Barely 96 hours after landing in New Delhi for medical treatment, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky, has reportedly discharged himself from the Medenta Hospital and may likely return to Nigeria, today.
The President, Media Forum of IMN, Ibrahim Musa, said that El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, who were airborne as at the time of speaking with our correspondent, yesterday evening, left New Delhi around 5:00 p.m. Nigerian time, heading back to the country.
Musa, in a statement, blamed the Federal Government for scuttling the IMN leader’s planned treatment.
He said, “Following lack of a breakthrough in the impasse that ensued in the treatment in New Delhi of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, it is now confirmed that the Sheikh is on his way back to Abuja.
“In a video message sent through his office, the Sheikh said it was decided that they will be taken to the airport to be flown back to Nigeria.
“He has left Delhi by 17:00 Nigerian time.”
He prayed that “may that be the best option in the circumstances.”
The group added, “The Nigerian government’s interference and scuttling of the whole process rather than supervision as ordered by the court is the direct cause of the impasse.
“The government never wanted the medical leave in the first place, and did whatever to stop it by all means possible,” Musa alleged.
The Federal Government had earlier refuted El-Zakzaky’s allegations, stating that he attempted to violate the conditions of his treatment by making unreasonable demands, including insisting on lodging in a five-star hotel in New Delhi with free access to “all manner of visitors.”
Earlier, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, yesterday, had condemned Federal Government’s claims that he was unruly in India.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had claimed that the leader of IMN had refused treatment from those he called “unknown doctors” put in place to treat him in India.
The Shiites leader insisted he wanted to be treated by those booked to treat him before he and his wife left Nigeria.
However, the IMN leader, in a short statement, yesterday, said, “I have heard that the Nigerian authorities have issued some statements which are laced with lies.
“It is up to people to agree with me or with the government’s version of the story.”
But the Federal Government had apologized to India for what it termed El-Zakzaky’s “unruly behaviour” in the country.
A statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Grace Isu Gekpe, said that the cleric refused to subject himself to preliminary medical checks after state officials resisted his pressure to hand-over his International Passport to him.
It states: “He also demanded free movement and access to visitors of all kinds, and also requested to be allowed to check into a 5-Star Hotel instead of being admitted in the hospital.
“That request was rejected on the ground that he came into the country for medicals, and not as a tourist, especially with the Visa issued on medical grounds and not for tourism.”
Meanwhile, there was mild drama at the Medanta Hospital, New Delhi, India, yesterday, as leader of Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat, refused to be treated by those he described as unknown doctors deployed to treat them, saying they were different from those engaged for their treatment before they departed Nigeria.
El-Zakzaky, who spoke through an audio recording, also alleged that the condition at the Indian hospital he was taken to was worse than Kirikiri prisons.
The Shi’ites leader and his wife arrived in India last Tuesday for treatment, following the ruling of Kaduna State High Court.
This is even as his group, IMN, yesterday called on the Federal Government to allow the personal doctors of the El-Zakzakys to take over their medical care. In the audio recording, El-Zakzaky accused the Federal Government of frustrating his medical treatment in India.
Speaking in Hausa, he said the situation at the hospital in India was “pathetic and worrisome,” alleging that the management of Medanta Hospital, New Delhi, had been threatened not to admit him for treatment.
He said: “The hospital officials received us well, they told us that they parked two ambulance vehicles to deceive the crowd while taking us out of the airport through another way, saying it was for our own safety.
“On getting to the hospital, we were placed under tighter security worse than what we witnessed in Nigeria. We are currently more confined than when we were in Nigeria, worse than a prison setting.
“Contrary to what was agreed before our arrival that our own personal doctors would supervise this treatment, they’ve changed the arrangement. So, we objected receiving treatment from strange doctors without the supervision of our own trusted physicians.”
However, hours later, the hospital, according to the Islamic Human Rights Commission, agreed to the request of Sheikh El-Zakzaky to use known and appointed doctors for his treatment.
Speaking further, the Shi’ites leader had said: ‘’Right now, we are in the city of New Delhi in India. Like you all know, we came here for medical treatment due to some ailments that I and my wife, Zeenat, have been suffering from.
‘’There is a bullet in Zeenat’s body and there is also the need for her to get her two knee caps replaced, among other ailments.
“On my own part, there are also particles of bullets that were broken into pieces in my eyes, hands and thighs which have been poisonous to my body.
“I think what they are supposed to do first of all is to extract these bullets of which I know the surgery cannot be done in Nigeria, hence the reason for my referral abroad.
‘’Second, the poison needs to be extracted from my body, some of which they said is in my bones and they said the surgery will take some time.
‘’I also have problems with my eyes. Since the second surgery, my eyes have been weak and I was also advised to travel to India for surgery.
“We were happy because we know that by coming here, we’ll get a befitting hospital that will perform the surgery. The medical advice to come to this hospital, which they called Mendata, was given to us by some foreign doctors that visited us in Nigeria and that was why we requested to be brought to this hospital.
“While in Nigeria, we got information that the United States Embassy had given instruction that we shouldn’t be accepted in this hospital. We also heard that they obeyed the order and said they won’t accept us, so we were even thinking of going elsewhere in India but were later informed that the order had been lifted.
“We then proceeded to India. On our arrival, we were received by the hospital staff from the airport and they escorted us down to the hospital. His fans at the airport
‘’While on our way from the airport to the hospital in an ambulance, the staff of the hospital were narrating how some people besieged the airport just to see us before proceeding to the hospital, but they (the hospital) tricked them by keeping two ambulances at the location where my supporters were waiting and drove us out in another ambulance at a different location.
‘’They also said another set of people besieged the hospital just to see our arrival but they decided to use an alternative entrance to the hospital because they were trying to avert stampede.
‘’When we got here, a staff of the Nigerian Embassy told us they had already assembled, with the staff of this hospital and security operatives discussing on what to do when we arrive. They later took us to an Indian security outfit that is even more sophisticated than the one we were kept in Nigeria.
“Back home in Nigeria, they agreed that nobody should take us to any other hospital but we got to realise that the doctors they brought to us were there just to give advice. We then told them we won’t allow any other doctor, aside from our trusted doctors, to attend to us so they don’t do to us what they couldn’t do with their bullets in Nigeria.
“All that we have seen here have shown that there is no trust, they just brought us here for another detention. I have been in detention for many years but I’ve never seen this kind of security that I’m seeing here. Even at the door of my hospital room, there are many heavily armed security personnel waiting.
“They didn’t even allow me to go to the next room, I started asking myself that all these while I have been in detention, I have never seen this type. Even if I’m in the cell, they usually lock us up around 9 p.m. and open the cell around 7 a.m. and they allowed us to go anywhere we want in the area we are. “
“It will not be possible for us to come out of detention just to get medical attention and now find ourselves in another form of detention. We won’t submit ourselves to people we don’t trust. There is a need for us to go back home since it has been agreed that we should travel out to get medical attention and India is not a place we can trust.
‘’There are other countries that have volunteered to take care of our treatment, including Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey. We can choose from among these three.”
Meanwhile, a member of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, IHRC, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the attitude of the Indian government has portrayed El-Zakzaky as a common criminal when no court in Nigeria has convicted him.
He said the Indian government had given El-Zakzaky an ultimatum to leave Indian soil if he refused to receive treatment from unknown doctors billed to treat him.
He said: “I just received very worrying news from the Indian government that ultimatum has been given to the leader of IMN, to leave India if he does not agree to the doctors specified to treat him. It is extremely bad the way he is treated.
“Under the current situation, it seems he has no choice than to go back to Nigeria. He has been given some hours to respond to their ultimatum. This, to me, is totally unacceptable by any standard.
“This is a man that has not been found guilty of anything, to the extent that in his own country, the highest court has granted him permission to be treated.
‘’The Indian government, by its behaviour, depicts Sheikh El-Zakzaky as a common criminal. This is really outrageous and those who stand for justice should please respond.”
But in a statement, Grace Gekpe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, said the IMN leader had violated the terms under which the court allowed him to travel. Gekpe said he demanded to have his passport and sought free movement, adding that he wanted to receive visitors and also made a request to be checked into a 5-star hotel. She said he had behaved so badly that the Indian authorities were willing to return him to Nigeria.
Her statement read: “The court on August 5, 2019, granted Sheikh Ibraheem EL-Zakzaky leave to travel to India for medical treatment. Consequently, the government and its relevant agencies took steps to comply with the Order.
“In line with the court order, El-Zakzaky was approved to embark on the trip with state officials and his choice to be accompanied by his aides and personal doctors was not opposed by the government.
“On August 12, 2019, he and other members of the entourage went to India via Dubai. It is to be noted that El-Zakzaky particularly chose Medanta Hospital, India. However, on reaching Dubai, El-Zakzaky began to display ulterior motives against laid down procedures.
“He requested that his passport be handed over to him but the state officials would not budge to his pressure. The situation became worse in India as he refused to subject himself to preliminary medical checks. ‘’
In addition, he demanded free movement and access to visitors of all kinds as well as requested to be allowed to check into a 5-star hotel instead of being admitted in the hospital. ‘’
The request was refused on the ground that he came into the country for medicals and not as a tourist (more so that his visa was issued on medical grounds and not for tourism).
He also demanded that police protection be withdrawn from him by the Indian authorities.
“Against medical ethics and standard practice, he requested to nominate doctors of his choice to join the ones tasked by Medanta Hospital to perform medical treatment on him and his wife. This created a stalemate, which the hospital insisted that he would not dictate to it on the choice of medical personnel to carry the required medical treatment.
‘’Frustrated by his antics, the Indian authorities have expressed willingness to return him to Nigeria with immediate effect. This is on the account that they will not allow him to use their country to internationalise his group’s activities.
El-Zakzaky “Against this background, the Nigerian government wishes to commend the stand of the Indian government as well as apologise to her for the unruly behaviour of El-Zakzaky.
“Similarly, the attention of the public and indeed the international community is hereby drawn to these unfortunate developments.
“The government also wishes to use this opportunity to affirm its readiness to undertake the prosecution of El-Zakzaky through the due process if and when he is returned to the country. On this note, his foul cry that he is being held in circumstances worse than he was in Nigeria should be disregarded.’’
India denies detaining El-Zakzaky, wife, meanwhile, the Indian High Commission in Nigeria has denied detaining El-Zakzaky, stating that there was no condition or ultimatum to the patient.
In a series of tweets from its official Twitter handle @india_nigeria, the High Commission assured that medical treatment is provided to consenting patients.
The tweets read: “Please be assured that medical treatment at reputed Indian hospitals is provided to consenting patients, as per medical norms. Protocol and safety steps are taken as necessary. There is no condition or ultimatum by India.”
It also denied reports that Indian police and security services were collaborating with Nigerian security services to place, El-Zakzaky, the Shi’ite leader in custody.
The mission added: “Such reports are not true. India has always been responsive to humanitarian requests. Medical treatment request was received from both El-Zakzaky and the Government of Nigeria, and we readily agreed. No other connotation should be attached to the matter.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has said that the Indian authorities have expressed willingness to return the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) back to Nigeria with immediate effect for fear of his internationalising his group’s activities in the country.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Culture, Grace Isu Gekpe, disclosed this in a statement issued to newsmen in Abuja.
She said El-Zakzaky’s cry that he is being held in circumstances worse than he was in Nigeria should be disregarded because since arriving in India as he refused to subject himself to preliminary medical checks.
“The court on 5th August, 2019, granted Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky leave to travel to India for medical treatment. Consequently, the government and its relevant agencies took steps to comply with the order.
“In line with the court order, El-Zakzaky was approved to embark on the trip with state officials and his choice to be accompanied by his aides and personal Doctors was not opposed by the government.
“On 12th August, 2019, he and other members of the entourage went to India via Dubai. It is to be noted that El-Zakzaky particularly chose Medanta Hospital, India. However, on reaching Dubai, El-Zakzaky began to display ulterior motives against laid down procedures.
Serial Killings In Rivers: Police Confirm Eight Young Women Killed In Hotels …Nab Two Suspects, Seal Two Hotels, Arrest Staff …Rivers Security Council Intensifies Crackdown On Culprits
Miffed by the over-reaching reports in both social and conventional media on the serial killing of women in hotels in recent times, the Rivers State Police Command has confirmed that only eight cases of such murders occurred that were verifiable in Port Harcourt City, the state capital.
The police also denied the media reports making the rounds that two women were killed, last Monday, in an undisclosed hotel along Peter Odili Road axis in Port Harcourt, adding that such reports were orchestrated by their sponsors to over-reach the command.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura stated this while briefing newsmen at the command’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, yesterday, on the rising cases of murder in hotels, adding that the two suspects that have already been arrested in connection with the killings would be charged to court when investigations are concluded.
He explained that the victims were always rapped with white cloth material around the neck or waist region, which he alleged signified cult action, adding that the suspects usually drugged their victims before strangulating them to death.
According to him, without such action, it would be difficult to kill the victims as the act may attract attention of people nearby.
He further hinted that the Department of State Security Service (DSS) and other security operatives in the state have been placed on red alert to apprehend the suspected cultists and ritualists.
Mustapha insisted that forthwith, all hotel customers would be profiled, with their valid identification cards placed at the reception unit.
“All hotel customers will be profiled. Those with swimming pools will also have expert divers in case of any emergency”, he said.
“We now have a task force, no more short-time service in hotels. Every customer must book full time”, he added.
Dandaura said the essence the briefing was to express the command’s concerns over the mindless killings in hotels in the state, which he said, were giving the command bad image, adding that measures have been put in place to arrest the disturbing situation.
According to him, in the wake of the development, a meeting under the aegis of Nigerian Hotels Association (NHA), being the umbrella body of hotel owners in the state, was called, and a one-month ultimatum was given to all hotel and motel owners to install closed circuit television (CCTV) within the specified period, warning that failure to adhere to the mandatory resolution would attract severe punishment.
The state CP averred that the meeting also took an action to constitute a nine-member task force drawn from the police, DSS, hotel association and the state Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which would be headed by the ACP Operations at the command.
“The task force will, among other things, enforce compliance on the installation of functional CCTV in all hotels, guest houses and motels to cover the reception, corridors and entrances, strict compliance to check-in and check-out procedures, guest identity cards, phone details, registration of visitors, training of hotel staff on security and safety tips in partnership with the police and other security agencies”, he stated.
The CP, however, regretted that despite the huge efforts being made by the command to nip in bud this criminal tendency, some hotel owners were yet to comply with the directives on the installation of CCTVs in their various hotels.
“Regrettably, it has come to my notice and utter shock that some hotels are yet to comply with my directive, hence, my order to arrest the manager, receptionist and desk officers in the two hotels where two separate murders were recorded, and they will be investigated, and if found culpable, will be charged for culpable homicide”, Dandaura said.
“Today, I want to reinforce our commitment towards tackling this menace, and assure you that we have come to the end of these monstrous acts by desperate cultists and ritualists”, he added.
Dandaura appealed to the good people of the state to remain calm as the command was on top of the situation, and would spear no efforts in dealing with perpetrators of the inhuman act, even as he linked the killings to cultism.
“This serial killer will strangle his victim to death and a white handkerchief will be tied to her waist or neck without any part of the body removed. This proves to be cultism”, he added.
He disclosed that two hotels have been closed in defiance to the directives, and urged parents to advise their female daughters to shun prostitution.
The Tide learnt that some women groups in the state, including the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) and others have concluded plans to stage protests against the ugly development in the state, today.
Similarly, the Rivers State Police Command has confirmed that the lifeless body of another middle-aged woman allegedly killed by serial murderers has been found in a hotel near Rumuola in Obio/Akpo Local Government Area of the state.
The police explained that the corpse of the victim was discovered in one of the rooms at the facility located near the Rumuola flyover, when the cleaners went for house-keeping.
However, the police have sealed the hotel following the incident, which they claim, was being investigated.
The identity of the victim, whose body has been deposited in the morgue of an undisclosed hospital, is yet to be ascertained as no form of identification was found on her.
An official of the hotel, who did not want his name in print, told newsmen that the man who took the lady to the room may not have given his real identity at the reception, as it was later discovered that he wrote down an invalid phone number before checking in.
The source further said that all details, including customer register, have been handed over to the police.
Spokesperson of the Rivers State Police Command, DSP Nnamdi Omoni had told The Tide, last Monday, that measures were being put in place to stop the disturbing trend.
“The command is seriously worried about this development, that is the killings in hotels and we are putting measures in place that will curtail these criminal activities.
“It is a disturbing trend. The last incident was the one that happened in certain hotel in Rumuola. It is still being investigated. We have invited the manager and the desk officer and receptionist and they are helping us in our investigations.
“This killing of middle-aged women with the story we are working on now, I think it is likely to be a syndicate, and I can assure you that we are going to bring them down because it has been always the same style of killing,” Omoni said.
He further said that the police is open to speaking with stakeholders with a view to putting an end to serial killing of young girls in hotels in the State.
Speaking on the development, Secretary of the NHA, Theophillus Koko, who disclosed this when he appeared on a life radio programme in Port Harcourt, last Monday, said already a task force has been constituted to visit hotels and enforce compliance.
Koko also disclosed that the association is talking with security agencies to arrest those behind the killings in hotels.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Security Council says it was working round the clock to ensure that the recent disturbing killing of young women was stopped, and the perpetrators made to face the full weight of the law.
The Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo, stated that over the last few weeks, the State Security Council under the leadership of Governor Nyesom Wike, has put in place measures to secure the lives of young women who have been targeted by serial killers.
He stated that the security agencies have been mandated to work with hotels and their managements to implement security measures that would end the ugly trend.
Danagogo said that the Rivers State Government remains committed to the security of lives and property, assuring that in no distant time, the Rivers State Security Council would end the ugly trend.
He added that the government through relevant agencies was embarking on mass sensitization of the people on security measures, and assured Rivers people that the Wike administration would continue to work for the promotion of security.
Reacting to the incident, the Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo has advised young people, especially women to exercise extreme caution in their social lives,
In a statement in Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday, Banigo said ”as a mother who has gone through the three trimesters of pregnancy and labour, she understands how it feels to lose a grown up child in such a gruesome manner”.
She also warned them not to follow friends or strangers to any destination or business meeting without notifying family members of their movement, stressing that they must resist the temptation of accepting lifts, food or drinks from strangers to avoid being drugged, abducted, raped or killed.
The statement further advised people to ensure that there is a little air time in their phones to call or send SMS for help in the event of an emergency.
Akujobi Amadi & Dennis Naku
Tribunal Reserves Judgement On Rivers Guber Petition …INEC, Wike, PDP Seek Dismissal Of Case …AAC Collation Agent Confirms Wike’s Victory
The Rivers State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has reserved judgment in the petition filed by the defeated Governorship Candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi against the re-election of Governor Nyesom Wike.
The Chairman of the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, Justice Kingsley Orjiako said that the tribunal would inform the parties when judgment would be delivered.
The tribunal reserved judgment after all the parties adopted their final written addresses following the hearing of the petition.
However, lawyers to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have asked the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal to dismiss the petition filed by the Governorship Candidate of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Victor Fingesi because the petitioner failed to lead evidence to prove his petition.
In his final written address, INEC’s lawyer, Garba Tetengi, stressed that the electoral commission presented the accurate and authentic results.
He said that the 2019 Governorship Election was conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines, and noted that after the collation of results, Wike emerged victorious.
In his final written address, Counsel to Wike, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition because the ADP Governorship Candidate failed to prove the three grounds on which his petition is premised upon.
Ukala told the tribunal that the petitioner failed to prove his case beyond reasonable doubt as required by law.
Ukala said: ”One of the grounds requires he proves that illegal votes were credited to the winner of the election, which the petitioner is asking the court. There is nowhere that the petitioner showed that Wike obtained illegal votes. He couldn’t show that the results were not in line with the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines”.
Ukala said that the petitioner, in line with the Supreme Court judgment, ought to have called witnesses from the 4,442 polling units to prove that voting did not hold.
He said: “The allegation of non compliance in voting process needed to be proven beyond reasonable doubt. The Supreme Court had already provided a standard of proving no voting and the petitioner would have called voters in each of the pulling units in the entire state.
“There are 4,442 polling units in the governorship election, how many witnesses did they bring before the tribunal to prove their petition as required by law? They brought only two witnesses, one from Okrika LGA and the other from Etche LGA. This means they did not comply. It falls below the standard of the law”.
The counsel said that the petitioner led no evidence to prove that there were corrupt practices during the governorship election, adding that the petitioner’s evidence was lacking in quality and quantity, and so, should be dismissed by the tribunal.
Counsel to the PDP, Chief Godwin Obla said that the ADP failed to prove during the hearing of the petition that the election was marred by irregularities.
He said as long as collation of results was carried out, the petitioner has no locus standi to challenge the victory of the governor, and urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition.
Obla stated that the petitioner tendered certified true copies of the collated results for the 2019 governorship election and made no attempt to prove that the results were not the true reflection of the election, adding that the petitioner failed woefully to prove his case.
Similarly, the African Action Congress (AAC) State Collation Agent for the 2019 Rivers State Governorship Election, Mr Nenye Kocha has confirmed that Governor Nyesom Wike emerged victorious on the strength of the governorship collation between April 2 and 3, 2019.
Kocha, who appeared as star witness of AAC at the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal, last Monday, said all through the collation of results, there was no time that the defeated AAC governorship candidate led in the race.
Kocha, who is also the secretary of AAC, said that he was a registered member with party card registration number: AAC8016ONL, adding that he joined the AAC in August, 2018.
The AAC state collation agent told the tribunal that the party had only 418 agents across the 4,442 units in the state, emphasising that as a new party, they were able to clear only four House of Assembly candidates and one governorship candidate for the March 9, 2019 elections.
He revealed during cross examination by counsel for 2nd respondent (Wike), Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) that one Donatus Barikor from Gokana LGA and Henry Iyala from Degema LGA, who testified for Awara as the party collation agents, were imposters and not AAC members.
He further noted that there were no results collated for Gokana and Abua/Odual local government areas during the State Collation of the Rivers State Governorship Election.
The AAC witness said: “We had just four House of Assembly candidates and one governorship candidate. Out of the 32 seats in the Assembly, we only had four candidates. No candidate for National Assembly. We had collation agents in only 418 polling units across the 4,442 polling units in the state.
“No result was declared for Abua/Odual and Gokana LGAs as at the time of collation. INEC conducted the election in strict compliance of the Electoral Act and INEC guidelines”.
The AAC collation agent declared that he would not dent his integrity because of mere politics, emphasising that he was at the tribunal to declare the truth.
He said: ”Donatus Barikor for Gokana and Henry Iyala for Degema were not AAC party agents.
“This is the first time I am in politics, coming from industry I am in politics for integrity. APC adopted our governorship candidate two days to the election”.
Kocha admitted that at the party no longer has a deputy governorship candidate following the withdrawal of Chief Akpo Bomba Yeeh from the ticket.
He said that the AAC won in only two local government areas – Akuku-Toru and Oyigbo LGAs as clearly declared by INEC during the collation of results.
Nenye added that most of the witnesses presented in court by Biokpomabo Awara initially were not members of AAC, stressing that the AAC started in August, 2018 and only prepared for the election two days to the polls after it was adopted by the leadership of the APC.
Also, last Monday, a certified video clip presented by the African Action Congress through its subpoenaed witness, an African Independent Television (AIT) staff, Osademe Joseph, proved Governor Nyesom Wike as the winner of the 2019 Governorship election in Rivers State after the collation of results between April 2 and 3 of 2019.
Osademe told the Rivers State Governorship Election Tribunal that he was one of the producers of the live broadcast of the Rivers State Governorship election results collation held between April 2 and 3, 2019, at the state headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in Port Harcourt.
In the video clip played in court, INEC declared Wike winner of the poll with 888, 264 votes ahead of the AAC Gubernatorial candidate, Biokpomabo Festus Awara, who came second in the list with total of 173, 859 votes.
The video also confirmed the collation and declaration of Obio/Akpor LGA election results and non-declaration of Gokana and Abua/Odual LGAs by INEC.
Meanwhile, a serving Assistant Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, ACP Victor Onugbo, yesterday, tendered a document before the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, authenticating the electoral victory of Governor Nyesom Wike during the March 9, 2019 election.
Onugbo, who serves at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Port Harcourt, appeared before the tribunal based on the court subpoena on the state commissioner of police.
Responding to questions from counsel to African Action Congress (AAC), Henry Bello, Onugbo told the tribunal that the document he presented was the incident reports of all that occurred during election, and added that the report was sealed by the Rivers State police command.
Onugbo also told the court that the then commissioner of police, CP Usman Belel, signed the documents of the results sheets after declaration of the winner of the March 9 election.
Also responding to questions from counsel for Governor Wike, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), on whether it was a practice in the police that certified copies of the documents are kept in the custody of the command, Onugbo said all the documents were certified and kept in the custody of the Officer in Charge of Legal Matters at the command.
Onugbo also told the court that he was an observer during the election, and dismissed evidence that the police wwere indicted in the alleged electoral violence in the state.
Also, the AAC has closed cross examination of its witnesses with appearance of the ACP in court.
The tribunal adjourned till, today, for the Independent National Electoral Commission to present its witnesses.
However, speaking with newsmen outside the courtroom, the AAC counsel, Henry Bello, noted that his client has closed its case with the cross examination of the police officer who tendered evidence documents before the Tribunal.
He said: “It is not the number of witnesses you call that is important but the materiality of the evidence given by the witnesses. I am an advocate for change of a lot of things concerning the conduct of election litigation in Nigeria. Most of the things we do in election are basically documentary.
“It is my considered opinion that AAC as with these vital witnesses demonstrated a lot of things before the tribunal. We will await the decision of the tribunal on the points we have made before the tribunal.
“I had 1650 witnesses, I donated some of them to the 1st petitioner and they were able to call 20 out of the 500 we gave them”.
On his part, counsel to INEC, Woyike Livingstone, said “Today, the court has heard evidence from the PW23 in the capacity of the Assistant Inspector General of Police who was subpoenaed to come and give evidence in this regard and he has given evidence to the effect that the report which he tendered as an exhibit which was marked as Exhibit X1 were reports authenticating the victory of the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike
“He has also given evidence to the effect that the report never in anyway indicted the security agencies or even INEC as an agency.
“And so today the 2nd Petitioner has closed their case and we optimistic by tomorrow when the tribunal reconvenes, INEC which is the commission which I represent will open their case for witnesses”.
Also speaking, one of the counsels representing the second respondent, Governor Nyesom Wike, Dike Udenna, noted that: “The 2nd Petitioner, AAC, a political party, they have closed their case today after calling a total of three witnesses, which has brought the total number of witnesses called by the petitioner to 23. So, it is now for the 1st respondent (INEC) to open and conduct their own defence’.
Coutinho To Spark Bayern’s Champions League Charge
As Bayern Munich launches its Champions League campaign against Red Star Belgrade tonight, Bavarian hopes of reclaiming European club football’s top prize to a large extent on the shoulders of Philippe Coutinho.
Following seven semi-final appearances in the last decade, the former Liverpool’s midfielder has been hailed as the man who can take Bayern the extra step in European football’s flagship competition this season.
Last season’s defeat to Liverpool in the last 16 sparked fears that Bayern’s Champions League aura was fading.
The departure of veteran stars such as Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben seemed to confirm the end of an era, but Coutinho’s arrival on loan from Barcelona has prompted fresh hope that Bayern can be restored as one of the continent’s most feared sides.
“There are always big expectations at Bayern and of course the Champions League is a goal,” said Coutinho at his unveiling in August.
Many believe that the 27-year-old can inspire Bayern to their first Champions League title since 2013.
Earlier this month, his Brazil team-mate and Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson told German newspaper Bild that Coutinho’s arrival put Bayern among the title favourites this season.
Fellow Bayern midfielder Corentin Tolisso echoed that sentiment in an interview with Sky last month, saying that the loan signings of Coutinho and Croatian winger Ivan Perisic would be decisive for Bayern.
“Before those two arrived, we didn’t necessarily have a team that was capable of winning the treble,” said Tolisso.
“With this team, we can go very far in the Champions League. I think the title is possible.”
Such expectations could weigh heavy on Coutinho, who is looking to reboot his career after struggling to hold down a first-team spot in a year and a half at Barcelona.
His price tag is also a potential burden. Though Bayern paid a loan fee of just 8.5 million euros ($9.5m) to secure his services, German media estimate Coutinho’s wages at around 13 million euros a year after tax, which would make him the highest-paid player in the Bayern dressing room.
“Those things don’t bother me. I want to enjoy being on the pitch, play in big games and win titles. The numbers are just a side note for me,” Coutinho told TideSports source last week.
The Brazilian has charmed the Munich press so far, promising to learn German and speaking in glowing terms of the welcome he has received at Bayern.
He told Sport Bild that he hoped to emulate the sort of form which once made him a fan favourite at Liverpool.
“I have noticed in my first few games for Bayern that football here is very intense like it is in England. Much more so than in Spain and Brazil. That is good for me,” he said.
Coutinho even claimed he could imagine staying longer at Bayern if the club were to win the Champions League this season.
“That is a big dream for me, similar to winning the World Cup,” he said.
Yet it remains early days for Coutinho, who has made just one start for Bayern in three Bundesliga appearances so far.
He played just 10 minutes in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at RB Leipzig, with Thomas Mueller preferred in the starting line-up.
Coach Niko Kovac insisted that Coutinho needed time to recover after returning from Brazil following the international break.
“He only had 72 hours recovery time. He will definitely play in the next few games,” said Kovac.
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