Group asks Anambra govt to revoke lands acquired illegally
By Enyim Enyim
ONITSHA —— THE people of Awka yesterday urged the Anambra State Government to revoke all the land meant for public interest which some influential persons through some government officials acquired for their personal uses, just as they called for the prosecution of those involved. President General of Awka Development Union, Nigeria, Mr. Nzekwe Ibe, made the call in an interview. He said those involved in the act had also connived with some government officials to deny the Anambra people their lands.
Nzekwe said the affected land earlier carved out for public interest but had been acquired for private use include the land meant for state fire service, prisons, Ikenga hotels extension, all situated on the Aguoka industrial estate. Others include the lands carved out for Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and federal secretariat which have been bought by individuals who have converted them for private uses. Investigation by the Vanguard showed that some of the plots of land have already built structures for hotels and petrol stations.
The union president, who described the act as selfish, urged the state governor, Dr. Chris Ngige, to set up a committee to probe and recover such lands and ensure they reverted to their original uses.
"Those who sell such lands should be prosecuted. The state government should look into the matter and recover them. However, compensation should be paid those who acquired and already built on them," he said. He said the town union would also clamp down on certain individuals who have been forcefully taking over lands belonging to certain individuals in Awka.
Anambra alleges bias, wants Egbo-Egbo to resign
From Emmanuel Onwubiko, Abuja
ALLEGING bias following several injunctions against Anambra State Governor, Dr. Chris Ngige by Justice Samuel Wilson Egbo-Egbo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, the state government has asked him to quit the Bench.
The State Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General, Mr. Udechukwu Moruka Udechukwu, who filed the application at the Federal High Court yesterday, also requested Egbo-Egbo to disqualify himself from all cases involving Ngige because of his alleged bias.
The commissioner confirmed to journalists in Abuja that Ngige had already taken the judge to the National Judicial Council (NJC) over alleged misconduct.
But Justice Egbo-Egbo has sent his defence to the council absolving himself of any wrongdoing.
Udechukwu said: "If the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can sit down in judgment over a serving judge and come out with a finding that Egbo-Egbo indeed made an injunction against Governor Ngige to stop parading himself as a governor, contrary to his denial, I think the most honourable thing is for Egbo-Egbo to resign.
"I am disappointed that Egbo-Egbo is sitting tight, what happened to Lord Dennin is not as serious as that. If we have any honour here and you are a judge of a superior court and you make a statement and the Senate faulted it, you ought to resign from office," he said.
The Attorney-General also said that it was not true that the media was biased against Justice Egbo-Egbo.
"Papers don't lie, because if you see the original copy of the order, Egbo-Egbo actually restrained Ngige from parading himself as a governor. If he said the prayers asked by Chief Chris Uba are granted as prayed, what he has said is that Ngige is restrained from continuing in office as governor and he was directing the Chief Judge of Anambra State to swear in the deputy governor as substantive governor," Udechukwu stated.
In the motion on notice filed yesterday, the state government prayed for an order that the suit before Justice Egbo-Egbo be transferred to another judge.
The suit was filed by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Okey Udeh, where Ngige, Speaker of the Anambra House of Assembly, Chief Chike Offodile, chairman of Section 188 Constitutional Impeachment Panel and the Attorney-General of the state are defendants.
The state government said that it filed the motion in compliance with Section 22 (1) of the Federal High Court Act, Cap. 134 and Section 6(a) of the 1999 Constitution.
In the 19-point affidavit in support of the motion, the state government asked Egbo-Egbo to disqualify himself from hearing the suit, saying that it had lost confidence in the ability of the judge to be impartial in any matter involving the state and Ngige.
"I verily believe that this is a proper case for the grant of an application of transfer, particularly when the applicants in effect have a pending petition against Justice Egbo-Egbo before the National Judicial Council," Udechukwu said.
The matter will be heard today. Justice Egbo-Egbo had in the heat of the abduction of Ngige by a police team led by retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), Mr. Raphael Ige, reportedly ordered the governor to vacate the office.
The judge had, in the injunction, granted the prayers of Ngige's alleged sponsor, Chris Uba, who urged the Governor to resign for not keeping faith with their deal and for signing a letter accepting to resign.
Following the controversy that trailed the order, Egbo-Egbo denied granting the injunction and also vacated it.
Polls tribunal decides on jurisdiction to hear Emodi's petition today
By Anayo Okoli
AWKA —— THE Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka, the Anambra State capital will today decide whether or not it has jurisdiction to hear the petition brought before it by Mrs Joy Emodi whose election as the Senator-elect for Anambra North Senatorial District was annulled by INEC against Mr Emma Anosike who was declared winner by the INEC in place of Emodi in the April 12 National Assembly election. Emodi had filed a petition against the declaration of Anosike by INEC as the winner of the election which she claims that he (Anosike) never contested. Rather she claims that Anosike was cleared and actually stood for the House of Representatives election held on the same day as the senate, and that he was duly declared the winner of the House of Representative seat for Anambra West Federal Constituency.
When the matter came up for hearing last Thursday, Anosike’’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the petition. Olanipekun in his application also challenged the power of the tribunal to set aside the judgement of Ada J. of an Abuja High Court which on April 11, 2003, the eve of the said election granted Anosike the right to contest the election as a PDP candidate.
Olanipekun argued that it was only the court of appeal, not the tribunal that has the power to set aside the judgement of Ada J. of the Abuja federal high court. According to him, "it is not within the province and preview of the tribunal to entertain issues from the judgement (by Ada J.)".
"my lords, we were cleared, contested and won the election, that is the case we have brought before the tribunal. The judgement of Ada J. was made on April 11, 2003, a day before the election and that judgement purports to challenge the nomination of the petitioner. By our prayer, we are simply urging the tribunal to interpret section 21(9) of the electoral Act 2002 which says that any motion challenging the election (nomination should be made five days before the election. The tribunal has the jurisdiction to examine any judgement of any court to determine whether the court has contravened the Electoral Act," Ikpeazu submitted.
On the issue of Locus Standi, Ikpeazu noted that the petitioner has the locus standi to file the petition. According to him under the Electoral Act, all the petitioner needs to do is to indicate that she was a candidate in an election. "The petitioner said she was nominated, she contested, she won and she was issued with form EC8E, how else can she prove locus. As far as the petition goes, the 5th respondent (Anosike0 was a totol stranger in the election."
Anambra dep gov petitions NBA over impeachment threat
By Lemmy Ughegbe
ABUJA——- EMBATTLED Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr Okey Udeh yesterday petitioned Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) over the on- going impeachment proceedings against him being conducted by the Anambra State House of Assembly. He said the House was acting in defiance to court's order restraining it from continuing with the proceedings. Justice Wilson Samuel Egbo - Egbo of a Federal High Court in Abuja had on the 26th of August, this year ordered the Anambra State House of Assembly and the Chike Ofodile (SAN) chaired impeachment panel to stay all proceedings and action in connection with the impeachment exercise, until the final determination of the suit before him.
Egbo - Egbo’’s order was upon an oral application made by Udeh’’s Counsel, Tunji Abayomi on grounds that the court was duty bound to protect the Res [subject matter of a dispute] in order not to be foisted with a fait accompli.
Armed with the court order, Udeh who alleged that it was flagrantly disregarded, filed a petition before the disciplinary Committee of the NBA, praying it to sanction members of the Ofodile Panel for alleged "infamous conduct incompatible with the status of legal practitioners" if it intends to protect the profession and administration of justice.
According to the petitioner, "in the open hearing of the impeachment panel on Thursday, 28th of August, 2003, Counsel to the panel, Chief Nnoruka Udechukwu (SAN), AG of the State persistently insulted the Honourable Presiding Judge (Egbo - Egbo) who made the order which was duly served on the panel."
He further said that "the panel neither cautioned nor restrained the said Counsel to the panel in the extensive verbal assault and defamation of the honour of a Judge and his court."
He said though he protested against the proceedings of the panel, drawing its attention to the consequence of a disobedience to the subsisting court order, the panel headed by a Former Attorney General of the Federation (Ofodile) went ahead with it, "thereby encouraging disrespect for law, the courts and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in utter breach of the duty of legal practitioners to the court, Judges and rule of law."
Udeh asks NBA to sanction Anambra treason panel members
From Emmanuel Onwubiko, Abuja
YET, another twist was yesterday added to the July 10 failed coup in Anambra State as the deputy governor, Okey Udeh, filed a contempt of court charge against a panel raised by the state government to probe the incident.
Udeh, who has been indicted by the national secretariat of his party, the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), also asked the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to sanction the panel members for allegedly bringing the country's judiciary into ridicule.
The NBA has condemned the incident and called for the prosecution of the culprits in the incident widely argued to be treasonable felony.
But Udeh recently secured an injunction from Justice Wilson Egbo-Egbo of a Federal High Court restraining the panel from continuing with the probe.
The panel, according to the embattled deputy governor, on Thursday, August 28, 2003 disregarded the ruling and continued with the hearing into the botched coup during which the governor, Chris Ngige, was kidnapped by a team of policemen simultaneously, the state House of Assembly held a session, accepting a purported resignation letter by Ngige and directing the state's Chief Judge to swear in Udeh as the new governor.
Udeh, thereafter, issued press statements purporting to have accepted the new office.
The deputy governor named former Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Chike Ofodile (SAN) and the State's Commissioner for Justice, Udechukwu Nnoruka Udechukwu and seven others, as defendants in the suit filed at a Federal High Court, also in Abuja.
Chief Ofodile is the chairman of the Anambra panel. The others, including six lawyers, are Zik Chuka Obi, Peter Chudi Obiora, Anene Nzelu, John Ikemefuna Igu, Mrs. Ngozi Onwuzo, Mrs. May Emengo, Mr. Ben Atah and Walter Ndefo.
"On Tuesday the August 26, 2003, Justice S.W. Egbo-Egbo granted an order "that all proceedings and actions" in connection with the impeachment proceeding in Anambra State be stayed.
"Notwithstanding the service of the order of court on the impeachment panel, the panel ruled that it will disregard and disobey the order of court. The panel went further to call evidence contrary to the order and has since been continuing its proceedings contrary to the order of Court."
The statement added: "The present contempt proceeding precedes a formal petition to the disciplinary committee of the Bar against the members of the impeachment panel and their counsel, including the Attorney General of Anambra State by Dr. Tunji Abayomi, counsel to Dr. Okey Udeh for unprofessional conduct."
No date has been fixed for hearing on the contempt proceeding.
In a petition to the NBA, the deputy governor, through Abayomi, Egbo-Egbo stated that the action of the panel to defy interim order is a violation of the professional code of conduct.
According to Udeh: "In the open hearing of the impeachment panel on Thursday of August 28, 2003, counsel to the panel persistently insulted the judge who gave the order which was duly served on the panel."
He stated further in his petition: "The panel neither cautioned nor restrained the said counsel to the panel in the extensive verbal assault, defamation of the honour of a judge and his court.
"The counsel to the panel arrogantly urged the panel in utter contempt, to disobey and disregard the order of a court of law.
"To protect the integrity of the profession and due administration of justice, the disrespect of the respondents, which amounts to infamous conduct in compatible with the status of a legal practitioner needs to be sanctioned."
"Further, the arrogant disrespect calls for stiff discipline against the respondents for unprofessional conduct in violation of Rules 1, 2, 3, 6, 21 and 24, among other rules of professional conduct on the legal profession as made by the General Council of the Bar and amended on January 15, 1979."
Udeh and Anambra’s impeachment hammer
By Godwin Adindu
Wherever Dr. Okey Udeh, the embattled deputy governor of Anambra State is today, he would obviously be having a restless time. Udeh’’s political career is hanging precariously on the precipice. Since the July 10 abduction of Governor Chris Ngige, Udeh has remained a pariah in the corridors of power. And with an impeachment proceeding hanging on his head, the physician-turned-politician may have suddenly discovered that the battle for self-preservation, especially in the political field, demands doggedness and ruthless courage.
But, indeed, Udeh’’s trial period may not have started on July 15 when the House of Assembly served him an impeachment notice, following his role in the abduction saga. It started much earlier in the hours of the conspiracy to unseat the governor. Unknown to most members of the public, the relationship between the governor and his deputy was not a mere political convenience. The two players had been long time friends. Both of them were at the medical school, with Ngige one year ahead of Udeh. The governor recently confessed that he shared his books with Udeh at the medical school. And to cap up the friendship, Udeh stood as Ngige’’s best man during his wedding.
Today, one of the greatest victims of the July 10 crisis is the long nurtured relationship between the two men. Udeh is carrying the reputation of the man who betrayed his friend at the hour of need. But, these are not the issues being considered by the seven-man judicial panel investigating the allegations of gross misconduct levelled against the deputy governor by the state House of Assembly. The panel set up by the state’’s Attorney ––General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Nnoruka Udechukwu (SAN), has a three-month period within which it must conclude its investigation and submit its report. While constituting the panel, Udechukwu stated that in accordance with section 188(10) of the Constitution, no proceedings or determination of the panel or of the House of Assembly or any matter relating to the proceedings would be entertained or questioned in any court.
But, a twist came in the case last week with the ruling by the controversial Judge of the Abuja high court, Justice Wilson Egbo-Egbo who barred the Assembly and the Chief Chike Ofodile-led panel from continuing actions that could lead to the impeachment of the deputy governor. Egbo-Egbo said the suit by Udeh raised serious constitutional issues. ““This is an important constitutional issue which must be addressed urgently,”” he said, adding that the impeachment proceedings had to be stayed to avoid causing irreparable damage to the plaintiff. The ruling of the judge was sequel to a motion filed by Udeh in which he had sought for a declaration that he rightfully assumed office as governor on July 10, upon the purported resignation of Governor Ngige
To Chike Ofodile, the chairman of the judicial panel, the ruling by Egbo-Egbo is of no significance. While setting aside the order stopping the impeachment proceedings, the former attorney-general and minister of Justice referred to section 188(10) of the Constitution which provides that no proceedings or determination of the panel shall be determined or questioned in any court of law. He further stated that the said section had been referred to in the issue relating to the impeachment proceedings of Abia State former Deputy Governor, Chief Enyinnaya Abaribe.
Indeed, by his ordeal, Udeh has set the record as the first deputy governor to face an impeachment threat in the second term of the fourth republic. Though the circumstances of his trials are different from that of Abaribe, Udeh shares the same fate with Abaribe. Both of them got enmeshed in impeachment crises in the second month of their tenure in power. Since the impeachment proceedings, many people have taken keen interest in the roles played by Udeh. Speaker of the House, Mr. Mike Balonwu said the assembly viewed the role of the deputy governor in the crisis with seriousness. He said the decision of the South East caucus of the PDP to pardon the principal actors in the abduction saga if they show remorse will not be extended to Udeh. Balonwu who became speaker after the former speaker, Mrs. Eucharia Azodo, was impeached over her role in the crisis, also insisted that Udeh must be made to face the music.
But, Udeh seems to be attracting some sympathy. Many critics feel that the House does not have the moral authority to prosecute Udeh since its members are also involved in the crisis. The House had passed a resolution on the day of the crisis accepting the purported resignation of the governor. It also accepted the self-declaration of the deputy as the new governor. But, when the coup against the governor failed and with the public condemnation that trailed the entire saga, the House later took a decision to expunge the proceedings of July 10 from its records. Based on this, Chuku Wachuku, former Director-general of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) said by the mere fact that it entered the day’’s affairs into its records and later expunged it, the house also played a role in the entire saga, and therefore lacked the moral authority to prosecute the deputy over a misconduct to which they were part of.
Ngige loses two objections, as Ojukwu,
By Okey Maduforo, Awka
Anambra State High Court came alive when Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu- Ojukwu stormed the venue of the State Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Awka along with former Minister of Health Dr. Tim Menakaya and APGA national chairman, Chief Chekwas Okorie to lend their support to Mr. Peter Obi, APGA governorship candidate whose petition is challenging the victory of Governor Chris Ngige in last election is being heaved.
Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who wore a long face while counsel for both parties, argued their case was not in the mood to talk to journalists as was reported by his aides who tried fruitlessly to ward off the crowd of over 500 supporters at the court premises.
Also present at the tribunal’’s sitting was Chief Victor Umeh, National Treasurer of All Progressive Grand Alliance, who was in the witness box as state APGA agent at the April 19 governorship polls in Anambra.
Giving his evidence, Umeh said he received results of the elections from their ward and local government agents at the Independent National Electoral Commission head quarters, Awka, where he was stationed, and presented a written document mandating him to represent APGA in the said election.
Although the evidence of Chief Umeh was interrupted on two occasions by the objections from counsel to Governor Ngige; Chief J.H.C. Okolo and counsel to 450 others joined in the petition, Chief O.B. Onyali, the tribunal, however, admitted in evidence, the letter written by APGA which authorised Umeh to serve as the state collation agent for the election.
The tribunal headed by Justice G.M. Nabaruma also overruled the objections raised by the counsel over the testimonies of Umeh on the role he played during the election and registered the said latter as exhibit I.
After a two-hour break, the tribunal also ruled that it would accept the election results as tendered by Umeh through Obi’’s counsel, P.C. Nnadi, as exhibit and results of Aguata Local Government in the April 19th election.
Counsel to Governor Ngige, J.H.C. Okolo had earlier urged the tribunal to reject the 14 files containing forms EC8AI from local government areas of Aguata, saying it was not pleaded by the petitioners and insisting that the petitioner could not state the custody of the materials and not admissible.
Responding, counsel to Obi, Mr. O.J. Nnadi, while citing section 91, Sub Section 2 of the Evidence Act gives the tribunal the discretion to admit the document as pleaded by them.
He described the objection by Okolo as misconstrued, saying there was no way the witness could have fabricated the document in question as it was given to him by the APGA agents in the wards and local government area at INEC office.
Hearing on the substantive suit filed by Mr. Peter Obi, candidate for the APGA in the April 19th governorship election commenced yesterday to last for 14 working days when the tribunal would deliver its judgment.
Anambra courts remember Igwe, adjourn cases
ONITSHA —— COURTS in Anambra State were shut yesterday and deferred all their cases till today to mark the first anniversary of the murder of the former chairman of Onitsha branch of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Barnabas Igwe and his wife Amaka who were murdered on September 1, 2002 in Onitsha. The action of the court forestalled hearing of the motion for bail filed by the former Commissioner for Works and Transport in Mbadinuju’’s administration, Prince Kenneth Emeakanyi who is standing trial on the same case. Emeakanyi who was arraigned in June with about 12 other suspects for the murder of the lawyers had filed a motion at court three of the Onitsha High Court presided over by Justice Peter Umeadi who fixed hearing on the motion for yesterday which could however not come up as a result of the anniversary programme of the lawyers.
Emeakanyi’’s supporters from Okija, his home had trooped to the court premises as a mark of respect but were disappointed when the case was moved till today as a respect for the murdered lawyers whom their son is standing trial. Igwes’’ kindred were also on hand to witness the respect being accorded their son and his wife. At about 9a.m hundreds of lawyers had gathered at the High Court premises in the full court realistic for a procession in honour of their fallen colleagues.
Elsewhere in the court premises, the new chairman of the Onitsha Bar, Mr. Obele Chika Obele accused "some highly placed people in the state that are planning to secure bail for Emeakanyi, an action the bar condemned. Addressing a press conference with his secretary, Mr. Peter Obiora, Obele warned that the bar would expose those behind the move to secure bail for Emeakanyi.
According to him granting bail to the accused will jeopardise the trial of the accused persons. Freedom for him (Emeakanyi) will be the end of the matter, It will have the effect of destroying the substantive matter."
Meanwhile, the Onitsha bar has condemned the alleged attempt to assassinate its chairman, Mr. Obele Chika last week barely 15 minutes after the withdrawal of the policemen protecting him. According to Peter Obiora, the secretary, the Inspector General should reconsider his position and restore security on Obele and some other people who have evidence to give in the murder case of their former chairman.
Ngige: Ndigbo congress endorses prosecution of Ubah, others
By Sunny Igboanugo
The peace and reconciliation panel set up by the leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo was at the weekend rejected by the entire membership of the body who opted for the setting up of a judicial commission of inquiry to go into the matter.
They said that all those involved in the abduction of Governor Chris Ngige of Anambra State on July 10 should be made to face the full rigour of the law.
At a meeting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital, the body also asked the Federal Government to ensure that sharing of revenue be based on the six geopolitical zones of the country, rather than states and council areas. When the position of the Ohaneze leadership, which had earlier set up a panel to investigate the Anambra crisis and reconcile the parties in the dispute was read out to delegates at the general assembly, members rejected it.
Instead, they magnanimously ratified the second option read to them by the Ebonyi State governor, Dr. Sam Egwu.
The Ohaneze frowned at the recklessness and deep sense of irresponsibility exhibited by all those who forced the issuance of a government cheque.
It was resolved that those acts are criminal offences which must be investigated and those involved should be made to answer for their offences.”” This second resolution received thunderous applause from the members who converged inside the conference hall of the Women’’s Development Centre, venue of the event.
““We are going to adopt whatever you say,”” the President General of Ohaneze, Justice Eze Ozobu, said after the new resolution was adopted.
Court hears former Mbadinuju's aide bail application today
By Anayo Okoli
ONITSHA —— JUSTICE Peter Umeachi of Onitsha high court three will today hear an application for bail filed by ex-Governor Chinwoke Mbadinuju’’s former Commissioner for Works and Transport, Prince Kenneth Emeakayi who is standing trial over the murder of Onitsha branch chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Barnabas Igwe and his wife, Amaka. The application is coming on the day that marks exactly one year the Igwes were assassinated along Oraifete street of Awada area of Onitsha, two days after they returned from the annual conferences of lawyers held in Ibadan. The state chapter of NBA has declared today a special day in honour of the couple who were lawyers. They will hold a procession from the Onitsha high court and hold a special church service for them at the Holy Trinity church Onitsha on Sunday.
Emeakayi was in June arraigned together with 14 other accused persons before an Onitsha magistrate court charged with the murder of the Igwes, a charge they all pleaded not guilty. But they were ordered to be remanded in Onitsha prisons.
On August 20, 2003, Emeakayi's lawyer, Mr. Tochukwu Onwugbufo (SAN) filed an application before Justice Umeadi’’s court seeking to secure bail for Emeakacyi. But Umeadi postponed hearing in the application to today on the grounds of improper service. The court will today be briefed on the report of service which determine the hearing of the application.
Polls tribunal resumes hearing of Obi's petition today
By Anayo Okoli
AWKA —— ANAMBRA State election petition tribunal sitting in Awka will today resume hearing in the petition filed by Mr Peter Obi, the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) governorship candidate in the April 19, 2003 election against Governor Chris Ngige of PDP, challenging his (Ngige’’s declaration by INEC as the winner of the governorship contest). Obi is disputing the declaration of Ngige by INEC as the winner of the governorship election in Anambra state accusing him and his party of manipulating votes cast to favour them.
Peter Obi claims "to be the person entitled to be returned (by INEC) or to have had a right to be returned or declared elected at the gubernatorial election into the office of Governor of Anambra state which was held on the 19th of April 2003." He claims that "he scored a total of 279,647 valid votes cast in the said election but was not duly returned and not duly returned and not duly declared as the winner at the said election." He argued that the return or declaration of Ngige by INEC as the winner of the election was "wrongful" and "should not have been returned by INEC.
In a 41 page petition, EPT/AN/Gov/42/03 which has Dr. Chris Ngige as the first respondent and 450 others, all INEC officials of various categories, including INEC national chairman, resident electoral commissioner for Anambra state and the returning officer, Anambra state gubernatorial election, Obi is disputing that Ngige "was not elected by majority of lawful votes cast at the gubernatorial election held on 19th April 2003 having not polled the highest number/majority of lawful votes cast at the said election."
The petitioner also argues that INEC should not have duly returned or declared as elected, Dr Chris Ngige as the winner of the election, and that the return of Ngige as the winner "is invalid by reason of corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provision of the electoral act 2002."
Rejecting the results which the petitioner said "do not correctly reflect the lawful votes cast at the gubernatorial election of 19th April 2003, which he said were not correctly added up or counted at some local government and ward collating stations, the petitioner claims that if correctly added up, the lawful votes cast at the election in the 21 local government areas of the state, he would have polled a total of 293,141 votes against Ngige’’s 87,246 votes. Obi also alleged that in some polling stations and wards where no election was conducted or votes cast, figures were added up with the result that the figures added up at the collating station/units were either not those actually recorded at the polling stations or they were not based upon correct figures of actual votes lawfully cast at the polling stations.
The petitioner also alleged that in some polling stations and ward "vote wrongly collated and added up exceeded the number of registered votes for the polling station/units or wards or exceeded the number of ballot papers issued for the polling units or used at the said polling unit or ward."
As a result of this, Obi said he accepts result from only seven of the 21 local government areas, namely Ayamelum, Anaochi Ekwusigo, Idemili North, Awka South Nnewi North and Orumba North, and disputes the results of the other local government areas as declared by INEC.
Based on these disputable areas, Obi is therefore praying the tribunal to grant him or determine and declare as follows:
* That Dr. Chris Ngige was not duly declared elected or returned and should not be declared as duly returned or duly elected by the INEC.
* that he (Obi) as validly and duly elected or returned having scored / polled the highest/majority of lawful votes cast at the said election.
* Alternatively, that the election into the office of Governor Anambra state be conducted by the INEC for substantial irregularities and corrupt practices which marred the said election.
It will be recalled that Obi had earlier been given an order by the tribunal to be allowed by INEC to inspect all the relevant materials
Anambra banks to support new security outfit with N50m
By Anayo Okoli
AWKA –– FOLLOWING the rising wave of violent crime in Anambra State, some banks have decided to release N50 million to the newly constituted security committee set up by the state government to float a security outfit that will fight armed robbery. The activities of the hoodlums are affecting the banking industry in the state. In the security committee constituted by Governor Chris Ngige last week, the banking community was effectively represented, and they have decided to assist the committee by providing the take-off grant to ensure that the new security outfit takes off without delay.
Vanguard learnt that the committee has concluded arrangement to procure 15 brand new Hillux van for a 24 hour patrol of the state. A source close to the committee confirmed this to Vanguard and explained that the vans would be developed to effectively cover the three senatorial zones of the state on a 24 hour basis. The operatives of the new outfit who will be screenned and trained by the police are expected to wear uniform and name tags for identification and will operate effectively with the police. According to the source the police will screen the names to be sent to them, pick those deemed qualified and drop any person not qualified. "There will be no intervention from any quarters."
When contacted, a member of the committee, Mr Emeka Asoanya, representing the traders said that the outfit would be different from the former Bakassi Boys but assured that it will be "an effective crime burster that will give the people peace of mind again."
The rate of crime, especially violent crime in the state, especially Onitsha has given both the people and the government serious cause for concern, prompting the government to set up a security committee last week charged with the responsibility of fashioning out a security outfit to assist the police to fight crime in the state.
Members of the committee drawn from various segments of the society are Chief Theo Ozoigbo, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security as the chairman.
Assistant Police Commissioner, Mohammed Ndabawa is representing the police in the committee, Mr. John Kennedy Kalu, a bank manager is representing the banking community, Mr Emeka Asoanya is representing the traders, Mr. Chimezie Udemba represent luxurious bus owners. Other members are Engr. B.O. Adibua, Tony Ubazie, Cyrcus Obi and Okey Ojibe.
Ngige inaugurates committee for new private security outfit
By Anayo Okoli
AWKA — GOVERNOR Chris Ngige has inaugurated a nine-man security committee to float and manage a security outfit that would fight violent crimes in the state. In the last two weeks, Onitsha, the commercial city of the state has virtually been under siege by armed robbers who had forced residents to desert the streets as early as 6.30pm. Reports of house-to-house operations have been rampant in the city. Even Awka, which used to be safe haven has fallen victim of violent crime as the robbers have also extended their house-to-house operation to the place.
Vanguard investigation across the state revealed that Nnewi the industrial town of state is also under siege just as the villages in rural areas of the state are not even safe. On Monday, the state police command paraded two robbers killed by the Onitsha area command and 26 robbery suspects arrested from across the state. However, the effort of the police seemed not be good enough to fight the renewed robbery onslaught in the state, which now make the residents to live in fear.
So in an attempt to fight this, the Governor Tuesday inaugurated the 9-man committee under the chairmanship of Chief Theo Ozoigbo, his Special Adviser on Security. Other members are Mr. Mohammed Ndabawa, an Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of operations in the state police command, Mr. Emeka Asoanya, president of trader union in the state who represents the interest of the traders, Mr. John Kennedy Kalu, the manager of Magnum Trust Bank in Onitsha who represents the banks in the state. Also in the committee are Chief Chimezie Udemba representing Luxurious Bus Owners, Engr. B. O. Adjibua representing town unions, Tony Obazie who represents labour, Chief Cyracus Obi and Mr. Okey Ojibe.
Ngige said that he was prompted to raise the committee because of the rising crime wave in the state which has resulted in killing and raping innocent people, thereby spreading HIV/AIDS to unsuspecting victims. He urged the committee to brainstorm on how to get state secured by assisting the police in its work.
The governor said that security of lives and property must be restored to allow business to boom in the state again and promised to assist in funding the proposed security outfit. Ngige charged the market leaders and the banks to ensure that the outfit was well funded to ensure that the people are secured to be able to contribute to the development of the state. He urged the committee to ensure that there is positive change in the security situation in the state.
Commenting on security committee, the traders union president, Mr. Emeka Asoanya said that the traders were happy about the development and promised that they will contribute financially. Asoanya disclosed that by next month, he would organize an orientation convention for the traders aimed at educating them on the need to utilize bank instruments against the use of massive cash in transacting their businesses.
Anambra Assembly Sets Target for Ngige
Anambra State House of Assembly has set a target of roads which the state governor, Dr Chris Ngige must strive to construct or rehabilitate to enhance the advancement of political and socio-economic activities in the state.
Ngige, Egwu lament poor growth rate in Anambra, Ebonyi
From Chuks Collins, (Onitsha) and Kenneth Ofoma, (Abakaliki)
A DISPIRITED Governor Chris Ngige lamented the slow rate of development in Anambra State 12 years after its creation on August 27, 1991, yesterday, just as his Ebonyi counterpart, Sam Egwu, is worried by the non-take-off of the federal secretariat proposed seven year ago.
Addressing Anambra State citizens who turned out at the Dr. Alex Ekwueme Park, Awka, to mark the 12th anniversary of the state's creation, Governor Ngige stated:
"A child of 12 years is expected to perform certain functions and to have made some measurable achievements. But unfortunately, the reverse is the case with our state.
"Although 12 years old, Anambra State is still passing though its teething stage without much infrastructural facilities on ground".
He described the state of the roads in the state as "deplorable", adding that there is no drinking water in the urban cities and the rural areas.
"Many of the rural communities are still without electricity", he added.
The governor listed factors working against the state's development as social insecurity and distrust among the citizens, high level of corruption, ineptitude, insensitivity and lack of sense of direction by past governments.
The governor said there was little to celebrate and noted that the day should be used to take stocks of the state's years of existence with a view to making a new resolve for progress.
While expressing appreciation to all who stood by him over the crisis in the state, Ngige restated his resolve to take the state to the "Promised Land".
He assured that he had put the "ugly incident" behind him, though "the scars still remain".
He said: "But if the culprits of the July 10 abduction saga wish to be forgiven, they should show evidence of total repentance and tender public apology. They should ask for forgiveness from the generality of Anambra citizens and Nigerians whom they also wronged".
Ngige used the poorly attended gathering, during which an interdenominational service also took place, to reel out what he saw as his modest achievements within his three months in office.
He appealed to every citizen, especially the workers, to put up new attitude and eschew anti-social tendencies and conducts.
The day was rounded off with a gala dinner at the Governor's Lodge, Awka.
Governor Egwu lamented that the situation has compelled Federal Government workers in the state to squat in temporary apartments.
Egwu spoke at the Government House, Abakaliki when a delegation of Federal civil servants, led by Obasi Ette of the Raw Material Research Council, called on him.
He promised that he would step up efforts to prod the Federal Government into building a federal secretariat in Abakaliki without further delay.
Ette, an engineer, explained that the essence of the visit was to show solidarity with the governor and to thank him for his kindness to workers in federal departments.
Anambra House sets road repairs target for Ngige
From Chuks Collins (Onitsha) and Uzoma Nzeagwu (Awka)
TO ensure better road network in the state, the Anambra House of Assembly has set a total target of 900 kilometres of roads to be repaired by Governor Chris Ngige.
In a unanimous resolution, the House resolved that at least, 30 km of major roads should be tarred, repaired or constructed in each of the 30 constituencies in the state.
This, the House believed, was to make roads in the state more passable to enhance the advancement of political and socio-economic activities.
Titled: "Construction of at least 30 km of roads in each of the 30 constituencies in Anambra State, Ref. No. 2003/21", presented by the Deputy Majority Leader, Mr. Joseph Dimobi (Anaocha II PDP), seconded by Chief Paul Okeke (Dunukofia, PDP), the members instructed the governor to ensure that jobs for the road works be given to reputable construction companies which would be committed in the execution.
They also advised that alternatively, the jobs be done through direct labour scheme as it would help create employment for the unemployed youths of the state.
Arguing the motion earlier, Dimobi noted that roads all over the world have become the most important facility that makes for fast economic and social development. He stressed that whereas the state and her citizens are well known and appreciated for commerce and industry, it was indeed very unfortunate that virtually all rural and urban roads have collapsed.
Okeke, who agreed with the argument of his counterpart, said it was visible that both federal and state roads in the state were now in very bad shape due to years of absolute neglect. He called on Ngige to make a remarkable difference as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Ngige has appointed three more commissioners into the State Executive Council, bringing the number to nine.
The commissioners are Mr. Ugochukwu Nwankwo for Finance and Economic Development; Mr. Emeka Ejikeme for Works and Housing and Professor Byran Adima for Health.
Also sworn in was Dr. Peter Ogbuka as the Special Adviser to the Governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters.
Addressing the commissioners at the conference room, Government House, Awka shortly after the swearing in, Ngige advised them to rise up and work hard towards the restoration of the state to its economic status by taking their office serious.
Ngige: Court decides to hear Uba
By Ruby Rabiu
A Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday dismissed a preliminary objection by Governor Chris Nwabueze Ngige of Anambra State, challenging it’’s jurisdiction to hear a suit filed by Chief Chris Uba, seeking an order to stop his arrest and trial for treason over the abduction saga in Anambra State.
Justice Samuel Wilson Egbo-Egbo, in dismissing the objection, awarded N2,000 as cost against the governor after ruling that "This court has abundant jurisdiction to hear the case", because the plaintiff, being a citizen of Nigeria, has the locus standi to come to court and request that his fundamental human rights be protected.
He also ruled that the action was competent and disclosed reasonable cause of action.
Chief Chris Uba, the alleged brain behind the July 10, 2003 abduction of Governor Ngige, cited as defendants in his suit, the Attorney General of Anambra State, Chief Udechukwu Nororuka Udechukwu (SAN), the Federal Attorney General, Mr. Akin Olujimi (SAN), the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun and President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Chris Uba is seeking
* A declaration that the actions of the fourth defendant (President Obasanjo) in consequence of the statements of the first, second and third defendants (Attorney General of Anambra State, Inspector General of Police and Attorney General of the Federation), seeking judicial order to cause his arrest, imprisonment and prosecution on grounds of rumours and speculations which was a threat to his life and liberty, which is contrary to Section 33, 34, 35 and 36 of the 1999 constitution.
* An order of injunction restraining the defendants from arresting, detaining, imprisoning or causing to be restrained or inhibited in the exercise of his rights and freedom of movement, liberty and dignity, pending the determination of the motion.
Uba also asked the court to set aside all processes, directives and orders from the defendants that would affect his life and liberties in as much as it concerns the crisis concerning the purported resignation of Dr. Ngige as the Anambra State Governor.
The Anambra State attorney general had objected to the hearing of Uba’’s suit on grounds that Uba lacked the legal right to claim the reliefs sought in the suit; the suit as formulated had not disclosed any reasonable cause of action; the subject matter of the suit falls outside the jurisdiction of the court; and that the suit was an abuse of court processes.
Justice Egbo-Egbo also yesterday, granted an interim order restraining both the legislative and executive bodies from proceeding on any impeachment proceedings against the deputy governor of Anambra State, Dr. Okey Udeh.
Anambra police kill 2 robbery suspects, arrest 26
By Anayo Okoli & Enyim Enyim
AWKA —— THE Anambra State Police Command yesterday killed two armed robbery suspects and arrested 26 others from across the state. The two suspects were killed in Onitsha. Among the suspects was a father, his son and three women. Several arms and ammunition were recovered from the suspects. Parading the suspects during a press briefing in Awka, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ibe Aghanya disclosed that some of the arrested suspects were involved in the robbery attack of the manager of Nkwelle Ezunaka branch of First Bank Plc, where his wife and son were killed. According to Ahanya, 16 of the arrested suspects were involved in the manager’’s robbery attack.
"This case (Bank Manager’’s case) is a very pathetic case. They shot the woman and her son because they identified them (the robbers). In this case, we are putting in everything to ensure we arrest all those involved in this matter," Ahanya said. Giving a breakdown of the activities of the command from January to this month disclosed that several arrests have been made and several arms and ammunition, including sophisticated ones have also been recovered from the suspects.
"As a result of the command’’s onslaught on violent crimes and criminals in the state, coupled with the flow of genuine information from the members of the public, the command has dislodged the robbers’’ base in Onitsha, Nnewi, Umuleri/Aguleri and other criminal hideouts within the state. On 13th February, 2003, a gang of armed robbers invaded the residence of Justice Felicia Obiorah (female), one Sunday Ugwuanyi (male) was arrested in connection with the robbery. The vehicle that was robbed from the judge was recovered from the suspect. Within the same period, one Comas Ogeh (male), Obinna Imo (male) and Charles Chukwuche Egbuna (male) were arrested in connection with the main market robbery. They confessed to the robbery. Items recovered include, two AK47 magazines.
"Also, a gang of armed robbers who specialize in robbing community banks within Nnewi area were nabbed by the command’’s SARS operatives. Those arrested were Ndubisi Akunne, 22 years, Uchenna Anyaeji 19 years and Ifeanyi Ezeani 23 years. Items recovered from them include two automatic pump action guns, 25 live cartridges, 10 302 live rifle ammunition, some locally made pistols, an axe, pillets for loading dane guns and some quantities of weeds suspected to be Indian Hemp.
"These suspects confessed to have robbed with others at large, Amichi Community Bank, Amichi. The suspects equally confessed to have been responsible for robbery incidents within Nnewi area between the months of April and May 2003.
"Similarly, on May 5th, 2003, a gang of armed robbers robbed one Pastor Fred lgbokwe of Okolia village, Umudiji, Ukpor and killed his wife who was nursing a three month old baby. Six of the armed robbers were arrested and they made confessional statements. A Mercedes Benz car, one double barrel gun, ten live catridges were recovered," the deputy commissioner said.
He also disclosed the arrest of ten robbery suspects whose names were given as Ifeanyi Madukanze, Ifeanyi Maduabuchi Igbokwe, Nwabunkonye Udekwe, Cornelius Kanu, Yusuf Yaradua, Salim Igworun, Jude Okonkwo, Nwalor. Recovered from them, according to Aghanya were a Mitsubishi L300 bus, a Mercedes Benz saloon car, a motor-cycle, arms and ammunitions of various categories, locally made pistols and sum of N115,868 robbed at Citizens Bank Onitsha. Items recovered from them include their travel documents and the sum of six hundred and forty thousand (N640,000) cash," the police said.
Father, son, 24 others arrested as robbery suspects in Anambra
By Okey Maduforo, Awka
The Anambra State Police Command yesterday recorded a breakthrough in the upsurge of armed robbery and other violent crimes in the state by arresting 26 robbery suspects, including a man and his son.
The suspects, who were made up of three women, including a man and his son, were alleged to have been involved in several robbery incidents in Onitsha, Nnewi and other communities in the state.
Parading the robbery suspects before newsmen at the State Police Command, Awka, Anambra State, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ibe Aghanya, said the robbery suspects who have specialised in bank robbery, were arrested from their hideout along Otuocha road.
A robbery incident led to the death of the wife to the First Bank Manager at Nkwelle-Ezunaka branch in Oyi Local Government.
According to Ahanya, “on the 16th of August this year the robbery suspects attempted to rob the First Bank, shot and killed the manager’s wife when she refused to produce keys to the bank’s safe on demand.
According to the police, 23rd August, 2003, a suspect, Eze Nduba was arrested together with his father, Ikechukwu Nduba at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos in an attempt to travel abroad based on a tip-off by the leader of an armed robbery gang that raided an electronic market at Iweka road.
Also in the police net are a gang of five robbery suspects operating with a Mitsubishi bus within Ogidi and its environs. It was also gathered that the gang in the course of their operations, gunned down a mobile policeman at Tavzan junction and snatched his Mercedes Benz car in the process.
Aghanya told the newsmen that at Nnewi three robbery suspects who he said, specialise in robbing community banks, were nabbed by the police anti-robbery squad in the state.
Also arrested are 10 robbers suspects said to have robbed motorists along the Onitsha-Ekwusige junction and police found life ammunition and two stolen vehicles, Mitsubishi bus L3000 and a Mercedes Benz saloon car which they used for their operations.
Ugochukwu Uba appeals against tribunal's ruling
By Anayo Okoli
AWKA — DR. Ugochukwu Uba, whose election as the Senator for Anambra South Senatorial District was reversed by the Anambra State Election Petition Tribunal in favour of Mr. Nicholas Ukachukwu, has filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Enugu against the ruling of the tribunal. Joined as respondents are Mr. Nicholas Ukachukwu and INEC. Filed by his lawyer, Mr. Nobis Elendu on behalf of lead counsel, Dr. B.O. Babalakin (SAN), Uba said he was dissatisfied with decision of the tribunal, saying that the appeal was filed on the grounds that the tribunal "seriously erred in law" on all the issues raised in the petition filed by Ukachukwu.
Uba is therefore seeking for a two-point relief from the appeal court, namely, setting aside the judgement of the tribunal and affirming him (Uba) as the validly nominated PDP candidate for the Anambra south senatorial district and the validly elected. The appellant alleged that the five-man tribunal "exhibited demonstrable and manifest acts of bias throughout the proceedings in the petition and consistently acted in a manner prejudicial to the case of the appellant and thereby came to a perverse decision that occasioned a miscarriage of justice". Part of the error, Uba explained, was that the tribunal "wrongly entertained an application for interlocutory injunction that had no bearing to the parties in the substantive petition against vehement objection of the appellant to the competence of the application and lack of jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain same".
Uba also accused the tribunal of seriously erring in law "when they proceeded to assume jurisdiction to hear the substantive petition when the issues raised therein are actively matters bordering on the internal and or domestic affairs of the PDP as to whom was it candidate in the Anambra south senatorial election". The issue he said was a domestic affair of the party which was "not one justiciable in a court of law or by an election tribunal".
Having stated a 14-point error alleged made by "the learned justices of the tribunal," Uba pray the appeal court to grant him two reliefs to include.
•An order setting aside the judgement of the national assembly/governorship/legislation houses election tribunal holden at Anambra state. Coram the Hon. Justices G.M. Nabaruma (Chairman) I.I. Agube, E.K. Aladejana, P.A. Onamade, and his lordship A.I. Maru, Esq. contained in the judgement of the said honourable tribunal delivered on Saturday, the 19th day of July 2003, in its entirety.
•An order affirming the appellant as the validly nominated candidate of the PDP for the Anambra south senatorial district and validly elected and returned winner of the said senatorial district election.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the appeal.
Why Igbo elite remain silent over Anambra crisis, by Okadigbo
By Anayo Okoli
AWKA — PRESIDENTIAL running mate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the last election, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, reviewed, weekend, the political crisis in Anambra State, and declared that the silence of Igbo political elite on the matter was a deliberate strategy to allow "the truth to unfold." Dr. Okadigbo who spoke in Awka said top Igbo politicians decided to keep quiet to allow the actors in the crisis expose themselves before the public.
He condemned the position of President Olusegun Obasanjo on the crisis especially his silence on the abduction of Gov. Ngige, because, as he said, the abduction of any citizen, whether rich or poor, is a criminal act punishable under the laws of Nigeria.
Said he: "Had I been talking, had Dr Alex Ekwueme been talking, had the Ikemba, Emeka Ojukwu been talking, it would have been Okadigbo or Ojukwu or Ekwueme versus PDP, versus Uba, versus Ngige, versus one other. We wanted the facts to unfold and the truth to unravel itself. For them (those involved) to talk and talk and talk, for them to lie and lie and lie, to beg and beg and beg, and confess, confess, confess. I think they have done enough now.
"You see, all the facts are in now. The most important fact starts as follows: Somebody wanted to abduct somebody, that is criminal punishable by law. Two, that abduction exercise many people took part, but Dr. Ngige was saved by the telephone (GSM) passed over through the Igwe of Mbaukwu, Peter Anukwu, who we salute as the hero of the epic, the other hero is Atiku (vice-president) who said (Ngige) go back to the job. The third person who functioned also as a kind of hero in that epic was the chief judge who smartly avoided swearing-in the deputy governor, three of them. Then we have one anti-Christ, Gen. Obasanjo. He is an anti-Christ. He did what Christ would never condone. Christ will never accept the abduction of his child, a child of God.
"This so-called born-again Christian (Obasanjo) is anti-Christ. He is an anti-hero, an anti-Christ and anti-hero, basically anti-Christ. This man who has a chapel in Aso Rock and he is busy praying every Sunday on television cannot have the compassion to talk of an abduction even of a beggar, but he was busy running to Sao Tome and Liberia. He is anti-Christ, clearly an anti-Christ. He has not spoken on the issue. So now, the fact is that the anti-Christ has been finally exposed. God chose Anambra to expose an anti-Christ and we have to be patient to see the end.
"Since then, this anti-Christ has not deemed it fit to talk about the fate of four million people, the insecurity of the people, life and property of government, of the judiciary, of the police. There is no other way to see it than as anti-Christ.
He also said Igbo politicians, in their bid to solve their political marginalisation, "have re-enacted the handshake across the Benue, having done the across the Niger, now we are on the handshake across the Benue."
On the clamour for 2003 presidency allegedly by former President Ibrahim Babangida and Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the former Senate president described such clamour as irresponsible. "I think it is pertinently irresponsible talking about 2007 when you have not finished 2003. Right now, all cases are in the tribunal, in the courts. They are yet to determine that they won the election. I think we have many more important things to do. If the Minister of Finance is saying the economy cannot stabilise till 10 years time, how can the vice-president be talking about 2007?" Okadigbo noted.
Obasanjo declines comments on Anambra treason
From Madu Onuorah, Abuja
PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday, declined comments on the July 10 Anambra treason saga on the ground that it could prejudice on-going legal actions over the incident.
He also urged Nigerians to forgive former Liberian President Charles Taylor over the killing of many Nigerians in the war-torn country's 14-year civil strife.
Obasanjo, who spoke at the monthly Presidential Media chat, disclosed that he had set up a committee to investigate the Anambra incident, adding, however, that his action on the report could only be after the court cases are dispensed with.
He disclosed that criminals engaging in the theft of crude oil and illegal bunkering are fuelling ethnic violence in Warri, Delta State, adding that already some arrests had been made.
The President also restated his contention that without an appropriate price of fuel, there would continue to be distortions in the supply of the products.
On corruption, Obasanjo asked Nigerians to forward to him the names of anyone that may be guilty, promising to take immediate action to bring them to book.
He said: "If you find anyone involved in corruption, let me know. If I don't take appropriate action, don't talk to me again.
Obasanjo said that he was aware of the misgiving of Nigerians on his silence over the Anambra crisis. He insisted, however, that he could not do anything until the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Akinlolu Olujimi (SAN), submits his report on the crisis and all the court cases involving it are vacated,
His words: "Anambra, I have given the task of full and detailed investigation to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, I will not make a statement until he submits the report. And there are cases in court. I will wait for the report. When the cases are out of court, I will make pronouncements".
On the Warri crisis, President Obasanjo stated: "The three major feuding groups are groups who have lived together for centuries. It is difficult to find a pure Itsekiri who doesn't have Urhobo or Ijaw blood. It's the same for the Urhobo and Ijaw. I've talked to the three groups, they are not talking of elimination of any group but accommodation".
Obasanjo added: "But unfortunately, superimposed under this are criminal activities, including stealing of crude oil, stealing of fuel, vandalisation of pipelines and abduction of workers. Beside these, we have barons who engage in outright stealing of crude.
"We have to deal with criminality in two ways. What do we do? What do we do at the demand end? We are achieving progress at demand end. We have identified two refineries where stolen fuel is sold. We have signed agreement with one of them to supply them directly. We are interrogating people. We are arresting people. If we deal with the criminal level, we will be able to create the conducive atmosphere for solving the political problem."
On the deregulation of the downstream sector, the President added that except Lagos and Abuja, there is nowhere fuel is sold at the government fixed price of N34.
He stated that if the correct price is fixed, more investors will import fuel, adding that the last increase in the price of petroleum products has not affected the prices of foodstuff in the market.
Nigeria, he stated, is subsidising every litre of fuel smuggled across border at N5 per litre.
His words: "We are subsidising every litre of petrol to the tune of N5. So, every litre that goes across the border, you subsidise with N5. And it goes into private pockets. We have porous borders. Part of the war on smuggling is to have the right price. At the moment, it is costing us N28 or N29 to import fuel. You have to add another N10. If its not like that people will not import. If private sector people feel they will make a profit they will import."
On opposition to the asylum for Taylor, President Obasanjo stated, "For me, I believe that when God does something, when God fights for me, I will be a fool to fight for myself. Jesus Christ taught me to forgive; if you do not forgive others, if you are cruel to me and I am the one to save you, I should give thanks to God."
On law and order, he said, "the issue of law and order is not just the issue of security agents alone. It is the responsibility of all of us. We said we will double the number of policemen we have done that. We have got communication gadgets. When we closed the border with the Republic of Benin, we confirmed that most of the people who perpetrate armed robbery come across the border. For the six days the border was closed, there was no case of car snatching in Lagos, Ogun and Kwara states. These criminals live among the people. If you see people living above their means, it is your duty to inform the police. Write to the IG."
An Assistant Inspector-General (AIG), Mr. Raphael Ige (now retired), had on July 10 led a team of policemen to the Anambra State Government Awka House and disarmed security aides to the governor, Dr. Chris Ngige.
The police team later drove the governor out of the Government House to a hotel in the town.
The same day, the then Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mrs. Eucharia Azodo, presented a purported resignation letter of Ngige to the legislators who immediately accepted it and directed the state Attorney-General to swear-in the governor's deputy as new helmsman.
All the actors in the saga belong the President Obasanjo's Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Ngige, later that evening, got a phone call through to the PDP National Chairman, Audu Ogbeh, denying knowledge of the purported resignation letter.
A chieftain of the party in the state, Chris Uba, had since acknowledged masterminding the kidnap and displayed recorded tape of Ngige reading a resignation letter before being sworn in as governor.
Ngige claimed to have read the purported letter under duress and with the knowledge that it had no legal weight. The governor also accused Uba of demanding N3 billion from him as cost of funding PDP elections during the 2003 elections. Both Ngige and Uba had instituted legal actions against each other, while the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP has expelled Ngige and advised its state and zonal branches to similarly disciple some other members of the party who have been indicted over the saga.
Also, several citizens have criticised the government asylum for Taylor who has been accused of ordering the murder of many Nigerians during his gitter war to take control of Liberia.
Two Nigerians journalists covering the war, Krees Imodibe and Tayo Awotunsin, were particularly believed to have been killed by rebels on Taylor's orders.
Police arrest three persons over alleged plan to abduct Ngige's brother
By Anayo Okoli
AWKA—THREE persons have been arrested by the Anambra State Police Command for allegedly attempting to abduct, Mr. Emeka Ngige (SAN), the younger brother of Governor Chris Ngige who himself was abducted by the police on July 10, 2003. The attempted abduction was said to have taken place at Choice Hotel, Awka, the temporary abode of Mr. Ngige who is currently defending his brother in the petitions hanging against him at the State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka. The police spokesman in the state, Mr. Kolapo Sofoluwe who confirmed the attempted kidnap said the matter was reported to the police. The men were said to have claimed to be operatives from the FBI in United States of America.
Sofoluwe gave the names of the arrested suspects as Mr. Sam Wanti, Herbert Wanti and Darlington Wanti. He however said that the police were yet to establish if they were members of one family. He confirmed their claim to be agents of American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who were in town to interview the governor’s younger brother. He said that one of them, on further interrogation claimed to be a trader from Aba, Abia State. Recovered from the suspects were a handcuff, an electric shocking baton, photo copies of cheques in dollars and the sum of N.1 million as well as Nigerian passports. In their diary was seen names and addresses of highly placed politicians in Anambra state and top government officials at federal level.
Ngige: Ndigbo Lagos seeks justice
NDIGBO Lagos, the apex socio-cultural body of Igbos in Lagos, has warned against sweeping under the carpet the abduction saga of Anambra State governor, Dr Chris Ngige, if democratic rule is to endure. The group in a statement signed by Kalu Onuma, its administrative secretary also spoke on other issues like the proposed local government reforms and the police high-handedness in the south-East.
According to Ndigbo Lagos, the Anambra abduction must be tackled with seriousness because: " If the demand for justice in this incident is ignored, apart from being a bad precedent, it has the capacity to undermine further the already fragile state of the nation. The basis for peace and a long lasting evolution of true democratic values lies in the proper handling of this case."
On the local government reform, the group faulted the decision of the Federal Government to suspend local government elections, adding: " No amount of patriotic concern over local government reforms can give the Federal Government powers to suspend constitutionally guaranteed democratic governance at local government level for over fifteen months. We now have seen that this " suspension" has only increased the size of cake for state governments at the expense of our people at the grass roots.
The group also condemned the activities of the police, which it said was adding to the burden of the people in the zone. " They extort, kill and do commit other atrocities except the job they’ve been employed to do to provide security and peace to the hapless citizens. Crime rates are ever on the rise in that part of the country while we have an over- concentration of the force," it said.
ANPP calls for fresh polls in Anambra
By Anayo Okoli
AWKA — ALL Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in Anambra state has called for fresh elections in the state saying that is the only way to solve the lingering political crisis in the state. The party said the crisis was a result of the alleged rigging of elections in the state. Rising from a meeting of state executive and stakeholders, which was attended by the party’s vice-presidential candidate in the April 19, 2003 elections, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, the party noted that the deliberations of the election tribunals, the police, the Anambra State government, including the state House of Assembly have proved that there were not free and fair elections in the state in the last elections. The party in a communique also condemned the abduction of Governor Chris Ngige as a sitting Governor, saying that abduction of any person no matter how lowly or highly placed was criminal and punishable under the laws of Nigeria. The party also condemned the local government review being carried out by the Obasanjo administration.
The six-point communique reads:
•The deliberations of the election tribunals, the police, the Anambra State government, including the state Assembly, and the PDP of national and state levels have proved beyond all reasonable doubt, that there were no free and fair elections in Anambra state in April and May 2003. The root of all the evil in Anambra politics today is rigging of the so-called elections by some PDP top shots against other PDP top shots and then the PDP against all other Nigerian political parties.
• Since there were no free and fair elections, and since the best way to solve the on-going series of crises in Anambra State is to conduct completely fresh, free and fair elections, up and down-presidential gubernatorial, national and state assembly.
•Any attempt to abduct or the actual abduction of any citizen of Nigeria, poor, or rich, child or adult, beggar or worker, governor or peasant or whosoever is criminal and punishable under the laws of Nigeria. To these ends, the ANPP calls on the judiciary, as well as the ministries of justice at state and national levels, to rise to the challenges of the moment, with courage, firmness and equity. In addition, the ANPP calls on the election tribunals to deliver decisive rulings that will facilitate free and fair elections, as soon as possible.
• Under section 7 and 8 and item 22 in the second schedule of the 1999 constitution, local government matters lie within the competence of state executives and state houses of assembly, and this, to the exclusion of the Federal Government. Accordingly, Gen. Obasanjo and his PDP government should stop wasting public funds through such futile mechanisms as the Estu Nupe committee on local governments. Normally, every federal system has three tiers of government of which local government is one. In addition, it is bad government and unconstitutional behaviour for Gen. Obasanjo and his PDP government to ditter with local government funds and affairs.
• The failure of government to guarantee the safety of life and property is not disturbed. It is insensitive and irresponsible to spend much time and money in Sao Tome and Liberia while Anambra and Delta states are burning. Accordingly, we of the ANPP in Anambra state call upon Gen. Obasanjo to say and do something positive and concrete on the Anambra abduction saga and the attendant security problem immediately. While Nigeria is burning, Government men must neither fiddle abroad nor shuffle cards in Abuja.
Police foil alleged attempt to kidnap Ngige's brother
From Chuks Collins, Onitsha
AN attempt by persons suspected to be dupes to kidnap Dr. Emeka Ngige (SAN) has been reportedly foiled by the police in Anambra State.
Emeka, who is the younger brother of Governor Chris Ngige who narrated his ordeal to The Guardian, said that on Wednesday three men who identified themselves as Sam, Herbert and Darlington Wanti, found their way into his Choice Hotel room in Awka, the state capital.
He said that when their mission and identity turned out strange and incoherent, he quickly alerted the Awka Area Commander of Police who he named as Mr. Tanko. The police chief was staying a few rooms away from his in the hotel.
Tanko's arrival, according to Emeka Ngige, saved him from the plot of the unwanted guests.
The three men, he stated, to his surprise, shared the same surname, implying that they might be brothers.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Chuks Akunna, confirmed that it was Ngige who narrated the story of the foiled abduction on his brother to his aides.
According to Akunna: "Three men came to the Choice Hotel abode of Emeka Ngige on a plot to kidnap him. But for the quick intervention and vigilance of security operatives and the Police Area Commander, Awka, the kidnappers would have apparently succeeded."
When the men were searched, the sum of N100, 000 (cash) in N200 denominations was recovered from them.
Also recovered were a pair of handcuffs, an electric shocking baton, an album with photocopies of signed cheques, American dollars and a Nigerian passport belonging to one of the suspects.
One of them claimed that he was a People's Democratic Party (DPD) chieftain in the United States who contested and was defeated in the last governorship election primaries in Imo State.
In a reaction, spokesman for the state Police Command, Mr. Kolapo Shofoluwe, described the men as dupes who had perfected plans to defraud the governor, perhaps through a ransom for the younger brother if they had succeeded.
Shofoluwe further stated that the trio claimed to be members of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who came to interview the governor and his brother.
But on further interrogation, one of them admitted he was an Aba-based trader. They also gave their Aba residential addresses and have since been taken to Aba for search of their homes and further investigation of their numerous claims.
The attempt on the younger Ngige came barely 41 days after his elder brother and Anambra State Governor, Dr. Chris Ngige, was abducted by a police team led by AIG, Mr. Raphael Ige. The police chief has since been retired by the Federal Government for his role in the episode.
Following the uproar that greeted the abduction, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under whose platform Ngige was elected and the National Assembly waded into the matter now referred to as the "Anambra treason".
The party wielded the big stick by expelling the masterminds of the treasonable act.
Among those expelled by the PDP are Chris Uba, the alleged political godfather of Ngige, the Deputy Governor, Dr. Chris Udeh and some National Assembly's members indicted over the incident.
The then speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mrs. Eucharia Azodo, who sworn-in the deputy governor after presenting to the House a resignation letter purportedly signed by Ngige, has been impeached.
The state government, through the chief judge, has raised a panel to probe the role of Udeh in the drama. Depending on the panel's recommendation, the deputy governor's fate for now hangs on the balance.
Although most Nigerians have called for the arrest and trial of the suspects, the Federal Government and the PDP are seeking a political solution to the crisis.
President Olusegun Obasanjo in the heat of the abduction saga ordered the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Akinlolu Olujinmi, to investigate the matter and recommend appropriate measures to be taken to the government. The minister is yet to complete the assignment.
The judiciary has also not been spared of the controversy trailing the incident.
Justice Samuel Egbo-Egbo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had on the prayers of Uba ordered Ngige to vacate the Awka Government House for the deputy governor, who he ruled should be sworn in. The order was later withdrawn as the judge denied ever granting it.
Ngige: It's Illegal to Arrest Me for Treason, Says Uba
From Ahamefula Ogbu and Lillian Okenwa in Abuja
Embattled Chief Chris Uba, the Anambra state business mogul, yesterday told a Federal High Court Abuja, that the threat by the Anambra State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Udechukwu Nnoruka Udechu-kwu, SAN, to initiate treason proceedings against him and other actors in the failed abduction of Governor Chris Ngige is illegal and unconstitutional.
Anambra crisis: Youths back political solution
By Anayo Okoli
AWKA — ANAMBRA State Youth Council (ASYC) has thrown its weight behind the position of the South East caucus of the PDP over the crisis in Anambra State saying that peace was the only thing the state requires now. ASYC said that the crisis if not checked, would throw the state into anarchy. The youth council also urged Governor Chris Ngige to look into the problem that led to the closure of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka with a view to finding a lasting solution.
Rising from an emergency meeting held on August 13, 2003, the council urged the governor to forgive those who attempted to abduct him so that he (Ngige) will settle down for governance. The PDP South East caucus had in a meeting in Enugu agreed that Ngige’s alleged abductors should be forgiven if they showed reasonable remorse.
Throwing its weight behind the PDP caucus decision, the Youth Council and in its communique signed by its chairman, Mr. Emma Umerah stressed that peace was the utmost thing needed in Anambra State now. The communique states
•that we are in support of the decision taken by the South East caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
•that all actors should apologise to the governor and genuinely ask for forgiveness to facilitate reconciliation.
•*that His Excellency, the governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Ngige should forgive his abductors in the interest of peace and tranquility of the state.
•that Anambra State want peace so that our state can move forward like other states in Nigeria. The council also urged the people of Anambra State to give Ngige support to enable him perform.
N55 m fraud: NULGE gives Anambra 21-day ultimatum
By Okey Maduforo, Awka
The Anambra State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has issued a 21-day ultimatum to the state government to return the 14 heads of service and treasurers of local councils it recently suspended over allegations of misappropriation of N55 million or face industrial action.
The union also asked the government to recall over 4,000 regularised local government staff recently suspended by it and reconstitute immediately the local government service commission for enhanced management of council affairs.
Rising from an emergency meeting in Awka, the union President, Mr. Godwin Ibekwe, said the suspension and dismissal of its members was done without the due observance of civil service rules and regulations.
Ibekwe also accused the government of high-handedness, saying it was in hurry to punish its members without giving them the right to fair hearing, insisting that the administration of Governor Chris Ngige was out to witch hunt them.
Fielding questions from reporters, the NULGE president said the allegations could be a fallout of the recent happenings in the state, which had made the governor edgy lately.
Also speaking, the Secretary of the union, Mr. Chuks Nwankwo, stated that the disbursement of N55 million by the Head of Service in the 14 local government areas was approved by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Okey Udeh, who is in charge of the local government, alleging that the suspension o the staff was a transferred aggression over the July political crisis.
Nwankwo cautioned the government to rescind its earlier directive on the return of local government monies, noting that the government had no locus standi to issue such a directive. He also urged the government to reconstitute, without delay, the local and state government joint account distribution committee to include stakeholders in the local government system.
The secretary further lamented that the government has been using security operatives to molest and intimidate members of staff for performing their legitimate duties, warning that the union would not hesitate to take on the government to any level if it continues with the practice.
“Despite these irregularities, Governor Ngige has continued to use security operatives to intimidate and molest members of the union for performing their legitimate duties. It should also be stated here that we are ready to carry this war against killing the local government system to any level they so desire, as far as our rights are secured”, he affirmed.
Two weeks after Ngige was sworn-in, over 4,000 staff of the local government in the state were sacked on the grounds of irregularity in their employment.
Also, 14 members of staff (heads of service and treasures) of local government areas in the state were suspended over allegations of misappropriation of N55 million.
Anambra: Youth Group Demands Justice, Equity
By Wale Olaleye
The Nigerian National Youths Congress has demanded that the relevant authorities handling the Anambra crisis deliver without fear or favour, justice and equity in the face of the lingering controversies that have so far followed the saga.
DPR shuts 41 petrol stations in S-East
By Anayo Okoli
Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) of the NNPC has sealed 41 petrol stations in Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu States for contravening the Petroleum Act of 1969. Though the affected stations were not named, DPR said they sold petroleum products beyond the approved pump price. The DPR Operations Controller in-charge of Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu states, Mr. Dunkan Eradiri who disclosed this also announced that he had also banned illegal sales and storage of petroleum products.
Eradiri said that the unnamed affected marketers had already been interrogated by the Police and that their operating license could be revoked for violating government order on the sale of petroleum products. He said that the DPR was determined to ensure that the public get petroleum products at government stipulated prices.
Eradiri warned petroleum products dealers to always make their bulk purchase only from the NNPC depots in their areas, pointing that anybody who made illegal purchase would be taking risk because they must sell at government approved prices.
He said violators of the government approved petroleum products prices risked suspension for upwards of three months, and they could be arrested and prosecuted, just as their license could be revoked. He said that the DPR has embarked on series of enlightenment campaign to educate petroleum product dealers on the danger that awaits them in contravening government policies.
Eradiri urged the public to report to the DPR any petrol station selling products at prices above government approved.
Ngige probes past contracts
By Anayo Okoli
AWKA — GOVERNOR Chris Ngige of Anambra State yesterday began what looked like a probe of Dr. Chimwoke Mbadinuju’s government with the inauguration of a five-man tribunal to investigate all contracts awarded by the government in the last five years. He charged the tribunal to recover all the money paid to them for jobs not done. Ngige also charged the tribunal to focus attention on contracts that allow for Irrevocable Payment Standing Order (IPSO) which he said has been affecting the finances of the state. Ngige told the tribunal that the government had a lot of confidence praying that it would recover all money in wrong hands so that the state can move forward. “We repose a lot of confidence in this tribunal. You will recover all money taken away, so that we can carry out development projects in the state. We put a lot of hope in this tribunal.
“Your assignment cannot be an open-ended. You will start from 1998. Review all contracts entered into by the former government. You will also look at contracts that was previously awarded but its payment spanned into the former government.
“As a matter of fact, start with all jobs that have to do with Irrevocable Payment Standing Order (IPSO) because they connote that they are very important to the government, that is why their payment is made from source at Abuja,” Ngige said. He also urged them to look at the IPSO entered into with some banks, probably in the payment of contractors. Ngige had last week signed a law on the recovery of debts and property which he said could recover over N7 billion allegedly in wrong hands. The tribunal has Justice Kenneth Keazor as the chairman, other members are Arch. Uyanna, C. C. Ifeanyi and Engr. Eric Agbala.
Coup: Suit against me unconstitutional, says Ngige
By Lemmy Ughegbe
ABUJA — GOVERNOR Chris Ngige yesterday declared that the suits filed against him arising from the alleged move to oust him in Anambra State and his purported resignation were unconstitutional and incompetent. Meanwhile, the sacked chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State, Mr. Ifeatu Obi-Okoye has besieged an Abuja High Court, praying for a mandatory order nullifying the setting up and inauguration of the Caretaker Committee of the party in the state, pending the final determination of his suit challenging his removal from office.
In a notice of preliminary objection against the suit filed by five indigenes of Anambra state, including a member of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Nelson Achukwu which seeks to give effect to the July10, 2003 resignation letter signed by Ngige, the governor pleaded immunity against prosecution. According to a -four point particular, Ngige contends that:
• The first Defendant (Ngige) is improperly joined in the suit and the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain any suit against him while he is in office as Governor of Anambra State.