The Coalition for Change and Transparency (CCT) has accused Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State of sponsoring propaganda and fake news against the Nigerian Army during the just concluded Governorship and State Assembly elections.
In a bid to undermine the military’s exceptional and harmless conduct at the polls, Mr Wike and his wailing cohorts in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) resorted to cheap blackmails, going as far as bribing the UK Consulate to the tune of $1 million.
In a press conference in Abuja, Monday, CCT’s President Danesi Momoh revealed that the embattled governor’s latest plot isn’t particularly strange, especially after his failed attempt to induce military personnel to rig the elections in favour of the PDP.
The Coalition, therefore, concluded that the motive of Mr Wike was purely to manipulate the outcome of the elections and when that wasn’t possible, he resorted to propaganda.
“During the state elections, fake news was deployed as a propaganda weapon against the military by those who felt they were unable to rig or manipulate the elections because of the critical role the military was playing. Interestingly, such fake news was targeted at areas where the military had successfully prevented violence from spiraling out of control.
Considering that fake news is now recognized globally as a weapon, and knowing the damages that could result from its deployment, the Coalition for Change and Transparency (CCT) reviewed instances of the use of fake news against the Nigerian Military with a view to identifying those that deployed it, those that exploited it, those that benefit from it and possibly understand the intents of those in the fake news chain.
“We have identified that cyber operatives of the opposition, notably the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), are behind the production, distribution and promotion of misleading content using new media and social media as vehicles of delivery. In some instances, such contents get into the mainstream media, whose credibility and traditional status and believability are exploited to confer credibility on the lies being told by the propagandists. It is most unfortunate that even these cyber operatives and the opposition are being used in the fake news chain as the real culprit are foreign operatives that exploit such content. A specific culprit is the United Kingdom, which based its assessment of the election on fake news about the military beating staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), effectively exploiting the fake news that it had trained the cyber operatives of the opposition to produce.
“The Coalition for Change and Transparency (CCT) therefore condemns in the strongest terms possible the United Kingdom’s unwarranted deployment of fake news to cause disaffection among Nigerians and against the Nigerian military. We see it as a deliberate and calculated attempt to cause violence against the military such that the situation will quickly degenerate to a point where violent anti-military protests will bring down the government and cause constitutional crisis for the country.
CCT hereby by asks the United Kingdom High Commission in Nigeria to retract the offensive tweet and apologize for willfully attempting to incite violence in Nigeria through the promotion of fake news. We in the same vein demand that @UKinnigeria including the UK High Commission in Nigeria cease further comments about the election in Nigeria or be faced with deterrent actions from citizens. Nigeria does not interfere in UK elections so there is no justification for the attempts by the United Kingdom to manipulate the conduct and the outcome of the elections in Nigeria.”
The CCT, however, urged the Federal Government to ” explore all available diplomatic channels and options to drive home the message to the United Kingdom that the British Empire expired long ago and Nigeria is not the place to revive the antiquated concept.
The Federal Government owes it a duty to Nigerians, who were unnecessarily terrorized by the fake news, to ensure that the consular staff that were behind the offensive tweet are recalled by their country. This will also show that Nigeria will not tolerate undue interference by foreigners in the country’s affairs.
In the light of the fact-checking conducted by TheCable, the Nigerian Military should assemble fact, present same to the UK High Commission in Nigeria, and demand an apology and deletion of the lie from the timeline of @UKinnigeria.”
Dismiss Criminal Charges Against Sowore, Bakare Without Delay, Falana Tells AGF
Lead Counsel and human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has asked the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to terminate all legal proceedings against the convener of the #RevolutionNow movement, Mr Omoyele Sowore, and his co-defendant, Olawale Bakare immediately.
Mr Falana in a statement reacted to the orders by Mr Malami to the DSS, insisting that it is not a take-over because the case was filed from the office of the AGF.
He explained that the AGF has decided to sack the prosecution team led by Dr. Hassan Liman (SAN) and hand over to the DPP.
“It is not a take-over because it was the AGF that filed the Sowore’s case and farmed it out to Dr. Hassan Liman SAN. But in view of the violent invasion of the court by armed operatives of the SSS, the AGF has decided to sack the prosecution team and have the case prosecuted by the DPP.”
Mr Falana stated that the Department of State Services has remained adamant to make a case out of Sowore and are currently fishing for pieces of evidence to nail Sowore.
“Having been advised that Sowore cannot be convicted on the basis of the proof of evidence filed in court the SSS has refused to make the statements of the prosecution witnesses available to the defendants as ordered by the trial court. Hence, hearing in the case has been adjourned to February 20, 2020, at the instance of the Prosecution.
“Convinced that the pending case would collapse like a pack of cards, the SSS is currently fishing for evidence to nail Sowore.
He added that “In spite of the directive of the AGF to take over the case the SSS subjected Sowore to a 4-hour interrogation yesterday (December 12, 2019).
“The entire interrogation pertained to Sowore’s alleged links with the proscribed Boko Haram sect, IPOB, and IMN which he vehemently denied. At Sowore’s instance a member of the legal defense team, Mr. Abubakar Marshal witnessed the marathon interrogation. The plan of the SSS is to charge Sowore with terrorism in line with the unsubstituted allegations of presidential media aides.
“In view of the foregoing, we urge the AGF to file a nolle prosequi motion without any further delay to end the macabre dance which has exposed the country to avoidable embarrassment.”
Respect Your Oath Of Office, CJN Charges Judges
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mohammad Tanko Ibrahim, has charged judges in the country to always respect their oath of offices by being just and fair in the discharge of their judicial functions.
He said that as judges accountable to God for their deeds, they must ensure that they dispense justice with honesty and transparency to all manners of human beings that come their way.
The CJN who spoke at the inauguration of Justice John Tsoho as the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and Justice Benedict Kanyip as president of the national industrial court, asked them to live up to expectations of Nigerians.
The CJN also warned the judges not to allow any personal interest to override the discharge of their function as demanded by law and their oath of office adding that on no ground should they compromise on their principles.
“This inauguration does not call for a long speech, but let me remind you that you are holding your new offices in trust for people and you must not do anything to betray the trust.
“You should try as much as possible to justify the oath and your appointment by putting your experience to bear in the discharge of your duties,” he told the judges.
The CJN also reminded them on the need to respect the law by avoiding pitfalls because the law does not respect anybody who runs fowl of the law itself.
FG Bars Onnoghen From Travelling, Seizes His Passport
The immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, has been barred from travelling out of the country by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The move may be part of a fresh probe into Onnoghen’s affairs. Onnoghen was convicted for not declaring his assets by the Code of Conduct Tribunal in April.
An internal report issued by the Nigeria Immigration Service, which was read out to Punch correspondent by a top officer, stated that Onnoghen, his wife and daughter were attempting to travel to Accra, Ghana when they were accosted by immigration officers.
The report stated, “On November 11, 2019, retired Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, was attempting to travel to Accra, Ghana. He was in company with his wife, Nkoyo, and daughter.
“His passport, with number A50445233, was flagged because Justice Onnoghen’s name was on the watch list. The passport is currently in custody of the NIS.”
The senior officer said the passport seized from Onnoghen was not a diplomatic passport but the ordinary green passport.
The immigration officer told our correspondent that the directive to seize Onnoghen’s passport came from the Presidency.
“Justice Onnoghen will have to meet with the Presidency to know why his passport was seized. We are only following instructions,” the officer said.
A top judicial officer said that Onnoghen’s decision to challenge his conviction by the CCT might have angered the retired Muhammadu Buhari regime.
The Appeal Court had condemned the Buhari regime for the manner in which the trial of Onnoghen was conducted.
In a judgment by the three-man bench led by Justice Stephen Adah, it was unanimously ruled that the CCT’s ex parte order breached the ex-CJN’s right to a fair hearing.
While reading the lead judgment, Justice Adah stated that the proceedings of the CCT shouldn’t have been conducted “in a shady or clandestine manoeuvre” the way the ex parte order was obtained by the prosecution.
However, the court said it could not upturn Onnoghen’s conviction since the trial had already taken place.
A source said, “Even though the NJC (National Judicial Council) recommended that Onnoghen should be paid his benefits in full, I can tell you that he has not been paid anything and all his allowances have stopped.
“His accounts remain frozen. It was some judges who even contributed money for him recently for medicals expenses.
“I was told that his ordeal might be connected with his decision to challenge his conviction at the Court of Appeal which the government of the day might have found embarrassing because the Court of Appeal accused them of depriving Onnoghen of a fair hearing.”
Onnoghen, who was CJN from March 1, 2017 to April 5, 2019, was suspended by Buhari in January, a few weeks to the presidential election, on allegations that he failed to declare five bank accounts in his asset declaration form at the Code of Conduct Bureau.
Buhari hinged his decision to suspend Onnoghen on an ex parte order by the CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar.
Onnoghen’s many attempts to stop his trial were futile.
He also faced a mini-trial at the NJC where the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission presented evidence against him.
The NJC subsequently recommended his retirement with full benefits and Onnoghen immediately complied and tendered his resignation before Buhari on April 5.
However, his resignation letter was not acknowledged by the buhari regime until his conviction by the CCT on May 28.
The CCT ordered Onnoghen’s sacking and barred him from holding public office for 10 years.
It also ordered that the sums of money in different currencies found in his Standard Chartered Bank accounts, a total of N46m, be forfeited to the Buhari regime.
It was reported by an online news outlet, The Cable, that a retired CJN is entitled to cash and other perks worth N2.5bn.
As part of the package for a retired chief justice, a house will be built for him in Abuja with a nine-digit sum for furnishing — in addition to a severance gratuity that is 300 per cent of his annual basic salary of N3,363,972.50, as well as pension for life.
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