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PDP Stalwart And INEC Accredited Observer Reveals His Party’s Secret Dealings With Electoral Officials Including Amina Zakari

A stalwart of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who also doubles as an accredited observer with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Amadi Chima has revealed some top secrets dealings of his party, the PDP with some officials of the electoral commission.

An obviously angry Amadi who couldn’t hide his disappointment with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took to his twitter account Tuesday to reveal what he described as party’s connivance with some officials of the electoral umpire with the intent of rigging the 2019 presidential election.

A knowledgeable source close to Amadi reveals that he had expected that the PDP will hire him as a consultant to do the dirty job of liasing with any willing INEC officials who will help the party to do the dirty job that would help the opposition party in her quest to wrestle power from the governing All Progressives Congress (APC).

Amadi’s confidence of securing the job was predicated on the strength of his observer status with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and his closeness with the commission’s boss, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu during his sojourn as the Chief Executive of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).

The PDP however disappointed Amadi by appointing a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Professor Maurice Iwu as the consultant who will handle the party’s relationship with the electoral commission.

In a series of tweet on his twitter account, Amadi expressed disappointment with the action of his party by revealing the PDP systemic control of some officials of INEC which also includes the controversial Amina Zakari.

Amina Zakari, who was served as the acting chairman of the commission following the exit of the former chairman, Attahiru Jega has been in the news of late. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had alleged that she is a niece to President Muhammadu and her recent appointment as the chairman and oversee the management of the electoral centre for the 2019 elections were seen by the party as a ploy by the president to rig the election.

The presidency has roundly refuted this allegation saying that Mrs Zakari is a it a niece to President Buhari neither does the president plan to rig the election.

Amadi however seems to share a different view. Though he maintained that Mrs Zakari is an indirect niece to President Buhari, her position at the electoral commission has never been to the benefit of the president. Instead, she has played the script of the PDP since her appointment by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010, he said.

According to Amadi, who said he was speaking based on his membership of the PDP since 1998 and his over 25 years participation in elections as an observer and expert commentator on democracy, further said that “Amina’s action in the INEC has not served any purpose for the president but has benefited my party, the PDP, to the detriment of the integrity of the elections until the current helmsman in INEC came on board to restore sanity to the commission.

He cited several instances to buttress his point one of which includes the campaign against the use of PVC by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 general elections.

“When in 2014 it became clear to the PDP that the technological innovations that Jega was introducing were going to be a bulwark against the tradition of votes allocation, a massive campaign was kickstarted to do away with the PVC and Smart Card Reader technology. This campaign played out in the media. Unbeknownst to many, the battle was not restricted to shaping opinions against the use of the PVC and SCR, it extended into the Commission. The arrowhead of those who called for the abandonment of the innovation was Amina Zakari.”

Continuing, he said, “Amina Zakari, Prince Adedeji Soyebi, and another National Commissioner, Ambassador Lawrence Nwuruku, a card-carrying member of the PDP, led the groundswell of opposition against the deployment of technology in the 2015 elections which created a sharp divide in the Commission.”

“In fact, Jega had to beat a retreat in implementing full use of technology in the transmission of results because of the opposition mounted by these Commissioners who were apparently carrying out the instructions of external forces.”

“I was therefore amused that the same party raised hell when PMB wrongly rejected the Electoral Act Amendment on account of the electronic transmission of results clauses in the Bill.”

“One of the issues the PDP raised against president Buhari’s ill-advised and very vexatious withholding of assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is related to the use of incident forms during elections.”

“However, not many Nigerians may know that these forms were first muted by Amina Zakari to the Commission under Jega as a way of cushioning the effect of the SCR. We now know that the PDP were the biggest beneficiaries of the extensive use of incident forms introduced by Zakari.”

To further buttress his claim that the PDP benefited more from the use of incidence form in the 2015 elections, Amadi brought in figures where he compared the percentage of use of incidence form in  areas where President Muhammadu scored more votes than his closest challenger, former President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice versa.

“In Kano and Katsina, out of the 3,943,080 that were accredited to vote in both States in 2015, 851,062 used incident forms, representing about 22% of the total votes cast. Comparatively, in Rivers and Akwa Ibom States, out of the 2,717,479 persons that were accredited to vote, a whopping 2,525,460 used incident forms, representing an outrageous 93%. Amina’s ‘ingenious’ contribution to democracy in Nigeria came through for the PDP.”

Amadi also used the Bayelsa governorship election held in 2016 as another instance where Amina Zakari while serving as acting chairman of the commission played the script of the PDP by allowing over one hundred thousand ghost voters to vote in the election.

“As Acting Chairman of the INEC, following Jega’s departure, Amina almost bungled the Bayelsa elections. Under her watch, over one hundred thousand ghost voters, many with almanack pictures as identification were introduced into the Bayelsa Voters Register.”

“It was not until the appointment of Prof.Yakubu as the INEC chairman that this anomaly was corrected through the deployment of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System(AFIS).Many of these ghost registrants were in areas that were considered the PDP’s stronghold in Bayelsa.”

He also wrote on the role Amina Zakari played in the 2015 governorship election held in Kogi state where late Prince Abubakar AUDU was coasting home to victory until his death before the final declaration of the election results.

According to him, “while many were too eager to lampoon the INEC for the Kogi debacle in 2015, only a handful may be aware that the needless quagmire would have been avoided if Amina did not try to save the PDP from crushing defeat in the hands of the APC under late Abubakar Audu.”

“The Kogi election was to be won at first ballot when Amina surprisingly decided to proceed to Kogi rather than remain in the INEC Headquarters as Head of the Elections Operations Committee. Amina drafted to the field another PDP appointee and someone she relentlessly lobbied to continue as national commissioner, Prince Soyebi. Amina would move to Dekina local government area which is the home of the PDP candidate, Idris Wada. It was the crises in Dekina that led to the declaration of the election as inconclusive.”

After also revealing the role Amina Zakari played in the Osun election which brought in Alhaji Isiaka Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the new governor, having defeated his strongest challenger, Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in an election that went into supplementary polls, Amadi said “not too many followers of events at the INEC were surprised when the INEC chairman announced changes in the Headship of committees within the Commission, a move that effectively brought Amina’s reign and influence over elections to an abrupt end.”

He had earlier explained how the then INEC chairman, Jega, whom he said is very much aware of “Amina’s unwholesome affinity with politicians and waited” had waited patiently until the last minute where just a few days to the 2015 elections, was removed as the Head of the Elections and Party Monitoring Committee of the INEC and moved to the Planning Committee which had basically finished all its elections planning.

He said “Perhaps this deployment was instrumental to the success of the 2015 elections.

Amadi wondered why the PDP is now washing its hands off Amina since “she is their creation and has paid back adequately.”

He said, “Instructively, Amina Zakari was the Head of the Collation Centre sub-Committee in 2015, the same sub-Committee that the PDP is now rejecting, there is no record of the party objecting to that appointment since she was related to a man that would be on the ballot with the party’s candidate.”

Amadi describes the PDP’s Press Release on the announcement of Amina’s Headship of the Collation Centre sub-Committee citing conflict of interest as its reason for rejecting her appointment as hogwash.

He said “A party that had no qualms in nominating card-carry members of her party into the Commission cannot now lecture the nation on ethics and propriety. I was disgustingly amused when I sighted Ambassador Lawrence Nwuruku, a former INEC National Commissioner, and Mr Nasir Ayilara, former INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner representing Kwara State, at the last PDP National Delegate Convention in Port Harcourt, proudly hanging their delegate cards on their necks.

“It is not also hidden that the former Governor of Abia State, Ochendo Theodore Orji was once an INEC Administrative Secretary. The current governor of Bauchi State was an INEC Commissioner appointed by the PDP. In all these, where was the party’s sense of propriety?”

“If the PDP takes a critical introspective look at its position on Amina, they would realise that they are inadvertently conceding that President Mohammadu Buhari and by extension the APC are better character judges than the PDP ever was.”

“Out of the 12 serving National Commissioners of INEC, only Amina and Prince Adedeji Soyebi were original appointees of the PDP. In castigating Amina, the PDP has tacitly admitted that the 10 National Commissioners appointed by Buhari have better character traits than appointees it sponsored initially to the Commission.”

“The PDP cannot distance itself from Amina, they created her and turned her into what she has become today. She is their baggage, and they must embrace her. Perhaps, the improvements in elections management have ensured that the Party is no longer getting value for money from Amina leading the bigwigs to conclude that she has become a rogue agent.  That the party would think that out of the 12 National Commissioners, 37 Resident Electoral Commissioners, 38 Returning Officers, and the hundreds of people that would be in the ICC, one woman has the powers to determine the outcome of elections tells Nigerians all they need to know about the quality of opposition in Nigeria.”

Amadi’s apparent anger for the selection of former INEC boss, Maurice Iwu against persons like him later came to bear on his tweet as he said the “PDP is still holed up in the past and is refusing to ask some of us within its fold that engage with the process to enlighten its apparatchiks on current trends in elections management. Why would they not have this medieval mentality when rumours have it that they have engaged the discredited Maurice Iwu as one of their elections consultants.”

He wondered why the PDP is chasing shadows and engaging in irrelevant distractions rather than run an aggressive issues-based campaign to present a credible alternatives to voters.

He said “the end game will perhaps be to have an excuse for a defeat if its lacklustre campaigns come back to haunt it.”

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Osinbajo Appoints APYF Chairman Ismaeel Ahmed As Special Assistant On Social Investment Programmes

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has approved the appointment of National Chairman of the All Progressives Youth Forum (APYF), Barrister Ismaeel Ahmed, as the Senior Special Assistant to President Mohammed Buhari on Social Investment Programmes.

Barrister Ismaeel’s appointment took effect from May 26th, 2017, and will assume office to coordinate the administration’s social protection schemes.

Born and raised in the ancient city of Kano, Barrister Ismaeel graduated from University of Abuja with a Law degree, a Master of Arts in International Relations and Diplomacy from Webster University in the USA, and an LL.M from University of Chicago IL, USA.

In 2011, Barrister Ismaeel contested the House of Reps seat to represent his constituency in Kano State. Ever since, he has been in the forefront of gathering young professionals and progressives under one umbrella to represent the interests of the youth and negotiate a gradual shift of power from the elders.

Until his appointment, Barrister Ismaeel served as member, Board of Trustees of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and national Chairman of the All Progressives Youth Forum (APYF), a youth body under the APC.

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TIERs Nigeria Partners STER To Launch The HERE Campaign

The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) and the Stand To End Rape (STER) Initiative are set to launch the HERE campaign, a storytelling photography exhibition aimed at telling stories through pictures at 4pm on Sunday, April 30, 2017 at Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island, Lagos.

According to Olumide Makanjuola, Executive Director of TIERs, the exhibition is aimed at telling stories of survivors of abuse both sexual and physical violence through pictures. The exhibition shows visual narrative of people who have been abused for no just reasons.

“Through the power of visuals, the HERE photo exhibition is aimed at urging people to kick against abuse in the society,” Makanjuola said.

The exhibition opens on Sunday, April 30 with a launch event. It will stay open to the public until Sunday, May 14, 2017.

 

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Only Buhari can remove me -CCT Chair, Umar

The Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar, has dismissed the motion asking him to disqualify himself from the suite filed by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki to stop his trial.

The CCT asserts that he can’t disqualify himself from the trial on the ground that the trial cannot stand without him.

Umar said only the President and a two third of the National Assembly that can remove him from office.

Saraki had asked Umar to withdraw from his trial on the grounds that he was biased.

The senate president, through his counsel, Kanu Agabi (SAN), had said that he had no ?faith in the tribunal to give him justice.

He cited a statement wherein the chairman said that the defendant was afraid of “final consequences”, hence he was stalling the trial as a case of bias against the tribunal.

?But in his ruling on Wednesday, Umar held that he would not withdraw from the trial because there would be no one to sit in judgment over the case.

“The application to recuse myself has not been contemplated in the constitution. In the absence of a chairman, this trial cannot go on, therefore I cannot recuse myself. The chairman is the tribunal, without the chairman there is no tribunal.” he said.

“The application of the applicant is founded on mere conjecture. The application of the applicant is not well-founded, it is hereby dismissed.”

This is the second time Umar is dismissing Saraki’s application for him to withdraw from the trial.

In April, Saraki had filed a similar application alleging corruption against Umar.

Then, he alleged that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was using the chairman against him.

But Umar dismissed the application for lacking in merit.

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VIDEO: President Buhari’s Interview With Al Jazeera

esident Buhari’s exclusive interview with Al Jazeera English correspondent Mehdi Hasan. Mr. Hasan presses President Buhari on his inaction to prosecute military leaders accused by international human rights organizations of extrajudicial murders, corruption, torture, and a wide range of other offenses.

President Buhari denies receiving major human rights reports detailing the military’s abuses against civilians, including Amnesty International’s report which came out earlier this year. Mr. Hasan reminds President Buhari that these reports have been read by his aides and are available in the public domain.

speaks on the continued terrorist attacks from Boko Haram and military leadership in Nigeria.

Watch the video below:

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Why Buhari Should See Youth As Important In Building A New Nigeria – Babangida Ruma

Undoubtedly, the FUTURE belongs to the youth, they are also part of the “present” because they are most productive group in any society. However their productivity and contribution to national development depend on their capacity, in terms of skills, education and financial empowerment.

To me I defines the youth as FUTURE hope for every nation, no nation can move forward without youth. The youth constitute 60 percent of the nigerian populations but to be unfortunate not all of them can read and write, It is also becoming increasingly clear that the national security can be enhanced by addressing the problem of youth who are the most vulnerable group in our various communities because their Exuberance and Idealism are always manipulated for selfish interest the adage that the devil finds work for an idle mind in true among the youth than any other group emerging development indicate that idleness drag them to Drugs and crime, virtually All the people arrested for armed robbery and other crimes that endangers our security are young men.

The youth have also become a reserved army for unleashing political voilence on the country under cover of freedom for ethenic nationalities.

With the existence of those difficulty facing our youth in North and the whole country I deceided to found Arewa Youth Awareness Initiative Forum (AYAIF) It has been established to serve as a medium through which issues affecting the Northern Youth in particular and Nigeria in general, It is an assocition of like minds who are passionate about their own and try to shape a future that seem bleak, AYAIFoundation is now on the batch of officially getting register as full civil society organization.

Our major concern now is street Begging.

The growing number of begers on the major streets of our urban centress in Northern nigeria is not only disturbing but alarming. The category of people involved as cut across age and gender, because you now have in addition to the physically handicapped, a number of children, women and school age girls roaming the streets beggings without definite means of shalter, clothing or food. But a substantial number of the begging population are the “Almajiri” as they popularly known.

Let me remind those of us who feel to busy due to official and personal engagements, to contribute to the initiative by suporting us, that it is time for them to reflect and consider the possbility of re-paying the debt owed the society. The basic realities on groud is that this debt owed for many years need to be paid and indeed ought to be paid, By whatever yardstick of judgement. I also want to assert here that no amount of personal commitment is greater than the pursuance of this noble cause. You do not have to be poor to feel the plans of a common man you only need to have fear of God. You any need to have humility you any need to have humanity, you must be capable of listening so that you can hear when people are crying. You must be paying attention so that you can see when the youth are losing focus and are making the wrong choices in life. You do not have to be a counselor, chairman, honorable member or governor to know this is not the way to go. You cannot see yourself as superior to the people you seek to lead. You cannot believe you are better than the man who has not been given a choice, when you do those, than you can no longer claim to see hunger and anger in the faces of people. You cannot claim to still hear when they cry no matter what position you occupy in your community in your place of work, or government, you have lost the right to lead the people.

You most begin to ask yourself the hard questions when those youths are left to rot and their values are debased, what happens to your so-collet privileged children? How are you going to face your God when this vanity comes to an end we cannot fight the hunger of the stomach wen the poverty of our minds is getting stronger, so we must fight and defeat the poverty of our minds.

I also want use this opportunity to acknowledge the fact that, the Initiative at this stage need to widen the circle of consultation and subscriptions.

Finally, I am calling on Buhari Administration to consider utillizing more of those less greedy young people into process of governance and create an enabling atmosphere for their betterment by providing qualitative, accessible and affordable educational system and creating job opportunities to cater for poeverty and civic crime, so that we can save more to make our roads and health system better, thereby keeping our currency within system better,

 

Babangida Ruma

Commonwealth Youth Council Ambassador

Twitter @AmbassadorRuma

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We Stand On The Shoulders Of Giants; Speech By Chude Jideonwo Celebrating Media Legends At The Red Summit Gala Night

I speak often about culture. It is my favourite topic. I speak often,
and passionately about the cultures that define our nation, and how many of those behaviours appear to be at the root of our national decline.

By this I don’t mean who we are more than I mean what we have become: the attitudes, prejudice, stereotypes and behaviours we have learnt as we have tried to survive corruption, military dictatorship and several civil and other wars.

One of those cultural anoles is the arrogant dismissal of the past. It  has never ceased to amaze how every time someone wants to do something new in Nigeria, they start by dismissing what everyone else there has done before they. You hear ‘Oh, TV was rubbish! Oh radio was bad! Gosh, what have our advertisers been doing?”

There is also the epidemic of people – especially younger people –
declaring that ‘XYZ has never been done before’, or ‘this is the first  time this is being done in Nigeria’ or ‘I am finally going to do this  right.”

I grew up hearing this from peers, but years after it hasn’t ceased to  shocked me. This pervasive sense of disdain, of disrespect can only come from the collapse of perspective and the absence of history as an imperative.

And that is why Nigeria is stuck in a vicious cycle in many areas –
without the benefit of history, of institutional memory, of learning
what we did well and what we did not, of not knowing where the rain began to beat us, how can we know how to do better, what to stand on, where to begin to build? If we do not know where we are coming from, how on earth can we know where we are going to?

Surely the same gaps in knowledge that make young musicians feel that they are first to reach massive international audiences, and deal massive global collaborations in a country where everyone from King Sunny Ade to Majek Fashek to, of course Fela Anikulapo-Kuti have been there, done that, have the t-shirt, threw it away, bought a new one and then rocked it for years. We have a history so rich by success, by victory, by massive accomplishment in the media and creative industries.

That’s not just something I say, that’s the philosophy that underlines our work – a deep humility and abiding appreciation for the history of our country, for the leaders who worked under extremely difficult circumstances, at a time when very few people understood the media, at a time when it was yet emerging, to build this industry that we have now.

But then maybe it’s because many of us in RED grew up on ‘I am Prince Jide Sokoya, the only son of the soil and by the grace of God, the youngest millionaire in the whole universe’, on Nigerian content, and therefore we have an understanding of what makes it special, of why what our forebears did  was special.

Up until this moment, I remember I felt in the public relations activation of Onyeka Onwenu and King Sunny Ade preaching the message of birth control, I remember how perplexed my young mind was that every show on TV had on its credits Peter Igho and Grace Egbagbe, I grew up interesting in knowing how my former boss Levi Ajuonuma did that magic where he spoke to the camera and everyone watching felt he was talking to you directly.

I think of the genius of the Bagco Super Sack ad and how viral it went before many of us knew what viral meant, or the forever standard that the ‘MKO is our man’ ad from Rosabel set those 22 years ago. I grew up in awe of these creators.

And I see all of them here today, and my heart swells with pride, with excitement, with joy, with love, with reverence, with awe.

We are truly standing, this generation, on the shoulders of giants.

You, our mentors and forbears, icons and legends, across television,  radio, print, public relations, advertising, are those giants.

For sure, older people bear some culpability for the Nigeria that we have today, but you won’t find many of those ones in this room today.

You are a different breed, truly worth celebrating. You inspired this young boy in Ijeshatedo who grew up on the columns of Helen Ovbiagele and Mike Awoyinka, and watched Frank Olize every Sunday night. Who looked longingly at Insight when he was in Secondary School and wanted to join that company as soon as he was out. You inspired a generation.

You made it possible for us to dream, you made it possible for us to imagine as far as our passions could take us, you took the path less travelled at a time when your peers chose the usual and the convention – banks, politics, oil. You created something truly special.

You know, in a country where most awards are given to politicians, to billionaires, to corporate fat cats, and to anyone who can pay money for it, some of our honourees here were shocked when call we called them:

“Why are you doing this?”

The underlying question obviously was: In Nigeria, why would anyone do something so obviously not for financial gain?

The answer is simple, and this is the simple answer truly: it is a
decision of the heart and not of the head, driven by gratitude rather than balance sheets. Our hearts wanted to do this. Our souls wanted to do this. Our very beings wanted to do this.

We wanted to say thank you. For courage, for chutzpah, for character, for creativity, for depth. Thank you for passion, for ambition, for purpose.

So tonight, we thank you. Red Media Africa thanks you. Nigeria thanks you.

I thank you.

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2016 Budget: Sokoto To Get Input From Local Communities

For the first time, Sokoto’s 2016 will get input from community leaders and generality of the people at the grassroot level in the 23 local government areas of the state, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has said.
The Governor disclosed this Saturday in Sokoto when he addressed members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) drawn from all parts of the state.

“We will contact the cross section of the people of the state with a view to get their useful inputs into the 2016 proposed budget.

“This is to make sure that any project that we will undertake would have been agreed upon by the people and would improve their living standard.

“In this direction, we will execute projects that the people of the state say they want, so as to ensure that their lives are bettered,” he added.

Tambuwal also promised to complete all the projects he had inherited from his predecessor, Sen. Aliyu Wamakko.

The governor further stated that his administration plans to initiate new projects, programmes and policies to sustain the current tempo of the state’s development.

“We will soon initiate such projects and give same to members of the party who have the expertise to handle such projects.

“In the same vein, the generality of the people of the state will have their lives tremendously improved in the areas of the rehabilitation of roads, hospitals, schools, drainages and other infrastructure,” Tambuwal, averred.

The governor commended the members of the state House of Assembly for cutting short their recess to screen and approve his 23 commissioner-nominees.

Tambuwal also maintained that the formation of the state executive council would greatly bolster the zeal and determination of his? administration to move the state forward.

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Why I Was Invited And Quizzed By The EFCC – Akpabio

A former Governor of Akwa Ibom state, Godswill Akpabio, has given insight into why he was interrogated for several hours on Friday by operatives of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Speaking shortly after he left the EFCC headquarters late on Friday night, Mr. Akpabio admitted that he was summoned by the anti-graft body to respond to several allegations of corruption against him.

He however said he was not arrested, but that he honoured the commission’s invitation voluntarily.

“A young lawyer from my state has been petitioning the EFCC accusing me of corruption,” the former governor said. “So shortly before I got involved in an accident in August, the EFCC summoned me to come and respond to the allegations.

“But following the accident, I wasn’t well enough to honour the EFCC summon. And I let them know.

“So today, since I’m now well, and the Senate did not sit, I decided to honour the EFCC so as to answer questions concerning the allegations against me.

“I wasn’t arrested. I walked in there myself and now I’m back at home. The EFCC operatives were professional. They asked questions, and I answered.”

Mr. Akpabio insisted the allegations against him were false, saying “those making the allegations do not understand how government works”.

The former governor, who is now Senate Minority Leader, said the lawyer who dragged him to the EFCC submitted at least four different petitions, and that it would take a while for him to respond to each of the allegations.

“So I will return to the EFCC again as necessary,” he said.

Mr. Akpabio added, “I am a law-abiding citizen, and whenever I’m summoned to answer questions about how I served my people, I will always respond.

“I urge everyone who has served in public office not to be afraid to explain what they did and how they served.”

BACKGROUND

The EFCC had begun investigation into alleged theft of N108.1billion of Akwa Ibom funds by the former governor in June.

The action followed a petition forwarded to the commission by an Abuja-based lawyer and activist, Leo Ekpenyong.

Mr. Ekpenyong had on June 8 petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the EFCC, calling for Mr. Akpabio’s probe and accusing him of looting Akwa Ibom state treasury.

Investigations by PREMIUM TIMES showed that several other indigenes of the state, who are demanding the investigation of the former governor, have been invited by the EFCC to adopt their petitions.

On his part, Mr. Ekpenyong was summoned on Wednesday, June 17, to adopt his petition and provide more details to some of the allegations he made against Mr. Akpabio.

The former governor, now senator, was elected in 2007, at a time the nation enjoyed robust oil revenue.

Akwa Ibom and Rivers States are Nigeria’s largest oil-producing states. The two states alternate as first and second top producers periodically.

The two states receive the highest funds allocation from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC, monthly.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics and the office of the Accountant General of the Federation indicate that under Mr. Akpabio, known for ostentatious spending, Akwa Ibom received a staggering N1. 6 trillion from FAAC between June 2007 and May 2014.

At the time he vacated office on May 29, the state received more, excluding other revenues like Ecological Funds, internally generated revenue etc.

In a new petition to the EFCC dated June 22, and copied to Mr. Buhari and the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, Mr. Ekpenyong gave details of some of Mr. Akpabio’s alleged financial recklessness.

He alleged that between January and December 2014, the ex-governor colluded with two of his top aides to steal a whopping N108.1 billion from the state’s treasury.

Mr. Ekpenyong told the EFCC that the former Government House Permanent Secretary, Etekamba Umoren, and the former Accountant General of the state, Udo Isobara, colluded with Mr. Akpabio to steal the funds.

“Between January –December 2014, it is on record that the trio of Godswill Akpabio, Mr. Etekamba Umoren and Mr. Udo Isobara, made illegal but substantial withdrawals of cash from a designated state government-owned account with Zenith Bank with account number: 1010375881 amounting to N22.1 billion,” he stated in the petition.

“It is worthy of note that reasons for such ungodly cash withdrawals against financial regulations and due process laws range between sundry use and unjustifiable expenditures by Godswill Akpabio and his numerous surrogates and proxies.

“For example, a whopping N18 billion was withdrawn fraudulently from the state FAAC account with the United Bank for Africa in trenches of N10 million and above by Mr. Isobara in a surreptitious manner to conceal their dishonest intention.”

For assisting Mr. Akpabio retire billions of the stolen funds, Mr. Ekpenyong said Mr. Umoren was rewarded with an appointment as Government House chief of staff and now secretary to the state government under Udom Emmanuel’s administration.

The legal practitioner went on to state that over N50 billion of Akwa Ibom funds were spent by the former governor during the last general elections.

During the period under review, he said Mr. Akpabio also withdrew a whopping N18 billion from the state coffers under the guise of special services, reception of very important guests and sundry items.

“The cumulative aggregate of these monies stolen by Godswill Akpabio from the coffers of government as pocket money is the annual budget of some states in Nigeria put together,” the petition reads.

He listed the bouquet of assets acquired by the former governor through surrogates to include a multi-billion naira mansion at Plot 5 Okogosi Spring Close, off Katsina-Ala Crescent, Maitama-Abuja, a multi-billion naira mansionette at Plot 28 Colorado Close, Maitama, Abuja and another multi-billion naira mansion at 22 Probyn Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.

Others include a multi-billion naira mansionette at Plot 23 Olusegun Aina Street, Parkview, Lagos and a multi-billion naira 25 storey building at Akin Adesola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

“As earlier promised, more details of assets and graft-related funds illegally and fraudulently siphoned from Akwa Ibom State treasury and laundered to foreign destinations are in the offing. As usual, we will do the needful.”

ALLEGATIONS, COMPLETE FALSEHOOD

The commissioner of information during the administration of Mr. Akpabio, Aniekan Umana, has however described the contents of the petition by Mr. Ekpenyong as falsehood taken too far.

He said the petition betrayed a lack of understanding of the workings of government.

“Every sum withdrawn from a government account is tied to a subhead and there must be a budgetary provision. To attribute fraud to withdrawals which had the full sanction of Government and was accommodated in the budget is strange, mischievous and untenable. More so, when one understands that there are checks and balances which guide all aspects of government financial administration,” he said.

He also said the allegation that the State Government spent N50 billion on the March General Elections falls flat on its face based on his explanations of the workings of government as regards financial transactions.

“There was no such provision in the budget of this year and such an amount could not have been paid as an extra-budgetary expenditure and yet salaries and other commitments were met. We challenge the petitioners to provide proof to support this wild allegation. Who was it paid to? How was it paid? Where was it paid? And when was it paid?

“Senator Akpabio does not own a 25-storey building in Victoria Island or in any part of the world, as alleged by the petitioner. It is also a patent falsehood that the house at 22 Probyn Road, Ikoyi belongs to Senator Akpabio.

It is a rented building which ownership can be verified from the Lagos State Lands Registry.

“Senator Akpabio does not own the properties mentioned in the petition to belong to him. You can verify the ownership of the properties (5 Okokosi Close, Maitama and Plot 28 Colorado Close, Maitama) from the land registry in Abuja,” he said.

He also denied that the state received over N2 trillion as oil allocation.

“Please do note that the idea that the Akwa Ibom State Government received over N2.5 trillion in the eight years of the Akpabio administration is an outrageous lie. What this suggests is that the State Government received an average of N26 billion monthly for the period. What a lie! From published accounts of disbursement from the Federation Accounts, Akwa Ibom State never received up to N26 billion in any month throughout the period.

“Note that in some months like the April and May, 2015, Akwa Ibom State received about N8 billion.”

 

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Jonathan Writes Obasanjo, Seeks Blessing For New Foundation

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has written to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, seeking the latter’s blessing for his next public engagement: the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, and pledging to spend the rest of his life making the world better place.

The foundation will advance Mr. Jonathan’s interest in human development, peace and security, the letter, which begins with the endearing greeting, “Dear Baba”, said.

The letter was written on a letterhead which says “The Office of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President, Federal Republic of Nigeria 2010 and 2015.”

In it, he informs Chief Obasanjo that following his handing-over of power to President Muhammadu Buhari, he proceeded on a “long deserved break.”

“Now well-rested, I am back to work to continue to serve and dedicate my life to promoting peace and prosperity for all,” adding that he has set up an office in BayelsaState where he can be reached, and his staff are prepared to serve Chief Obasanjo and respond to his enquiries at any time.

“Furthermore, I will be devoting the rest of my life and energy to making the world a better place.  I am currently finalizing efforts to set up The Goodluck Jonathan Foundation.  More details on the work of the Foundation will be available at the launch, which I believe should take place by the 3rd quarter of 2016.”

He said he looked forward to Mr. Obasanjo’s continuous support, counsel and cooperation.

Given the bad blood that governed the relationship between both men towards the end of Mr. Jonathan’s presidency, the letter seemed to be an attempt at rapprochement with the former president.

It was however learnt, that Mr. Obasanjo responded to Jonathan with a terse letter saying he wishes him good luck in his future endeavors.

Obasanjo and Jonathan had a public falling-out before and during the Presidential elections earlier this year. The acrimonious relationship led the former president to tear his party card openly.

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EFCC Invites Former Governor Akpabio Over Allegation Of Fraud

Former governor of Akwa Ibom State and minority leader of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, has been invited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

According to a source at the anti-graft agency, Akpabio was taken into custody on Friday evening.

“Yes, Akpabio is in our custody, and he is undergoing interrogation for alleged fraud and looting of Akwa Ibom funds when he was governor,” the source said.

He is alleged to have looted about N100 billion Akwa Ibom funds between 2007 and 2014 when he was governor of the state.

Akpabio was still in EFCC custody as of the time of filing this report.

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Nigeria To Expand Diplomatic Relations With Ukraine – VP Osinbajo

Nigeria will soon expand its diplomatic relationship with Ukraine, exploring new areas of mutual benefit to both countries.

This indication was given earlier today by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, while receiving the Ukrainian Ambassdor Mr. Valerii Aleksandruk in his office at the Presidential Villa.

“Very soon we will be signing outstanding bilateral agreements” the Vice President told the Ukrainian envoy while recalling with gratitude government scholarships that Nigerian students have benefited from in the Eastern European nation.

 

Prof. Osinbajo hinted that the Buhari administration will be interested in working with Ukraine in the areas of Agriculture and Steel sectors besides the ongoing cooperation in education.  According to him Nigeria looks forward to the setting up of a Bi-National Commission that will deal with the various issues and expand relationship between both countries.

The Vice President expressed Nigeria’s gratitude to Ukraine for its support in the areas of security including in the fight against the insurgents saying “we hope for more cooperation until we put down the evil of terrorism.

 

Earlier, the Ambassador of Ukraine informed the VP that there are a number of bilateral agreements waiting to be signed by the two countries in order to deepen the existing bilateral relations.    He said there were about 5000 Nigerian students in Ukraine and appreciated Nigeria’s support of his country at the  United Nations Security Council, where Nigeria is currently a member.

 

In a related development, the Vice President also received a delegation from the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies which included the African Union Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Mrs Pancy Tlakula.  Commenting on the free flow of information in the internet age,       Prof. Osinbajo expressed the optimism that what could not be obtained years back is made possible today with the use of internet.  He said “internet technology helps in terms of access to information, in fact, what we thought years ago was impossible is now made dramatically possible.” According to him, “whoever tries to hide information now has very little hiding place as internet provides immediate access to information which greatly helps us.”

 

He noted that freedom of information is important as people will have access to what government is all about.  He however, expressed that people must be taught on how to make freedom of information law more practically useful, stressing that some of the challenges are illiteracy and the issue of reasonable “internet journalism.”

 

Highlighting the challenges of freedom of information, Prof. Osinbajo identified literacy as important factor and that is why government now is rehabilitating and educating the children who have been displaced by insurgency that disrupted education activities in the North for about six years.  “We are now coming up with how to educate the 10 million children and deal with the issue of adult literacy as well”, he stated.

 

Earlier, Mrs Pancy Tlakula said she has been in the country on the invitation of the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, to attend a memorial lecture and had been holding meetings particularly with those that are responsible for access to information and freedom of expression. She said her message is that Nigeria has gone a long way in making Freedom of Information a reality for the people, noting that what is left is for the country to step up the implementation of Freedom of Information law. She also said that it is through this that the right to information will be a reality to the ordinary people.

 

A delegation of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, (SSANU) also paid a courtesy call on the Vice President on Friday.

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