Friday, August 12, 2016

NHRC INDICTS FORMER INEC CHAIRMAN, 65 OTHERS IN ELECTORAL CRIMES REPORT




Former INEC Chairman, Iwu

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has indicted 66 individuals and organisations of either criminal offences or administrative, judicial and professional misconduct in the 2007 and 2011 national elections.
Among the people indicted were former Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Prof. Maurice Iwu, former governors Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Oserheimen Osunbor (Edo), Clarence Olafemi (Kogi), former Anambra State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Prof. C. E. Onukogu, Senator Hosea Ehinlanwo (Ondo), Senator Ayo Arise (Ekiti), Mukhtari Shehu Shagari and Chief Adefemi Kila.
At the presentation of a 284-page report on the 2007 and 2011 elections in Abuja yesterday, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) urged the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Inspector-General of Police, INEC and other relevant institutions to punish  those indicted.
The report released under NHRC’s “Electoral Accountability Project/End Electoral Impunity Project” recommended prosecution and disciplinary measures for them.
There were 118 indictments, categorised as criminal indictment (20 cases), criminal/administrative (49), administrative (38), administrative/ judicial (4), professional (3) and judicial (7).
Others indicted are the late Major Gen. Abubakar Tanko Ayuba,  Aminu Sule Garo and Mr. Tarzoor Terhemen. Patrick Ashagu Ebinny named in relation to Nasarawa West state constituecy election. In 2007;  Abubakar L. Abdullahi; The returning officer, Isuikwuato/Umunneohi Federal Constituency in 2007 elections, Felix Osaigbovo (INEC Presideng Officer) in relation to the Ovia North East 1 Constituency Lection in Edo State in 2007, Umar Abdullahi (1st respondent in the case between Umar Ahmed Sule & another vs. Umar Abdullahi & others in petition no: GMS/EPT/HR/2/2011 in relation to the Dukku/Nafada Federal Constituency election of 2011.
A police officer, ASP Christopher Oloyede and two lawyers -G. A. Adetola Kazeem (SAN), the late Mr. James Ocholi (SAN),Chief Adefemi Kila were also named in the report.
Olafemi’s name featured in the report in relation with the case of Alara Aberoran & another vs. Hon Clarence Olafemi &17 others (petition No: NALGH/KG/15/2007) over heard by the National Assembly/governorship and legislative houses election petition tribunal, Lokoja.
The tribunal, in its findings, was said to have indicted Olafemi for criminal offence. Part of the tribunal’s finding, quoted in the report, states:  “ the petitioners  have proved beyond reasonable doubt that the 1st respondent ( Hon. Clarence Olafemi, leading his agents and thugs did commit acts of corrupt practices and non-compliance with the Electoral Act by disrupting the conduct of election, harassing and intimidating eligible voters, who were sent away from polling units without voting.”
Osunbor is named in the case of Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole & Action Congress (AC) vs. INEC & 18 others in petition: EDGV/EPT/1/2007 in relation to the Edo State governorship election. He was said to have been indicted in relation to the alleged criminal and administrative offences committed by security and INEC officials during the election.
Part of the tribunal’s findings quoted in the report states: “Seventh, there is the recurrent issue of those mentioned, who were wither employees of INEC or members of the 3rd and 4th respondents (Osunbor and PDP). There were no serious efforts to clear their names. It needs to be re-emphasised that those named are said to be members of the 4th respondent, who sponsored the 3rd respondent.
“Whatever acts perpetrated by those named in furtherance of election of 3rd respondents under 4th respondent are acts of 3rd respondent and 4th respondents. It goes beyond the issue of 3rd respondent authorizing those acts. The combined effect of all these is that the
petitioners have proved the incidents of corrupt practices and non-compliance with Electoral Act against the two sets of respondents beyond reasonable doubts in the local government areas in dispute.”
Uduaghan’s name featured in relation to the case of Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru & another vs Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan &others in appeal No: CA/B/EPT/38/10 in relation to the state’s governorship election, decided by the Court of Appeal, Benin division. He was indicted under administrative and judicial misconduct.
In the judgment, part of which was quoted in the report, Uduaghan was found to have benefited from votes “not obtained through due process.”
Part of the judgment reads: In the circumstance, we have no choice than to enter an order dismantling his (Uduaghan’s) over three and half years’ illegal occupancy of the Government House which is the very symbol of the people’s mandate;  indeed, his illegal habitation of the said Government House for the said period  of time is a mockery  and indeed, an affront to the indefeasible rights of the electorate in Delta State.
“It is unfortunate that the law would permit this sort of anomalous situation, an unfortunate situation, where a man , who usurped the sacred mandate of the people would be allowed to fritter away their common patrimony without their due  authorization  that should  come through  free and fair elections.”
Iwu’s name featured in the appeal by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar vs. Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua, reported as as (2008) 4 NWLR (pt 10780) 465 (SC), a presidential election appeal decided by the Supreme Court. He was indicted for administrative misconduct.
Part of the judgment quoted was where Justice Niki Tobi (late) said: “In the instant case, the Court of Appeal was wrong in rejecting the application to administer interrogatories on the ground that it would impede speedy trial of the case. Accordingly, I am of the firm view that Prof Iwu should answer the 27 questions.”
 Arise’s name featured in relation to the case of Ayo Arise & another vs. Olubunmi Adetunbi & others, in the appeal marked: CA/IL/EP/SEN/27/2008, in relation to the Ekiti North Senatorial Election of 2007 for being a beneficiary of a flawed election.
Mukhtari Shehu Shagari featured in the report in relation to the Court of Appeal’s judgment in the case between Alhaji Muhammadu Maigairi Dingyadi & another vs. Aliyu Magatakada Wamako & others in appeal No: CA/K/EP/GOV/60/2007
 Prof Onukogu (resident Electoral Commission, Anambra State in 2011 was named in relation to the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Enugu division in the appeal by Ezekwelu Tony Uche vs. Barr. Ebelel Obi & others in the appeal marked: CA/E/EPT/66A/2011.
Major Gen. Abubakar Tanko Ayuba (rtd)’s name featured in relation to the case over the Kebbi South Senatorial District election  in 2007,where the tribunal voided  his election on the ground that his replacement of the late Musa Bamaiyi violated the provision of the Electoral Act.
Adetola Kazeem’s name featured under alleged professional misconduct in his handling of the case between All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) & another v. The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Akwa Ibom State & others  reported in (2008) NWLR (pt 1090) 453  CA, where  Justice Saulawa was quoted as saying: “ it is instructive to note that the absence of the 2nd and 3rd petitioners’ counsel (Adetola Kazeem) from the tribunal on the said 25/10/07 was most reprehensible, to say the least.”
Ocholi’s name featured in the case between Yusuf v. Suntai (2010) All FWLR (pt 50020 1002 over the governorship election in Taraba State where Justice Ngwuta was quoted as saying: “It is the duty of learned counsel to use civil language in attacking the judgment of the trial court or tribunal.  In the instant case, there is no evidence that the tribunal fished for fault in the case of the appellant, yet the appellant accused the tribunal of unfairness and unfairness and even handedness.”
The Federal High Court, Abuja, was indicted for under administrative and judicial misconduct for alleged highhandedness in its handling of the case between Barrister (Mrs Amanda Peters Pam & another v. Nasiru Mohammed & INEC reported as (2008) 16 NWLR (pt 1112) 1 SC in a judgment by Justice Goerge Oguntade of the Supreme Court.
Resident Electoral Officers in states like Ekiti, Kwara, Delta, Anambra and officials of INEC, who conducted elections in the states in 2007 and 20011 were listed in the report, but were not identified by names.
The NHRC’s Executive Secretary, Professor Bem Angwe explained, while presenting the report, that the exercise, which the commission said it undertook under Section 5 of the NHRC Act 2010, involved an independent review of evidence of gross violations of the rights to participate in government, to effective public service and to fair trial in the country.
He said  the project was intended “to bring to account persons indicted by the election petition tribunals and appellate judicial bodies for infracting electoral and related laws during Nigeria’s recent election cycles.
Angwe said a committee established by the commission for the project was mandated to “review available election petition cases, extract any evidence of criminal or administrative indictments, recommend immediate and long-term measures towards curbing impunity in our electoral process.”
Chairman of the committee, Professor  Nsongurua Udombana  argued that electoral malpractices persist in the nation’s electoral process because the Judiciary, INEC and other agencies have failed to perform their roles.
He noted that where infraction of electoral laws were reported to the AGF and INEC, they hardly act, a development that continued to embolden politicians who see election as ‘a do or die affair.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

How bigwigs formed Avengers militant group





WARRI—THE Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, RNDA, yesterday, released more details of how sponsors of Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, formed the militant group in Bayelsa State and shared US dollars to ex-militants at one of the meetings.
It will be recalled that RNDA had, last week, released a 22-member list, made up of top Niger Delta indigenes, which it said were sponsors, members or sympathizers of the Avengers. Prominent names on the list, although all of them have denied the allegation, were former President Goodluck Jonathan, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; media mogul, Chief Raymond Dokpesi; ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo; his media consultant, Mr. Paul Bebenimibo; former Director-General of Nigeria Maritime Administration Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi; Niger Delta activist Annkio Briggs, among others. Spokesperson of RNDA, Cynthia Whyte, in a statement, yesterday, said: “To cut a long story short, NDA was formed to counter Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta, MEND, but it failed. “It, therefore, did not come to us as a surprise that the grand patron of Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, has distanced himself from the NDA. “Like every sponsor, sympathizer and operative earlier mentioned, who has equally denied links with the Avengers, we can understand the wisdom behind their decision, as their participation was always meant to be covert. “After a clandestine meeting in 2014 between the grand patron and several unidentified persons, ahead of the Presidential election campaign of 2015, it was agreed that the Okah brothers should be contacted to reach out to MEND to endorse former President Jonathan and work with the group of persons to ensure victory for the PDP and President Jonathan. “At the time, because MEND was the suggested tool, the NDA as a body was not yet formed,” the group alleged. RNDA said the meeting of some select top government officials was convened to visit Charles Okah and they “reported back that they had visited Okah in Kuje prison at night with the promise of his release, along with others should he cooperate to get MEND to endorse Jonathan. “It therefore, came as a shock when MEND did the opposite and endorsed Buhari. Dr. Jonathan was livid with anger and swore that the Okahs would rot in prison.” Cynthia Whyte added that following the failure to get MEND’s endorsement, they agreed that ex-militant leaders should put up a show of force in Yenagoa and “threaten war should the electorate vote in Buhari’s favour.” According to RNDA, NDA was conceived around that time and the name ‘Avengers’ was chosen by one of the leaders. Cynthia White said further: “As election day approached, certain stakeholders were mobilised to form a force to ensure total anarchy in the South-South and South-East within 24 hours if the election results were not favourable to Jonathan. “It took everyone by surprise to learn that Jonathan had conceded defeat, even before the results were released. The standby force, which was to attack specific targets were told to stand down. They were all compensated in US dollars, cash. “The Niger Delta Avengers was born from the failure at the polls and would now be used as an organ to make the Buhari government inactive, bring economic hardship and cause hatred for the administration towards failure at the 2019 general election. “MEND was aware of this plot through a spy that would not be identified, and the group began its campaign to counter every effort of the NDA and the Biafra agitators to this day. “MEND has been a thorn in the flesh because MEND’s successful propaganda has caused the split in our ranks today.” He said if the sponsors and operatives of NDA provoked the group further with denials of this revelation, more sordid details would be revealed. Former President Jonathan could not be reached, last night, as his Media Adviser, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, said the former President was not in the country and could not react. “We’re not in the country at the moment. Therefore, we cannot respond now,” he told Vanguard. It was learned that the former President is currently in Zambia, monitoring the elections there on behalf of the African Union. New militant group blows up NPDC/Shorelines trunk line in Delta Meanwhile, barely 24 hours after it threatened to bomb oil installations in the Niger Delta region, if the Federal Government did not stop its alleged one-sided talks with the Ijaw ethnic nationality, Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, NDJM, yesterday, blew up a major trunk delivery line in Delta State. The trunk line conveying crude from Isoko to the Eriemu manifold in Urhobo belongs to the National Petroleum Development Company, NPDC and Shoreline Resources. NDJM in a statement by its spokesperson, self-styled ‘General’ Aldo Agbalaja, said the “Central Operational Command of the group had approved the commencement of demolition and evacuation of uplands tagged ‘Operation Zero’ to correct the wrongs that have afflicted our people for years.” The group had, Tuesday, warned the Federal Government to stop parleying with the Ijaw ethnic nationality alone, as it was not the only tribe in the region that its militants could blow pipelines.

The group said: “As a mark of our seriousness and to prove we are people of our words, at 2 hours of Wednesday, our operatives brought down a major trunk delivery line from Isoko to the Eriemu Manifold in Urhobo, belonging to the NPDC/Shoreline Resources. “We would also want to use this medium to give a very strong warning to the operatives of the asset NPDC/Shorelines not to commence repairs pending when they get signals from us, otherwise the inevitable may occur to their personnel, as we have earlier warned them to begin evacuating the uplands. “This is just a glimpse of what is to come. There are several assets already penned down for destruction. This line of action has been made inevitable by an unjust system, which only responds to violence to the detriment of the peaceful and law abiding.”