*Traces violence to Executive Orders 21, 22
The governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, Mr. Tonye Cole, yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to halt the current chaos in the state by declaring a state of emergency.
In a statement signed by spokesman of the Rivers APC 2023 Campaign Council, Sogbeye Eli, Cole blamed the signing of Executive Orders 21 and 22 by Governor Nyesom Wike for the violence that has recently bedevilled the state.
Cole said the opposition political parties in Rivers State were presently under siege with unrelenting spate of violent attacks by thugs and hoodlums allegedly working for Wike’s faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He stated that the deadly attacks began with a road blockade mounted by thugs en route Egberu community, hometown of Rivers State PDP Chairman, Desmond Akawor, in Ward 3 of Oyigbo Local Government Area to deny Senator Magnus Abe access to the community for a party meeting.
He also said the attacks had since spread to other parts of the state and become more audacious, targeting campaigns by the opposition parties and their candidates.
Last week alone, Cole pointed out that his party and Accord Party had the governorship campaigns of their respective candidates disrupted. He stressed that during the Port Harcourt City Local Government Area rally of the APC, which held at the Rumuwoji traditional grounds in the Mile 1 Diobu area of the capital on Thursday, January 19, 2023, the venue came under attack with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Cole added, “This dastardly attack left five members of the APC injured with shrapnel extracted from their bodies while receiving emergency medical attention.
“Those injured were a male and four females: Hope Isaac, Paul Oghonomu, Felicia Gogo, Amba Lizzy Frank and Angela Gift-Koko of Wards 6 and 20 of Port Harcourt City Local Government Area.”
Less than three days after another attack on the APC Port Harcourt rally, Cole revealed that the campaign convoy of Dumo Lulu-Briggs, governorship candidate of Accord Party, on Saturday came under yet another attack by alleged PDP thugs wielding guns and other dangerous weapons.
Cole stated, “Observers of Rivers politics trace the foundation of the unprovoked attacks by anti-democratic forces to the enactment of Executive Orders 21 and 22 by Governor Nyesom Wike prohibiting political campaigns in public places, particularly government-owned schools.
“The Executive Orders also imposed a non-refundable cautionary deposit of N5 million on political parties for use of the facilities in each local government area, in contravention of limitations imposed on campaign financing by political parties and politicians in the Electoral Act 2022.”
Furthermore, the APC gubernatorial candidate said Wike had taken further steps which point squarely at him as the architect of the climate of political violence that has besieged the state. He quoted Wike as having directed his loyalists to approach the 2023 general election with a belligerent mentality. “It is a fight to finish. Do not be afraid,” Wike was quoted to have told his supporters.
Cole said, “Emboldened by the governor’s reckless instigation, the factional PDP thugs have charged at the opposition parties campaigns and the splinter group supporting the presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, with renewed vigour. Campaign materials, such as billboards are destroyed with relish while opposition rallies are disrupted to the delight of the state government.
“As tense as the political environment has become in Rivers State, evoking memories of the mindless violence, bloodshed and killings of APC members that attended Wike’s approach to the 2015 general elections, Rivers people are concerned that the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command, Okon Effiong Okon, is lending impetus to the ongoing thuggery of the PDP.
“When Wike painted the attack on the APC rally as a product of an internal crisis within the Rumuwoji community to whittle down the burden of guilt on his conscience, he only re-echoed the Commissioner of Police who declared that no IED was used in the attack prior to directing the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations, and the bomb disposal unit to investigate the incident.
“Regardless of the prejudicial position of the police commissioner who has clearly reneged on his pledge at assumption of office in October last year to uphold the rights of Nigerians and guarantee freedom to all political parties in the build up to the 2023 elections to operate, we reiterate that the APC rally was attacked and same was an attempt by the ruling party to intimidate and chase away APC supporters.”
According to him, the police cannot afford not to be neutral in Rivers State if the mission of the Commissioner of Police was peace keeping, recalling that the same commissioner had turned down his party’s request for police security to march on a peaceful protest against the Wike’s executive orders.
He noted that the governing party in the state had never hidden its intentions to refuse opposition political parties campaign freedom or participation in a free and fair electoral process.
Cole said, “We, therefore, reiterate our earlier call on security agencies, particularly the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command and Director of Department of State Services (DSS) to call the governor to order.
“Let Wike call off the urge to use his supporters to fight in the state thereby disrupting a peaceful transition of power after the general election.
“Rivers people deserve a right to elect a government of their own choice and no one should be seen abusing his office to thwart the people’s rights which the constitution guarantees because he has a selfish agenda to impose his successor on the state.”
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.”