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Emeka Ihedioha, Rochas Okorocha Disgraced at New Yam Festival…… + Okorocha is an embarrassment to democracy- Prof. Viola Onwuliri

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Irresponsible, demeaning, distasteful and lawless are words that best describe the show of shame following the needless altercation between Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha and Deputy House Speaker, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, at the Iriji Mbaise New Yam Festival, over the weekend. So bad was the situation that President Goodluck Jonathan, who was represented at the event by Foreign Affairs Minister, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, described Okorocha as an embarrassment to democracy and a disaster waiting to happen! Okorocha countered that Imo people have rejected Jonathan and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because they are worse than the Ebola virus. The Mbaise nation was apparently angry that Okorocha engaged Ihedioha – a son of the soil – in their home turf. The ensuing pandemonium saw Okorocha’s microphone switched off, as people jeered the governor while he spoke. This, to say the least was embarrassing and disgraceful. It is an unbelievable shame that underscores more the culture of intolerance that has crept into the public space. Honestly, the people of Imo State deserve better!

The willful transformation of the 2014 Yam Festival into a political rally of sorts with the governor and the Deputy House Speaker, fighting for supremacy is shameful and unacceptable. One of the hallmarks of political maturity is civility and tolerance. By this unjustified expression of intolerance and bad manners, Okorocha and Ihedioha have brought Mbaise people, Imo State and the entire nation into disrepute, going by their cavalier showmanship, intemperate feistiness and reprehensible waywardness that characterized their utterances at what was supposed to be a cultural jamboree. This was a great disservice to efforts at rebranding Nigeria. Whatever might have informed the torrid exchanges, the actions of the two men; who by virtue of their authority positions and power are supposed to exercise restraint, was a mockery of the admonition that two wrongs don’t make a right.

The shoddy manner, in which the event organizers handled matters, leaves much to be desired even as there was no love lost between Okorocha and the Mbaise nation. Receiving the governor to Mbaise, Ihedioha fired the first salvo, pointedly telling Okorocha that he (Okorocha) would as a matter of necessity hand over to him in 2015, noting that the governor’s exit was not negotiable. Ihedioha also held the governor to task on what he described as “lack of state government presence in Mbaise.” According to Ihedioha, “the major projects in Mbaise are those executed by the federal government. In the few areas credited to the state government, we only see projects that are very poorly executed…It is evident that the governor has run out of ideas, so as a matter of expediency, it is expected that he would hand over the reins in 2015 so we can help out.”

Responding, a visibly angry Okorocha said: “the green cap (referring to Ihedioha’s trademark cap) will not make anybody governor of Imo State and as a matter of fact, there is nobody in the Imo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who is my match in an electoral contest. My three years in office is more productive than the 12 years spent in the state by the PDP. Imo people have rejected PDP because PDP is worse than the Ebola virus.” As he continued his tirade, the microphone was switched off; and went dead again when he said he had laid the foundation for a campus of the Imo State University to be sited in Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala federal constituency. The crowd booed and jeered dismissing the university as a political gimmick informed by expediency.

The brigandage and confusion degenerated into a free for all between Okorocha’s supporters and those of Ihedioha, but security agents on ground stepped in and whisked the governor away to safety. While many believed Okorocha fled the event long before the breaking of kola nuts and the address of the president, his supporters said he left for another assignment.

From Ihedioha’s perspective, the palpable perception of leadership failure and the deficit in delivery of public goods to Imo people by the Okorocha administration might have culminated in a loss of faith in the governor. But the event was not the appropriate forum for Imo people to wash their proverbial dirty lining in public. Rather, there was no better time than the New Yam festival to rediscover those binding ethos of the Mbaise nation as an integral part of Imo State. The brigandage therefore, amounted to a mindless circumvention of the community spirit and essence of the festival. Trading invectives and casting banal aspersions on each other, at an event that is supposed to showcase those values that define Mbaise nation and Imo State in general, was most inauspicious and must never again be contemplated or tolerated.

It bears restating that what played out could be a prelude to “do-or-die” elections in 2015; especially as the blame game has continued. Professor Onwuliri told journalists after the event that Okorocha was not interested in the festival but just came to create confusion and derail the event. She said: “Since Okorocha assumed office in 2011, he has never attended the Iriji Mbaise until this one that precedes the election year. This is not the ground for venting personal animosities. He even left before the actual ceremony began. He just brought trouble to the event and this is an embarrassment to the state and its people. I am positive that by 2015, we will all have a chance to redress this anomaly.”

Ihedioha, reacting to an Imo state government statement, asking him to apologize to the governor for the embarrassment and disgrace at the event, instead asked Okorocha to apologize to the Mbaise people for defiling their custom and tradition. “The deputy speaker and other Mbaise leaders believed that it was the governor who actually owes the Mbaise people an apology for disrupting the event after coming late in his characteristic manner and defiling the treasured cultural values and tradition of Iri Iji Mbaise,” a statement by Chibuike Onyeukwu issued on behalf of the deputy speaker said.

Ihedioha discounted as a blatant lie, the claim by Imo state government that he did not welcome the governor to the event, noting that though Okorocha had ulterior motives for attending the festival after spurning invitations in the past three years, he still gave him the courtesy of welcoming him as chief guest of honor. The statement clarified: “It is on record that the deputy speaker did not only welcome Okorocha to the event but also enjoined him to accept the kolanut offered to him as chief guest of honor. Ihedioha said Okorocha’s recourse to attacking him simply confirms the fact that “the governor holds him (Ihedioha) in trepidation and is at a loss as to how to address his growing popularity and acceptance among the Imo people vis-a-vis his (Okorocha’s) fast declining rating among the people.”

While the point is to be made that there is enough blame to go around, it can only be to the utter shame and ridicule of Mbaise nation and Imo State as a people unable to get their act together. Apart from underlining the low quality of leadership in Imo today, it simply reinforces the cynicism of outsiders about Imo citizens who have largely become a band of docile and complacent people, who concur in the despoliation of their land by their passive indifference and cold complicity in the face of reckless, arbitrary and criminal dissipation of their commonwealth by corrupt, inept, clueless and lawless leadership. Imo State should not be embroiled in such destructive, distractive, unhealthy and volatile disputations rooted in ego-offensive personality cults, the type that is setting other states on fire and creating cleavages and tension. A man’s public comportment after all, is a reflection of his character.

 

– Huhuonline

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Paris-bound bizman arrested with 111 cocaine wraps

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has arrested a 48-year-old businessman, Emmanuel Orjinze, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, for ingesting 111 wraps of cocaine.

The suspect, who claimed to be a professional footballer in Europe, was arrested on May 21 during the outward clearance of an Air France flight to Paris, France.

This was made known in a statement signed by the agency’s Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, and shared on the agency’s website on Sunday.

The statement read, “Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency have arrested a 48-year-old Paris, France-bound businessman, Emmanuel Okechuku Orjinze, for ingesting 111 wraps of cocaine, which he excreted after days of observation in the agency’s custody following his arrest at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

“Okechukwu, who also claims he is a professional footballer in Europe, was arrested on Tuesday, May 21, during the outward clearance of Air France flight AF 878 from Abuja to Paris, France.

“After a body scan confirmed he ingested illicit drugs, he was taken into custody where he excreted a total of 111 pellets of cocaine that weighed 1.603 kilograms over three days. The suspect claimed he did business in the maritime sector while still scouting for any European football club to engage him. ”

In the same vein, the NDLEA officers operating at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos hinted that they had dismantled another drug trafficking syndicate at the airport.

This, they said in a statement, followed the arrest of four members of the network and the seizure of a total of 8kg of methamphetamine and 7.60kg of Loud, a synthetic strain of cannabis imported from South Africa.

The statement added that a drug trafficking syndicate was busted at the airport when an official was caught with illicit substances in their backpack and bag.

On May 21, 2024, the NDLEA officers, supported by aviation security, intercepted the official at Terminal 1 and discovered the drugs during a search, blowing the lid off the syndicate.

“A swift follow-up operation at the Ajao Estate area of Lagos led to the arrest of two other members of the syndicate: Chris Nwadozie and Chinedu Nwaosu. Further investigation led to the arrest of another member of the cartel working within the airport system on Saturday, May 25,” the statement added.

In a related development, the agency also arrested a freight agent, Sonubi Abiodun, for attempting to export eight parcels of cocaine concealed in paint buckets to the United Kingdom.

Additionally, the NDLEA operatives arrested suspects producing and distributing skuchies, a mixture of black currant and illicit drugs, in Lagos, and recovered 2,480 litres of the psychoactive substance.

In Cross River State, a suspect, Ogar Emmanuel, was arrested with 2.5kg of cannabis, while 290kg of cannabis was recovered from the warehouse of Usani Ikpi, who is still at large. Additionally, three suspects – Sa’adu Sule, Mukhtar Nura, and Hamza Nura – were arrested in Katsina State with 70kg of cannabis, which originated from Ogun State.

The statement added, “No fewer than five suspects including Ezekiel Munda, 30; and Sule Mustapha, 21, were arrested by the NDLEA operatives on Thursday, May 23, during raids at the Karu Abattoir, Jikwoyi and Tora Bora hill area of the FCT, Abuja, where 95.01kg of cannabis and different quantities of opioids were recovered from them.

“In Edo State, operatives arrested a physically challenged notorious drug dealer, Zekere Sufianu, 45, at Auchi town on Wednesday, May 22. At the time of his arrest, he was found with 751 grams of Loud, 178 grams of tramadol, and pills of swinol,” the statement concluded.

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FG suit against 36 govs over LG funds begins

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The Federal Government has approached the Supreme Court with a suit seeking to compel governors of the 36 states of the federation to grant full autonomy to the local governments in their domains.

The suit, marked SC/CV/343/2024, was filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), on behalf of the Federal Government.

The Federal Government is urging the apex court to issue “an order prohibiting state governors from unilateral, arbitrary and unlawful dissolution of democratically elected local government leaders for local governments.”

In the suit predicted on 27 grounds, the Federal Government accused the state governors of gross misconduct and abuse of power.

The FG, in the originating summons, prayed the Supreme Court to make an order expressly stating that funds standing to the credit of local governments from the Federation Account should be paid directly to the local governments rather than through the state governments.

The justice minister also prayed for “an order of injunction restraining the governors, their agents and privies from receiving, spending or tampering with funds released from the Federation Account for the benefits of local governments when no democratically elected local government system is put in place in the states.”

The Federal Government further sought “an order stopping governors from constituting caretaker committees to run the affairs of local governments as against the Constitutionally recognised and guaranteed democratically system.”

The originating summons was backed by a 13-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Kelechi Ohaeri of the Federal Ministry of Justice.

Ohaeri, in the affidavit, averred that the AGF instituted the suit against the governors under the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on behalf of the Federal Government.

He said,“The Constitution of Nigeria recognises federal, states and local governments as three tiers of government and the three recognised tiers of government draw funds for their operation and functioning from the Federation Account created by the Constitution.

“By the provisions of the Constitution, there must be a democratically elected local government system and the Constitution has not made provisions for any other systems of governance at the local government level other than a democratically elected local government system.

“In the face of the clear provisions of the Constitution, the governors have failed and refused to put in place a democratically elected local government system even where no state of emergency has been declared to warrant the suspension of democratic institutions in the state.

“The failure of the governors to put democratically elected local government system in place is a deliberate subversion of the 1999 Constitution which they and the President have sworn to uphold.

“All efforts to make the governors comply with the dictates of the 1999 Constitution in terms of putting in place a democratically elected local government system has not yielded any result and to continue to disburse funds from the Federation Account to governors for non-existing democratically elected local government is to undermine the sanctity of the 1999 Constitution.

“In the face of the violations of the 1999 Constitution, the Federal Government is not obligated under Section 162 of the Constitution to pay any state, funds standing to the credit of local governments where no democratically elected local government is in place.”

The AGF, therefore, urged the apex court to invoke sections 1, 4, 5, 7 and 14 of the Constitution to declare that the state governors and state Houses of Assembly are under obligation to ensure a democratic system at the third tier of government in Nigeria and to also invoke the same sections to hold that the governors cannot lawfully dissolve democratically elected local government councils.

Furthermore, he urged to invoke sections 1, 4, 5, 7 and 14 of the Constitution to declare that “the dissolution of democratically elected local government councils by the governors or anyone using the state powers derivable from laws enacted by the state Houses of Assembly or any Executive Order is unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void.”

The apex court has fixed Thursday, May 30 for hearing.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees hailed the move by the Federal Government, saying it would join the lawsuit as a concerned party.

 

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JUST IN: Tribunal affirms Diri as Bayelsa governor

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The Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, on Monday, upheld the election that produced Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State.

A three-man panel led by Justice Adekunle Adeleye dismissed the petition filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Timipre Sylva, and the party for lacking in merit.

In a unanimous decision, the tribunal held that the petitioners failed to prove any credible evidence to back up any of the allegations they raised against the re-election victory of Diri.

Details shortly…

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