The delegation of former vice president and presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, to the 2023 extraordinary General Church Council (GCC) of Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), held in Jos recently, yesterday, insisted the statement credited to the president of ECWA, Dr. Stephen Baba Panya, that the church would soon announce it presidential preference was true. But it alleged that the church was under pressure to deny the statement.
A delegation led by former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, had Tuesday issued a statement, where it quoted Panya as saying at the GCC in Jos that the church would evaluate the presidential candidates and take a decision soon.
However, ECWA, in a refutation by its Public Relations Officer, Rev. Romanus Ebenwokodi, stated, “At no time did it make the alluded resolution, neither did the president at any time during the proceedings of the council make the statement credited to him by the newspapers in question.”
The statement read, “ECWA as a denomination has its members across all political parties and the leadership of ECWA respects that. Therefore, we need the teaming members of ECWA, the Church in Nigeria, and the general public to understand that the said publications are absolute falsehood that have never been contemplated, and are meant to cause unnecessary tension that is capable of dragging the good name of ECWA to the mud.
ECWA, therefore, strongly demands the newspapers “to herewith publicly withdraw the said publications and tender public apologies to ECWA within twenty-four (24) hours beginning 12:00 noon, 18th January 2023.”
However, in a counter-statement, spokesman of the Atiku delegation to the occasion, Hon. Golu Timothy, said a lot of pressure was on the church to recant its stand on announcing the choice of a presidential candidate soon.
The statement by Timothy, who is a former member of the House of Representatives, insisted the church’s president made the comment, and wondered why such an innocent remark could suddenly become controversial.
The statement said, “Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to Rev. Romanus Ebenwokodi, the spokesperson of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) who denied part of the remarks of the ECWA President regarding what members may do ahead of the 2023 general election.
“As the spokesperson of yesterday’s delegation led by the former Speaker, Rt Hon. Yakubu Dogara, I want to say with absolute respect to ECWA President, Rev Dr. Stephen Baba Panya, and the entire leadership that no statement written was mischievous and malicious and intended to create unnecessary tension. At no point did the statement say the church has endorsed and named its own presidential candidate.
“What the ECWA president said was that they will ponder and pray for guidance of the Holy Ghost as they make their decision. The decision, of course, will be those of its members who belong to different political parties to choose from the many candidates.
“All members of the delegation who represented the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, are hopeful that majority of such individual decisions will favour us as a party.
“We believe that there is nothing wrong with the statement as reported, as the same remarks can be said to all the presidential candidates, who are seeking votes from members of the church.
“We believe that the pressure from fellow politicians of other political parties who felt outsmarted must have created and prompted the press statement from the church.
“We are aware that politicians who failed to honour such a distinguished gathering will naturally feel jealous of the hospitable reception accorded the Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara and his delegation on behalf of Atiku and can raise the stakes to seek to fill the vacuum created by their deliberate absence.
“We urge the church not to be worried by the antics of other politicians, who would go to any extent to pile pressure and sometimes seek to blackmail to score cheap political gains. Let them also visit the church to pass their message to the people instead of assuming negative analysis of what others said.
“As Christians, we have no reason to cast aspersions or create stories for any political objective. It is what we understood from the brief remarks of the ECWA president that we communicated the media.
“We want to restate our high respect to His Lordship, the President of ECWA, Rev Dr. Stephen Baba Panya, the distinguished GCC and the entire membership of the church and will never ever contemplate any form of disrespect. Some members of the delegation are also members of ECWA.”
BREAKING NEWS: PDP’s Diri Wins Bayelsa Gov Election
The incumbent Governor of Bayelsa State and governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Douye Diri, has been declared the winner of the State governorship election held last Saturday.
The Returning Officer, Prof Faruq Kuta, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Of Technology, Minna, announced Diri winner of the poll at the collation centre of the election on Monday.
Diri polled 175,196 to defeat his closest rival, Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress, who garnered 110,108 votes while the Labour Party polled 905 votes.
Plateau: Protesters Storm S’ Court Over Sack Of Four PDP Members From NASS
Over 1000 protesters, on Monday, besieged the Supreme Court to register their displeasure over the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which sacked four members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Plateau State, from the National Assembly, based on a pre-election dispute.
The placard and banner-wielding groups, under the aegis of Coalition for Justice in Africa, CJA, submitted a protest letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola.
According to the protesters, the appellate court, by its judgement, thwarted the wish of electorates in Plateau state, when it declared candidates that lost the National Assembly elections that held on February 25, as winners of the legislative seats.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the protest letter was submitted to the CJN, the National President of the CJA, Dr. Daniel Okwa, maintained that the judgement of the appellate court was capable of causing a breakdown of law and order in the state.
He said the group was at the apex court to seek the intervention of the CJN, alleging that the verdicts that removed all the PDP federal lawmakers were influenced by some chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
The protest letter, which was obtained by Vanguard, read in part: “The Coalition for Truth and Justice believes that the judgment of the Appeal Court in Abuja is a case of injustice, else, how could one explain a situation where lawmakers of the All Progressive Congress (APC) would boast and predict the outcome of the Court of Appeal judgment even before the pronouncement.
“This is unacceptable and indicates that the justice regime in Nigeria has been thrown to the dogs. What happened in Plateau State is an aberration of immeasurable proportion. There is a distinction between a pre-election matter and a post-election matter.
“The Supreme Court has established this fact on several occasions. It is now a wonder why the Appeal Court would act otherwise and in a despicable manner that tends to truncate our nascent democracy.
“The Coalition for Truth and Justice entirely condemns the actions of the justices of the Appeal Court that sat in Abuja. They displayed insensitivity to the electoral choices of the people. This is a worrisome trend that the Chief Justice of Nigeria must address.
“This is on the heels that the Judiciary, the world over, is regarded as the last hope of the commoner. This presupposes that it is the only place the commoner can get justice. The function of the Judiciary is not to twist the truth or fabricate facts but to interpret the law. The consequence of the interpretation of the law is justice.
“However, what played out in Plateau state negates the Judiciary’s position as the common’s last hope. The Judiciary is for sale to the highest bidder in Nigeria, if such positions could be taken without recourse to the implication of such on the psychological state of the people.
“The Coalition for Truth and Justice is using this protest to drive the point that justice in Nigeria should not be reserved for a section of the country or any political party. What happened in Plateau should not be allowed to stand or repeat itself. The implication of such is that the reputation of the judicial arm of government would be eroded.”
It will be recalled that the appellate court had on November 7, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, okayed the nullification of the election of a Senator and three members of the House of Representatives in the state that emerged on the platform of the PDP.
The panel based its decision on failure of the PDP to fully comply with a court that was made in 2022, which it said directed the party to conduct congress in the 17 Local Government Areas in the state.
It, therefore, held that though the lawmakers won their respective seats during the National Assembly election that held on February 25, all the scores that were credited them, amounted to wasted votes.
It ordered that candidates that got the second majority lawful votes at the election, should be sworn in as winners of the legislative seats.
Canada’s Abuja, Lagos Visa Centres Open – High Commission
The Canadian High Commission in Nigeria has said its Abuja and Lagos visa application centres remain open for the processing of immigration, refugee and citizenship applications.
The Canadian High Commission had on Tuesday announced the suspension of operations in its Abuja office following a fire incident at its generator house, which claimed two lives on Monday.
Nigerians had expressed fear that the operations suspension would hamper visa application processes.
But in a statement posted on its X handle on Thursday, the Canadian High Commission clarified that its Abuja and Lagos visa application centres remain open and operational.
In the statement by its public affairs staff, Demilade Kosemani, the commission said, “As we continue to mourn the passing of our dear colleague from the High Commission of Canada in Abuja, please note the following information below:
“Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada clients: processing of applications continues. Regardless of the suspension of operations at the High Commission of Canada in Abuja, the Visa Application Centres in Abuja and Lagos remain open.”
Meanwhile, a travel agency, , TMT Travels and Tours Limited, has sympathised with the Canadian High Commission over the Monday tragic fire incident.
In a statement on Thursday the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Collins Onukwubiri, said, “We at TMT Travels and Tours Limited shares in the grief and sense of loss of the Canadian embassy in Abuja. The partial burning of the Canadian embassy in Abuja and the death of two workers there was most unfortunate.
“Canada, as a major player in the Nigeria’s travel and tours business, is an integral player in Nigeria’s economy. We know how devastating this unfortunate incident is to them but we want to say that we stand with them in this time and always. We specially condole with the families of the two persons who died in the process.”