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2019: Help track campaign funds, INEC begs EFCC



  • Commission decries high rate of vote buying



The Independent National Electoral Commission (EFCC) has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to help it track sources of campaign finances by registered political parties and their candidates. The commission also decried high rate of vote buying by political parties and their candidates at polling centres during election.

The Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) stipulates the amount of money political parties and their candidates could spend on electioneering. The Electoral Act pegs the maximum campaign expenses by a presidential candidate of a political party at N1 billion; governorship candidate has a spending limit of N200 million while senatorial and House of Representative candidates are supposed to spend N40 million and N20 million respectively.

And for individual or corporate entity contribution, the Act stipulates that not more than N1 million should be donated for a candidate’s campaign. No candidate is permitted by the Act to receive foreign donation to finance his or her campaign. But INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, told acting EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, that this provision of the Act was observed in breach by politicians. Yakubu, who was speaking when the EFCC Chairman visited INEC headquarters in Abuja yesterday on a courtesy visit, said it is the right of Nigerians to vote for their leaders, which must be upheld by INEC.

“The Electoral Act places limit as to the amount parties and individuals can spend on elections, and also the amount that friends of candidates and parties can contribute in any election. “We will like the EFCC, which has both the mandate and the capacity to track and trace sources of fund to work very closely with us so that we can operate within the limit of the law.

“Our democracy can never be on sale and it must never be on the open market, and I believe that by working very closely with the EFCC, we can achieve that,” Yakubu pleaded. He also expressed worry on the recent trend of open votes buying at polling stations during elections. According to him, candidates and parties storm polling stations with sacks of money to induce voters. “Votes of citizens should determine who wins in an election. Our democracy must never be on sale at the open market. It is the will of the people that should determine who wins.

“Therefore, Mr. Chairman, we look forward to be working very closely with the EFCC to ensure that open vote buying will not be tolerated by the commission. And we don’t want the 2019 general elections to be determined by the amount of money people have,” he said. The INEC Chairman, however, assured that the commission would remain an unbiased umpire. His words: “We will not work for any candidate or party; we will not work against any candidate or party. “We are here to work for Nigerian people, and on Election Day, the votes they cast will determine who wins or loses the election.”

He also pledged to collaborate with the EFCC, noting that 205 INEC staff indicted by the EFCC for their role in the 2015 general elections were interdicted by the INEC management. Yakubu regretted that the commission lost 85 of its staff last year as a result of stress and pressure of work. “In fact, as we speak, one of our staff from the commission’s secretariat had a stroke yesterday (Wednesday), and he is in the intensive care of our hospital. “But we will continue to do what we have sworn to do in the interest of this country, irrespective of what the pressure is,” he assured.

The EFCC Chairman stated that the commission was prepared to work with INEC, and called on the people to register so as to exercise their civic duties during elections. Magu said every Nigerian has the responsibility to join the fight against corruption, describing corruption as a disaster, which has done too much damage to the country. “We are ready to collaborate and work with the INEC. “We are all Nigerians; all of us have equal responsibility in fighting corruption. Corruption is the worst enemy of Nigeria,” he said.

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As members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) file out today for the party’s local government congresses across the federation, the Ekiti State chapter of the party will be picking its gubernatorial candidate in a rescheduled primary lection.

This is coming as President Muhammadu Buhari returned to Abuja last night after his four-day medical trip to London, United Kingdom. Buhari was scheduled to return on Saturday.

The reason for returning one day ahead of the scheduled date was not disclosed but sources said it might not be unconnected with his desire to participate in the local government congresses.

Addressing reporters, the president said: “I just went for a checkup. I am now okay”. However, in a telephone interview with the president’s media aide, Garba Shehu, on why the President returned earlier than schedule, he said: “He has finished his business there and is back. We are ready for the campaigns”.

There is no iota of doubt that the contests are going to attract attention, considering the political drama that trailed last Saturday’s botched primary in Ekiti State and the acrimonious ward congresses held in the 9572 electoral wards in the country.

While a tough battle is expected in Ekiti between two former governors; Segun Oni and Kayode Fayemi, the local government congresses are expected to be fraught with factionalisation as the power tussles between political gladiators are making them to flex muscles and are set to use today’s exercise to test their strength.

This is coming as Justice Chiwendu Nworgu of Rivers State High Court has granted an order stopping the congress in the oil-rich state. Justice Nworgu based the decision on an interlocutory injunction sought by 23 members of the party challenging the conduct of the congress, and adjourned the matter to June 26 for hearing.

The judgment however led to a pandemonium at state judiciary complex, when the operatives of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) and Department of State Security (DSS) operatives dispersed protesters who barricaded the court complex The protesters in their hundreds stormed the complex because Senator Magnus Abe’s camp wanted to get a court injunction stopping the camp of the transport minister, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi from going ahead with the party’s local government congress.

The situation suddenly changed when some of the protesters started throwing missiles into the court premises, hitting some judiciary workers and glasses.

It was at that point that the security operatives started firing gunshots, which forced the protesters to flee towards the post office direction leading to Government House.

Some of the protesters and pedestrians struggling to cross over from the post axis to the Town area of the city took refuge in banks and adjoining buildings. Speaking with newsmen outside the courtroom, counsel to the applicants, Henry Bello said: “The court has shown that officers of APC cannot conduct any congress in Rivers State.

The ruling is meant to sustain internal democracy in APC and other political parties. Also speaking, counsel to the APC, Tuduru Ede faulted the injunction, arguing that the injunction was transferred from a High Court in Bori to Port Harcourt in less than 24 hours with the court aiding them. The publicity secretary of the APC, Chris Fynebone, who reacted to the injunction, said that the congress was an ongoing process being carried out by the state chapter in line with the party’s constitution. Fynebone noted that the ward congress at the local government level would still take place today as scheduled despite the court order.

Lagos APC in sharp division

In Lagos, the delegates across 57 councils would be going into the contest as a divided group owing to the fallout of last week’s ward congress that led to mass protests by members of the party. Considering the criticism and protests over the method used to elect ward executives and delegates, today’s election is expected to be rancorous, if those not favoured with the outcome of last Saturday congress decide to go ahead with their treat.

Some faithful had trooped to the party’s secretariat on Acme Road in Ikeja from Sunday to Thursday to register their grievances while condemning the method adopted in electing the ward executives.

They claimed that the use of affirmation and consensus by some party leaders was done without carrying the majority along. The grievances of the aggrieved members is that some chieftains of the party failed to adhere to the advice of the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu that the party leaders should brainstorm and take care of all interest in the sharing of positions.

With what happened last Saturday, it is expected that today’s local government congresses in the 20 local government areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDA) will be used by many party leaders to settle scores.

Saturday Telegraph gathered from party sources that some members, especially those who were not favoured last week would fight back today. Despite the plea by party leaders that the local government executives should emerged through consensus arrangement and affirmation of candidates, some members are insisting that voting should take place during today’s congress.

A delegate who spoke with one of our correspondents explained that they “will fight to the finish to ensure nobody trample on our right” Investigations by Saturday Telegraph revealed that the main cause of the power tussle between the APC chieftains is the 2019 contests as everybody is battling for the party structures at ward, local government and state levels so that they will be at an advantage position during the forthcoming APC primary elections to elect those who will fly the party’s tickets in next year general elections.

In today’s local government congress, some of the state and federal lawmakers, especially those aspiring to return to office in 2019 are expected to face-off with some party leaders who are drumming supports for other candidates to take over from the present office holders in 2019.

Some political office holders in the party are also positioning themselves to ensure that they get some delegates in today’s congress for negotiation during the party’s primary elections.

Therefore, it is expected that all the political gladiators will go out with full force during today’s congress to ensure that they have their ways and position themselves strategically for 2019.

But with the internal mechanism being put in place and reconciliation of some warring factions in the last few days, after the sitting of the appeal committee set up by the party, the election may be peaceful in many places if the members agree to go for consensus arrangement and affirmation during today’s exercise.

Parallel congress, boycott may mar exercise in Ondo

Parallel congress and outright boycott is expected during the local government congress in Ondo State today. For those who would not boycott the congress among the aggrieved members of the APC, the way to go is a parallel congress where another set of party executives may emerge.

Already, the Ondo East/ West Federal constituency chapter of the party has elected its officials despite opposition from the state secretariat of the party. They submitted the list only to be rejected by the congress committee of the party.

The party members in Ondo West and East local governments had accused some national officers of giving forms to a particular group at the exclusion of others. But some of the leaders had argued that the officers emerged having paid the necessary dues to the coffers of the National Secretariat of the party.

The ward leaders in a statement said they elected their ward executives despite the opposition by “new dictators” in the state. The same scenario is expected to play out today, where those that lost out in the ward congress organised parallel congresses.

The major grouse of the party members is that all the petitions submitted to the Appeal Panel were rejected without consideration and that those who alleged irregularities in the ward congresses were not given fair hearing because the panel said it is a family affair.

Imo office burnt

The raging war over who controls the structure of the party in Imo State between Governor Rochas Okorocha and Allied Forces led by the Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere may have reached a feverish pitch leading to an arson attack on the party’s state secretariat Thick smoke was seen Friday evening rising out of the secretariat located at Works Layout by Okigwe Road, Owerri leading to pandemonium in the neighbourhood as people scampered for safety.

According to Government House source, the fire incident is not unconnected with the local government congress, which has become rather desperately contentious in the state following the outcome of last Saturday’s ward congress.

The office of the Chairman of the party, Dr Hilary Ekeh and his Deputy, Hon. Ugochukwu Nzekwe were mostly affected by the fire incident. Contacted, Ekeh said it was obvious that some people wanted to sabotage the LG Congress.

“The burning of my office may not be unconnected to those who lost out in last Saturday’s Ward Congress. Whatever they do, the LG Congress must go on as scheduled.”

Delta factions may go into fiasco

In Delta, two major warring factions will slug it out across the 25 local government areas of the state. On one hand is the group of the state chairman, Prophet Jones Ode-Erue, who is allegedly building a political structure for Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and the 2015 governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Chief Great Ogboru.

On the other hand is the camp of the ‘aggrieved’ group of the 2015 governorship candidate of APC, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor and Chief Hyincinth Enuha, an elder in the party. Although, it could not be immediately ascertained which of two factions the Minister of State Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachiukwu, the former South-South Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, now a governorship aspirant of the APC, and the wife of the former national chairman of PDP, Mrs. Marian Nneamaka Ali, belong to, their muteness over the contentious outcome of the ward congresses had triggered concern among party faithful.

Many are of the view that the council congresses may end in fiasco, following the attempted hijack of one-time ward chairmanship aspirant, Mr. Jeremiah Oghoveta and the sealing up of the party secretariat in the Asaba by the police over the controversial results of the ward congress.

In Enugu, it’s Nwoye versus Onyeama

There are two major camps in Enugu State that are expected to slug it out today; one belonging to the party chairman, Ben Nwoye and the group of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama. Going by what happened during last Saturday’s ward congresses and its outcome, it is likely that the camp of party chairman would still carry the day.

Pundits posit that even if there were to be harmonization of the ward congressess among the winners and losers, Nwoye’s camp would always have an edge over Onyeama’s camp because theformer is closer to the people. In the minister’s camp are, the Special Adviser to the President on Judicial Reforms, Juliet Ibekaku; former Senate President, Ken NnAmani; and former Secretary to the State Government, Onyemuche Nnamani.

The camp of Nwoye are the majority of party’s stakeholders in the state, including; former Governor Sullivan Chime; the chairman of APC South East, Chief Emma Eneukwu; the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), and Mr. Osita Okechukwu, among others. At the end of last week’s exercise, Onyeama complained bitterly, alleging that his camp was shut out of the process but the Appeal Panel led by Charles Babagbale was yet to be made public as at press time.

Babagbale had called on aggrieved members to come forward with their complaints to enable the panel look into such. But addressing his loyalists after the congress, Onyeama said he was sidelined, attributing the conduct of the congresses to a flawed process that excluded a significant part of the party faithful in the state.

“I do not want to accuse people in front of the media but I am just telling you what the situation was and what I did to contain it,” he said. In response to the minister’s allegation, Nwoyeposited that the congresses were very successful in the 260 wards across the 17 local governments, adding that for the first time in the history of Enugu State, people from the grassroots came out enmass to vote for candidates of their choice without inducement.

He, however, regretted that Onyema was allegedly being economical with the truth on the congress, insisting that the minister failed to follow laid rules and regulation guiding the conduct of the congresses.

Ajimobi, Unity Forum tango in Oyo

The conduct of today’s local government congress in Oyo State is plastered with a thick cloud of uncertainty as the atmosphere had been characterized by mudslinging.

While there had been accusations of threat to life by some loyalists of the late former governor, Lam Adesina, otherwise called the ‘LAMISTS’, the incumbent governor, Abiola Ajimobi and his loyalists under the auspices of ‘SENACO’, were of counter accusation that the ‘LAMISTS’ operating under the banner of ‘Unity Forum’ were planning to burn down the party secretariat in order to frustrate the congress.

Though they have denied this, the Unity Forum members, claimed that Ajimobi’s loyalists lost out of the power play in the last Saturday’s ward congress because they failed to obtain nomination forms for the exercise, and that they instead obtained the 9,477 forms produced for the congress. However, the Alhaji Musa Halilu-led seven-man committee sent from Abuja to midwife the congress, declared on Monday that the congress went on successfully but failed to declare any result showing who won or lost.

The Unity Forum which include: Communications Minister, Chief Adebayo Shittu, Sen. Monsurat Sunmonu, Professor Adeolu Akande, Alhaji Fatai Ibikunle, Dr Wasiu Olatunbosun, eight House of Representatives , 18 members of the State House of Assembly, 26 former local government Chairmen, many serving and former political office holders, among others, continue to claim they are ready for the congress because they have their bank tellers and forms, but they were of the fear that the governor’s loyalists were planning to collect the forms from them and burn them should they show up for the congress.

Plateau may follow same pattern as ward congress

There are strong indications that today’s congresses in Plateau State will follow the same pattern as that of the ward congresses held on the May 5, 2018. It would be recalled that the congresses were held based on consensus as adopted and agreed by the APC stakeholders in the state. Saturday Telegraph gather reliably that Governor Simon Lalong is fully in control of the congresses and had defeated the Minister of Youths and Sports, Hon. Solomon Dalung, who couldn’t even participate during the ward congresses.

Many people are of the opinion that most of the APC stakeholders in the state are being controlled by Governor Simon Lalong. As a result, it is said that the leadership of the party from the ward level to the state level are returning on consensus based on the directive of the governor while scheming the minister out.

Recently the Chairman of the APC in Plateau State, Hon. Letep Dabang had accused Dalung of not attending the APC Congress in his ward, but chose to travel to Daura, Katsina State with the President and abandoning his responsibility to the party. “Why would a minister abandoned his ward and choose to follow the President to Daura? Since the President went for his own ward to participate which was a responsibility to the party, then I didn’t see any reason why a whole minister couldn’t participate in his own ward”.

Dabang had also expressed satisfaction with the peaceful conduct of the APC members in the state and urged them to imbibe that spirit for the subsequent LGC and State Congress.

“My office has not received any formal complaints or petition against the outcome of the ward congress, because there was consensus based on the zoning arrangement and Plateau will still conduct another successful and peaceful local government congress again”.

‘Bauchi polls may be chaotic’

The APC local government congresses may be full of chaos in Bauchi State if allowed to be conducted without addressing irregularities arising from the ward congresses election. That was the view of a group led by a governorship aspirant in the state, Captain Muhammad Bala Jibrin (rtd), who raised the alarm during the week.

He alleged that the committee setup to conduct the election in Bauchi was compromised by the state government, insisting that they are in the state to do the bidding of the government and not that of the party. Accusing those in charge of the conduct of the congresses, Jibrin said: “The committee came to Bauchi State with an agenda, their agenda is not to conduct ward congresses election but to connive with government and disenfranchise eligible members of party seeking for positions”. He alleged that some government officials teleguided the process by inducing the committee mPlateau may follow same
pattern as ward congress
There are strong indicationsthat today’s congembers with huge sums of money. “The election was conducted in Government House and we are seriously opposed to that. That was why we conducted our own on congress on Sunday to counter their own”. He said if APC wants to conduct today’s congresses election peacefully they should “cancel all the ward congresses and fresh election be conducted or be ready to face crisis  and division in the party”.

“The committee came and went straight to Government House, when they are supposed to announced their arrival at the party secretariat”. Another APC stalwart in Ningi Local Government Council, Ali Ibrahim Dogarai, said the National Secretary of the APC misled Independent National Election Commission (INEC) in his letter.

“The constitution of the APC says, new executive has to be elected from ward level up to national level and not replacement of the executive of who died or take appointment. But unfortunately after challenging the process in the media, yet the party went ahead to replace executive particularly in my state Bauchi”.

“I am telling you that if the present governor and most of the legislators are allowed to contest in the future general election, the party should consider itself a loser in all the seats because this people did not do well.

“I am calling on the APC National Executives, if they are not part of the saboteurs, should cancel the purported congress and appoint another committee with proven integrity to go to each state and conduct another congress from ward up to state level to save our great party or we back out”.

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OFFIONG: Deaf and dumb girl defies the odds, makes over N200,000 monthly



A recent media tour of government’s projects at different locations nationwide, created an opportunity for a chance meeting with a young girl who demystified fate and refused to become a liability to the society, but has become a source of inspiration despite her physical limitations.

For Offiong Mbong, a deaf and dumb food vendor in Afia Nsit, on the outskirt of Uyo the Akwa Ibom State capital, disability can never be the end of the world, but adrenaline that pumps out the best and makes her swim against the tide in fulfilling a glorious destiny.

The story of this young girl in her early 20s remains an amazing inspiration and testimony that life is truly 10 percent c i r – cumstances, and 90 percent how the circumstances are managed.

The double ‘wahala’ of being deaf and dumb must have instigated some religious or superstitious belief in Offiong’s immediate environment that either she or her parents, had sinned, or knowingly or unknowingly crossed the paths of some witch or wizard that unleashed a curse on their family.

Offiong, apparently did not choose her predicament, whether her conditions were hereditary or a product of medical miscalculation that is absolutely immaterial. What is important, is her choice to vigorously arm-twist her destiny rather than give in to fate.

She refused to accept the garments of pity and groan longer than necessary over the heavy blow that fate dealt her; and her ability to dust off societal stigmatization that would have kept her bed-ridden in dejection for as long as she lives, can be inferred to be a clear manifestation of God’s work.

One aspect of her story that is a surprise to everyone that comes across her in the site where she sells, is that her cooking talents could not be killed by her physical challenges.

Offiong, who vends food at one of the ongoing National Housing Programme sites in Afia Nsit, has succeeded, not only in disappointing her haters, but in knocking her competitors out of business in that site.

When the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, was proposing a national housing programme that would provide affordable shelters to the masses and also stimulate profitable economic activities for local host communities to the project, he was probably influenced by the prayers of the likes of Offiong.

By vending food in this housing site, Offiong like many ordinary Nigerians, belonging to different categories, had been empowered economically. This young, physical challenged girl makes an average of N10,000 daily from food vending. Initially, there was doubt over her ability to have managed to create such economic empowerment platform for herself, but several credible sources confirmed that she had empowered herself and also become a dependable breadwinner to her siblings who are not physically challenged.

Saturday Telegraph gathered that though, this young girl is impaired in speech and hearing, her dexterity in business management is not impaired. Her sense of humour, though, with sign language, in dealing with people around her, coupled with her unparalleled mastery in mixing food condiment to get a tasteful delights in meals, have greatly endeared her to both workers and visitors to the site.

She succeeded in discouraging other food vendors from coming to the site, proving the validity of an age-long saying that “where carcass are, there eagles would gather.” According to findings, her competitors caved in, allowing her to be the ‘only king of the jungle’.

Ekaette, who claimed to be a close relation to Offiong, and said she often comes to the site to scavenge for menial jobs, validated the story of this amazing jinx breaker and trail blazer, whose only communication avenue with her customers are sign languages and irresistible, infectious smiles.

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Police sergeant held for Offa robbery



●How ex-SARS operative was arrested in hotel


A serving policeman identified simply as Isiaka (surname withheld) is among the principal suspects being held for the Offa robbery in Kwara State on April 5. It was learnt that the suspect, who is a native of Ilorin, the state capital, is a sergeant and was among the first set of suspects arrested over the incident and had remained in detention since then.

A source, who is privy to the investigation, told our correspondent that the suspect is still being held “because investigators believe he had more to say.”

“He is among the eight people that have now been confirmed to have more to say over the robbery, out of the initial 12 that were arrested around Offa and Ilorin. You will recall that eight suspects were initially arrested and in line with our mandate, we profiled them so as to ascertain the level of involvement of each suspect.

“So far, we have every reason to believe he has more to tell us beyond what he had said. It is for this reason we are still keeping him,” the source said yesterday. Meanwhile, the former police constable, Michael Adikwu, who was arrested over the bloody incident in had actually vowed to kill many policemen, following his dismissal from the state command.

Sources within the command who were familiar with his case informed this newspaper during the week that Adikwu was actually on a revenge mission over his dismissal, a probable reason for the high number of policemen that were killed during the operation. Nine policemen were among the about 30 victims of the robberry, which shook the entire nation over its barbaric execution. Adikwu had been dismissed after an orderly room trial found him guilty of complicity in the escape of some robbery suspects from detention.

He was subsequently tried in court and sentenced to three years imprisonment. “I knew him then, and I know that when he was dismissed for aiding the escape of some robbery suspects he did actually vow that he will kill many policemen”, one officer confided in our reporter in Ilorin yesterday.” Asked for details on how the robbery kingpin was nabbed, another source confirmed that Adikwu had sneaked into a hotel (name withheld) around Niger/Muritala area of Ilorin on Monday night to enjoy himself. “He came alone and we still wonder at the effrontery so soon after the robbery.

He didn’t know that he would be recognised but you remember the CP had informed the public to assist. So, it was somebody who had seen his picture and saw him entering the hotel that gave the hint and our men moved in that same night.

He was an easy target.” “It was easy to identify him because he had pulled off his face mask once they entered the bank, not knowing that another CCTV was still recording their activities as they were ransacking drawers in one of the banks.” He led investigators from the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT) to two other members of his gang.

Meanwhile, a visit to the command headquarters during the week indicated that security had been reinforced around the SARS office where some of the suspects are still being detained. Police commissioner for Kwara State, Aminu Pai Saleh, had on assumption of duty in the state revealed that hoteliers were assisting the police in tracking the robbers.

The proprietor of a hotel where the armed robbers allegedly spent the night before the operation has been arraigned before an Ilorin Magistrate’s Court along with the hotel’s accountant, a receptionist, a room keeper and a club house operator as well as four lodgers who were staying in the hotel at the time the suspected robbers also allegedly lodged there.

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