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Car, cash gifts: Oti receiving rewards for hatchet job in Abia gov polls – Ikpeazu



Okezie Ikpeazu, Abia State Governor, has frowned at the rain of gifts currently going the way of Nnenna Oti, the Returning Officer (RO) for the March 18 governorship election in the state, saying it was a pointer to where her loyalty actually laid during the exercise despite her claim to neutrality.

It was also a day the governor, who accused her of betraying the confidence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), through her actions during and after the exercise, challenged the former electoral officer to name those who bullied and attempted to bribe her during the collation of election results in Umuahia.

Against the backdrop of claims by Oti, Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, (FUTO), Imo State, that she was bullied and offered bribe by those she has yet to name, to skew the results during the collation of results in Umuahia, Ikpeazu, accused her of actually doing a hatchet job instead during the exercise.

Throwing the challenge during a chat with reporters in Umuahia, he said that the VC gave herself away when she was seen participating in the victory dance of the governorship candidate of the Labour Party, Alex Otti, in contradiction of the expected neutrality of INEC officials.

Stating that he actually harboured some fears about Oti’s neutrality, which he expressed openly, he said he had to let go of the issue after securing an assurance from INEC which said they had confidence in her.

Ikpeazu, who swore that he neither met, nor had any contact with the former Returning Officer, he said: “I wish I knew those who bullied her. I think she has been making too much noise out of nothing. The returning officer’s duty is essentially to tally results already collated from the wards through the local government and declare them. She can’t change results because she has no right to do that unless she went ahead and did something like that.

“But her reactions have betrayed the fact that she was overly excited about something. When you come to that kind of position dispassionately, whatever the outcome should not excite you. But the victory dance she participated in and her statements which are akin to confessions have betrayed the fact that she came for a hatchet job. It could be to reject or accept some results.

“I want the world to know that she is celebrating what she has no right to do. I have never met her before. I don’t have her telephone number but I’m aware that if she came to do the right thing, she has no right to change anything.  In fact, she has no right to even reject results because those results were generated from the polling units and wards. Her celebration is unfortunate and unbecoming of somebody who was given that kind of responsibility at that level.”

The governor also questioned the propriety of Oti accepting the gifts, she was said to have been showered with since the end of her duties in the election, including vehicular and cash, saying it amounted to some form of corruption.

His words: “You know that bribe can come before or after the event. If I tell you if you do this or if this is the outcome, this is what you will get, it is an inducement. It is also an incentive to behave in a certain way. So, could this be a fulfillment of a promise that if this is the outcome, this is what will happen? I think it is unprecedented, I don’t know where this has happened in Nigeria before, and it has opened a new vista of inducement during election. You are my friend, and you are running for an election. I can tell the returning officer to do everything to announce my friend and I will give you something after. And when I keep my promise, it becomes inducement. It is very unfortunate.”

Dismissing the allegations that the collation of results was disrupted in Obingwa LGA, he stated that his investigations revealed that there was a plot to cancel all results from Obingwa LGA which was resisted by youths of the area, adding that the refusal to collate results at the ward level and attempt to move the collation centre to Umuahia angered the youths of the area.

“I’m not aware of the hostage taking of any electoral officer in Obingwa LGA. I visited the area, but before I got there, the Commissioner of Police in charge of election in Abia South was there, the Police Area Commander for Aba was there. The DSS was there. And when these high ranking officers of these agencies go to such places, they do so with a retinue of their men.

“In fact, there was an armoured personnel carrier manned by soldiers stationed at the local government headquarters. There couldn’t have been a report of holding any election staff hostage. There is a limit to what I can say because the matter is already at the election petition tribunal. But I want to remind us that this is not the first time an attempt has been made to cancel election results from Obingwa LGA. The first attempt was in 2015. In 2019, an attempt was made to bomb Obingwa LGA headquarters to ensure that votes from the area didn’t count.  And I insisted that results must be collated at the various wards according to the stipulations of the Electoral Act.  But in 2023, I offered the same advice and INEC failed to heed it. The Electoral Act says that you must announce results at the polling units and collate at the wards.

“So, why do you want all the results to be taken to LGA headquarters, is it to make it easy for you to cancel them?  This is because it puts the powers on the shoulders of one man. If you collate the results as they arrive from the various units in the wards, you will ensure that even if there are problems in one or two wards, you can get some wards results. Why do you bring it to one place where there may be a problem and from there, you say you want to go and collate them in Umuahia?

“So, what the youths of Obingwa LGA did was to say that results must be collated at the LGA headquarters before being taken to Umuahia. I salute their courage because some of the results taken to Umuahia for collation were manipulated. The results were changed at Umuahia. Results must be announced at the units and collated at the wards and brought to the local government for tallying only. Any election worker that tells you he wants to collate it centrally at the LGA is giving a recipe for fraud.

“He may even tell you that he no longer wants to collate results at the LGA level and wants them to be collated at Umuahia. And how will the agents at the polling units appear at Umuahia to give reports about what happened? Will you be expecting them to rely on the testimony of the man you sent to do a hatchet job? It seems to me that they were prepared to reject and cancel all election results from Obingwa LGA,” he said.


Panic! Gunmen storm Anambra Assembly, attempt to bundle away lawmaker



Panic-stricken members of the Anambra State House of Assembly, watched in utter horror on Thursday as one of their colleagues was bundled into a waiting vehicle, by four gun-wielding men, preparatory to being whisked away, before mother-luck came calling.

It took the quick reflexes of security guards at the entrance who locked the gate, to prevent the armed men, who later turned out to be operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) from completing the operation.

The target of the operatives was Onyekachukwu Ike, the House of Assembly-elect member for the Nnewi North constituency, who had joined in the valedictory session for outgoing members, though it is not known why the members of the agency were after him.

Eyewitness account, said the operatives arrived the Assembly complex in three vehicles in a commando version, grabbed the member-elect as he emerged from the venue validectory thanksgiving mass for the seventh Assembly and forced him into their waiting vehicle.

However, it took the eagle-eyed members of the security team of the assembly to truncate the attempt to drive the lawmaker away, because they quickly locked the exit gate, thus halting the operation, as it gave people the opportunity to intervene.

Reacting to the incident, Acting Clerk of the Assembly, Esther Aneto, who bemoaned the manner the operatives carried out the operation, said neither the authorities of the assembly, nor the police was informed about it.

It took the intervention of the Speaker, Uche Okafor, and the Deputy Governor, Onyeka Ibezim, who came to represent the Governor at the Valedictory session before the member-elect was released from the vice grips of the DSS operatives, who however, explained that they had a court order to arrest him.


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Judge orders Yahoo-Yahoo student to clean EFCC premises for two weeks



Justice Aliyu Shafa, of the Federal High Court, Gwagwalada, Abuja, on Thursday ordered a student, Istifanus Irmiya, to clean the premises of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for for two weeks, after he was convicted for internet fraud.

Irmiya, who was docked by the EFCC on a two-count charge, boarding on cheating and impersonation, was also ordered to pay a fine of N100,000, while the phone he used in committing the offence was to be destroyed and burnt.

This was after the culprit, pleaded guilty to the charges and begged the court for leniency, which the court accepted, but insisted that he must carry out the punishment of cleaning the EFCC premises from 9 a.m. to 12 noon daily for two weeks, to teach him a lesson.

Frowning at the rate internets fraud were being committed, Shafa, said: “I have carefully listened to the plea of allocutus made by the convict and the defence counsel. The rate of internet fraud through Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, among others in the society is so alarming.

“That he is a first time offender is not an excuse to go scot-free. The rate of Yahoo-Yahoo among youths is alarming. “Many who resort to crime always have ‘I want to get rich quick’ mindset. Sending him to prison might make him more hardened,” the judge ruled.

Irmiya, who pleaded with the court to tamper justice with mercy, promising that he would not indulge in such acts again, said: “I want to beg the court for mercy. I’m deeply sorry for what I have done. I’m a changed person now knowing fully well the consequences of my offence.”

Chibuike Chima, his lawyer, who echoed his pleas, told the court that Irmiya had no previous conviction record and was also remorseful, saying: “Irmiya is the only son of the family and he is seeking admission into the university. He has spent one month in EFCC custody.
“The convict has shown remorse and genuinely repented over the crime he has committed by way of expressing genuine repentance, he has restituted the proceeds of crime which is the sum of 250 Euros. The convict is a first-time offender. He has not be convicted for any other crime of whatever kind. We urge my lord to tamper justice with mercy. We assure this court that going forward, the convict will be of good behaviour.”

The EFCC Counsel, Taiwo Aromolaran, who told the court that Irmiya had sometime in 2022 within the jurisdiction of the court cheated by personation, said that the convict deceived his victim while pretending to be one mistress Clara a female Caucasian.

She said that the convict carried out an illegal act, making one Alex Lexis, a German, to send him the sum of 250 Euros which he received via PayPal and Nosh Apps before transferring the money to his own account domiciled with Polaris Bank.

She said that the convict sometime in 2022, also had in his possession documents containing false-pretence, where he represented himself as a German on his Facebook and KK accounts, created by him with the intent to induce Alex Lexis to deliver money to him.

She said the offence contravened the provisions of Section 321 of the Penal Code Act of the Federation (Abuja), 1990 and punishable under Section 324 of the same Act, adding that Section 6 in conjunction with Section 8 of the advance-fee fraud and other related offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

Pleading with the court that the cell phone being the instrument used for the crime should be forfeited, Aromolaran urged the court to take into consideration the increase in the menace of internet frauds in Nigeria.

Bewailing the menace fraudsters had caused to the image of the country and to their victims, she told the court that Irmiya and his group, operated as syndicates, saying: “They believe that merely coming to court and pleading guilty is enough to attract the sympathy of the court.”


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BREAKING: Tinubu, hosts G-5 govs at Villa *Intensifies moves to break PDP



It is becoming obvious that President Bola Tinubu, may be working hard to break the ranks of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as he is currently hosting the five former Governors of the party who former the G-5 Integrity Group, a very powerful bloc in the main opposition party that fought against the ticket of the party.

Nyesom Wike, former Governor of Rivers State, who was the arrowhead of the G-5, comprising Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Samuel Ortom of Benue, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu and Seyi Makinde of Oyo, was seen leading the other members to the Presidential Villa, for a meeting with Tinubu, on Thursday afternoon.

The group had vehemently opposed the ticket of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2023 presidential election and refused to join the campaigns on the ground that the former Vice President did not support the ouster of Iyorchia Ayu, then National Chairman of the party on the ground that he came from the same North as him.

Incidentally, the meeting is coming few hours after Caleb Mutfwang Governor of Plateau State and Umo Eno of Akwa Ibom, both PDP governors at the same State House Abuja, in what observers are already interpreting as an attempt to woo the top echelon of the opposition party.

The meeting with the G-5 governors, shortly after that of Tinubu with the two PDP governors, is coming as the party and Atiku Abubakar, are trying to prove before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT), sitting in Abuja that Tinubu did not win the 2023 presidential election.

Details later…

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