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Charges Against Sowore Confirm’s FG’s Unprecedented Level of Paranoia — Soyinka

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Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, says the Muhammadu Buhari administration has attained an “unprecedented level of paranoia” following the charges of treason filed against the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore.

In a statement on Saturday, Soyinka said the nation had failed to learn from past experiences.

He said, “This is utterly depressing news. So, the Sowore affair has moved beyond harassment and taken on a sinister direction. Outside the country where I happened to be engaged at the moment, I can testify that the immediate reaction around me was to dismiss this as yet another grotesque product of fake news, of which Nigerians have become the greatest practitioners. I confess that I also joined in this school of thought – at the start.

“Further checks have however confirmed that this government has indeed attained an unprecedented level of paranoia. I do not believe that the Justice department itself believes in these improbable charges, as formally publicised. So, once again, we inscribe in our annals another season of treasonable felony, History still guards some lessons we have yet to digest, much less from which to learn. Welcome to the Club, Mr. Omoyele Sowore.”

The Federal Government had on Friday filed seven counts of treasonable felony and money laundering against Sowore.

The charges were filed a day before the expiration of the detention order of the Federal High Court in Abuja permitting the Department of State Services to keep the activist for 45 days.

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BREAKING: Trouble Looms for Ordinary Ahmed Isah as Stakeholders Condemn Unguided Utterances Against Nigerian Army, Draw NBC’s Attention

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Stakeholders made up of Civil Society Organisations, Journalists and Security experts have expressed their displeasure over what they termed inciting utterances by radio broadcaster and Chairman of Human Right Radio, Ahmed Isah, popularly called Ordinary Ahmed Isah against the Nigerian Army’s discipline on Lance Corporal Martins Idakpini who was allegedly detained by the Nigerian Army for making a viral video criticising the Nigerian Army and President Muhammadu Buhari in the fight against insecurity in Nigeria. They said the “Ordinary President” as he is fondly called should have known better, that as a broadcaster who is billed to explore the “freedom of information act” should have have been professional and avoid setting the tone for loss of confidence on the Nigerian Army, who on their part are sacrificing all to ensure peace, stability and security in the country.

The Executive Director, Coalition of Civil Society Group for Good Governance (CSGG), Comrade Dominic Ogakwu made this known in a telephone interview with journalists in Abuja on Saturday.

In trying to make case for Lance Corporal Martins, the Ordinary Ahmed alleged that some persons in the Nigerian Army are making a fortune out of the the current insecurity situation of Nigeria.

“….Ahmed Isah is well respected by Nigerians and I will expect that given the fact that he knows a lot on the value of security, and what the Nigerian Army represent, he should rather make an attempt to reach necessary authorities to gain more knowledge to avoid making unguided statement that can trigger issues of insecurity the more…yes we agree that there are issues but the Army are doing very well to solve them and I think that the Onus is on Ahmed Isah as a lover of Nigeria and as a populist, to ensure that his utterances did not instigate some miscreants against the most revered and respected and sustaining institution like the Nigerian Army….” Ogakwu said.

“….So I will advice that he should as a matter of urgency readdress that matter by getting the necessary clarifications and verifying all the necessary facts to avoid making statements in error…yes a lot of rumours are being peddled against the Nigerian army, but it behoves on the media especially the one that is very close to the people to ensure that it did not rise on the waves of the moment on emotions, they should not “emotionalise” reportage….” He added.

He said “…reports must be balanced in perspectives and they must see to all sides, before actually drawing to conclusions, so as a matter of urgency I think the most respected Ahmed Isah should have known better that Nigerians are listening to him and as a man who is patriotic, who loves this country he should not be too emotional when it come to issues of security because he understands that in his programs, he explores all sort of emotions and that to me even though the people love it but then issues of national security, sensitive issues, issues that can set this country ablaze should be very guided….”

Undisclosed sources from the Nigerian Army who also frowned at the inciting utterances by Ahmed Isah threatened that the country’s Army will be forced to take legal action against the broadcaster if he continues in that unpatriotic line.

“….the drive by the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to obliterate hate speech should be exercised on this issue, this is outright incitement, Ahmed Isah must put himself together and desist from sabotaging the Army’s efforts…” the source said.

For investigative journalist and “Accountapreneur”, Emmanuel Bagudu, “…the Nigerian Army is a family and any attempt to come in between a family amounts to incursion….” “….The “Ordinary President” is duty bound to be diplomatic. He must know that as a relevant stakeholder in this country that patriotism is key in his business. He must join in the quest for boosting the morale of the troops as well as advocating for trust and support for the Nigerian Military as a whole….” Bagudu said.

Youth Ambassador for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Austin Peacemaker shares the same thought “…. Ahmed Isah should not forget that the Nigerian Army is playing a very significant role in sustaining our beautiful democracy and strengthening our national security, even at the ECOWAS regional level, as such deserves our honour, respect and fairness, especially when reporting issues around National security. They deserve balanced reportage from Journalists including Ordinary Ahmed Isah, who is well respected by many of his listeners….” Peacemaker said.

“…He shouldn’t lose that respect by misleading or misinforming his listeners and Nigerians, in a bid to make his programme entertaining and exciting. Lance Corporal Martins Idakpini broke the very code and ethics of a regimented institution he swore and took oath to abide by, and also defend. There are measures to channel your grievances in any organisation, and not by doing a video and uploading on social media. That is the highest form of indiscipline for any soldier. No father, CEO, Boss or Employer will condone that in any revered establishment.”

“…Let’s be fair in our judgment. No matter what he has to say for me he has discredited himself first by insulting all his superiors, even down to the President. My investigation reveals that Lance Corporal Martins is a ceremonious soldier in the music band of the Army who has never been to any battlefront, so doing a video to discourage and dampening the morale of his brave colleagues in the battlefront equals treachery, sabotage, and lack of patriotism for his country. We should not forget that Nigerian Security Forces are respected across Africa and the world at large, if we downplay their efforts, successes and sacrifice to our motherland then we are unknowingly running down ourselves and Nigeria as a country….” Amb. Austin Peacemaker said.

Recall that Lance Corporal Martins Idakpini was reportedly arrested in June 2020 shortly after he made a viral video where he allegedly said that the Nigerian Army and other security services are not doing enough to end the Boko Haram war. He also insulted the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari.

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Edo Poll: We Must Be Neutral At All Times, INEC Tells Electoral Officials

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Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has rallied officials of the commission to remain steadfast to its ideals in conducting the Edo governorship election.

“Nigerians and the international community expect so much from us. They are watching. It is important that we all remain above board in the performance of our respective duties,” Professor Yakubu said in a message to the staff of the commission on the eve of the election.

“We must ensure that no political party or candidate is accorded any advantage over the other. We must be neutral at all times and stick strictly to our Code of Conduct and Oath of Neutrality to which we have all subscribed.”

By playing their parts and delivering a free, fair, and credible election, the INEC boss believes the commission would have helped to better the country.

“For, at the end of the day, we would have all contributed to the sustenance of democracy and a strong electoral process that all Nigerians can trust,” he said.

Professor Yakubu, who said all is set for the much-anticipated poll, promised his colleagues and other officials of the commission that their welfare and condition of service will be given priority during the election.

He is also confident that they will rise to the occasion.

“I have no doubt that our staff members will rise to the occasion. We have done it several times before and we can do it again,” he said.

“The Commission deeply appreciates the never-ending sacrifices made by our staff at all times, often beyond the call of duty, to ensure that we carry out our mandate. The management will continue to improve the welfare and conditions of service of staff within the available resources.”

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The INEC National Commissioner for Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Festus Okoye, has said that as long as a registered voter comes to the Polling Unit before 2:30 pm they will be allowed to vote regardless of how long the process takes.

Okoye said this statement on Friday while explaining what steps the umpire has put in place to ensure a smooth run for the Edo governorship election which is set to hold Saturday.

“No registered voter who comes to the Polling Unit Tomorrow will be disenfranchised,” the INEC boss said.

This is the first major election organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission in the COVID-19 era and it is also the first time that a peace accord is being signed ahead of a governorship election.

“We are looking forward to tomorrow with cautious optimism,” Okoye said, adding: “we are confident that our message relating to voting in safety has permeated the nooks and crannies of Edo State.

According to him, the umpire has created sufficient awareness for the COVID-19 guidelines in the weeks leading up the election and anyone who does otherwise, will not be allowed to participate.

“We are confident that so many of the voters are already aware of the fact that if they come to the Polling Unit without a face mask or covering, they will not be allowed to vote.

“We have emphasized this over and over. “The first thing our voters are going to do is to apply the infrared thermometers that have been supplied to every Polling Unit on election day. Every voter will undergo that particular procedure of the use of infrared thermometers to check people’s temperature,” he said.

The exercise is expected to start for 8:30 am and according to Okoye, enough time will be given to allow everyone who arrives at the Polling Unit before 2:30 pm to vote.
“Polling will start at 8:30 in the morning. Why we have said this, is to enable our officials prepare well.

“Prior to this particular period, we didn’t have to pack hand sanitizers, methylated spirits and we didn’t have to pack facemasks for our officials but now we are going to be doing this and giving them some level of refresher course.

“Any voter who is on the outer queue by 2:30 pm will be allowed to vote even if the voting takes up to 5:00 pm but any voter who comes to the polling unit after 2:30 pm will not be allowed into the queue but those who are already there will be allowed to vote even if the voting takes up to 6:00 pm,”.

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