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2019: Gov. Ortom fires back at Buhari over accusation of hate speech



Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue state

Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue state

The Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, has responded to the warning by President Muhammadu Buhari, that he (Ortom) should watch his speech against the presidency.

In a statement yesterday through the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Punlicity, Garba Shehu, the President warned Governor Ortom against alleged hate speech.

However, in a statement signed by Tahav Agerzua, Ortom’s SpecialAdviser, Media and ICT, the Governor pointed out he had never in any occasion said that Buhari was planning to Islamize Nigeria.

The Governor also recalled that he was one of those who organized prayers and fasting for the President when he had protracted health challenges in 2017.

The statement continued, “Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, today, that Governor Ortom should desist from hate speeches against President Muhammadu Buhari.

“It is on record that Governor Ortom has never ever stated anywhere that President Buhari plans to Islamize the country.

“He prays daily for the President for God to grant him good health and wisdom and commends him for upgrading Exercise Ayem Akpatuma to Operation Whirl Stroke which has been able to reduce Fulani herdsmen attacks in Benue State to the barest minimum.

“It could be recalled that Governor Ortom was one of those who organized prayers and fasting for the President when he had protracted health challenges in 2017.

“The Governor has consistently quoted officials of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore who addressed a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday 30th May, 2017 stating that they would mobilize their kith and kin across the world to resist the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017 enacted by the Benue State Government.

“They stated that the crises in Benue State was a struggle for the natural resources of the Benue Valley.

“The Governor, the State House of Assembly and various stakeholders wrote to the Presidency and the relevant security agencies complaining that the position of the Fulani socio-cultural group amounted to declaration of war on Benue State and that the leaders of the group should be arrested and prosecuted.

“Nothing was done until the threat was carried out on New Year day, 2018.

“Benue State had to bury 73 victims of Fulani herdsmen attacks on Guma and Logo local government areas.

“On 13th January, 2018, the Fulani Nationality Movement, FUNAM, met in Kano and issued a statement that what was happening in Benue State was a continuation of the 1804 Jihad when recalcitrant Benue indigenes stopped them in their quest to dip the Qur’an in the sea.

“They stated that they were currently equipped with weapons and political power to continue with the agenda.

“This was also reported to the Presidency and the security agencies but nothing was done.

“It must have been the guilty conscience arising from the failure to forestall these attacks and their enormous deadly consequences that may have prompted the Presidency to issue today’s mischievous statement.

“More so that in the aftermath of the attacks President Buhari did not offer any message of sympathy or condolence to the bereaved families and the people of the state.

“The best that came from him when major stakeholders from the state visited him in Abuja and after a long expected visit to the state was that Benue people should learn to live with and accomodate their neighbors.

“In all these Governor Ortom does not hold the President responsible.

“The well known cabal in his administration might be responsible for his ignorance of the real situation on ground.

“Top notchers of his administration have blamed the Benue law for sparking the farmers, herders crises in Benue State without explaining what is responsible for the crises in other states including Zamfara, Adamawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Kogi, Ebonyi, Oyo, Ogun, and several others where there is no such law.

“Others say the blocking of grazing reserves and cattle routes is justification for the conquest and occupation agenda.

“The Presidency at a time issued a statement that it is better to give up land and be alive than hold to it and die.

“Meanwhile, the Presidency may also not be aware of the Miyetti Allah and it’s supporters agenda in Benue State which includes the perpetration of impunity with the connivance of the police and other security agencies.

“This explains the constant transfers of Police Commissioners in Benue State as a search for those who will dance to the whims and caprices of APC leaders in the state.

“The Presidency has displayed gross ignorance on the salary situation in Benue State. Throughout 2018 salaries were paid consistently and up to date besides the fact that the Benue State University does not have any arrears of salaries.

“Benue State is owing salary arrears because it pays the highest salary in the country after Lagos and Rivers State and has been affected by the recession through which the entire country passed through especially from 2015 to 2017.

:Several other states including those being governed by the All Progressives Congress, APC, have greater salary payment challenges which affects majority of states.

“The Presidency has never come out openly to express support for the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.

“However, the implementation of this law and any other is the Constitutional responsibility of the Federal Government which have control of the security agencies.

“If it supports the ranching law it is its responsibility and not any favor.
We urge all to disregard the statement from the Presidency and regard it as an expression of a guilty conscience that has arisen from failure to live up to its responsibility of protecting lives and property not just in Benue State but throughout the country.”

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2019 Polls: CSO Sets Threshold For Free,Fair and Credible Elections




Ahead of 2019 Polls,Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) has set thresholds towards a free,fair and credible election.

The threshold document was released today during the unveiling of the Situation Room Hub for the elections, Situation Room outlined minimum expectations that the conduct of the 2019 elections must meet to pass the test of free, fair and credible elections.

The Convener of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room,Clement Nwankwo, while outlining the conditions he said, INEC, security agencies, political parties and state institution must fulfil to give credibility for the 2019 General Elections to be credible.

Situation Room demanded that INEC must ensure that there is absence of multiple registrations, removal of under-aged and deceased voters in collaboration with the National Population Commission, ensure alignment between election data and demographic data; keep timely adherence to guidelines for display of Voter Register, give voters sufficient time to verify their details; and audit of PVC collection process and rates, uncollected PVCs, and protocol for storage and protection.

” INEC must also publicise to all stakeholders, the reforms it has made regarding any malfunctioning of the Smart Card Reader (SCR), during the Accreditation and Voting procedure and make a commitment to a special audit in the event of a 5% card reader incidence failure”.

Situation Room also called on INEC to put a transparent results collation process in place, commit to publishing the collation process no less than 15 days after the election, and ensure unfettered access by accredited observers and all party agents to collation centres, as well as non-participation of security agents in collation process at any level.

Situation Room also called for efficient and accountable Election Administration of the elections asking that ballot paper designs exclude parties without any candidates; publicise and share plans for voting and security arrangements for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) around the country; and promote inclusiveness and enfranchisement for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).

“political parties to comply with election laws and regulations, shun hate speech and violence during campaigns and avoid perpetrating fraud, malpractice etc. on Election Day. It also called on political parties to train and deploy polling agents to represent their parties and commit to every stage of the elections as well as commit to respecting the outcome of the General Elections”.

The Situation Room outlined minimum expectations for Security Agencies, namely Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria Police and the Army to comply with, including ensuring that all security deployment must be under the operational directive of INEC and that security agencies make a public declaration of neutrality before, during and after the elections, and that no restrictions are placed on the campaigns of any candidates in any part of the country. Security agencies must also not instigate violence or intimidate voters, candidates or polling agents.

The group called on agencies to comply with section 29(3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which gives INEC the responsibility of requesting the deployment of security personnel necessary for the elections.

Situation Room called on governments at state and federal levels, to ensure that all parties have access to public facilities during the campaigns, that there are no restrictions of their movement and ensure that State institutions are not used to intimidate or harass candidates and avoid the resort to clamping down on the opposition candidates or parties based on spurious charges.

The group said the credibility or not of the 2019 General Elections will be on the basis of these outlined thresholds because Nigerians deserve free, fair and credible elections, and Situation Room expects that all stakeholders will deliver on these expectations.

Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria

The 2019 election is scheduled for February 16 and March 2 this year.

The event was attended by civil society leaders, diplomats, election stakeholders and the media.

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2019 presidential race: Save our party from destruction – Kogi SDP beg national leaders



Jerry Gana

Jerry Gana

The G19 Presidential Campaign Team of Prof. Jerry Gana of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has called on credible leaders and teeming members of the party to arise and rescue SDP from the hands of traders, merchants and transactionalists who are bent at destroying the party.

This was contained in a statement issued by the Secretary of SDP, Kogi State Cha, ter Barrister Paul Abraham which was made available to newsmen in Lokoja on Tuesday.

The statement wondered why the leadership of the SDP refused to obey the Court Order by forwarding the name of Prof. Jerry Gana to INEC as the presidential candidate of the party as directed by the law.

According to the statement, ”Without any ambiguity, the matter of the presidential candidacy of the SDP in the 2019 election ought to be fully rested by now, given the subsisting judgment of the FCT High Court.

“Unfortunately, the mishandling of this weighty matter, and the open bias displayed by the National Chairman of the Party, Chief Olu Falae in the face of a clear Order of a Court of competent jurisdiction, remain incomprehensible and his motives and integrity questionable.

“It has now become very clear that the National Chairman and the National Secretary of the party Alhaji Shehu Musa Gabam, without recourse to other members of the NWC have continued to act as though the party is a private venture.

“We state categorically that it has always been obvious, and we say so on good authority, that the duo have a script other than the interest of the party, which they have manipulated thus far and would henceforth continue no more.

“Otherwise, how does one explain their stand on this matter, in spite of the fact that majority of NWC members, State Chairmen and party faithful across the country, have continued to cry and shout, insisting that Prof Jerry Gana’s name be submitted to INEC, Instead of acceding to the demand of the majority, the duo have resorted to direct threats, intimidation and suspension of members who dare to speak out”

The statement further pointed out that SDP is not a fascism organisation where people are forbidden from speaking their minds, stressing that freedom of expression is one of the pillars of democracy and as such, social democrats members shall no longer be caged.

“Given that our presidential candidacy is on the platform of the SDP we deliberated resisted commenting publicly on these sordid manipulations, but we discovered that the more we keep quiet the more the public is misled into accepting lies as truth, propaganda as reality, minority way as majority view and playing mischief with serious matters of nation building.

“We understand that Chief Falae’s preferred candidate, Mr. Donald Duke did not come to the SDP with the intention of really contesting for the Presidency. We say so for a number of reasons.

“There is no trace of evidence nor record anywhere in the custody of the Party to show that he paid for his nomination forms; whereas Prof. Gana paid N11million as and when required. Yet, there was an insider-dealing to dash him the Party’s nomination form while others had to pay.

“This is not about Prof. Jerry Gana, it is about right versus wrong! It is about the destiny of millions of Nigerians whose lives are dependent on putting in place a better leadership alternative based on competence, capacity, character, and courage.” the statement noted

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2019: Igala group tasks candidates on Development…



Major Gen. Patrick Akpa ( Rted)

Major Gen. Patrick Akpa ( Rted)

By Atabo Julius, Lokoja

Toward effective representation by her representatives in the forthcoming general elections, Ukomu Igala , the apex platform for all socio cultural organisations of the people of kogi East has tasked candidates of the various political parties to sign an article of faith on the development agenda of the zone as a prelude for earning their support .

The candidates who were drawn from the three Federal Constituencies that make up the zone were asked on their plans and programmes for the kingdom , while advising them to avoid acts of violence during electioneering and to ensure brotherliness through out the elections.

Speaking at the Interactive session held at Anyigba in Dekina LGA on Saturday, the president of Ukomu Igala Major Gen. Patrick Akpa ( Rted) noted that the event was a modest contribution to the proactive leadership recruitment that could bring functional development to the zone.

Akpa, stated that the group has to commission some of the best minds to design a development agenda document which has just been unveiled to guide those seeking to represent them assured that the people will rely on it to interrogate the representatives when come back for reelection.

The president, Ukomu Igala stated that the past representatives could not attract needed development from the state and federal governments to the zone which necessitated the development of the blueprint as guide for the potential lawmakers.

He lamented that the Igala kingdom which is acclaimed to be the ninth largest ethnic nationalities in the country could not boast of her sons and daughters in the highest policy making organs of the Federation.

He bemoaned the acute shortage of infrastructural development, access to qualitative education, healthcare delivery, adding that the zone which boast of abundant arable land for agriculture still remained in poverty for lack of investment into the modern method of farming by the governments and well to do citizens of the area.

He called on the candidates to hold on to the Development Agenda as the scripture of their office stressing that they can only get the support of the people by their strict compliance with the Kogi East Agenda.

While restating the need for politicians to be committed to the development of their communities, the lead moderator, Mrs Eugenia Abuh, former Executive Director NTA, charged them for a paradigm shift to wrestle all facets of development from the center to the zone.

The Director who was elated by the responses of the respondents said given need encouragement the crop of new generation leaders of the zone could change the narrative of poverty to prosperity.

She warned participants to desist from using words capable of inciting violence saying in a competition of this nature only one person will win hence both the presumed winners and losers should work in synergy to give the people dividend of democracy.

She urged those who were not present at the event to study carefully the “Development Agenda document”to guide them when eventually they win the polls.

Abuh said gone are the era where politicians would do whatever they want without recourse to the people hinted that the people will be waiting for them when they come to seek their support for re-election.

A participant, Hon. Abdullahi Ibrahim , a former Assembly member and Candidate for Ankpa / Olamaboro/Omala federal constituency said his aspiration is to give voice to the youth and the vulnerable adding that his antecedents speaks volumes for him.

The lawmaker said the role of the political parties is to present candidates for election, he however charged candidates to be aware of their responsibilities to the people who voted for them expecting good things of lives from them.

He urged his colleagues to play the game by the rules declaring that his aspiration does not worth the blood of any man hence thuggery and other vices associated with electioneering should be condemned.

Meanwhile, the Development Agenda document contains priorities of Agriculture, Education, Healthcare; Infrastructures, political and language developments which was signed by participants drawn from the PDP, APC, ADC; SDP, YDP NCP etc as a guide for their elections.

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