All posts by Adekunle Best

Contact Email, (BBCNEWS.CO.UK@bbcnewslight.co.uk) or (adekunlebest@post.com)

Armed Masked Men Who Assaulted Sam George, Others To Face The Law”:


Minister of State in charge of National security, Mr. Bryan Acheampong, has given strong indications that the armed masked men who assaulted civilians at the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election will be made to face the full rigours of the law.

Mr. Acheampong said he has also instructed the Director of Operations for the National security to identify and fish out the man who assaulted the Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Mr. Sam George during the recently held Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, and remove him from operations of the National Security Council.

Speaking at the public hearing of the Justice Emile Short Commission of Inquiry on Thursday, Mr. Bryan Acheampong was, however, unable to state exactly what other punishment will be meted out the said individual who assaulted the legislator as well as his other fully masked armed colleagues who were caught on camera brutalizing civilians.

The Abetifi MP also disclosed that all of such masked and armed men, who assaulted individuals will be made available for questioning into circumstances leading to their misconduct.

The Minister of State in charge of National Security, also explained to the commission of inquiry that, the presence of masked armed men at the by-election was “not a failed operation” despite all the condemnation from civil society organizations, opposition political parties, and the general public.

According to him, the armed and masked men numbering about 60 of them deployed did not fire gunshots indiscriminately as reported by the media.

Appearing before the Justice Emile Short commission of Inquiry Mr. Acheampong explained that the armed security operatives seen in khaki and masks did not misconduct themselves in their handling of the volatile security situation during the by-election.

was used in their arrest after they initially resisted arrest.

Mr. Bryan Acheampong who is also a Member of Parliament of the Abetifi Constituency in his defence for the national security operatives said the gunshots they fired were warning shots and not directed at any person.

He alleged that all the gunshots wounds took place inside the house of the NDC parliamentary candidate for the by-election, Mr. Delali Kwesi Brempong.

“They tell me, that in the arrest of the nine people, six were injured I asked if it was from gunshots, they said no. They were resisting arrest and they applied minimal force in their language and sustained some injuries, they sent to the police station and they were given medical forms, so yes, some Ghanaians sustained injuries.”

Masked armed men were not part of Police operation – Ambrose Dery

The Interior Minister, Mr, Ambrose Dery in an interesting twist to the violence witnessed during the recently held Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, has earlier said the Police Service did not play any role in the disturbances.

Mr. Ambrose Dery who was first of to be invited to the public hearing of the commission of inquiry said, the Police service, which is under his ministry had no hand in the operations of the masked men who have been widely described in the media as party vigilantes aligned to the governing New Patriotic Party

He also disclosed that the vehicles used in transporting these masked and fully armed men to the La Bawaleshie polling centre, where most of the violence occurred, did not belong to the Police Service despite having the inscription “Police SWAT” on it and being driven by a uniformed police officer.

Mr. Ambrose Dery also noted he had no idea of the deployment of the masked men to the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency and only saw them on national television.

He also explained that the official report sent to him, by the IGP revealed that the masked men in Khaki uniforms were not personnel of the Ghana Police service.

“As reported to me, by the IGP, who was in charge of the operations, I will say that there were police deployed and there were also officers of the Ghana Immigration Service, also deployed in the 137 polling stations. That is what I know…”

“…I first saw on TV, some persons dressed in Khaki and some of them wearing masks and armed… and when I got the video, I forwarded it to the Police and he said these are not part of my men. I later got information that an officer of National security had said that they were national security operatives,” he said.

Background

The NDC withdrew from the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election following the shooting incident and ordered its polling agents and observers out of the area.

The masked men were caught on camera beating up civilians who did not resist arrest. The men, fully armed were also seen in the company of some police officers.

Some of these men believed to party vigilantes of the ruling NPP were seen in T-shirts with the inscription ‘NSC’ which translates as the National Security Council of which the President of the Republic heads.

The Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Samuel Nartey George, was seen being struck in the face by two security personnel in a viral video.

Mr. Bryan Acheampong, Minister of State in charge of National Security in an interview on the Citi Breakfast show, said his outfit deployed the masked men.

Boyloaf Endorses Buhari; Tompolo, Dagogo Deny Involvement”:


A group of ex-armed militants led by Victor Ebikabowei, alias Boyloaf, on Wednesday, endorsed Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, for re-election.

Mr Ebikabowei, once notorious for the long-run militancy in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta, made the endorsement ahead of the polls on Saturday.

A source close to Boyloaf had told PREMIUM TIMES four other ex-militant leaders were part of the endorsement move.

The source mentioned Government Ekpemupolo, or Tompolo as he is more widely known; Ateke Tom, now traditional ruler; Bibrope Ajube, also known as General Shoot-at-Sight; and Farah Dagogo.

However, none of the four men mentioned by the source was present at the press conference addressed by Boyloaf in Port Harcourt on Wednesday. And at least two of them – Tompolo and Mr Dagogo – have denied their involvement.

PREMIUM TIMES have not been able to verify if the other two – Mr Ateke and General Shoot-at-Sight – consented to the endorsement yet.

Okowa Campaign AD

In a statement to PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday, Mr Dagogo, who is the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate for the Bonny/ Degema Federal Constituency election, reaffirmed his support for his party’s candidate and Mr Buhari’s main challenger, Atiku Abubakar.

“As an astute and grounded politician, my support and dedication are geared towards ensuring the total victory of all PDP candidates including our presidential candidate, Alh. Atiku Abubakar, Rivers State Governor, Chief (Barr.) Nyesom Wike, among others,” said Mr Dagogo

He added that his name was included to attract public sympathy for Mr Buhari, “owing to my popularity and the unfailing love the people of the Niger Delta have for me as a shining light among the youths.”

Similarly, Tompolo, through a spokesperson, Paul Benimibo, said he was not aware of the endorsement and that he had not been in touch with Boyloaf since 2015.

“Tompolo is presently troubled with the way and manner his kinsmen in Gbaramatu Kingdom are being harassed and intimidated by President Buhari military on daily basis,” said the spokesperson, quoted by a local newspaper, Gbaramatu Voice, on Wednesday.

He wondered why his principal would back Mr Buhari: “To further kill his kinsmen?”

Tompolo is wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over money laundering allegations.

Why we endorsed Buhari

In his address on Wednesday, Boyloaf said the “crux of our resolution”, following consultations, was to prioritise the interest of the Niger Delta.

“Our interest is presently being served by the present administration which has shown more resolve to engage with the critical issues of the Niger Delta beyond the surface dressing of the past,” said Boyloaf.

He added that: “In the past, politicians would always throw money at the Niger Delta problem but this has not taken us anywhere. The Niger Delta in spite of its wealth has continued to remain the poorest region of the country in spite of the dominance of a single party.”

He identified the sustenance and reform of the amnesty programme, first initiated by late President Umaru Yar’Adua, the Ogoni cleanup programme, improvement of the local through a commitment to the development of modular refineries, and Infrastructural projects, such as the East-West Road, as the motivational variables for the endorsement.

He said the amnesty programme in the focused on palliatives using stipends to pacify the youth of the region, once involved in militancy.

“(Under Mr Buhari), We have seen a resolve to reform the programme in such a way that focuses more on the human capital side over the routine welfare and palliative payments,” said Boyloaf.

“This is what progress means to us and this is the type of programme we would align with and encourage.”

He added: “All of these achievements find expression in a 20-point plan for the Niger Delta which has been presented to us by the Petroleum Minister, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu. The plan also covers the need for government and Oil companies working in our region to create at least a 100,000 jobs yearly. The plan for the Niger Delta is what we need now for a more sustainable future.

“As witnesses to the commitment of this government to these issues that we have presented over the years through various fora and the tangible achievements we have seen as it concerns our region over the last four years, we have decided to endorse the government to continue beyond 2019.”

The Niger Delta is a region where Mr Buhari’s main challenger, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, is expected to record a clear win.

Apart from being traditionally a “PDP home,” Mr Abubakar’s core campaign vow to restructure the country to allow states have greater responsibilities and control of resources appeals to the region, long drawn in agitations for resource control and more development.

However, the endorsement of Mr Buhari by the ex-warriors who wield some influence in the region may swing some votes across the states in the region to APC.

But, for a professor of Political Science at the University of Ibadan, Osisioma Nwolise, the endorsement may not count much to anything.

“I don’t believe in politics of endorsement or adoption,” said Mr Nwolise, speaking with PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday.

“That some people adopt a candidate or you see crowds may not translate to results. Many are paid. You only know what people have chosen to do by checking the results after the election.”

Nigeria stampede: Deaths at Buhari rally in Port Harcourt”:


Tens of thousands of people attended the rally at Port Harcourt’s stadium

At least 15 people have been killed in a stampede at a campaign rally for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, a hospital spokesman says.

The incident happened at a stadium in the southern city of Port Harcourt when the crowd surged towards a gate after President Buhari’s speech.

Mr Buhari is running for a second term in tightly contested elections due to be held on Saturday.

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar is seen as his main contender.

The two leaders have signed an agreement in the capital, Abuja, pledging to promote peace and follow the legal process if there is a dispute after the vote.

What happened at the rally?

The incident happened after President Buhari delivered his speech shortly after 15:00 local time (14:00 GMT) on Tuesday at the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium.

Most of the victims are reported to have fallen and been trampled as the crowd tried to force its way through a partially locked gate to follow Mr Buhari as he left the arena.

The bodies of 12 women and three men were taken to the mortuary at the University of Port of Harcourt Teaching Hospital, spokesman Ken Daniel Elebiga said.

Twelve people were admitted for treatment but three have since been discharged, he added.

Mr Buhari’s office said the president had been informed about “the tragic deaths of several members of his All Progressives Congress [APC] party in a stampede”.

Main presidential candidates

MUHAMMADU BUHARI (APC)Embattled and determined leader


Born in 1942 to a Muslim family in northern Katsina state
Former soldier, led military regime in 1980s, remembered for strictness
Tardy civil servants had to perform frog jumps in public
Won 2015 presidential election, the first opposition candidate to defeat an incumbent, with promise to beat corruption and Boko Haram insurgents
Told wife she belonged in kitchen after she complained in a BBC interview about his government
After long absence from illness, had to deny rumours that he had been replaced in public by a lookalike

ATIKU ABUBAKAR (PDP)Tycoon and veteran power-broker

Born in 1946 in northern state of Adamawa
Co-owner of multinational oil services company that started life in a Lagos shipping container
Oversaw privatisations during two terms as vice-president.
Fought against corruption charges, describing them as politically motivated
Founded American University which gave scholarships to some of the “Chibok girls” that survived Boko Haram kidnapping
His father, a devout Muslim, was briefly jailed for trying to stop him from attending a Western-style school

Liberia illicit gold mine collapse: Five bodies found”:


Liberia is rich in mineral deposits – and full of illicit mines

The bodies of five people have been recovered from a collapsed pit in an illicit gold mine in north-eastern Liberia, a local official has said.

Around 35 people are still believed to be missing after the walls of the pit caved in on Saturday.

The search for the dead and for any survivors is being carried out without specialist equipment by miners using their bare hands.

The gold field in Nimba County is a major centre for illicit mining.

According to the county administrator, David Dorr Cooper, more than 100,000 people work in the mine, near the town of Tapeta.

He said the field attracts workers from across the region, some of whom are armed. He described the area around the mine as “lawless”.

Local authorities have so far failed in their efforts to shut down the unregulated site.

Poverty and a weak economy mean there is no shortage of Liberians willing to risk death in illicit gold mines, says the BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh in the capital, Monrovia.

Map of Liberia, showing Nimba county

Mr Cooper told the BBC that the miners conducting the rescue operation themselves faced dangerous conditions in the pit.

They were using their hands to remove debris, he said, and would not use excavators – even if these were available – because of the risk of harming any trapped survivors.

The five bodies recovered on Wednesday had been swiftly buried because they were already decomposing, he said.

A senior doctor at Jackson F Doe Memorial Hospital in Tappita told the BBC he had been treating survivors from Saturday’s disaster for cuts, broken limbs and dehydration.

Atiku Accuses Buhari of Stoking Violence, in Nigeria”:


Nigeria must return to path of development, says Jonathan

By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) of stoking the embers of violence in his campaigns.

This is as he urged Nigerians to reject any leader who tries to pit Nigerians against each other.

This comes as the former President Goodluck Jonathan also urged Nigerians to vote the PDP to return the country to the path of development.

Addressing a mammoth crowd of supporters at the PDP mega rally at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, Port Harcourt Monday, Atiku said it was worrisome that a president would be inciting the citizens to violence when he should be preaching peace.

He accused Buhari of encouraging the people of Zamfara to violence when he visited them on Sunday.

He said: “Do you know what the president said yesterday (Sunday) in Zamfara? He told the people: Let us pray for rainfall; let us pray we grow food; let us pray we eat well; then we can make trouble. Is that what a president should say? Buhari, I am addressing you.

“This is a president who is preaching violence. And this is not the first time he has done so in this country. We are not going to allow any person to knock our heads together and make us fight.

“We want peace. We want development. We want prosperity. We want jobs. These are the things we want for this country. We are not ready to fight each other again. So, any leader who has come to instigate us to fight against each other, we will use our ballot paper to throw him out. Buhari must go.”

He also assured the people that he would protect the constitution if elected.

“I assure you that I will protect the constitution. Nobody has gone to court more than me to protect the constitution. I will protect separation of powers. I will not interfere with the National Assembly because I believe in checks and balances. I will not interfere with the judiciary because it is part and parcel of our checks and balances. I will uphold the rule of law. I will not allow rule of law to be trampled by anybody,” he said.

Atiku also assured the people of Rivers State and the Niger Delta that he would pursue restructuring of the country to ensure the development of all parts of the country.

“I am the author of restructuring. I will give it to Rivers State. I will give it to Niger Delta. We must restructure,” he said.

He also noted that it was under the Olusegun Obasanjo/Atiku presidency that the East-west Road was initied and vowed to ensure its speedy completion.

“The ports in Port Harcourt and Onne are dead under the APC. We will reactivate them so that we can create jobs for thousands of youths in Rivers State,” he said.

He accused the APC of not executing any projects in Rivers State or the Niger Delta region in the past four years and promised to reverse the trend when elected.

Also addressing the rally, former President Jonathan lamented that all indices of development had recorded negative growth since the APC came to power and called on the people to return the PDP to power if the country would be on the path of development again.

“The only person that can lead the country out of the woods now is Atiku. He will not discriminate between 95 and five per cent. He will treat all parts of the country equally. He has been tested and can be trusted. A vote for Atiku, PDP, is a vote for progress,” he said.

Atiku’s running mate, Mr. Peter Obi, also said it is only the PDP that can restore Rivers State and the entire Niger Delta to what it should be through restructuring and creation of jobs.

The National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, stated that the APC was now in disarray with the collapse of the North-west earlier considered a stronghold of the party.

“You saw what happened in Kano yesterday. It was a tsunami. The North-west is now for PDP. The APC is now in disarray, desperate and confused. They cannot gather the people again; that was why (Governor) el-Rufai will talk about ‘body bags’, the language of a terrorist,” he said.

The Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike assured the campaign team that Rivers State would vote massively for the PDP as that is the only party that the people of the state believe in.

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Rivers APC Guber Tussle: Supreme Court Decides Abe, Cole’s Fate Tuesday”: in Abuja


The Supreme Court will on Tuesday decide between Magnus Abe and Tonye Cole, who is the authentic candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the March 2, governorship election in Rivers State.

A five man Panel of the Supreme Court on Monday adjourned till Tuesday to deliver judgement on the appeal challenging the judgement delivered by the Port Harcourt division of the Federal High Court which set aside the 2 primaries conducted by two factions of the APC in Rivers state.

Presiding Judge, Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, announced that the Apex Court would deliver its judgement on the appeal shortly after both counsel for appellant, APC , Lateef Fagbemi and counsel for the respondents, Henry Bello, made their final submissions on the matter.

While one of the factions is headed by Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, the other is led by Senator Magnus Abe.

Fagbemi in praying the Apex Court to nullify the judgement of the trial court submitted that the trial court had no jurisdiction when it entertained the suit.

He also claimed that since the trial court had no jurisdiction, its judgement in the matter amount to a nullity and should be set aside.

Fagbemi specifically asked the Supreme Court to invoke section 22 of the Supreme Court Act and give final judgement in the matter to end the multiple cases arising from the Rivers State APC primary election.

On his part, counsel to the respondents in , Bello urged the Apex Court to dismiss the appeal of the APC on the ground that it had become a mere academic exercise having been overtaken by event.

He argued that by the decision of the apex court on February 8, 2019 which upheld the decision of the trial Court and barred APC from primary election, the case of APC had died and should be buried.

Bello told the court that the respondents led by Ibrahim Umar who were aggrieved by the violation of the Electoral Act and the 1999 constitution in the manner APC conducted pre- election matters in Rivers, had secured a consent judgement in their favour that the judgement still stands.

He urged the court to hold that the instant appeal has become accademic exercise.

The Apex Court after listening to the counsel, said judgement will be given Tuesay, while the reasons for its position would be given at a later date.

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Police Arrest Another PDP Chieftain in Kaduna “


Another chieftain of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna State, Alhaji Yaro Makama, has been arrested.

Makama, a former chairman of the PDP in the state, was arrested on Monday morning by the police for alleged hate speech and was whisked to Abuja.

He was said to have been invited to the Kaduna State Police Command and upon honouring the invitation, he was taken to Abuja after writing a statement.

Makama’s arrest came less than 24 hours after the spokesman of the state PDP Campaign Organisation, Ben Bako, was arrested on Sunday evening by the Department of State Services (DSS) and taken to Abuja.

Bako was arrested for allegedly making inciting comments in a video clip recorded during the PDP campaign rally in Kafanchan, Jama’a Local Government Area of the state last week.

The Deputy Director General of the Campaign Organisation, Danjuma Sarki, who confirmed Makama’s arrest in a telephone interview, said the arrest was part of the grand design by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state to clamp down on PDP members before the elections.

Sarki said: “This morning, Makama was invited by the state police command. He honoured the police invitation as a law abiding citizen.

“They accused him of hate speech and was asked to write a statement. We thought that after writing the statement, they will let him go, but surprisingly he was taken to Abuja after writing his statement.

“Yesterday (Sunday), when we addressed a press conference, we said there were plans by the state government to frame and arrest 150 prominent PDP members before the elections.

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Buhari Mourns Ejoor, Describes Ex-Army Chief as Man of Positive Character”: in Abuja:


President Muhammadu Buhari Monday said he was saddened by the death of the first military governor of Mid-western Region and a former Chief of Army Staff, Major General David Ejoor (rtd.)

The president, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, commiserated with the Ejoor family, the Urhobo nation, and the government and people of Delta State on behalf of the Federal Executive Council on the demise of the elder statesman whom he also described as a “courageous officer, who had a distinguished career in the military and remarkable service to the nation.”

According to the statement, Buhari recalled that as the first military Governor of the Mid-Western Region, “during one of the darkest years in the nation’s history, and first indigenous Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy, who also held many other national leadership positions, the President regards Gen. Ejoor, as a hardworking military officer whose loyalty, commitment and dedication to the unity of the country were never in doubt.”

It added that Buhari affirmed that the former army chief, who was once the President-General of the Urhobo Progress Union, would be long remembered and honoured as a man of positive character and vision, whom he said provided profound inspiration to countless number of military officers and Nigerians that came in close contact with him.

The statement added that the president prayed the Almighty God to repose the soul of the departed senior citizen and comfort all who mourn the much respected octogenarian.

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Leah Sharibu Not Dead, FG Reassures


  • Family demands her release before February 19

By Kuni Tyessi in Abuja

The federal government has again reassured that Leah Sharibu, the teenager abducted by Boko Haram terrorists, is not dead.

However, despite this reassurance, her family has asked the federal government to ensure the release of their daughter before February 19, which will mark exactly one year of her abduction.

Addressing journalists yesterday in Ilorin, Kwara State capital, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described as absolute fake news of the reported death of abducted Dapchi school girl.

He said the rumour of  Sharibu’s death, which surfaced just a few days to the presidential election, was another ploy by the political opposition to tarnish the image of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and exploit primordial sentiments ahead of the polls.

According to him, “It is absolutely fake news. There is nothing like that,” the minister said. “I think it is part of the opposition’s strategies to throw everything at the administration and at the president. I think everyday, they are realising the hopelessness of their position.

“Everyday they are amazed by the support the President is receiving from every part of the country and they have decided that they are going to spread falsehood, inflame passion and make this election a Muslim-Christian affair or North-South affair, but people are not listening to them,” Mohammed said.

Meanwhile, the family of Leah Sharibu has petitioned the federal government to ensure the release of their daughter before  February 19, which will mark exactly one year of her abduction.

On the night of February 19, 2018, the 14-year-old Leah Sharibu was kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists from her school, Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School in Dapchi, Bursari Local Government Area of Yobe State alongside 111 other girls.

All of the girls who survived the kidnap were later freed by the Boko Haram sect except Leah, who reportedly refused to denounce her Christian faith.

Her mother,  Mrs. Rebecca Sharibu who was all tears  at a press briefing in Abuja yesterday, called for the release of her daughter as promised by the federal government.

She pleaded that President Muhammadu Buhari should do everything possible to ensure the release and safe return of Sharibu.

The distraught mother, who spoke in Hausa, recounted that President Buhari spoke with her on phone and gave her his assurance of Leah’s release, which was backed up
with the visitation of a high-powered federal government delegation that had three ministers led by the Minister of information and Culture,   Lai Mohammed.

She said: “I have come before you and the federal government to plead that you don’t forget Leah. The president spoke with me on phone and encouraged me not to worry, and with the assurance that my daughter will be released.  Three ministers also visited me and gave me assurance but till today, I haven’t heard anything, hence my coming before you to plead.

“Leah is just 15 years old. The beauty of a promise is in its fulfillment. Please save my daughter. I plead with you to help me,” she lamented.

Also speaking on her plight, Ambassador, IFES World Assembly, Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam, said there was the need for presidential aspirants to tell Nigerians what they hope to do to ensure Leah’s release and that of others in captivity if she is not released before February 19.

He noted that this is a campaign era, adding that the silence from all the candidates has not been encouraging, stressing that her issue should be used at campaigns.

He affirmed that the issue of religion is a human rights issue, nothing that there is no reason for Leah to remain in captivity as a result of her refusal to renounce her faith and conviction without fear.

He said: “We will love to hear from all the presidential candidates what exactly they are planning to do to bring Leah to freedom if for any reason she is not released before February 19. We want to hear her name and story becoming a campaign issue.

“The silence from all the presidential candidates about Leah and others in captivity is not encouraging. So, we are using this appeal and thus campaign season to hear what the presidential candidates have to say about Leah’s freedom. It is important for all Nigerians and the global community,” he added.

Sharibu’s denomination has called on all Christians to seek the face of God through prayers and fasting, come February 19.

Atiku’s Kano Rally Throws Open Buhari’s Northern Strongholds”:


  • Massive crowds at Bauchi, Jigawa, Katsina, Kaduna show PDP candidate has altered equation

By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano

The mammoth crowd of supporters that attended yesterday’s rally of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano has further strengthened the growing forecast that the main opposition party’s flag bearer is in strong contention in areas hitherto believed to be strongholds of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Buhari had won convincingly the massive voting North-west states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, Jigawa and Kano in the 2015 general election that saw him squaring up with the incumbent, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, making bookmakers to declare them his strongholds.

But with the advent of Atiku and his campaign, the large numbers of enthusiastic supporters that subscribed to his rallies have got analysts rethinking their permutations and giving the PDP standard bearer a winning chance in some of the states.

Atiku’s rallies in Jigawa, Kaduna and Katsina, the home state of the president, drew such an unprecedented crowd that some leading lights of the APC, THISDAY learnt, have expressed fears privately that Buhari might have shed a heavy weight.The situation is not markedly different in the North-east states of Bauchi and Bornu that were thought to be Buhari’s impregnable fortresses. If anyone had any doubt that that was no longer the case, said one analyst, Atiku’s last week’s rallies in those states must have cleared such doubt.

Perhaps encouraged by the massive crowd, Atiku spoke glowingly of the failure of Buhari’s government, saying that it has brought the nation’s economy to its knees and must be punished for it.

The punishment, he said, should come in form of votes that would send its President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration out of office.

With all available spaces occupied by PDP’s followers at the stadium, 28 persons were said to have slumped at the event, while the huge crowd that flooded the stadium made it difficult for movement within the Kano metropolis, especially around the stadium.

People were seen lined up the streets, as early as 9am to welcome Atiku to the ancient town. As soon as he arrived in the city, the presidential candidate headed to the palace of the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi.

For a journey of less than 20 minutes, it took Atiku-led campaign team over four hours to get to the palace and another three hours to get to the stadium because of the human/vehicular traffic created by Atiku’s visit.

He was accompanied by the Director-General of the presidential campaign, Senate President Bukola Saraki; the National Chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus; and former governor of Kano, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso; among other key party’s leaders.

Until recently, Kano was a Buhari stronghold, securing his highest number of votes, nearly two million, in 2015. Kwankwaso, who was the governor of the state when this happened, is now in PDP.

Speaking to PDP supporters, Atiku disclosed that if given the mandate on Saturday, he would support the renewal of agriculture and the economy, which according to him, are in shambles.

He said: “Are you going to vote for PDP? If you vote for PDP, the government will revitalize business and the moribund industries in Kano. We will also boost agriculture.

“I will ensure that among my priorities would be the revitalization of agriculture, industries and commercial activities so as to boost the economy, which has been killed by the APC government.”

Atiku noted that Kano, which used to be the centre of commercial activities in the North, is experiencing backwardness in business and commerce.

Also speaking at the rally, the PDP national chairman told the overwhelmed crowd that the Kano rally represents a revolution and a pointer that Kano people have reembraced PDP.

Saraki said there is hunger in Nigeria, accusing the APC government of bringing hardship on the people, saying there is need for Nigerians to vote out the government.

Atiku’s Kano Rally Throws Open Buhari’s Northern Strongholds":
AFP
Atiku Abubakar

“Today, Kano people have spoken; and what we have seen in this unprecedented crowd today is that PDP has taken over Kano. People have agreed to vote for PDP. A vote for PDP and a vote for Atiku will put food on our table,” the Senate president added.

In his address, former governor of the state, Kwankwaso said the mammoth crowd had sent a message to Aso Rock that PDP has already taken over Kano.

’Today, Kano people and particularly, the youths have shown that Kano is for PDP and Kwankwasiyya,” he said.

Atiku, who was visibly overjoyed over the mammoth crowd, was clad on Kwankwasiyya red cap and white Babarriga to match.

Meanwhile, with six days to the presidential election, PDP has called on its members and supporters to use every legitimate means available to them in a democracy to defend themselves and resist all acts of intimidation by the ruling APC.

The main opposition party said it has resolved to use, in full measure, all defence machinery legitimately available, including its numerical strength, in marching with millions of Nigerians across the nation to defend its votes, with the stiffest resistance, ever, against any infraction by the APC and the Buhari presidency.

The Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, made the call yesterday while addressing a press conference in Abuja.

He said: “You will particularly recall that on February 4, 2019, the PDP handed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) a 48-hour ultimatum to make public the list of all officials and ad-hoc staff that will play any form of role in the February 16 Presidential election at all levels, for verification by stakeholders.

“That demand was predicated on our findings that the INEC leadership in deferring to directives by Buhari Presidency and the APC had collected lists of APC loyalists from APC state governors and candidates, across the federation to serve as electoral officials, including ad-hoc staff and returning officers at the polling units.

“You will recall that upon our demand the APC openly directed INEC to ignore the PDP and go ahead with its compromised list. Shockingly INEC leadership appeared to have obeyed the APC, ostensibly because of threats by the party to give its leadership the Onnoghen treatment if it fails to comply.”

Ologbondiyan noted that this was in addition to how the presidency has been importing mercenaries from Chad and Niger Republic to vote for Buhari and to unleash violence in the country upon his eventual defeat.

He said the party had also alerted of plots to manipulate the smart card readers so as to substitute biometric accreditation with manual verification and pave way for mass rigging and allocation of fictitious votes for Buhari.

Ologbondiyan stated: “From the foregoing, it is clear to all that the Buhari presidency and the APC are out to rig the election and that INEC is in clear deficit of the required will to conduct a credible, free and fair election.

“In this regard, the PDP charges all its members and supporters, in their millions, to politically occupy and become extra vigilant by closely monitoring all electoral activities around their polling centres.

“In this determination, the PDP is ready to confront the Buhari-controlled security forces and APC thugs, head to head, at all levels. For this, we charge our members and supporters to use every means available to them legitimately in a democracy to defend themselves and resist all acts of intimidation by the APC.”

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