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Muhammed Audu’s arraignment and APC travails in Kogi



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Muhammed Audu’s arraignment and APC travails in Kogi

By John Akubo

Party in factions, family divided

Kogi as a state has hardly had a dull moment in recent times and has often been the attraction for the media mainly for what some have termed negative news.

Currently, disagreement in the family of Prince Abubakar Audu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate who died during the election, has snowballed into another crisis for the state and the ruling APC.

The news of the recent arrest and subsequent arraignment of Muhammed Audu, son of late Audu jolted the people of the state, as they could not believe such humiliation could be meted out to him at this point.

The unfortunate demise of Prince Audu and the manner of his replacement by the incumbent Governor, Yahaya Bello had since factionalised the ruling party.

Of the two major factions the James Faleke/Audu group are bent on reclaiming the mandate allegedly given to the late Audu, hence the litigation; while the Governor Bello’s faction, which has been steering the ship of state, had resisted them.

The Faleke group became the major opposition within the APC in the State even when the rival PDP lost its voice since its defeat last year.

The current crisis was allegedly stoked at the celebration of the Silver Jubilee of the creation of the State when the governor decided to honor the late politician with a posthumous award. The first son of late Audu turned down the invitation to receive the award but the younger brother Yahaya and a former wife, Aisha Audu were readily available to fill the vacuum as they claimed to have received the award on behalf of the family.

Going by the publicity given to the ceremony it was implied that Audu’s family had endorsed the Bello’s government. However, in a swift reaction the first son alleged that Bello gave the award because of the pending case at the Supreme Court against his election.

He described the award as ‘self-serving and diversionary’, adding that the governor should rather focus on addressing the challenges of non-payment of salaries to workers in the state.

Muhammed advised Bello to stop seeking cheap popularity, through misleading the people that he had the endorsement of the family of the late Audu. He asked the Governor to allow the Supreme Court to decide the case challenging his election as the governor of the state.

Nonetheless, the governor explained that the posthumous leadership award bestowed on late Audu had nothing to do with the case at the Supreme Court. According to the Chief of Staff to the governor, Mr. Edward Onoja, Bello gave the highest leadership award to late Audu based on a unanimous decision that no past Kogi governor had impacted the state in the area of development in the last 25 years as Audu did.

“It would be surprising for Mohammed Audu to go to press to say the award was diversionary and self serving. How does that serve the governor? Rather, it serves the political family of the late Audu. It serves the memory of the late Audu, it serves the good people of Kogi East and Kogi people in general,” he said.

He said besides the award, Bello had earlier named the Kogi State University, the highest tertiary institution in the state, after the late Audu, to honour and immortalize his memory.

Just as the altercations continued, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad at the ‘A’ Division Police Headquarters in Lokoja invited Muhammed for questioning. He was detained till the next day when he was arraigned at the Chief Magistrate Court II in Lokoja.

Audu was charged with criminal conspiracy, causing grievous hurt, mischief, armed robbery and attempted culpable homicide, contrary to sections 97(1), 248, 327, 298 and 229 of the Penal Code Law.

The prosecuting police officer, Gabriel Otowu, told the court that the late politician’s son allegedly committed the offence against his uncle, Prince Yahaya Audu, on August 30 in their family house at Ogbonicha in Ofu Local Council.

Okechukwu Ayewu, leading seven other lawyers for the accused, urged the court to grant his client bail in line with provisions of 36(5) of the constitution and sections 341(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

In his ruling, the Chief Magistrate, Alhassan Husaini, granted the relief sought by the accused counsel.

The issue has deepened the internal crisis that has been rocking the APC in the State.

Though the Government has denied having any hand in the arrest, detention and arraignment of Audu, most of his supporters believe every step around the issue was politically motivated.

A socio-cultural group, Uja Ache-Igala, described the arrest of Mohammed and 14 other family members as an “unfortunate development to intimidate the family into abandoning their political struggle.”

A statement signed by the group’s Head of Media and Publicity, Atek’ojo Samson Usman, noted that the arrest of Mohammed and 14 others was politically motivated.

The Faleke/Audu Political Organization, in its reaction, described the arrest and detention of Mohamned Audu, as a “provocative act of executive lawlessness aimed at justifying a predetermined goal of creating an atmosphere of insecurity in the state with the Supreme Court judgment imminent.

The spokesperson of the group, Duro Meseko, said it was the height of provocation for the Bello administration to “instigate the arrest of Audu’s son by turning a pure family issue into a big political matter.” He said it was inexplicable that Mohammed who was attending a session of Sharia Court with other Audu siblings on a family matter would also be present in his hometown of Ogbonicha on the same day the alleged incident happened.

In the same vein, the Audu Oyidi Royal Family of Ogbonicha has risen in support of Mohammed, describing the development as “political persecution of the highest order”.

In a statement signed on behalf of the family by the Oregoh Attah of Igalaland, the paramount ruler of Ogbonicha, the family lamented the arrest and arraignment of their son on ‘trumped up charges’ and affirmed their implicit confidence in his unimpeachable integrity. “We are surprised with the news of the arrest and arraignment of the son of our late patriarch; Mohammed is a responsible man from a respectable background who would do no such thing as to bring disrepute to the name of our family.”

In a related development, major stakeholders of the APC from the three Senatorial Districts of the State rose from an emergency meeting in Lokoja and condemned the arrest and arraignment of Mohammed Audu.

According to Kehinde Afolabi, who spoke on behalf of the group, it was unfortunate that members of the late Prince Audu’s family were being “hounded and persecuted despite the political nightmare the family is going through. Why would people not allow the soul of the dead to rest well? Prince Abubakar Audu lived and did his best for Kogi State as governor. The least the authorities should do is not to persecute his family members, but to encourage them.”

But the State governor, through his Press Secretary, Kingsley Fanwo dissociated the governor from the ordeal of Audu’s first son. He said Bello had no power to stop the security operatives from performing their duties of protecting the lives and properties of the people of the state.

“The arrest of Mohammed Audu was an affair of the late politician’s family. Yahaya Audu, younger brother to the late Prince Abubakar Audu was allegedly attacked and he mentioned the people behind the attack. It has nothing to do with the governor.

“In Kogi State nobody is above the law. Even the governor is not above the law. The law is no respecter of anybody; therefore, anyone caught breaking the law must be made to dance to the music.”

‎A member of the board of Trustees (BOT) of APC Clarence Olafemi had earlier raised alarm over the existence of three different factions within the party in the state.

Olafemi who was a former acting Governor in the State advised that‎ urgent measures should be taken to unite all factions to avert the‎ grave danger of losing future elections.

“It is sad that today, we are in factions. We have the Faleke’s faction, we have the Senator Dino’s faction and we have the governor’s faction. This is the truth and nobody can dispute it.”

He appealed to all the factions and leaders of the factions especially the Governor to put the party above their personal interests.

Olafemi admonished Bello cannot go to war with people who helped to build the party.

“He should reach out to them. He should engage some of us who took liberal positions on issues, so that we could help to reconcile the various factions.”

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Flood disaster: Kogi braces for another round of misery




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Flood disaster: Kogi braces for another round of misery

By John Akubo, Lokoja

Many victims of the 2012 flood disaster in Kogi State who are experiencing another round of displacement are apprehensive over a possible repeat of 2012 scenario, when many partås of the state and country were ravaged by floodwater.

As the ominous signs crystalise, the apprehension is palpable in the state because the tributaries of most small rivers in the northern axis, empty themselves into the River Niger and Benue at the confluence, in Lokoja.

At least 623, 690 displaced persons were accommodated in 87 camps across the state during the last flood disaster. And six years after, the continuous rise of water levels is forcing many residents that live close to the riverbanks to relocate as their houses are already submerged.

According to the Executive Secretary, Kogi State Emergency Management Agency, Alhassan Ayeggba, by the last count, about 45, 000 persons have been displaced, and are camped in various IDP camps across the state, aside from those who elected to put up with their relatives.

The absence of health facilities at the different camps, is already posing dire medical challenges to the IDPs who need medical attention. But matters recently got worse with the birth of three babies at the Koton Karfe IDP camp. Ayishat Zakeriya from Adamogu Community delivered a baby boy; Maryam Ishaq from Akpaku Village delivered a baby girl, and Sakinat Musa, also from Akpaku Village delivered another boy.

However, many in the state fear that the damage this year may be worse compared to that of 2012 should Camerounian authorities discharge water from the Lagdo dam.

At the moment, according to Ayegba, “the water level is 10.30 metres, and this has exceeded the normal level. The situation in Ibaji Local Council is worse as there are no high lands in the area, hence the people have been advised to move to the IDP Camp at Idah

The Secretary to the State Government Ayoade Arike Folashade, who was at the camp on a routine visit, donated food items, and cash to the victims and mothers of the newborn babies, as well as, commended them for the courage they displayed in the face of obvious challenge.

A youth leader at the camp, Abubakar Isah, appealed to the government to assist them as they have lost all their crops to the flood, while the meagre assistance they have received from public-spirited individuals “translates to a few bags of rice and cartons of Indomie Noodles.”

Seidu Akowe, a victim of 2012 flood disaster at the Lokoja IDP camp, was forced out of his home at midnight six years ago without picking any property. This time around, he said he moved to the IDP hostel in Lokoja when his house was overtaken by floods to avoid losing all his belongings.

Another victim, Hajia Meimuna Akawo, who recalled that in 2015, many organisations were showing support to displaced persons in camps, said this time around, apart from very few individuals, including the Commissioner for Environment, Sanusi Yahaya, who gave them two bags of rice and water tanks, the IDPs were starving.

She also said the sanitation situation has become deplorable, even as she fears the outbreak of an epidemic.

Lending credence to the people’s fears of a likelihood of the 2012 flooding, NEMA’s Director of Planning, Research and Forecasting, Mr. Vincent Owan, while on a recent visit to the state advised residents of flood plains to immediately move upland or to the state’s IDPs hostel at the Flood Estate, built by the Governor Idris Wada-administration.

According to him, “My first impression is that the flood situation is quite devastating for the fact that all the indices that manifested during the 2012 flood disaster are here with us today, except for the release of water from the Lagdo dam. Most of the people that have been affected by the flood today have been relocated to higher grounds particularly the IDP hostels at the former Governor Wada Flood Housing Estate.

“We are going collaborate extensively with Kogi State government to ensure that displaced persons are well catered for. I have communicated with the director general of NEMA, and very shortly you will feel the presence of the agency in the state,” the NEMA chief stated.

He also called on the state government to ensure that SEMA discharges its statutory function before seeking external help.

“When incidents like these happen, state governments just run cap-in-hand to the Federal Government for assistance, but the Federal Government wants to see what the state has done before calling for external support.

“Once the Federal Government sees what the state has done and the efforts put in place, it will say okay, having seen what has been done in the face of the challenge that you are facing, which is beyond your coping capacity, the Federal Government will then come in with full force to support you.

According to him, SEMA should never be the type of government agency that should be running around looking for operational vehicles to use when emergencies occur, “and that is why we call for functional state emergency agencies that are fully empowered to ensure that they carry out their statutory responsibilities.”

The Environment Commissioner, Yahaya, who noted that the water level was not receding, equally appealed to residents of “flood-prone areas to move to higher grounds immediately because we don’t know when the water from the Lagdo Dam would be released. When it is released the situation may be worse than the 2012 flood disaster.”

The Director of Engineering Hydrology, Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NHSA), Abuja, Clement Nze, who recently described the state as the “headquarters of flood in Nigeria,” said the meeting of two major rivers to form a confluence in the state makes the flood disaster in the state worse when it happens.

While on an assessment tour of areas so far affected by flood in the state, Nze said the state’s peculiar disposition was the reason why the agency was more interested in what is happening in Lokoja.

“We are measuring downstream of River Niger and River Benue and taking the reading there everyday to make comparisons with the past.

“On September 29, 2012 it was 12.84m and we have about three more weeks to September29, 2018. So, if the rise continues as it is going now, the situation might be worse. Yesterday, the difference between the water level to the highest in 2012 was 2.7m, today it has narrowed to 2.59m, tomorrow it might be 2.5m moving to meet up with the value of 2012 that was so critical 12.84m,” he said.

He recalled that in the Nigerian Meteorological Agency Seasonal Rainfall Predictions release in March this year, the agency said “that the earliest time rain will seize in the northern part of Nigeria, including Sokoto and Katsina is September 28, which means we still have about three weeks or thereabouts of rainfall, but in the southern coastal cities it would be around December.”

“Going by this record and most of the flooding that occur between July, August and September, the period of heavy rainfall in the northern parts of Nigeria is here. We are expecting that the rains will continue and the water levels will continue to rise.”

“The safety net that we have now is that Camerounian authorities have not released any water from the Lagdo dam yet,” he stated, adding that the flooding that has been taking place in Adamawa, Benue, Taraba are caused by water from rivers in Nigeria because there are many of them that are feeding into River Benue and River Niger.”

Called from the Guardian

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CAN in Kogi joins national protest




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CAN in Kogi joins national protest

The day of prayer and protest declared by the national the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) was observed in Kogi state yesterday.

Though the protests were marked in low key as it was restricted to each churche premises in the state, members displayed placards to express their displeasure with the ongoing killings across the country.

The leadership of CAN in the state had written to the blocks in the chapter on the mode that the protest was expected to take.

The Kogi state chairman of th body Bishop John Ibenu, told newsmen after the protest in his church in Lokoja, that the protests were peaceful in the state.

He however said there was the need for the federal government to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission over the menace of herdsmen attacks in the country.

Ibenu said, “It is a national day of prayer and protest, Christians don’t protest, if we have to that means the issues have reached the peak, we spent time to pray for the nation and Kogi state and also for the future, Kogi state CAN in obedience to the directive of national CAN observed the day in our church premises

“In the process of protesting we should also keep the peace and stability of the nation and that is why we said it must be within the church premises because we want to do the best that we can to bring down the tension number two we want governance to go beyond promises tp practicality.

“The killings have continued unabated and it has been taken to the church, there were no grasses for cattles to eat in the church when the Fulanis invaded the church and killed worshippers, so what has started on the farm came to the village and has entered the church.

“Government must act to make sure that this was not something aimed at the church but started in the farm, we are being proactive by calling for attention before it degenerate, we do not want to be pushed to a point where we will start using the pulpits to tell everyone to look for available arm to defend themselves”.


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NAOS Election:Jacob emerges new President




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NAOS Election:Jacob emerges new President

Comr. Abraham Damilare Jacob, a student of Kogi State University (KSU), an indigene of Mopa-Amuro Local Government Area of Kogi State, has been elected as the National President of the National Association of Okun Students (NAOS) 2017/2018 Session.

The election which was conducted during the National Association of Okun Students 2017/2018 National Convention on Sunday in Aiyekunle-Gbede, also produced other National Excos of the association in a free, fair and peaceful environment.

A statement by the Secretary of the Electoral Committee, 2017/2018 NAOS National Convention, in Lokoja, Comr. Prime Abubakar, said that the NAOS 2017/2018 National Convention was a huge success.

“As a law abiding citizens of Okun Nation, we followed due process as regards the earlier announced security threat alert from the Chief Security officer of Ijumu Local Govnment (Host Local Government).

“This caused a little set back as against the planned time for the Convention, as the Electoral Committee, The President and Senate President had to put in the necessary measures for a free, peaceful and fair Convention/Election Process.

“We appreciate all delegates who represented each Local Government Areas for their cooperation and resolution to remain Law abiding as they all exercised their fundamental right to cast their votes.

“Distinguish Naosites both at home and diaspora, permit me to introduce the 2017/2018 National Excos of Okun Students:

“National President- Comr. Abraham Damilare Jacob, From Mopa-Amuro Local Government and a Student of Kogi State University; National Senate President- Comr. Oloruntoba Mosses Juwon from Kabba/Bunu Local Government.

“National General Secretary- Comr Aiyenigba Mercy from Ijumu Local Government

“National Deputy Senate President – Comr. Leke Nihi also from Ijumu, a student of Federal University of Technology Minna.

“All other offices will be announced in due time just before their official inaguration”,
Abubakar said.

He appreciated the presence of all Past National Presidents and Senate Presidents, all representatives of National Youth Council of Nigeria, National Association of Kogi State Students, and all other stakeholders, who had ensured maximum decorum and due process was followed.

In his acceptance speech, the President-elect of NAOS, Comr. Abraham Damilare Jacob, said: “I must as an individual return all glory and thanks to God almighty for granting me the victory”.

Jacob expressed appreciation to His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, and the Speaker Kogi State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. (Prince) Matthew Kolawole.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on youth Empowerment, Sports and Student’s Affairs- Hon. MD Eseyin, Hon Taufiq Isa, the Administrator of Ijumu LGA, who doubled as Kogi ALGON Chairman, other LG Administrators from Mopamuro, Yagba East, Yagba West and Kabba-Bunu respectively.

He also thanked all the royal fathers from Okun Land, for making sure they had an enabling and peaceful environment for a wonderful election amidst all forms of perceived security threats.

He added: “You all have proven that Just like Kogi State is a home of peace, Okunland will always remain a peaceful land.

“NAOS is an association which serves as the umbrella that covers positive benefiting interests of Okun students, as it is enshrined in her constitution. Hence, the protection of the objectives, mission and visions’ statements becomes highly paramount.

“I promise I will not be part of those sugar-coated mouth leaders who will promise heaven and earth, but yet will never make a move to fulfil any. I do not believe in promises that are obviously mirage.

“I have stated clearly in my manifestos that I am only bringing Positive Rebirth, Reformation and Redefinition into NAOS. We can be sure of having Accountability, Credibility, Transparency, and Fair representations achieved as well .

“NAOS is not a one man business and as such, it requires the efforts of all and sundries. Therefore, all hands must be on deck if we must give a positive rebirth, reformation and redefinition of her purpose of existence.

“I want to seize this opportunity to appreciate all NAOSITES and other stakeholders, who gave me their support and encouragement across the length and breath of the state during the course of this struggle.

“I want to leave you at the bench of being the judge to judge me by my activities and achievements at the course of the commencement of our administration immediately after inauguration.

“May I state it categorically that Okun students will always stand firm to protect the interest of the state in as much as it will accelerate the development and growth of the state.

“We are responsible students, we must always be ready to be responsive to the state just like the state must also become responsive to us at our point of needs.

“The unity and progress must and will always remain our chants”.

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