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Aggrieved aspirants reject INEC lists, begin multiple court cases

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The lists of candidates contesting the 2023 elections have sparked multiple court cases by aggrieved aspirants in many states.

States, where aggrieved aspirants are challenging the lists include Ogun, Gombe, Plateau, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Kano, and Taraba.

Some of the aspirants, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, faulted the lists submitted by parties and published by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Political parties had on June 17 submitted to the commission the lists of their candidates contesting the 2023 elections.

 

The electoral commission on Friday released lists of candidates vying for various positions at the federal level in the 2023 general elections.

In Ogun State, Sanya Akindele, the Media Aide to Senator Tolu Odebiyi, who lost the Ogun West senatorial primary to the incumbent senator representing the Lagos West, Olamilekan Adeola, said his principal was challenging Adeola’s nomination.

Akindele said “Yes, Senator Odebiyi is challenging the case in court. There was an injunction before the primary election stopping Yayi (Adeola) from partaking in the primary.

“It is an absurd holding mandate in two different states simultaneously or representing two wards. It makes a mockery of our democracy.”

But the Media Aide to Adeola, Kayode Odunaro, faulted Odebiyi for taking his boss to court.

Odebiyi said the senator was suffering from self-delusion for taking the move after he had lost at the appeal committee set up by the party.

The member representing the Ado-Odo/Ota in the House of Representatives, Jimoh Ojugbele, is challenging a former Commissioner for Forestry, Tunji Akinosi, whose name is on the INEC list.

Both Senator Odebiyi and Ojugbele filed their suit at the Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta.

In the Akwa Ibom North-West, a former Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Udom Okpoudum, through his media director, Mr Peter Idiong, threatened that he would go to court if his name was not on the INEC list as the senatorial candidate.

Idiong, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “ Ex-DIG Okpoudum is the authentic candidate for Akwa Ibom North-West senatorial district. We are not bothered about the list because we believe that INEC will do the right thing and give the ticket to our principal. And if they fail, we are going to take some measures, and we are likely going to court to challenge the process because INEC monitored the election. It would be a great disservice for INEC to monitor an election and at the end of it nothing is done.”

But the Chief Press Secretary to Akpabio, Mr Jackson Udom, said there was no cause for alarm.

In an interview with The PUNCH, Udom stated, “I don’t know what action my boss is going to take yet. He has not told me what action he is going to take and I cannot pre-empt anything. But we believe that Senator Akpabio’s name will be there.’’

A member of the House of Representatives on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party in Benue State Francis Ottah-Agbo, it was learnt, had gone to court to challenge the victory of Aida Ogwuche

The lawmaker who filed a case at the Federal High Court against the winner also joined the PDP and INEC that the candidate who worked at Federal Inland Revenue Service before her secondment to the Benue State government where she served as the principal assistant to the governor.

Agbo, who declined to comment on the case when contacted, is praying the court to nullify the election and retrieve the certificate of return.

Although INEC has yet to release the list of candidates, contesting elections at the state level, 18 aggrieved APC governorship aspirants in Plateau State kicked against the nomination of Dr Nentawe Yilwatda as the party’s governorship candidate in the state.

Chairman of the aspirants’ forum, Amos Gizo, who spoke on behalf of others in an interview with The PUNCH in Jos on Sunday, stated that the aspirants had not changed their position to challenge Yilwatda’s nomination.

The governorship candidate in Plateau State is not acceptable to us and we have not changed our position on that because the primary that produced him was a sham.

“If his name is on the INEC list as the party’s candidate, it will make no difference because his emergence is a product of fraud and we will not accept it. Some delegates have gone to court to challenge his emergence. We have also gone to the court to seek redress and we will not give up the fight until the right thing is done.”

But the APC Publicity Secretary in the state, Sylvanus Namang, questioned the credibility of the Gizo-led group.

He stated, “This is somebody (Gizo) who never participated in our party primaries. As far as the party is concerned, they were four persons that participated during the primary and Amos Gizo was not one of them. If he is still a member of the APC, he should understand that as a family member, you can disagree but once the primaries are over, you join hands with others to forge ahead to enable the party to win the main elections.”

In Gombe State, Bilyaminu Babadidi has instituted a case against the candidate of the APC for Gombe South Senatorial district, Joshua Lidani.

A source close to Babadidi said the case was filed at the Federal High Court Gombe.

In Taraba State, some APC governorship aspirants have dragged the party and Senator Emmanuel Bwacha to court seeking to stop him (Bwacha) from parading himself as the party governorship candidate in the state.

Former Head of Service of the Federation, Danladi Kifasi, approached the Federal High Court in Jalingo asking the court to stop the party from submitting the name of Bwacha.

Calls by one of our correspondents and a text message sent to the APC state Chairman, Ibrahim Tukur-Elsudi, did not elicit any response as of the time of filing this report.

The Jigawa State Governor, Alhaji Badaru Abubakar, in a statement by his media aide, (Print Media) Ahmed Danyaro, on Sunday appealed to aggrieved members of the APC to sheathe their swords, so that the party could emerge victorious in 2023.

REC advises aspirants

But INEC resident electoral commissioner, who spoke to The PUNCH on condition of anonymity, told aggrieved aspirants to seek redress in court if they felt their names had been wrongly omitted.

The REC stated, “There is no institution that has the power to subsitute a political party. In terms of selecting their candidates, it is not an INEC issue; the only thing is that political parties have to follow this law and that is why INEC has to be there to monitor and confirm that primaries held and people contested. But in the end, the authority to submit list of candidates is the parties’, not INEC.”

Asked what happens in a situation where INEC would submit a name of a candidate whose primary the commission had not supervised, he said, “This is not an issue because those who feel aggrieved will go to court and the court is the final authority to determined the validity of candidate.”

Meanwhile, The PUNCH on Sunday got a copy of the list of the APC candidates for Akwa Ibom.

The state has three senatorial districts and ten House of Representatives constituency slots.

The documents have the following Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District (Ukpong Emayak Nkangha); Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District (No candidate’s name was published) and Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District (Udo Inyang Martyns Denis).

A governorship aspirant of the APC in the last election primaries, Bernard Mikko has filed a suit at a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt against, the party’s governorship candidate, Tonye Cole and the APC over alleged non- compliance with electoral act.

Mikko is seeking the leave of the court, order restraining Cole from parading himself as the governorship candidate of APC.

He is also seeking Cole’s disqualification for alleged questionable character as contained in a white paper report of the Rivers State commission of inquiry.

PUNCH

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Wike’s romance with Tinubu’s men rattles Amaechi’s base

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There are strong indications that the Rivers State All Progressives Congress led by immediate past Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, is angry about the romance between the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu’s men; and the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.

Wike has in recent times been meeting with some APC chieftains, including Tinubu’s allies. On Monday, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was invited by Wike to inaugurate a road project.

The Rivers governor also invited former Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila to inaugurate some projects in his state.

Earlier, some APC governors led by the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi, had also met Wike in his state amid his feud with the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar.

However, sources close to Amaechi, told The PUNCH that the romance between Wike and Tinubu was disrespectful especially since it was public knowledge that Wike and Amaechi were political foes.

They also accused Tinubu of supporting Senator Magnus Abe who recently dumped the APC to run for governor on the platform of the Social Democratic Party.

An associate of Amaechi who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said, “The APC leaders have been coming to Rivers State to lobby Wike and make all manner of promises to him. These people never came to Rivers even when the party was having a crisis.

“They should not forget that Amaechi came second in that presidential primary and is still the leader of the APC in Rivers State. Rather than rally around him, they have been romancing Wike. Tinubu is among the sponsors of Magnus Abe who has defected to the SDP.

“Magnus Abe is Tinubu’s boy. He is always with Tinubu. Even after joining the SDP, he is still with Tinubu and has promised to work for Tinubu’s campaign. Yet they cannot caution him.”

The source stated that Atiku might begin to woo Amaechi soon if quick action was not taken.

Speaking with The PUNCH, an APC chieftain, Chukwuemeka Eze, said he was not aware if Atiku had begun reaching out to Amaechi.

Eze, however, said if Amaechi decides to join the PDP, then Tinubu should be blamed.

He added, “If Amaechi decides to rejoin PDP, it may not be of his own making but due to the acts and attitude of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and managers of his campaign team coupled with the new style of leadership of those currently running APC.

Amaechi’s neglect

“Let me state unequivocally that the manner and ways Amaechi and his political Team are being neglected both in the formation of the APC Presidential Campaign Council and most of the activities of the party since after the APC Presidential Convention is not the best way to treat a leader with the stature or status of Amaechi. You don’t do that.

“To worsen the situation, the manner in which Tinubu and his associates continued to associate with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State without any consultation with Amaechi or any member of his political family is not only sad but very unfortunate.”

Eze said Amaechi remained an institution in Rivers State politics and that anybody or political leader who feels he can undermine him is doing that at his or her own peril.

He recalled that Amaechi as the Director-General of the Presidential campaign that orchestrated President Goodluck Jonathan’s defeat in 2015

“Based on his rating, I will not be shocked if Atiku Abubakar is wooing him based on the fact that the two leaders are not only very close associates politically and but have remain great partners in the progress of this country so I have nothing against such a union,” he said.

When contacted, the Rivers State APC Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone, told The PUNCH that Wike was desperate for an alliance with Tinubu and the APC to remain relevant after 2023.

Commenting on the romance between Tinubu’s men and Wike, he stated, “In politics, the concentric circles of conspiracy are numerous. Sometimes they overlap and other times they are incongruent. But very often, the end result is one – how to appropriate political power at the expense of others or competitors. Therefore, in the instant case, whether it is Asuwaju that is going after Governor Wike or the latter that is courting Asuwaju, the end result is how to survive 2023 general elections and remain politically relevant thereafter.

We know that the desperate party or side in the entire calculation is Wike. Reason is that head or tail with Atiku, he’ll lose. Assuming without conceding that Atiku wins, he’ll surely put away Wike in a cold manner. Wike understands this. In a scenario where Asuwaju/APC wins, Wike deserves the grace of God to walk free. He needs the protection post 2023 so badly. Therefore, it is clear that Wike is the one chasing after Asiwaju/APC and not the opposite.

Whether asked if the romance was a slap on Amaechi, he stated, “I have a biblical verse as an answer. ‘Thou sayest!’

Also in a chat with The PUNCH, the Deputy spokesman of the APC in the Rivers State, Darlington Uwauju, said Amaechi was one of the few political leaders that could be trusted and that he would not leave the APC for the PDP.

The Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the APC, Cornelius Ojelabi, said anyone was free to visit Wike as he was not Tinubu’s enemy.

On Tinubu’s alleged link to Magnus Abe’s defection, he said, “I don’t know anything about that. All I know is that politics is a game of numbers. When you are in a contest, you just have to approach all that is approachable and solicit support.”

On whether he sees the possibility of Wike forming an alliance or crossing over to the APC, Ojelabi responded, “It is all about passion and you know Wike has a passion for politics. Wike was part of the southern governors who came to Lagos State before now and said that the Southern governors won’t support any presidential candidate from the North.”

‘Wike a tactician’

Also speaking with The PUNCH, a former Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, who is also a Tinubu campaigner, said there was nothing wrong with the new romance with Wike.

Shittu said Amaechi should be happy that someone like Wike was being linked to the APC.

“Nobody will stop Wike if he wants to come to APC. Again, you know Wike is a tactician. If I were in Amaechi’s shoes, I would see Wike’s coming as an opportunity to settle reconcile with him. What he should be thinking of at that point is that with Wike coming into the party, will there be an in-fighting anymore?,” he asked.

Shittu also rubbished reports that Tinubu had a hand in Abe’s defection, adding that Tinubu could not be blamed for longstanding crisis in the party in Rivers State.

“Is it not a stupid idea for anybody to suggest that Abe is not intelligent enough to take a decision on his own? There are certain things that sound silly to one’s hearing, except that it is always news to the media.

“Abe has been running a battle politically with Amaechi. Even at the last governorship primary, he didn’t win the ticket to fulfil his ambition. Tell me, does he need anybody to tell him the next step to take if he fails to clinch the APC ticket,” he asked.

Shittu added that Tinubu was not fighting with Amaechi whom he described as a brother and friend. He noted that when Amaechi accused APC delegates of selling their votes, Tinubu refused to respond.

“Is he fighting Amaechi? Even when he alleged that some delegates were given bribes for vote-buying, did Tinubu say anything? That’s because he doesn’t want to join the fray. If you study Tinubu well enough, you will know that he doesn’t take issue with people. That’s why you see people who fight him coming back to him at the end of the day,” he said

When contacted, Atiku’s Media Adviser, Paul Ibe said reconciliation and discussions with Wike was still ongoing and declined further comment.

An analyst, Sunny Anyanwu, argued that it was almost impossible for Wike to defect to the APC, adding that he may have been hurt, but he would not dump the PDP.

‘’It will amount to a dog eating its vomit if Wike defects to APC. Yes I agree Wike has been hurt. The committee set up by the PDP to select a vice- presidential candidate recommended him but Atiku on his own picked Okowa. Now, it was like injustice was done to him. I don’t think Wike will finally settle for APC. I don’t think so. But if he does it, he has brought his personality to the mud, and he will have no political relevance again,’’ the lawyer submitted.

Amaechi could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. Calls placed to the ex-minister’smedia aide,Paul Iyiofor, rang out and he had yet to reply to a text message seeking his comment on Wike’s alleged romance with Tinubu’s allies and other APC chieftains.

Meanwhile, the crisis in the PDP worsened on Tuesday with tWike, attacking a former senator, Lee Maeba, an ally of the PDP presidential candidate.

Wike and Maeba traded words over the governor’s statement on the control of the votes in the state and the benefits which accrued to Rivers when Atiku was the vice-president between 1999 and 2007.

Speaking on Tuesday at the inauguration of the dualised Ogbunuabali -Eastern Bypass Road which was performed by the former governor of Sokoto State, Senator Aliyu Wamakko, the governor said Maeba was wrong when he quoted him (Wike) to have said he was in charge of Rivers State’s votes..

This was contained in a statement issued by Kelvin Ebiri, media aide to the governor and made available to newsmen..

He said, “Because some people went to school late, they don’t understand when somebody says I am in charge of this state. I never said I am in charge of votes in this state. But I know I can talk to my people and my people will listen to me. Some people say, I have only one vote, I agree. I can’t vote two times. I will only vote once. But because of the services I have rendered to the people of this state, the state will listen to me.”

The governor stated that he had remained a consistent politician, not playing double games and urged Rivers people to be happy that they have a governor who would always defend the state.

The statement said, “Leadership is not about party, leadership is about individual. Party is only a vehicle to actualize your ambition, to be able to tell your people I have this capacity, I have this quality to render services to you.

“If you take me away today from the PDP to another party, I will still perform. So, it is not because I’m in the PDP that I’m performing. It is because I have that passion for my people. It is because I have the commitment to serve my people. Take me to the YPP, allow me to become whatever I will become there, I will perform. Take me to any party, I will perform. So, it is not the party that makes you perform.”

He stated that the state did not benefit from some politicians’ closeness to Presidents and Vice-Presidents.

Maeba replies Wike

But reacting to Wike’s comment, Maeba told The PUNCH that Rivers State benefited from Atiku on account of his and a former House of Representatives deputy speaker, Austin Opara’s closeness to the former vice-president.

The former federal lawmaker explained that his relationship with Atiku brought Intels, a logistics company owned by the PDP presidential candidate, to the state.

He said, “It (Relationship with Atiku) brought Intels. Atiku established Intels which employed many people. It was because of us that he (Atiku) invested more in Intels Rivers.

“Must friendship bring something? What has his (Wike’s) friendship brought to me? His friendship to me has only brought me pains; his friendship to me has brought me more pains.”

Also speaking in an interview with an online television station monitored by our correspondent, Maeba disclosed how Wike threatened to collapse the party if he failed to secure the party’s ticket to contest the 2023 presidential election.

He said, “Wike told me during one of our campaigns that if he failed the primary that he will collapse the whole system if they do to him what they did to (Ex-Rivers state governor, Peter) Odili. He said he will collapse the system and everybody will go home. That is the fear here.”

He wondered why the governor had refused to move on like Odili did when he failed in his bid to become the president in 2007.

When contacted, Atiku’s Media Adviser, Paul Ibe said reconciliation and discussions with Wike was still ongoing and declined further comment.

PUNCH

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I never told Tinubu to give Peter Obi a chance, seek treatment for his health – Ghana President

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Ghananian President, Nana Akufo-Addo has denied writing a letter to the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, appealing to him to give the flagbearer of the Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi a chance in the forthcoming 2023 presidential election.

He said he never told Tinubu to seek treatment for his health as contained in the purported letter making the rounds on social media.

Akufo-Addo who is well known as a good leader, advised people via his verified Twitter handle to discountenance the story, noting that the letter is completely false and mischievous.

According to him: “My attention has been drawn to a disturbing post making the rounds on social media, where it is alleged I have written to the 2023 presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to “give Peter Obi a chance and seek treatment for his health”.

“This is completely false and mischievous, with no iota of truth whatsoever in it.

“I have written no such letter to the APC leader, and it will not occur to me to do so. Ghana and Nigeria boast of decades of cordial, strong and brotherly relations, and I am not going to be the one to interfere in the internal affairs and politics of Nigeria.”

 

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Governance: Outside PDP, I’ll still perform — Wike boasts

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GOVERNOR Nyesom Wike on Tuesday boasted that his widely acknowledged outstanding stewardship in office reflects his personal capacity and passion to deliver enduring development to Rivers state people and nothing to do with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) he belongs.

Wike during Tuesday’s commissioning of dualised Ogbunuabali – Eastern Bypass Road project in Port Harcourt, bragged, “Take me away today from PDP to another party, I will still perform. So, it is not because I’m in PDP that I’m performing.”

He said, “Leadership is not about party. Leadership is about individual. Party is only a vehicle to actualise your ambition, to be able to tell your people I have this capacity, I have this quality to render services to you.

“It is because I have that passion for my people, have the commitment to serve my people. Take me to YPP, allow me become whatever I will become there, I will perform. Take me to any party, I will perform. So, it is not party that makes you to perform.”

While comtemporaries use economic hardship as excuse for failing in rendering purposeful leadership and service to their people, Wike said he found same situation a more rewarding leverage for sustain delivery of projects to Rivers people.

Chiding perceived misguided Rivers politicians for twisting his assertion on Monday that the state was fully under his grips, Wike explained that, “Because some people went to school late, they don’t understand when somebody says I am in charge of this State.

“I never said I am in charge of votes in this State, but I know I can talk to my people and my people will listen to me. Some people say, I have only one vote, I agree. I can’t vote two times. I will only vote once. But because of the services I have rendered to the people of this State, the State will listen to me.”

The governor on the occasion lifted the ban on youths activities in Ogbunuabali and released N2 billion he promised the community, praising their cooperation while the road project lasted, after initially objecting to it.

Special guest on the occasion and former Governor of Sokoto State, Sen Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko who inaugurated the road project joined the growing list of top political leaders who continue to acknowledge the leadership capacity of Wike in service delivery to Rivers people.

VANGUARD

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