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Bello’s Voter Registration Scandal

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Bello’s Voter Registration Scandal

But for immunity, the Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahya Bello, who was caught engaging in double registration during the Independent National Electoral Commission’s Continuous Voters’ ‎Registration exercise should have faced the wrath of the law, writes Yekini Jimoh

Kogi State otherwise known as the Confluence State has a way of always attracting negative media attention and that is exactly what has happened again with the Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello being accused of illegal double registration in the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) .

The idea behind the registration of voters across the country was to accommodate those yet to register, those who were below eighteen years old during the last voters registration exercise and people that moved from one state to another on the register. As in other states, people trooped out in their hundreds to take advantage of the opportunity in Kogi State as well.

But alas! Bello became a subject of public discussion when the people of the state observed that despite having registered in Abuja before, he was again registered at Government House located in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, which by delineation is in Kogi West senatorial district of the state. The action runs foul of the law and he has recieved bashings for it.

The governor’s double registration came to light when photographs showed him being registered by INEC officials in his office in Lokoja. Most people were surprised when the registration was posted on social media platforms not minding the implication because it is in Kogi State that practically every political appointee of the governor is social media man. Any little thing done by the governor either positive or negative is posted on social media by the so-called political appointees.

It is no news that the governor did not vote during the last governorship election in his ward, Ageva, because his voter’s card was issued in Abuja. So, people expected him to transfer his voters card from Abuja to Kogi State, but sadly, the governor never did that. Rather, he opted to bring INEC staff to the Government House, Lokoja, which is incidentally located in a different senatorial district of the state, to register his name.

The governor comes from Agasa in Okene Local Government Area of Kogi Central. Many wondered why he chose to register in another senatorial district, and why the exercise was carried out in a government house where there was no polling unit.

The obvious mistake, which is already generating controversy in the country is made worse with INEC formally accusing the governor of registering for Permanent Voters Card (PVC) twice, a clear violation of electoral law.

INEC, in a press statement issued in Abuja said Bello acted ‘illegally’ to have registered for voter’s card in Abuja and Kogi, but said it could not take action against the governor because he is constitutionally protected from prosecution while in office.

“The governor’s double registration and doing so outside INEC’s designated centres are both illegal,” INEC’s National Commissioner and chairman, Voters Education Committee, Solomon Soyebi said. He categorically denied authorising any staff to “re-register him and or to do so outside designated CVR centres”.

Soyebi confirmed that Bello was first registered at Wuse Zone 4, Abuja, on January 30, 2011, but illegally did so again on May 23, during the ongoing continuous voters registration exercise in his Lokoja, Kogi State office.

According to him, the commission is taking disciplinary action against the INEC staff involved.

He said: “Were it not for the governor’s immunity, he would not have escaped prosecution.

“Section 308(1) (a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) precludes INEC from prosecuting him while in office. However, INEC wishes to state that it has cancelled his second and illegal registration forthwith because our electoral law and the commission’s guidelines make no exception for anyone to register more than once and outside the designated areas.”

The governor’s friend-turned foe, Senator Dino Melaye representing Kogi West senatorial district did not take the issue lightly. In his immediate reaction, has asked Bello to resign from office forthwith because he has embarrassed the state, the citizens, and the All Progressive Congress (APC).

Melaye, who is the chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), while speaking with THISDAY on phone over the double registration said, “It is unfortunate that we have a fraudulent governor who has exhibited criminal tendencies. Yahaya Bello should resign immediately. We are not only going to start civil mass action but we are going to mobilise Kogi State House of Assembly for his impeachment. He should resign. It is a fraud.”

Also reacting, the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kogi State chapter, in a press statement said the recent disclosure by INEC that Bello had registered for PVC before is to PDP, “a drama of the absurd.”

The Kogi State PDP Publicity Secretary, Prince Bode Ogunmola, in a press statement, noted that while “We see the development as a vindication of our party’s earlier stance on the voter’s registration status of Yahaya Bello. We wish to make it clear that the present APC-led government in Kogi was foisted on the people of the state. It is not untrue that Yahaya Bello was not legally qualified and had no moral standing to run for election in Kogi State, in the first place, since he has never been a registered voter in the state.

“It was not for nothing that some of his party members were not happy and openly disagreed with the way the national body of the APC imposed his gubernatorial candidature on them. The state is presently groaning under a leadership that has no place in moral justice.

“Our party is taken aback by the revelation that Bello registered as a voter for the second time on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 in the Government House, Lokoja. This, to us, smacks of double standard on the part of the electoral body.

“The questions INEC needs to ask itself are: Did the officer(s) of the commission that registered Bello for the second time not know that he had claimed to be a registered voter? Does it mean that INEC has no record of voters in its data bank, thus allowing double registration? No doubt, somebody is not ready to stand by the truth somewhere.”

He stressed that his party and the members were expectant that the clear violation of electoral law would not be swept under the carpet as the Electoral Act adequately prescribed the appropriate penalty for anyone that violated the law.

“It is, therefore, not enough to cancel the second registration without ensuring that the necessary penalty is meted out. Bello did not only register twice, but also had the audacity to carry the electoral officers and their equipment to Government House, Lokoja, which is not one of the designated centres for the exercise.

“The people of Kogi have, with this development, seen the hollowness in the agenda of the APC-led government. Therefore, our party will continue to be on the side of the people as we pursue the restoration of their dignity through the ballot box in 2019.” he concluded

The Director-General, Media and Strategy to Governor Bello, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo defended his boss. According to him, Bello never lied about his INEC registration status.

He said: “While some were positively worried, some others see it as another window of opportunity to get at the governor. We thank both groups.

“From the first day, the governor didn’t say he registered in Kogi State. It even came up at the tribunals. He registered in Abuja. He never voted in Kogi State. Nothing in the law makes it mandatory for you to vote for yourself before you can win a political position. We have had people who won elections from detention in the past. They wouldn’t have voted for themselves from detention.

“As a star witness during the tribunals, the Chief of Staff to the governor, Hon. Edward David Onoja told the panel of judges that the governor was a registered voter, but not in Kogi State. The governor’s efforts to transfer the card from Abuja to Kogi State has not been successful, hence the need to seize this golden opportunity to get registered in Kogi State. There was nothing wrong with registering in the governor’s office because it belongs to all Kogites. Government House is People’s House,” Fanwo argued.

What is however obvious is that the last is yet to be heard about the trending story. While the state government would continue to mount its defence to justify the governor’s action and try to suppress the scandal, those who want to settle political scores with him will continue to escalate the issues.

In fact, a group, Kogi foe Change, is already making plans to take legal action against the governor. A statement by its chairman, Omeiza Yakubu, a copy of which was made available to newsmen, said it would take legal action in view of the illegality of Bello’s action.

“The impunity that unleashed the governor on the state is at work again and we are not going to take it lightly. As a matter of fact we have decided as a group to take the matter to court. It is a criminal offence to engage in double registration,” the group said.

The question, however, is, what actions are available in view of section 308 of the constitution which clothed the governor with immunity?

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What is however obvious is that the last is yet to be heard about the trending story. While the state government would continue to mount its defence to justify the governor’s action and try to suppress the scandal, those who want to settle political scores with him will continue to escalate the issues.

Culled from Thisday

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Implosion in APC may not give PDP victory in 2023 if the party does not put its house in order says Lamido

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Implosion in APC may not give PDP victory in 2023 if the party does not reconcile aggrieved members says Lamido

The former Governor of Jigawa State Alhaji Sule Lamido has warned his party the Peoples Democratic Party to reconcile aggrieved members to unite as the imminent breakup of the ruling APC may not give it victory unless the members settle their differences amicably.
Lamido stated this at the inauguration of the Jigawa State People’s Democratic Party PDP reconciliation committee in Dutse.

He indicated that the party
Has its own problems adding that it is either they correct it or Nigerians would continue to suffer”

Lamido charged the members of the reconciliation committee to be just and fair in their approach to aggrieved members.

He appealed to aggrieved members to put the party before their interest, for the victory of the party.

“We must forget all our grievances, set aside all our personal interest for us to win because it’s only PDP that can be able to rule this country” he stated.
He said the days of the All Progressive Congress APC are numbered as President Muhammad Buhari will not support Bola Ahmad Tinubu’s candidature in the coming 2023 general.

He claimed that in the near future, there would be no more APC because the whole of APC is made of two people Buhari and Tinubu.

“True of the matter very soon there would be no APC in Nigeria because it’s made up of two persons Buhari and Tinubu”

“And I swear to God Buhari will not support Tinubu’s candidacy coming 2023 general election”

“So since they are the leaders of APC and they have issues everyone will find his way and that would be the end of APC in Nigeria”

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As his lasting legacy, Buhari will bequeat a flawless electoral system for Nigeria says Ohuabunwa

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As his lasting legacy, Buhari will bequeat a flawless electoral system for Nigeria says Ohuabunwa

Founder of Sam Ohuabunwa Foundation for Economic Empowerment, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa has said
President Muhammadu Buhari has no option but to leave a legacy that will put in place an electoral system that will guarantee free and fair processes in all future elections in Nigeria.
Speaking while he unveiled a political platform in Abuja on Wednesday- The New Nigeria Group in furtherance of his presidential ambition for 2023 Ohabuwa expressed the optimism that President Buhari would like to leave that legacy by signing the Electoral Reforms Bill being considered by the National Assembly into law.
However, he said his optimism is not a total trust in Buhari but based on what happened in the two most recent elections of Edo and Ondo States that were fairly seen to be free and transparent.
“I am not trusting in Buhari to do the electoral reforms, I don’t put my trust in any human being, because remember the Bible said how miserable for anybody that trusts in the arm of flesh.
“What I have said is that from what I have seen in the last two elections, I am not talking about electoral law or no electoral law. We don’t need any electoral law to conduct a free and fair elections, we don’t, it is for us to determine to have a free and fair election and this can happen in my favor and the favor of Nigeria.
“I said I can read the president’s body language, he is interested, I predicted this in Benin during the election that Obaseki’s election was going to be a part of the new Nigeria, I said so and it is on tape because I knew from what I saw there the election was generally free and fair.
“That of Ondo was almost the same thing, so I am seeing a trend and that trend will continue. Again Nigerians have become wiser, because they have been in this business for too long, they have been collecting money and they end up where they started.
“They have been pushed to do what they don’t want to do, vote for people they don’t believe in because of pecuniary considerations or stomach infrastructure and after that they are returned to penury.
“Nigerians are becoming enlightened and that is the job of the New Nigerian group to get more Nigerians understand that if we want to change the situation we must take our state in our hands vote the right candidate, protect the votes as they did in the two states of Edo and Ondo.
“I also believe the electoral act would be signed into law. What happened in 2018 is not the same, everybody that wants to leave office will like to leave a legacy. I trust that President Buhari will leave a legacy of bequeathing a free and fair election.”
It is good to allow the leadership of this country at least for once before
The NNG, according to the former Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of Pfizer/Neimeth, plans to mobilize like minded citizens to install enlightened, visionary and committed leadership in the country.
He said that the group is out to make the country a first world nation “where all the citizens live in harmony, are treated equally to achieve peace and prosperity for all.”
He listed the core values and guiding philosophy of the group to include knowledge, industry, integrity, patriotism, justice, freedom/liberty and godliness.
He noted that the four challenges facing the country which he hopes to tackle if voted into office as president include poverty, corruption, injustice and insecurity.
He insisted that solving the problem of poverty  would largely solve the problem of corruption while solution to injustice will help deal with insecurity.
He said he has been moving around the country to sell the vision of a new Nigeria where things will be done on merit and in the fear of God.
He said that the country must shift from a nation of importers and consumers to a haven of innovators and producers.
“We need to work hard and work smart to raise our productivity and be in a position to increase our gross national productivity in an effort to improve prosperity and drive down poverty,” he said.
He lamented that the country is divided due to misguided leadership.
“Every child born in this country should have equal chance with every other child to achieve his or her full potentials without discrimination as to his state of birth, ethnicity or religion,” he said.
He said that the group seeks courageous Nigerians that can stand up to their convictions.
He added that the NNG believes that the country has under performed as a result of lack of integrity in its leadership thereby fueling endemic corruption.
“The new Nigeria we seek must be birthed by a crop of Nigerians who are principled and with high moral and spiritual strength to stand up for what is right and righteous,” he said.
Ohuabunwa said that he is not in a hurry to pitch his tent with any of the existing political parties at the moment.
He said that the group would choose from any of the political parties available to actualise its presidential ambition when the times comes.

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When home coming is dangerous

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When homecoming is dangerous


Reviewing the Assassination of Ogacheko Atanu and a Warning to Nigerians in Diaspora on the State of Insecurity in Nigeria

By Frank Tietie

Ogacheko Atanu, an Idah born, world acclaimed and Saudi Arabia based drilling engineer was assassinated by unknown gunmen on Saturday, 9th of January, 2021 while holidaying in his country home in Idah, Kogi State of Nigeria. He was scheduled to travel back to Saudi on the morning of the next day before he was killed on that night in his hometown.

Ogacheko had such a brilliant career while he was at Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Nigeria. It was his sheer brilliance and distinction while at Shell that got him headhunted by Saudi Aramco, the world largest oil company based in Saudi Arabia, where he worked until his assassination in his house in his hometown of Idah.

Homecoming for Ogacheko has had a bad history. Some years ago, after he started work at Saudi Aramco, he decided to visit his hometown and in course of the journey, on his way to Idah, he had a terribly fatal car accident which broke his limbs. Saudi Aramco did not take chances regarding the treatment of one of its best executives. So the company flew a special air ambulance (a chartered plane equipped with specialised medical equipment) into Nigeria and evacuated Ogacheko for treatment in Saudi Arabia. That’s how valuable he was to the company. And it didn’t matter whether he was a Nigerian and a non-national of Saudi Arabia.

So why would Ogacheko choose to come to his hometown under the present circumstances and be brutally murdered in his country home in such a wicked manner? Reports say he was asked by the gunmen to say his last prayers and despite offering them so much money, probably in dollars, they shot at him several times and he died instantly. Why?

Shouldn’t Ogacheko have taken the state of affairs in local security seriously enough to stay away from Nigeria at this time? With his status, he had enough money to arrange armed private guards or special police protection but why didn’t he do that? He also had the means to obtain a licence to own guns with which he could have repelled the assassins or defended himself. Why would uneducated, barbaric, unskilled hoodlums just kill an expatriate of that repute just like that without any resistance? Ogacheko was helpless even in his hometown; he was murdered mercilessly in his country home. Why?

Some Nigerians in diaspora get so accustomed to their host countries which have secure environments that they underestimate the Nigerian security situation. These members of the diaspora should seek proper travel advisory before coming home for holidays and other purposes. But they are usually overconfident in their belief that Nigeria is their original country where they started. So they don’t feel so threatened as if things are not as bad as when they were once here. No! Things are no longer as they were. The security situation in Nigeria seems to be deteriorating by the day. Those of us who live here know the daily risks we face and we trust in God in unusual terms, everyday for our security. Why do you think many Nigerians say crazy prayers using terms like ‘fire and die’ and ‘Holy Ghost fire’?

The Nigerian government needs to do more to assure Nigerians in diaspora and indeed all Nigerians that there is enough security before certain travels can be made in our country.

In the meantime, all Nigerians in diaspora, especially the successful ones who are popular for their generosity, should weigh carefully all their travel plans to Nigeria. A direct advice is for them to stay away completely until the security situation improves or they should be prepared to learn and adopt the needed skills together with resources required to survive in Nigeria, in these precarious times of insecurity, whenever they visit.

Frank Tietie
Human Rights Lawyer
& Executive Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER),
Writes from Abuja

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