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Kogi in subdued celebration, cautious optimism

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Kogi in subdued celebration, cautious optimism

By John Akubo, Lokoja

Governor’s directive, police action restrain wild reactions
The expected outburst of jubilation or demonstrations over the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment on the validity of the governorship of Yahaya Bello of Kogi State was an anticlimax of sort.
There was a subdued celebration by supporters of Bello while those that planned to take to the streets to vent their anger over a loss, as well as hoodlums that would have capitalized on crowd anonymity to cause mayhem were cowed by the massive presence of security.
Thus it was a mix bag as the Supreme Court upheld Bello, as authentic winner of the November 21, 2015 governorship election in the state, with reactions as divergent as the people.
Prior to the apex court’s ruling on Tuesday, the former governor, Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the running mate to Prince Abubakar Audu, winner of the governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. James Faleke have filed petitions against Bello’s mandate.
While Wada claimed that Bello should not be declared governor because Audu died with his mandate, Falake insisted that he, being the running mate to APC’s governorship candidate that died shortly before the election was concluded should be declared governor.
However, the argument in favour of Bello was that being the runner up to Audu in the APC’s governorship primary, he has the constitutional right to take the mandate and not Faleke, who did not contest the primary of the party.
The unanimous judgment by a five-member panel of the Appeal Court delivered by Justice Jummai Sankey on August 4, had upheld the verdict of the Kogi State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja, which dismissed Faleke’s petition.
But in Wada’s appeal, Justice Obande Festus Ogbuinya gave a dissenting judgment canceling the election of Bello on the grounds that he was not validly nominated for the election following Audu’s death and he failed to nominate a running mate before the election. He had ordered the withdrawal of the governor’s certificate of return and the conduct of a fresh election in the state.
However, the Supreme Court in its judgment confirmed that votes belonged to the political party that nominated a candidate. It affirmed that the nomination of Bello to replace Audu was in order.
Supporters of Falake, who boasted that their man would win the case, as well as followers of Wada, were disappointed.
Meanwhile, the low-keyed jubilation in the state after the ruling on Tuesday was attributed to the fact that most of the supporters of Bello were still in Abuja.
Another reason adduced was the fact that the governor restrained his supporters against wild celebrations. The earlier warning by the State Command Police also restrained supporters from street jubilation.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Abdulahi Chafe had earlier warned that he would mobilized his men to arrest anybody that cause problem, saying: “such people would be prosecuted according to the laws.
One of the supporters of former governor Wada, who said there was no need to continue to bicker, called on Bello to extend a hand of fellowship to others for the growth and development of the state.
According to him, “Bello should not run an administration of revenge and vendetta.
However, the apex court ruling seems not to have gone down well with the state’s civil servants who were yet to get their salary.
A civil servant who spoke on condition of anonymity said though many of his colleagues have received alerts of three months he was yet to receive. He expressed hope that Bello’s victory would change things for the better for the civil servants.
However, as the elated governor returned to Kogi, many of his supporters took over the Murtala Muhammed Bridge-Lokoja axis of the Lokoja-Abuja highway to welcome him but security operatives ensured normalcy. They made contingency plan as they directed commuter vehicles and other vehicles to utilize one lane of the dual carriage high way hence the reception was hitch free.
Significantly, supporters who trooped to the reception at the foot of the bridge came from the three camps on the matter, wearing uniforms of T-Shirts bearing inscription of ‘God Won for Bello’
They came in different attires with musical instruments in cultural display to the admiration of other supporters.
It was like a triumphant entry into Lokoja as Lokoja indigenes lined up the streets to catch a glimpse of the victorious governor. Some wore banners indicating that Loyola indigenes were fully in support of the Governor.
Elsewhere in Okene, the headquarters of the Kogi Central Senatorial district there was unprecedented celebration as popular masquerades were released to celebrate their own.
The joy of the people knew no bounds as the first ever son of the Ebira to occupy the exalted position has been successful in all fronts winning all his cases like the proverbial cat with nine lives.
One of those celebrating said the victory was germane because if the judgment had been otherwise the Governor would have been unable to return to Lokoja.
The governor extended the olive branch to those who contended with him noting that his victory at the Supreme Court showed that democracy has indeed taken root in Nigeria.
Bello who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Kingsley Fanwo, said his victory at the court was a big honor to democracy.
“The landmark judgment of the Supreme Court today, which affirmed my election is a watershed in the annals of electoral jurisprudence and constitutional law in the country. It was a long walk to victory, which will reshape our constitution of the nation.
“The victory belongs to all Kogi people who believe in transforming Kogi from a potentially great State to a really great State. Am committed to serving the people and making the State the centre of excellence and the cynosure of all eyes”, he said.
The governor, however, restrained his supporters against wild celebration, saying the moment was a challenge to indigenes for sober reflection on how to make the state great.
He reiterated the administration’s commitment to the cardinal goals of improving education, reinventing healthcare, boosting infrastructural development as well as raising the capacity of the State citizens to reinvigorate the economy.
However, Faleke said he had no regrets challenging the decision to declare the election inconclusive as the step was taken in good faith to protect the interest of the over 240,000 electorates that voted for the Audu/Faleke ticket in the election.
In a statement issued on his behalf by Duro Meseko, he said it would amount to a betrayal of the sacred trust of the people who reposed implicit confidence in the Audu/Faleke ticket, not to have defended the sanctity of their vote up till the apex court level.
“We have heard the judgment handed down by the Supreme Court jurists upholding Yahaya Bello as governor. We shall wait for the full text of the judgment to know why they came to that conclusion. But let it be stated here that we have no regrets challenging the declaration of our election as inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). What we did was to defend the votes cast for Audu/Faleke by the over 240,000 electorates on November 21, 2015,” he stated.
Faleke urged all his supporters to remain calm, peaceful and law abiding while thanking them for their support and perseverance all through the court proceedings.
But speaking through his Chief Communications Manager, Wada indicated that the judgment was against the golden dawn in the state that bears the cradle of the people.
“It was against the golden dawn for all lovers of democracy in Nigeria and all over the world but we are proud to be at the vanguard of the revolution.”
He said the decision of the apex court, brings to an end a legal battle they initiated not because they wanted a second term in office; but to serve as a historic denunciation and a befitting dirge for electoral fraud.
Wada, however, resolved to offer his support to his successor, stressing that he would do his best in whatever way possible to offer support to Governor Bello for the uplift of the state.
Former acting governor of Kogi, Chief Clarence Olafemi said the judgment is a victory for democracy.
http://m.guardian.ng/features/kogi-in-subdued-celebration-cautious-optimism/

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17 persons die in seperate accidents on same route in Kogi

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17 persons die in seperate accidents on same route in Kogi


17 persons including five children, two policemen and their driver lost their lives in seperate autocrashes Thursday on Itobe-Anyigba road in Kogi State.

First was that involving a mercedez-Benz truck and an ambulance conveying an empty casket with two police inspectors and a civilian driver travelling to Anyigba to take the body of a dead police sergeant.

The trio died when their ambulance van had a headon collision with a Mercedes-Benz truck coming from the opposite direction.

On the same day 14 persons also perished in a multiple accident involving three vehicles; two trucks and a passenger bus along the same route.
The State Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Mr Solomon Aghure, who confirmed the incident to newsmen in Lokoja on Friday, indicated that three vehicles; two trucks and a passenger bus, were involved in the accident.
He said that the three vehicles were travelling on the same lane enroute Anyingba when a truck suddenly hit the bus from behind and as a result of the impact, the Bus skidded and hit the truck in its front.
Aghure said that the bus was trapped in between the two trucks with all the passengers before his men arrived the scene to carry out rescue operation which lasted for hours.
He disclosed that 14 out of the 23 persons involved in the accident died on the spot, adding that nine others sustained various degrees of injury.
Aghure said that three men, one woman and five children (two males and three females) survived the accident with some injuries.
He said that the injured were taken to Holley Memorial Hospital, Ochadamu for treatment while corpses of the dead were deposited at the morgue of Grimard Hospital, Anyingba.
Aghure,who attributed the accident to possible break failure,said further investigation would be carried out to determine its actual cause.

 

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Presidency tells Muslim group to exercise restrain even though Kukah actually injured Islamic faith

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Presidency tells Muslim group to exercise restrain even though Kukah actually injured Islamic faith


The Presidency has indicated that, though it agrees with Muslim Solidarity Forum that Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto actually injured the Muslims in his Christmas day homily it’s unconstitutional for them to issue him quit notice.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu spoke in reaction to the threats for the Bishop to quietly pack and leave Sokoto should he fail to apologise over the controversial sermon.
The Muslim Solidarity Forum had issued what seem like a subtle threat to Bishop Hassan Kukah to tender an unreserved appology or quietly leave the seat of Caliphate.

The spokesman for the President in a statement said, Kukah has truly injured the Muslims, but he should be guided in his utterances and take into cognisance, Sokoto’s heartbeat of Islam in Nigeria.
Shehu said, it’s unconstitutional for an individual or group to issue quit notice to a citizen under whatever circumstances, saying, father Mathew Hassan Kukah must be allowed to practice his religion.
Nationalupdate reports on Tuesday indicated that the Sokoto based Islamic group, “Muslim Solidarity Forum”, at a press briefing said the Bishop is known for his perchance to speak in parables and innuendos against Islam in a provocative manner.

The spokesman for the President in a statement said,
“Father Kukah has greatly offended many with his controversial remarks against the government and the person of the President, with some even accusing him of voicing anti-Islamic rhetoric.
“On matters such as these, responsible leadership in any society must exercise restraint. Knee-jerk reactions will not only cause the fraying of enduring relationships, but also the evisceration of peaceful communities such as Sokoto, the headquarters of the Muslim community as beacon of pluralism and tolerance.
“The reported ultimatum by a group based in Sokoto, “Muslim Solidarity Forum,” calling on the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev Matthew Hassan Kukah to tender an unreserved apology to the entire Muslim Ummah over his recent “malicious comments” against Islam, or quietly and quickly leave the state, is wrong because it is not in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Under our Constitution, every citizen has the right to, among others, freedom of speech and expression, the right to own property and reside in any part of the country, and the right to move freely without any inhibitions.
“Nigeria’s strength lies in its diversity. The right for all religions to co-exist is enshrined in this country’s Constitution.
“The duty of the government, more so, this democratic government, is to ensure that the Constitution is respected. But all must respect the rights and sensitivities of their fellow Nigerians.
“The Sultanate has historically had good relations with followers of all faiths. That is why Father Kukah was received on his arrival in Sokoto with friendship and tolerance.
“Under our laws, groups or factions must not give quit notices, neither should they unilaterally sanction any perceived breaches. Where they occur, it is the courts of law that should adjudicate. Unilateral action is not the way to go.
“Groups such as the Muslim Solidarity Forum must be seen to share and uphold the country’s multi-religious principles. And individuals like Father Kukah must respect the feelings of his fellow Nigerians in his private and public utterances.”

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Group tackles Bishop Kukah, demands immediate arrest

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Group tackles Bishop Kukah, demands immediate arrest

The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) has described Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah’s recent controversial statement as unguarded and open incitement to military coup and insurrection against the democratically elected government of Muhammadu Buhari.

In a statement signed by its National President, Alhaji Yerima Shettima on Monday, the group
condemned “Kukah’s use of nepotism as weapon of calumny against government and people of Nigeria.”

The AYCF demanded the immediate arrest and prosecution of Bishop Kukah for what it described as treasonable felony against the Nigerian state.

In the alternative, the group called on Federal Government to place Kukah on special watchlist for this open attempt to “set the South against the North in order to destabilize our country and further complicate matters.”

Shettima, in the statement, took exception to what his group described as “Kukah’s latest role in devil’s advocacy, as the North struggles to restore peace and enduring security in the region and indeed Nigeria.”

The statement noted that “such a reckless statement by Kukah betrays something much more sinister against both the North and the nation as a whole because Nigeria is at a stage that it requires responsible advice for attaining peace and stability, not deliberate attempt to mischievously compound our problems.

“If Kukah wants to play politics, he should not do so in the pulpit and he should keep the Bishop’s office aside and chose any Nigerian political party platform to contest President in 2023 and stop all the pretences,” the statement said.

It reminded Kukah of the rough road tread by democracy heroes to rid the nation of military dictatorship at a time when he was nowhere in sight.
“We will not allow opportunists who did make any contribution to scuttle the democracy achieved through the our sweat and toil and the sacrifice of our liberty,” Shettima said in the statement.

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