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Edo: PDP In Tight Corner Over Gov. Obaseki’s Ticket Bid

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EDO State Governor Godwin Obaseki’s bid to join the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and pick its ticket to contest the September 19 election has put the party in a dilemma.

Obaseki was last week disqualified from bidding for his party – the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket.

Expatiating on reasons for Obaseki’s disqualification while submitting its report, the party’s screening Appeal Committee Chairman, Dr. Abubakar Fari, at the weekend said: “In the affidavit sworn to by Godwin Obaseki before the High Court Abuja, he stated under oath that he graduated from the University of Ibadan with a BA degree in Classical Studies in 1976. However, the university certificate he attached to his nomination form bears 1979 which is a material contradiction.’’

The committee also said it found it hard to believe Obaseki gained admission to study at the university with three credits without a proper A-levels or a diploma.

It added that the governor was in possession of two separate voter cards which is illegal. Fari added that the attestation letter of the Institute the governor claimed to have attended after secondary school, was not on the letter head of the school.

The committee said it found inconsistencies in the forms Obaseki submitted for scrutiny.

The PDP’s nomination process closed on June 2 while screening of aspirants closed on June 5. Three aspirants have been cleared by the party to vie for the ticket.

Legal pundits said last night that only those cleared within the stipulated time, are qualified to contest in the primary. “Obaseki was not screened and so cannot participate”, a renowned lawyer said.

The PDP primary will hold on Friday. The Independent Electoral Commission (lNEC) option only allows parties seeking to field candidates for the Edo governorship election to replace candidates not later than July 13, but with a caveat: the new candidate must have participated in the primary.

“PDP should forget about Obaseki or risk serious litigation over his eligibilty and breach of its own rules”, another lawyer said last night.

The PDP guidelines indicate the following timelines for its governorship primary election: Notice of election to state chapter (May 15); Sales of expression of interest and nomination forms(May 20 –June 01); Last day for submission of forms (EOI and NOI) June 02; Screening of aspirants (June 05); Appeals on screening outcome (June 08); and Ward Congresses to elect a three-man Ad Hoc delegates (June 09).

Others are Ward Congresses Appeals(June13); Local Government Congresses to elect National Delegates and persons Living with Disability per LGA(June 16); LGA congresses Appeals(June 18); Publication of delegates’ list(June 18); Gubernatorial primary(candidate nomination) –June 19-20; Appeals on governorship primary(June 23); Certification of Deputy Governorship candidate by NWC and compilation of documents(June 25); Last day for submission of names of candidate and deputy to the Independent National Electoral Commission (June 29); Last day for withdrawal and replacement of withdrawn candidates( July 13); and last day for submission of agents names to LGA offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (September 01).

The aspirants cleared for the governorship primary are a member of the House of Representatives (Oredo Federal Constituency), Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama(Edo South); Mr. Gideon Ikhine (Edo Central), an engineer; and a foremost Educationist, Kenneth Imasuagbon (Edo Central).

As at last night, none of the candidates had shown interest in stepping down for Obaseki.

A PDP source said: “We are in a serious dilemma and our party is facing integrity test. Obaseki is trying to have his way at all cost to secure the PDP governorship nomination ticket.

“This is a governor who has not formally defected to the PDP. The options available are to ask all the aspirants to step down for him or to allow the primary election to hold and ask the eventual candidate to step down.

“But are we going to be fair to all the aspirants, especially the winner of the primary? And Obaseki is overstretching his luck by seeking to retain Deputy Governor Phillip Shaibu as his running mate.”

Another party leader said: “The issue at stake is beyond meeting with PDP governors for our ticket. How about discrepancies in his documents.

Some leaders are saying he will be prevailed upon to plead only his secondary school certificate. Yet, he said he has lost the certificate.

“But there is another allegation of having two voter cards. Can we take this huge risk as a party? Is Obaseki bringing an asset or liability to the party? Some of our leaders are already warning the party.”

The aspirants have been on the field canvassing for votes for Saturday’s primary election.

One of the aspirants, Imasuagbon, said: “Obaseki is welcome to PDP any time.”

Asked if he is ready to step down for Obaseki, he swiftly added: “Step down for who and why? To step down for what? Are we in a jungle? Are there no rules and regulations guiding a party in a democracy? Forget it, my brother. I am on a campaign tour.”

Ikine said there is nothing wrong with Obaseki visiting his colleague governors but that he is not ready to quit, adding: “I have my eyes on the ball.”

He declined to comment further on Obaseki in his interview on Channels TV, because “he is not a member of the PDP.”

Deputy Governor Shaibu has been busy making frantic appeals to some PDP governors to allow him to be the party’s running mate.

But some leaders in the party were toying with the idea of Obaseki joining the party to assist it to defeat the APC instead of being the PDP governorship candidate.

A chieftain of PDP, Kassim Afegbua, a former Commissioner for Information, said: “The idea of having Governor Obaseki in PDP is already causing some ripples within the party because it will amount to political ambush.

“First, the purchase of nomination forms has closed. We have three viable aspirants running. I am supporting Hon. Ogbeide-Ihama for the primaries and hopefully he will emerge as the candidate.

“If a candidate emerges on Saturday, are you expecting the candidate to step down for someone who did not participate in the process, simply because he is a Governor? That will not only be an ambush, but an unfair reading of the situation.

“The governor is free to join the party. It is his constitutional right, but joining is one, becoming a candidate is another. He should join to support whoever emerges as the candidate, to face the APC candidate.

“Rather than be the candidate, which appears difficult at this injury hour, he should join hands with other party loyalists to ensure the APC is defeated. That would be like some kind of soft landing for him.

“Again, the Party has to understudy the report of the APC screening committee especially the obvious discrepancies in his submissions. You cannot have two certificates from one university bearing inconsistent dates with all manner of contradicting submissions.

“Beyond politics, the APC might have derived inspiration from the Bayelsa scenario, which the PDP must take notice of, so that we do not fall into another cul-de-sac. “Please tell Obaseki to drop his ambition, and join hands with whoever emerges on Saturday in PDP primary to give a good fight to the APC.

Making him a candidate will be an exercise in overkill, an ambush, and an abuse of process in terms of our party constitution, our rules and regulations.”

The PDP’s nomination process closed on June 2 while screening of aspirants closed on June 5. Three aspirants have been cleared by the party to vie for the ticket.

Legal pundits said last night that only those cleared within the stipulated time, are qualified to contest in the primary. “Obaseki was not screened and so cannot participate”, a renowned lawyer said.

The PDP primary will hold on Friday. The Independent Electoral Commission (lNEC) option only allows parties seeking to field candidates for the Edo governorship election to replace candidates not later than July 13, but with a caveat: the new candidate must have participated in the primary.

“PDP should forget about Obaseki or risk serious litigation over his eligibilty and breach of its own rules”, another lawyer said last night.

The PDP guidelines indicate the following timelines for its governorship primary election: Notice of election to state chapter (May 15); Sales of expression of interest and nomination forms(May 20 –June 01); Last day for submission of forms (EOI and NOI) June 02; Screening of aspirants (June 05); Appeals on screening outcome (June 08); and Ward Congresses to elect a three-man Ad Hoc delegates (June 09).

Others are Ward Congresses Appeals(June13); Local Government Congresses to elect National Delegates and persons Living with Disability per LGA(June 16); LGA congresses Appeals(June 18); Publication of delegates’ list(June 18); Gubernatorial primary(candidate nomination) –June 19-20; Appeals on governorship primary(June 23); Certification of Deputy Governorship candidate by NWC and compilation of documents(June 25); Last day for submission of names of candidate and deputy to the Independent National Electoral Commission (June 29); Last day for withdrawal and replacement of withdrawn candidates( July 13); and last day for submission of agents names to LGA offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (September 01).

The aspirants cleared for the governorship primary are a member of the House of Representatives (Oredo Federal Constituency), Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama(Edo South); Mr. Gideon Ikhine (Edo Central), an engineer; and a foremost Educationist, Kenneth Imasuagbon (Edo Central).

As at last night, none of the candidates had shown interest in stepping down for Obaseki.

A PDP source said: “We are in a serious dilemma and our party is facing integrity test. Obaseki is trying to have his way at all cost to secure the PDP governorship nomination ticket.

“This is a governor who has not formally defected to the PDP. The options available are to ask all the aspirants to step down for him or to allow the primary election to hold and ask the eventual candidate to step down.

“But are we going to be fair to all the aspirants, especially the winner of the primary? And Obaseki is overstretching his luck by seeking to retain Deputy Governor Phillip Shaibu as his running mate.”

Read Also: Cracks in PDP over Obaseki

Another party leader said: “The issue at stake is beyond meeting with PDP governors for our ticket. How about discrepancies in his documents.

Some leaders are saying he will be prevailed upon to plead only his secondary school certificate. Yet, he said he has lost the certificate.

“But there is another allegation of having two voter cards. Can we take this huge risk as a party? Is Obaseki bringing an asset or liability to the party? Some of our leaders are already warning the party.”

The aspirants have been on the field canvassing for votes for Saturday’s primary election.

One of the aspirants, Imasuagbon, said: “Obaseki is welcome to PDP any time.”

Asked if he is ready to step down for Obaseki, he swiftly added: “Step down for who and why? To step down for what? Are we in a jungle? Are there no rules and regulations guiding a party in a democracy? Forget it, my brother. I am on a campaign tour.”

Ikine said there is nothing wrong with Obaseki visiting his colleague governors but that he is not ready to quit, adding: “I have my eyes on the ball.”

He declined to comment further on Obaseki in his interview on Channels TV, because “he is not a member of the PDP.”

Deputy Governor Shaibu has been busy making frantic appeals to some PDP governors to allow him to be the party’s running mate.

But some leaders in the party were toying with the idea of Obaseki joining the party to assist it to defeat the APC instead of being the PDP governorship candidate.

A chieftain of PDP, Kassim Afegbua, a former Commissioner for Information, said: “The idea of having Governor Obaseki in PDP is already causing some ripples within the party because it will amount to political ambush.

“First, the purchase of nomination forms has closed. We have three viable aspirants running. I am supporting Hon. Ogbeide-Ihama for the primaries and hopefully he will emerge as the candidate.

“If a candidate emerges on Saturday, are you expecting the candidate to step down for someone who did not participate in the process, simply because he is a Governor? That will not only be an ambush, but an unfair reading of the situation.

“The governor is free to join the party. It is his constitutional right, but joining is one, becoming a candidate is another. He should join to support whoever emerges as the candidate, to face the APC candidate.

“Rather than be the candidate, which appears difficult at this injury hour, he should join hands with other party loyalists to ensure the APC is defeated. That would be like some kind of soft landing for him.

“Again, the Party has to understudy the report of the APC screening committee especially the obvious discrepancies in his submissions. You cannot have two certificates from one university bearing inconsistent dates with all manner of contradicting submissions.

“Beyond politics, the APC might have derived inspiration from the Bayelsa scenario, which the PDP must take notice of, so that we do not fall into another cul-de-sac. “Please tell Obaseki to drop his ambition, and join hands with whoever emerges on Saturday in PDP primary to give a good fight to the APC.

Making him a candidate will be an exercise in overkill, an ambush, and an abuse of process in terms of our party constitution, our rules and regulations.”

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#EndSARS: Inter-Faith Group Berates Adeboye, Oyedepo Others for Defending Same Sex Marriage Against God’s Commandment

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The National Inter- Faith and Religious Organisations for Peace (NIFROP) has expressed displeasure with Pastor E.A Adeboye, Bishop David Oyedepo and other respected clerics over alleged links to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBTQ) community in stoking the #EndSARS protests

In a statement signed by Director of Publicity, Rev. Steven Onwu, on Monday, the clerics said the intention is to overthrow the government and install a pliable replacement that will repeal the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2013.

Protest across the country demanding an end to Police brutality has intensified despite disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and subsequent formation of the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT).

In the last couple of days, the protest has taken a violent twist, raising questions about the original intents.

NIFROP said it is “hocked at the unholy alliance between some otherwise respected clergymen with their churches and LGBTQ Community to destroy Nigeria”.

The clergymen, however, advised their colleagues supporting the LGBTQ protests to repent and seek God’s forgiveness for their sins assuming they committed same in ignorance.

The group urged Nigerians to shun these protests henceforth in order not to be contaminated by the sins of LGBTQ.

Read full statement below:

National Inter- Faith and Religious Organizations for Peace (NIFROP) is disappointed other decision of some leading clergymen to team up and enter into only alliances with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, (LGBTQ) community in stoking dissention and crisis in the land through the hijack of the #EndSARS protest.

The protest that began as a legitimate agitation for an end to police brutality and abuse of human rights, particularly by the now rested SARS unit, has now turned to the cause of unfolding bloodshed and wanton destruction of property across several cities of the world.

Concerned Nigerians had wondered how protesters were being fed and transported to protest venues only for us to discover that the massing on the streets is being sponsored by the LGBTQ Community, which had successfully hidden their involvement by using cryptocurrency and other dark mode of financing.

We surmise that LGBTQ Community’s objective for bankrolling this protests that have now turned violent is so that they can overthrow the government and install a pliable replacement that will repeal the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act 2013. It is of note that the Act tallies with the injunctions in the Bible, Quran and the other testaments that the people of God subscribe to. The faithful in Nigeria fully support the Act as none of us want the wrath of God to befall us.

The agenda of the enemies is now clear. For the LGBTQ community to proudly own sponsorship of the protests is an insult to all Christians and Muslims all over the country. It is reprehensible and condemnable in all ramifications. It is abominable that clergymen who should show the way have allowed their pursuit of worldliness to blind them to the directives of God.

NIFROP is therefore shocked at the unholy alliance between some otherwise respected clergymen with their churches and LGBTQ Community to destroy Nigeria, which is real cause for worry in the Body of Christ. We are appalled that Pastors and Bishop have delivered sermons for the youth to join and actively participate in protests whose long-term objective is to open the country up to gay, lesbian and other deplorable lifestyles.

We are further worried that these clergymen went further in their sin by taking money from God’s house to either support the protests directly or used in buying food items for the protesters. We wonder if these clergymen have deleted Leviticus 20:13 from their own versions of the Bible. Ananias and Sapphira were not as indiscreet with the resources of the Church.

NIFROP strongly condemns this decision of the senior clergymen to hobnob with the LGBTQ axis of evil; in violation of God’s injunction, they teamed up with sinners even after the legitimate #ENDSARs has ended just to destroy the country. The clergymen who lent themselves out for this evil are nothing but workers of iniquities in the vineyard of God.

We exhort Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church, Senior Pastor (Dr.) Paul Enenche of Dunamis International Gospel Centre, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye with his Pastor Folu Adeboye as well as his son and all other clergymen that have supported the LGBTQ protests to repent and seek God’s forgiveness for their sins assuming they committed same in ignorance.

We urge Nigerians to shun these protests henceforth in order not to be contaminated by the sins of LGBTQ. Nigerians should continue to seek the face of God and pray for forgiveness for the way the LGBTQ Community lured a lot of people to sin.

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Crocodile Smile: Exercise Has Nothing To Do With #EndSARS Protests, Civil Rights Lawyer Warns

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Contrary to reports, a civil rights lawyer, Osuagwu Ugochukwu, says the Nigerian Army’s operation ‘Crocodile Smile’ has no relationship with the ongoing #EndSARS protests across the country.

In a statement on Sunday, Ugochukwu said the military has never involved itself in the civil uproar at all in any form whatsoever.

Protest across the country demanding an end to Police brutality has intensified despite disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and subsequent formation of the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT).

In the last couple of days, the protest has taken a violent twist, raising questions about the original intents.

However, despite insinuations in some section of the media, Ugochukwu said to imply that the exercise is meant to stifle the #EndSARS protest is to say the least highly misinformed.

“My attention has been drawn to several media publications unjustly condemning the Nigeria Army and its Leadership over the announcement of ‘Cyber Warfare Operation’,” he said.

“This year’s Exercise Crocodile Smile VI is scheduled to commence from the 20th of October to the 31st of December 2020.

“For the records the Operation Crocodile Smile is a yearly exercise in the Nigeria Army calendar which usually holds from October till December.

“Thus to now insinuate that it is an exercise meant to stifle the on going ENDSARS protest is to say the least highly misinformed .The Crocodile Smile VI has nothing to do with the protest ongoing and the Military has never involved themselves in the ongoing civil protest at all in any form whatsoever. Nobody can claim or accuse the Military of interfering with the ENDSARS protest at all including the hardest of the critics. The Army has acted professionally since the civil protest started over two weeks ago”.

The human rights lawyer, however, urged Nigerians to go about their lawful activities as the Crocodile Smile VI exercise starting nationwide from next week has nothing to do with ENDSARS but a yearly operation set out by the Military to discharge its constitutional duties .

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Nigerian Army Will Not Clampdown on Protesters – Kuanum

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Human Rights Activists and field researcher of the Global Amnesty Watch, Terrance Kuanum has stated that the Launch of Exercise Crocodile Smile by the Nigerian Army would not clamp down on peaceful protesters across the country.

He stated this during an interview with select news media on Sunday. Mr Terrance Kuanum believed that the Nigerian Army has evolved into a professional force with respect for human rights.

“The Nigerian Army of today is not what it used to be. This is what most Nigerians have not come to realize. I say this in my capacity as a field researcher that has traversed most parts of the country and where the Nigerian Army are in operation in North-East Nigeria, as well as other parts of the country. The conduct I must state has been exceptional.”

“This is not the first operation or exercise the Nigerian Army has conducted. Don’t forget that only recently, Operation Sahel Sanity was extended for a further three months and its scope expanded to include states in North Central. And I must add that they have conducted themselves most professionally that resulted in tremendous success.”

On the timing of the launch of Exercise Crocodile Smile to coincide with the protest across the country, the Human Rights activists rubbished the claims that it was intended to clamp down on peaceful protesters demanding reforms for the Nigerian Police Force.

“I disagree with such a position. I am not sure the Chief of Army Staff would sanction such a move owing to his track record in ensuring that the operations of the Nigerian Army conform to human rights tenets. We must not also forget in a hurry that indeed the Nigerian Army has a Human rights desk across all its units and formations to investigate complaints from individuals, organizations and institution on rights violation involving Nigerian Army personnel.”

“If this has been the norm, why on earth would one imagine that the Nigerian Army would clampdown on peaceful protesters before the full glare of the whole world. If not for anything they should know that this is the digital age and almost all the protesters have smartphones with which they use to capture proceedings. It would be indeed foolhardy for such to happen. I think Nigerians must be circumspect in their assumptions at the risk of heating an already tensed polity.”

Mr Terrance Kuanum also stated that the bulk of the misinformation making the rounds concerning the launch of Exercise Crocodile Smile might be the handiwork of those that intend to capitalize and hijack the peaceful protest to achieve their aim.
“As a field researcher, over the years, I have come to understand some of the dynamics inherent in the Nigerian society. We must realize that at every point in time, there are various interest struggling for relevance to the pursuit of their agenda. There are those whose stock in trade is to fan the embers of war so that their businesses can thrive. Some want to advance their political interest, and the only way they could get that done easily is to instigate conflict and spread mischief. Some are experts in causing distractions in the country so they can perpetuate their nefarious activities.”

“It is indeed a complicated chain we are dealing with, and I won’t be surprised that there are certain interests that have seen this peaceful protest by the youths as the perfect opportunity to discredit the government and the emphasis is to hijack it and cause mayhem of unquantifiable dimension. I think the launch of Exercise Crocodile Smile indeed rattled them and they have elected to spread misinformation across the country. Was the mandate of Exercise Crocodile Smile not explicit?

“The Nigerian Army has said its upcoming Exercise Crocodile Smile will tackle cyber warfare and insurgency in the country, particularly in the North-East, where Boko Haram insurgents have caused massive destruction. If this is the operational mandate, how does one then link it with an attempt to clampdown on peaceful protesters?”

He added that Nigerians must understand that there is a grand plot been hatched to cause violence in the country by some individuals and organizations.

“Without mincing words, I believe those that are afraid of Crocodile Smile are those with ulterior motives. Not the peaceful protesters because so far they have conducted themselves in an appreciable manner devoid of confrontation or provocation. They are only demanding for an end to police brutality and a reform of the Nigerian Police Force. I do not see a crime in that, and I also do not see a justification for the Nigerian Army to clampdown on the protesters.”

“It would indeed be a great disservice if the Nigerian Army does clamp down on the protesters, and not on the heels of the numerous initiatives that have been introduced by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen TY Buratai towards the entrenchment of respect for the rule of law and tenets of human rights.”

“I believe the Nigerian Army under Lt. Gen TY Buratai has set a very high standard in terms of human rights and the citizens have no reason to fear the troops at any point. But those that are planning to foment trouble by hijacking the protest to their advantage should have every reason to be afraid. This is my candid opinion.”

On the effectiveness of such operations when there is widespread protest across the country, Mr Terrance Kuanum stated that the exercise is timely and would go a long way to identify and track down terrorist operating in the cyber world.

“We must admit that Nigeria has been experiencing cyber-attacks in recent times that is capable of undermining our territorial integrity. And it is to the credit of the Nigerian Army that such an operation is launched, which is an indication of advancement in the operations of the Nigerian Army. I believe if the Nigerian Army does not have such capacity, it will not launch an operation.”

“It is my considered opinion that the operation is timely and it behoves on well-meaning Nigerians to extend their support to the Nigerian Army by refusing to be misled by those vested interests that have ulterior motives occasioned by the misinformation passing the rounds. It must also be realized that the threat to Nigeria’s sovereignty transcends beyond the physical, and that is the orientation that must change. This is indeed a proactive step by the Nigerian Army.”

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