.

Did your four boys know you were sleeping with their sisters?

My daughters are older than my sons but I don’t think they knew, otherwise they would have confronted me. As I said earlier, it was a secret between me and my daughters and now that they know, I’m sure they will not like to have anything to do with me again. I don’t think I will step into my house again; it was the work of the devil. I think I wrote a letter to the devil and he replied me by making me to sleep with my daughters. It is unbelievable.

Did you hypnotise your daughters so you could sleep with them at will?

No, I did not. I bonded with them for years and they believed what I told them about having sex with me so I could not have hypnotised them. They voluntarily and willingly accepted to be having sex with me anytime I demanded it. What baffles me is that over the years that we were having sex, we were happy, but all of a sudden, they reported the matter to a family member who brought us to where we are (police station). Maybe my cup was full so the law should take its course; I am ready for any eventualities.

Do you think your family and community will ever forgive you?

It is a difficult question to answer, but the truth of the matter is that I will be banished. I’m from Agenebode village in Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State and I own a block industry in Suleja, Niger State. My people will kill me if I travel to my village; they will not accept me and they will not forgive me because what I have done is an abomination to the gods of our land.

 

Edo 2020: Six reasons APC disqualified Obaseki [Nation]

  • I will not appeal unjust screening exercise, says governor
  • We will admit Obaseki, says PDP
  • Faction chair hints gov may seek new platform for reelection
  • Ize-Iyamu: It’s time to bind together, close ranks
  • Screening was hatchet job, says Odigie-Oyegun

THE All Progressives Congress (APC) Screening Panel which screened the governorship aspirants on the platform of the party in Edo State has premised its disqualification of Governor Godwin Obaseki on six grounds, The Nation gathered on Friday night.

The decision may have drawn the curtain on the governor’s aspiration on the platform of the party even as Obaseki himself vowed moments after the announcement of his disqualification that he would not appeal the panel’s decision.

The grounds for disqualification, as sighted from the committee’s report by The Nation last night, are:

             claiming to have a Higher School Leaving Certificate which is unknown to the Nigerian educational system;

             allegedly being in possession of an affidavit disowned by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory;

             error in the National Youth Service Corps discharge certificate which bears Obasek as against Obaseki;

             loss of primary, secondary and the Higher School Leaving Certificates;

             alleged violation of Article 21 D (V) of the party’s constitution, which forbids members from taking the party to court;

             legal precedents occasioned by the judgments of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court on discrepancies in names.

There were speculations last night that Obaseki was heading to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which said that its doors were wide open for Obaseki should he decide to come on board.

The Obaseki faction of the APC is scheduled to meet later today in Benin to decide on its next line of action.

Obaseki, who appeared to have foreknowledge of his fate, dismissed the decision of the screening committee as unjust and ruled out an appeal.

He did not spare the party’s national chair, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who he said was making mockery of the democratic process in the way he is “administering and superintending over our great party.”

Obaseki has been locked in a fierce showdown with Oshiomhole for about two years now.

Two others aspirants- Chris Ogiemwonyi, a former minister of state for works, and Mathew Iduoriyekenwen, a former majority leader of the Edo State House of Assembly, were also disqualified by the panel.

It, however, cleared Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu; Dr. Pius Odubu, a former deputy governor of the state and Hon. Osaro Obazee, a former Local Government Chairman in the state, to contest the APC primary on June 22.

The party’s Appeal Committee was awaiting the application of Obaseki last night.

The Screening Committee, headed by Prof. Jonathan Mamu Ayuba, decided to disqualify Obaseki following a petition by Chisimdi M. Chima of Shores and Savanna International Law Firm.

Other members of the committee are Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed; Dr. Jane-Frances Agbu; Hon. Fort Dike; Prof. Agbo Madaki; Hon. Ibrahim Zailani and Dr. Rabe Nasir.

Sources said the committee considered only Chima’s petition to avoid being dragged into politics.

Other petitions, including those connected with alleged irregularity on possession of voter cards, were stepped down by the committee for the court to decide.

It was gathered that while other aspirants spent between five and ten minutes being screened, Obaseki had more than one hour interaction with the team.

Investigation revealed that some of the grounds for the disqualification were raised in 2016 by the PDP, but because of non-compliance with the time limit allowed by the Election Petitions Tribunal, the opposition could not pursue its case.

The APC screening committee, sources said, grilled Obaseki on the alleged discrepancies in his educational certificates and came to the conclusion that there was no legal basis for clearing him, and that the party would be taking a risk similar to the Bayelsa State episode if it did.

The committee in its report said that though Obaseki claimed to have a Primary School Leaving Certificate obtained in 1968, no copy of the said certificate was presented.

It added: “Evidence of General Certificate of Education (GCE) O-Level in the name of Obaseki Godwin, dated June 1973 (Eghosa Anglican Grammar School, Benin City, 1969-1973) with only three credits presented.

“The aspirant claims to have a Higher School Leaving Certificate obtained in 1976. We state that there is no such certificate as Higher School Leaving Certificate known to the Nigerian educational system. Even then, no such certificate was presented.

“University of Ibadan, 1976-1979. Evidence of Bachelor of Arts Degree in the name of Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki presented.

“NYSC Certificate of National Service in the name of Obasek Godwin Nogheghase, dated 1980 presented.

“Additional qualification. Evidence of Masters of Business Administration from Pace University, New York, in the name of Godwin N. Obaseki dated 1994.

“In the course of His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki’s appearance before the Screening Committee, he informed the committee that he filed a legal action against the National Chairman of APC, the party and Sen. Lawal Shuaibu.

“Meanwhile, in the course of our screening, the National Chairman and the party were served with the copies of the said originating summons registered as Suit Number FCT/HC/CV/1748/ 2020.

“The aspirant, His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki on the 7th day of June, 2016 purportedly deposed to a sworn affidavit of loss of original primary, secondary, university and National Youth Corps certificates before the Registrar of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja Division. However upon an application to the Chief Registrar of the High Court of the Federal Capital  Territory, Abuja Division by Chief Ferdinand Orbih, SAN dated September 2016, in reply thereto, the Chief Registrar denied that the said Affidavit emanated from the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja Division.

“Though His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki in his nomination form claimed to have obtained a Higher School Leaving Certificate from the Institute of Continuing Education, Benin City, it was observed however that no educational certificate such as Higher School Leaving Certificate is known to the Nigerian Educational System.

“Even the said Higher School Leaving Certificate was never presented. In the course of screening exercise, the aspirant admitted that he has never collected it.

“The attestation from the Institute of Continuing Education, Benin City from where the alleged Higher School Leaving Certificate, which indicated no period of attendance was obtained, is of no consequence as it only attests that Godwin Obaseki was a student of the Institute.

“Although the committee received a petition on his University of Ibadan Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies certificate which he submitted to INEC in 2016 when he first contested as governor, the committee on further probing was presented with the original certificate issued by the University of Ibadan and the original was sighted.

“On the NYSC Certificate of National Youth Service, dated 6th August 1980, issued to the aspirant, the committee observed that it bears the name Obasek Godwin Nogheghase.

“While this may be an error on the part of the issuing authority, we observed however that the aspirant has not taken any step whatsoever to have the anomaly corrected by the issuing authority.

“In line with the decided cases of ANGOS DIDI v. SELEKETIMIBI (2009), LPELR-4038(CA) and SC/1/2020 PDP and 2 OTHERS v. BIOBARKUMA DEGI-EREMIENYO and 2 OTHERS (delivered on 13/2/2020), we find it difficult to vouch for the authenticity and acceptability of the NYSC Certificate of National Service presented by His Excellency, Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki.

“In view of the interaction with His Excellency on the issues raised, which include the Higher School Leaving Certificate, the defective NYSC certificate of National Service and the act of the aspirant taking the party to court in violation of Article 21 D(V) of the party’s constitution, the eligibility of this aspirant is doubtful.

“Pursuant to the above, the committee therefore recommends that His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki, is not eligible to participate in the 2020 APC Edo Governorship Primary Election.”

The committee was inaugurated on June 9, 2020 pursuant to the “powers conferred on the National Executive Committee (NEC) by Article 18(11) ( c) 0f the constitution of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as amended and also paragraph 11 of the Guidelines for the nomination of candidates for the 2020 Governorship Election in Edo State.”

The committee’s mandate was as follows:

             To carry out a comprehensive, due diligence of all documents, materials and statements submitted to the party by the aspirants

             To carry out verification of all certificates, documents, claims and other supporting materials submitted by all aspirants (in support of their qualification for meeting the constitutional requirement, Electoral Act, the party constitution and further guidelines issued by the party in conformity with eligibility provisions).

             To ensure aspirants comply with all stipulated requirements.

             To make any other recommendation(s) relevant to the above mandate of the committee.

Obaseki: We’ll not appeal outcome of unjust screening exercise

A few minutes after the panel submitted its report, Governor Godwin Obaseki vowed that he would not appeal his “unjust disqualification by the Governorship Primary Screening Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC).”

The panel’s action, according to him, is ”a mockery of the democratic process.”

The governor, in a statement in Benin through his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said: “We have watched the mockery of democratic process, which Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is administering and superintending over in our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). It has been an unfortunate, disheartening and dreadful spectacle.

“We had initially asserted that going by the open display and enthronement of illegality by one man in the party that comprises several organs and eminent personalities, there is no way that Governor Godwin Obaseki would get a fair assessment in the run up to the nomination of candidates to fly the flag of the party in the forthcoming Edo gubernatorial election.”

He added: “It is unfortunate that this open show of shame, illegality and travesty of justice is the brand of democracy which Comrade Oshiomhole has reduced the APC into. The situation is quite saddening because this is a party supposedly reputed for change, equity and social justice.

“We have therefore decided that it would be effort in futility to appeal whatever the unjust outcome of the evaluation and screening process of the APC will be, especially when Comrade Oshiomhole has declared that he is the Supreme Court and ultimate determiner of the fate and future of our great party.

“We wish Oshiomhole luck in his maladministration of the party and trust that the Almighty will help our country to find the path to true liberty, freedom and justice.

“We call on all party members and the teeming supporters of Governor Obaseki to remain calm and await further directives.”

 

We’ve recovered N800b from anti-corruption drive —Buhari [Nation]

  • Says Covid-19 sets economy, administration’s plans back •Regrets killings by bandits

THE anti-corruption fight of the federal government has yielded over N800 billion in recovered loot, President Muhammadu Buhari announced on Friday on the occasion of the Democracy Day.

The anti-corruption agencies have also secured more than 1400 convictions, he said in a self- assessment broadcast.

The recovered sums, according to him, are being “ploughed into development and infrastructure projects.”

He said government has “continued to implement accountability and transparent policies through the Open Government Partnership and the transparency portal on financial transactions” while also strengthening auditing and accountability mechanisms to ensure that “rules and regulations are followed strictly.”

The President said the national economy was already making a steady progress until the COVID-19 pandemic set in and disrupted the gains.

But he said the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 was determined to ensure that the pandemic “does not overwhelm our health systems, while ensuring that we maintain an effective Case Management System to help in containing the spread of the virus.”

As part of the effort to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, he said he had “the employment of 774,000 Nigerians.”

The youths will be engaged in Special Public Works Programme aimed at cushioning the effects of economic downturn.

Each of the 774 local government areas in the country will be allotted 1,000 slots.

He said government would “turn this COVID-19 challenge into a motivation to action by building a nationwide public health care system that will help us overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for any future outbreak.”

He charged Nigerian inventors, researchers and scientists to “come up with solutions to cure COVID-19.”

On the economy, he said: “We have witnessed eleven quarters of consecutive GDP growth since exiting recession. The GDP grew from 1.91% in 2018 to 2.27% in 2019 but declined to 1.87% in the first quarter of 2020 as a result of the decline in global economic activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every single economy in the world has suffered a decline. Ours has been relatively moderate.

“In order to stabilise the economy, the Monetary Authority took steps to build the external reserves which resulted in improved liquidity in the foreign exchange market. The external reserves grew from $33.42 billion on April 29th 2020 to about $36.00 billion in May, 2020 which is enough to finance seven months of import commitments.”

He was happy that more Nigerians are taking advantage of the opportunities in the agriculture and agri-business sector and pledged that government will continue to support the agriculture sector through the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and similar schemes.

“To protect our farming investments, we have deployed 5,000 Agro-Rangers and employed 30,289 in our para-military agencies,” he said.

He said government was unrelenting in providing steady electricity supply

Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Projects being executed in this regard, according to him, are Alaoji to Onitsha, Delta Power Station to Benin and Kaduna to Kano; 330kv DC 62km line between Birnin Kebbi and Kamba; Lagos/Ogun Transmission Infrastructure Project; Abuja Transmission Ring Scheme; and Northern Corridor Transmission Project.

“Our agreement with Siemens will transmit and distribute a total of 11,000 Megawatts by 2023, to serve our electricity needs,” the President said.

He said that 412km or 64% of the targeted 643km road projects have been completed.

The projects are being funded with SUKUK loan.

“The Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund projects are also progressing very well.

“On the 2nd Niger Bridge, piling work has been completed and the approach roads are being constructed. 48% of work on this bridge has been achieved. We have constructed 102km of the 376km Abuja – Kaduna – Kano Road, representing 38%, and the 42.9km Obajana – Kabba Road is 87.03% complete.

“The Federal Roads Maintenance Agency has completed routine maintenance on over 4,000km of federal roads out of the 5,000km targeted.

“We are extending and upgrading our railway network too. We are introducing more locomotives, coaches and wagons for the Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line. The Central Ajaokuta – Itakpe – Warri Line has been completed and is being extended from Itakpe to Abuja on one end and from Warri Town to Warri Port on the other.

“The Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line is 90% completed and would be extended to the Lagos Port which would help address the long-standing gridlock at the Apapa Port.”

On Niger Delta, Buhari said “with sustained engagement of youths, opinion leaders and other stakeholders, we have restored peace in the Niger Delta region and maintained our oil production levels.

“The Head office of the Niger Delta Development Commission will be commissioned shortly. The Funding of sections I–IV of the East-West Road shall be pursued with a view to completing the project by the end of 2021.

“Furthermore, I am determined to ensure that development meant for the people of the Niger Delta get to them, so I have authorised a Forensic Audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission.”

Buhari expressed regret over the killing of innocent citizens by insurgents and bandits in the country.

He challenged state and local governments to revamp their intelligence assets to address the dastardly acts.

He said: “I regret recent sporadic incidents with tragic loss of lives in Katsina and Borno states as a result of criminals taking advantage of COVID-19 restrictions. Security agencies will pursue the perpetrators and bring them to swift justice.

“I must implore state and local governments to revamp their intelligence assets so that the security agencies can nip in the bud any planned attacks in remote rural areas.

“I send my heartfelt condolences to all the relatives and communities affected.’’

 

Aisha Buhari to IGP: Release my detained aides [Nation]

The First Lady,Hajiya Aisha Buhari on Friday asked Police Inspector General Mohammed Adamu to release her staff who are in police detention.

Mrs. Buhari in a series of tweets said the IGP should “release my assigned Staff who are still in the custody of the Police in order to avoid putting their lives in danger or exposure to Covid-19 while in their custody.”

She did not say who among her staff are in detention or how and why they were detained.

However, online publication, Sahara Reporters, said  the arrest of some of the First Lady’s staff was instigated by a personal staff of the President  following his ejection from the Presidential Villa for allegedly breaching the COVID-19 safety code.

He was said to have recently returned to Abuja from Lagos and failed to observe self-isolation.

As the story goes he went to the Villa but was turned back so that the First Family might not be exposed to COVID-19.

The President’s aide did not take kindly to his treatment and invited the police to take action against the First Lady’s aides.

Mrs. Buhari in one the tweets said:”That Covid-19 is real and still very much around in our nation is not in doubt. Consequently, I call on all relevant Government Agencies to enforce the Quarantine Act signed by Mr. President and ensure no one is found violating this law and the NCDC guidelines…”

In another one, she said: “…especially on interstate travel without the necessary exemptions for movement of essentials. Anyone who does that should at the very least be made to under go a 14 days mandatory isolation no matter who the person is, no one should be above the law and the Police command…”

 

Edo guber: Obaseki weighs options, may settle for PDP [Sun]

There were indications yesterday that the Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki  may be heading for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following his disqualification from the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial primary in the state.

A top member of Obaseki’s faction  of the APC in Edo State, told  Saturday Sun that the governor is weighing all the options available to him in the actualisation of his second term ambition and will announce his next line of action in a few days.

According to the source, there has been pressure on the governor to dump the ruling party owing to the face-off between him and his predecessor and National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole.

He stated that Obaseki had said he would remain in the APC and fight to the end as regards his aspiration to contest for a second term on the platform of the party.

The party chief, however,  said following the disqualification of Obaseki by the APC screening committee for the Edo gubernatorial primary,  it is obvious that the governor has reached the end of the road in the ruling party and maybe joining the PDP in the next couple of days.

The party leader told our correspondent that before now, the Edo governor had commenced negotiation with leaders of the PDP over the possibility of flying the party ‘s flag in the September 19, governorship poll.

He explained that the talk broke down over who will be Obaseki’s running mate, should the PDP cede its governorship ticket to him. The source explained that why the governor insisted on retaining his deputy governor, Philip Shaibu,  the leaders of the PDP, on the other hand, wants the Edo deputy governor dropped from the ticket.

“The main issue was the issue of deputy governorship candidate.  They (PDP leaders) said they will give him a deputy and he (Obaseki) will drop his current deputy.  The governor’s constraint has been dropping Shaibu,  who is very loyal to him.  However,  events will unfold soon. Let’s say between now and next week,  we will know where we are. The pressures have been on him to go to PDP,  but he said he will fight the battle to the end,” the source said.

Nevertheless,  he said with the turn of events,  the negotiation between the governor and the opposition party  is likely to resume, expressing hopes that the grey areas will be resolved.

A top PDP official told our correspondent yesterday that the opposition party is open to receiving any Nigerian, who is qualified into its fold.

 

N7.9b: No kobo recovered from me, Okorocha counters EFCC [Sun]

Former governor of Imo State, Senator Rochas Okorocha has described the claim by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that it had recovered N7.9 billion from him, as false and a blackmail, urging the anti-graft agency to retract the allegation and give a true account for the world to judge.

The former governor in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on media, Sam Onwuemeodo in Owerri yesterday, challenged the EFCC to publish the account details where the money recovered was domiciled. The EFCC had on Thursday through its head of Port Harcourt zonal office, Usman Imam alleged that it had recovered N7.9 billion from Okorocha, out of which over N5billion had been returned to the Imo state government.

According to Okorocha, “The EFCC as a commission or Mr Usman Imam as a person and Head of Enugu zone then, and today, that of Port Harcourt zone, of the commission, never recovered N7.9 billion or any other amount of money, from Rochas Okorocha.

“With this denial, we therefore challenge EFCC or Mr. Imam as the one who made the claim, to prove us wrong by publishing details of the bank accounts the money was found and the owners of the accounts.

“We hold the EFCC and its personnel in a very high esteem. And we expect the commission or Mr. Imam to take our denial very serious, because Nigerians of goodwill would like to know who is saying the truth or who is lying.

“Where the commission finds out that it had misinformed the public and had also blackmailed the former Imo governor, perhaps unconsciously, we expect the commission or Mr. Imam to do the needful, which is to retract the media statement and then tell Nigerians the correct story. The N7.9 billion in question must be in bank accounts. Let the EFCC publish the accounts’ details without delay.”

Okorocha also claimed that the properties allegedly marked by the commission both in Imo and Abuja had been acquired by him 20 years ago. He said “Mr Imam talked about properties owned by Okorocha which the commission had marked.” It is also important that Mr. Imam publish those properties because the properties marked had been acquired by Okorocha about twenty years ago. Since Mr. Imam has begun media trial, let the properties be also published for Nigerians to know the truth.”

He recalled that he had alerted members of the public on the propaganda by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) then during the 2019 election of allegations it laid before EFCC of  his plot to finance the election of his choice candidate with the state resources, which he said was the basis of the EFCC’s claim. He stated “We have repeatedly told this story, that before the 2019  election, the PDP elements in Imo had written to the EFCC, alleging that Okorocha had planned to use all the state funds to finance the election of his choice candidates.

“The EFCC, leveraging on the petitions, seized all the accounts of the state including the ones meant for the payment of salaries, pensions, severance allowances and so on. We have made this particular claim severally and the EFCC or any other interested person or persons have never faulted our claim.

“It has also been on the basis of these petitions written by the PDP government then led by Chief Emeka Ihedioha against Okorocha and the family, that the EFCC has been on the neck of Okorocha. Even after that government had petitioned the commission and the commission acting on the petitions, the government also instituted more than twelve commissions and panels to probe Okorocha and family, on the same issues or items the EFCC is investigating.”

Okorocha also said that the state government under the current administration had set up panel to probe him.  “Some of the panels have submitted their reports to the current government in the state led by Governor Hope Uzodimma while others are still sitting and equally conducting media trials on Okorocha.”

 

Beware, I’ve lost staff, relatives, friends to COVID-19, Buhari warns [Sun]

President Muhammadu Buhari, has warned Nigerians to beware of the dangers of coronavirus pandemic, stressing that he has lost a close member of his staff, relatives and friends to the deadly COVID-19.

He therefore implored all Nigerians to abide by the approved guidelines and protocols, adding that there is hope to beat the pandemic “if we take individual and collective responsibility.”

The President said this in his speech, to mark the nation’s new Democracy Day, which he declared in 2018, in place of May 29, the anniversary of the inauguration of the Fourth Republic, which since 2000 had been marked as Nigeria’s Democracy Day.

Buhari noted that the pandemic has no doubt affected the global economy and all known socio-economic systems and brought grief and pain to families that have lost their loved ones.

He said as part of the strategy to reducing the effect of COVID-19 on the youths, his administration is targeting to employ 774, 000 Nigerians, with each of the 774 local government areas in the country allotted 1,000 slots to engage youths in Special Public Works programme aimed at cushioning the effects of economic downturn.

According to him, “The impact of the pandemic has disrupted our economic system and to ensure its functioning while still addressing the spread, the Federal Government put in place a number of various non-pharmaceutical measures to slow down the spread of the virus, in addition to a progressive re-opening of the economy.

“As part of the strategy to create jobs in reducing the effect of COVID-19 on our youths, I directed the employment of 774, 000 Nigerians. These youths will be engaged in Special Public Works programme aimed at cushioning the effects of economic downturn. Each of the 774 local government areas in the country will be allotted 1,000 slots. I am pleased to report that this programme has commenced.

“I receive regular briefing from the PTF on COVID-19.  I note that the National Response relies on Science, Data and Experience in taking decisions. This informed my approval for the ease of lock down phase to ensure a balance between lives and livelihoods.

“I am confident that the steps being taken by the PTF would result in flattening the COVID-19 curve. I, therefore, implore all Nigerians to abide by the approved guidelines and protocols. There is hope for us all if we take individual and collective responsibility.

“Government is determined to turn this COVID-19 challenge into a motivation to action by building a nation-wide public health care system that will help us overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for any future outbreak.

Already, we have begun to look inward and I charge our inventors, researchers and scientists to come up with solutions to cure COVID-19.”

The President had said the change of Democracy Day was in honour of the memory of Chief MKO Abiola, who won the June 12, 1993 presidential election that was annulled by the Ibrahim Babangida-led military regime.

Abiola eventually died in detention on July 8, 1998, while being held for declaring himself president over the annulled poll.

Meanwhile, the President has declared that his administration has recorded “notable achievements” in the in the course of implementing his nine priority objectives.

He acknowledged the milestones recorded on the economic front with GDP growing from 1.91% in 2018 to 2.27% in 2019. “We have witnessed eleven quarters of consecutive GDP growth since exiting recession. The GDP grew from 1.91% in 2018 to 2.27% in 2019 but declined to 1.87% in the first quarter of 2020 as a result of the decline in global economic activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Buhari saluted founding fathers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and those who have toiled to sustain it, while also praising the resilience of Nigerians, health and essential workers in the fight against COVID-19

He also appreciated the media for their doggedness in the struggle for the attainment of democracy and for being effective watchdog of the society.

He said his administration’s commitment to people living with disabilities remains unwavering, even as he promised to fight gender based violence to a standstill. He said Nigeria has survived many crises before and came out stronger, assuring that the country will overcome COVID-19 crisis and emerge stronger.

 

Edo guber: APC disqualifies Obaseki, 2 others, clears 3 aspirants [Sun]

■ Internal democracy murdered in APC –Oyegun

The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Friday disqualified the incumbent governor of Edo state, Godwin Obaseki, and two other aspirants from contesting the party’s June 22 primaries.

The panel further said that while Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Pius Odubu and Osaro Obazee were qualified to contest the primaries, Matthew Aigbuhuenze Iduoriyekemwen and Chris Ogiemwonyi were disqualified along Obaseki.

Governor Obaseki had expressed concern after appearing before the screening committee that he will not get justice from the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC), urging him to recuse himself from the Edo nomination process as an interested party. Looking very subdued, the embattled governor had noted: “The last time I came here, I asked that Oshiomhole recuse himself from the process in the interest of peace and justice. But as a party man, I have had to go through the screening like everybody else.

“Since he is the judge and the jury in this matter, I will just wait for the outcome of the screening. I have given them all the information they need; the controversial certificate from the University of Ibadan has been tendered.

“Like I said, as a party man I have gone through the screening process but I do not believe that I will get justice because Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is an interested party in the Edo process.

“One of the questions that was asked was why did I issue a gazette that will prevent the party from performing direct elections in Edo; that did I not see it as an anti party activity? I just felt that if we put politics above the lives of the people of Edo State, we may be missing the point,” he lamented.

However, speaking at a press conference at the party’s secretariat while handing over the report, the Chairman of the screening committee, Prof Jonathan Ayuba, hinged Obaseki’s disqualification on defective certificate.

Defending the reasons for Obaseki and two others’ disqualification, the committee said that they were based on questionable certificates, inconsistency in nomenclature and age discrepancies. The Chairman said: “This assignment came in at the most difficult time of democracy in this country. The issue of trust in the electoral process, nomination process and the task we were given was considered by the committee as extremely difficult but we accepted because of the nature of process.

“We accepted the job not because of APC but the country. We are staking our integrity. The integrity of the process in this country in order to arrive at what we have done. Mr Chairman, our report is conclusive. Every member signed and has agreed with what we have decided at the committee level. This is essential because we want to be judged by what we have done and what we are presenting.

“The methodology we used is clear. It was evidence-based. All we did was an interaction. We screened six aspirants, three were eligible to contest and three were deemed ineligible to participate. The first candidate was Osaro Obaze. The committee after screening and the verification of the candidate’s documents, found him eligible to contest the primary. Based on the committee’s observation above, the candidate is cleared

“On Chris Osa, the name on all the certificates presented by the aspirant are in contradiction with one another. Also the sworn declaration of age deposed to by one Capt. Steven on June 3, 2016 bore two conflicting names of the aspirant. Considering the discrepancy in all the certificates presented and also the difference in the names contained in the sworn affidavit of June 2016, and having regards to the federal republic of Nigeria,  the Electoral Act, APC constitution and the party’s guidelines for the nomination of candidates and the reliance on the cases that have been settled by the supreme court and the court of appeal, it is the considered view of the committee that this aspirant does not meet the requirement to participate in the primary of the APC. In view of the findings of the committee above, Engr Chris is not cleared.”

On the disqualification of Governor Obaseki, the panel boss, said: “Though, His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki in his nomination form claimed to have obtained a Higher School Certificate (HSC) from an Institute of Continuing Education, Benin. It was observed however that no educational certificate such as Higher School Leaving Certificate is known in Nigerian educational system.

“Even then, the same HSLC was never presented in the course of the screening exercise. The aspirant admitted that he has never collected it. The attestation from the Institute of Continuing Education, Benin from where the alleged HSC, which was indicated in the field of attendance as obtained is of no consequence, as it only attests that Obaseki was a student of the Institute. So what we had was like an attendance, it was not a result.

“Although, the Committee received a petition on his University of Ibadan Bachelor of Arts Classics certificate which he submitted to INEC in 2016, when he first contested as governor, the committee on further probing was presented with original certificate issued by the University and the original was sighted.

“On the NYSC certificate dated 6th August 1980, the committee observed that he bears the name “Obasek” Godwin. While this may be an error on the part of the issuing authority, we observed however that the aspirant has not taken any step ever to have the anomaly corrected by the issuing authority.

“In our interaction with issues raised, we concluded that HSC was defective, the NYSC certificate  and based on the party’s Constitution, this has made us to recommend that the above candidate therefore, is not eligible to participate in the election.” Speaking after receiving the report, the national chairman urged those disqualified to seek redress from the appeal panel, commending the committee.

Reacting to the disqualification, the immediate past national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, described it as a hatchet job aimed at installing a stooge. In a statement issued by Oyegun’s Public Affairs Adviser, Chief Ray Morphy, Oyegun said: “The disqualification of Obaseki by the APC screening panel is a hatchet job aimed at installing a stooge that will allow some people unfettered access to Edo treasury.

“While not a surprise, that disqualification is clear indication that internal democracy has been murdered in APC, a party which we founded on the principles of fair play and good conscience!

“I daresay that APC will suffer dire consequences in Edo state if this disqualification is not speedily reversed. As a matter of fact, Oshiomhole is indeed the one who is guilty of anti-party, not Obaseki.

“Oshiomhole is the one who is acting unconstitutionally not Obaseki. I hope that Oshiomhole will not go down in history as the undertaker of APC.”

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