President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has assured the nation that whoever is found culpable of the bombardments of Tudun Biri village that killed over 90 villagers will be punished accordingly.
The president has also assured that All the victims will be taken well care of under the Folako Initiative which will commenced by this month.
According to him, the community will be the first community to be rebuilt under the new intiative.
Represented by the Vice President Kashim Shattima made the statement on Thursday shortly after visiting the victims at Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital to condole them over the unfortunate incident.
He explained that the federal government remain committed to the fight against banditry accross the region.
“The President Bola Ahmed Tinubu sent us to commensurate with the people of Kaduna Over the tragic incident .The calibre of people that are here with me is a testimony on how deeply touched the president was by the incident .
“The President was deeply touched by what happened we will like to assure the people and government of Kaduna State that the government will take measures to protect and preserved the interest of our nation.
“The victims will be taken well care of under the Fulako Initiative which will commenced by this month and this community will be the first to be rebuilt in north west zone.
“All measured will be taken to ensure that future occurance are averted . Government will go to the root of the issue and anyone found culpable will be punished accordingly,” he said.
Yoruba Nation agitator Sunday Igboho finally broke silence on the reports that he transformed into a cat during a midnight raid conducted by the Department of State Services (DSS) on his residence in July 2021.
Igboho, in an interview with Punch, debunked the report, saying nothing like that happened during the DSS raid.
He said the DSS indiscriminately fired bullets during the raid, leading to the deaths of several cats.
The activist said the DSS mission was to either kill or arrest him and take him to an unknown destination.
He said, “It is true that some cats were killed during the attack? Because the DSS just kept firing bullets in all directions. I was rearing cats as pets, and I had many of them in my house. So, anything or movement attracted sporadic gunshots.
“Their mission was to either kill me or arrest me and take me to an unknown destination, but the Almighty God is greater than anybody in this world, including the despotic ex-President Muhammadu Buhari.
“My God and providence put Buhari to shame with the lawless invasion of my home because they all failed to achieve what they came for. I didn’t turn into a cat to escape.”
Meanwhile, Igboho said he is unaware if the DSS brought three herbalists during the raid because the bullet fired for several hours at his residence caused fear and commotion.
He said, “I wouldn’t know that because the DSS stormed my residence at midnight, causing fear and commotion in the whole of the Soka area of Ibadan and releasing a volley of bullets for several hours.
“In that atmosphere of confusion and violence, how do you expect me to be checking if they came with herbalists or pastors? There couldn’t have been time for that.”
When asked to clarify the report of stockpiling guns in his house, Igboho said, “That’s very far from the truth. How can I stockpile guns in my house?
“All those allegations are phantoms and cooked up by the DSS just to implicate me in a planned or trumped-up criminal trial.”
Kaduna State renowned Islamic Scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has said that the Sunday bombing of villagers in Tudun Biri in Igabi Local Government Area of the state is intentional.
The scholar said it was wrong to target women and children, including the elderly, during war, yet the military decided to otherwise, thinking they were families of terrorists.
The scholar, who spoke while delivering his weekly lecture at the Sultan Bello Mosque, Kaduna, questioned that if the first bomb dropped on the people was a mistake as claimed, what of the second bomb that targeted those evacuating the bodies 30 minutes after as claimed by the villagers.
According to him, it was God that exposed some of the atrocities committed by the military in the forest, saying he had been calling on the people that innocent villagers are victims of the security bombardments in the forest but nobody listened.
He said, “I kept telling you not to invite people who see war as a solution but people refused to listen. Here it’s now. War is never a joke because it affects everybody. I warned you on this but you keep saying they should be killed.
“It’s you that will be killed. That bomb was meant to target the families of some people so as to kill their children and wives. I have been to a village where women and children were massacred in a remote forest.
“Many people have been bombed. Nobody said anything until it comes nearer to the city. I have been saying that whatever is between us whether it’s bandits or Boko Haram there should be peaceful negotiation.
“In this country, nobody can tell me; I tried finding a solution to the problem but we were not supported. The government was playing a double standard thinking they can win by war and in another way thinking of negotiation.
“These people assembled in a place women and children were and the drones have cameras which means they saw the people but they suspected they were children and wives of some people. I’m sure you will all have justified it if they got the families of those people.
“But they mistakenly targeted those who are not their target. For us, nobody should be a target of such bombings. This is because it’s wrong to kill women and children, including the elderly, and we are not in support of such even if they are IPOB members.
“We will never support the killings of IPOB wives and children. It’s better to have a face-to-face combat than bombing people. After all, nobody will even bomb IPOB. Those attacking Fulani settlements in Oyo, did you hear anybody dropping bombs on them?
“These bombs were made specifically to target some people but God exposed them because He was not happy with the killings of innocent lives. We hope the victims died as martyrs. But nobody should tell me it was a mistake. No, it was intentional because the target was meant for other people. Whoever dropped the bomb should be brought out.
“The people claimed the first bomb killed some people and that 30 minutes later the second bomb was dropped. If the first bomb was a mistake, should the second bomb be a mistake?”
Asisat Oshoala is on track to secure her record-extending sixth CAF Women's Player of the Year award, according to Daily Post.
Oshoala was among the three players who made the final shortlist for the Women’s Player of the Year award, as announced by the Confederation of African Football on Thursday.
The Barcelona Femeni star became the first woman to claim the award for a record fifth time in 2022.
The 27-year-old played a key role in Barcelona Femeni’s UEFA Women’s Champions League success last season.
South Africa’s Thembi Klagtlana and Zambia’s Barbara Banda are the other players in contention for the award.
Klagtlana, who plays for the American side Racing Louisville Football Club, won the award in 2018.
The winner will be revealed at the CAF Awards Gala on Monday, December 11, 2023, at the Palais des Congrès, Movenpick, Marrakech, Morocco.
A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday ordered Governor Yayaha Bello to pay the sum of a N500 million in damages and also tender public apology to Murtala Ajaka, the Social Democratic Party (SDP)’s candidate in the Nov. 11 governorship election in the state for the gross and unwarranted violation of his rights.
The court presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo also ordered security agencies and their heads, listed as 2nd to 7th respondents, to provide maximum security and ensure Ajaka’s safety, including his property, within Abuja, Kogi and Nigeria before, during and after the governorship poll held Nov. 11.
The judge further made “an order of injunction, restraining the security agencies from arresting/abducting, detaining and/or further harassing, intimidating, shooting/threatening the applicant’s life and properties.”
Ajaka had, in the originating motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/952/2023 dated and filed on July 11 by S.E. Aruwa, SAN, sought protection from the court.
The SDP candidate sued Mr Bello; Nigeria Police Force; I-G; Kogi Commissioner of Police; Department of State Service (DSS); DSS DG as 1st to 6th respondents, respectively.
The applicant also joined Director of DSS Command in Kogi; Commandant-General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC); Chief of Defence Staff; Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Naval Staff as 7th to 11th respondents in the case.
He said he firmly believed that as soon as the originating processes for the enforcement of his fundamental rights were served on the respondents, they would intensify efforts, albeit illegally, to force him to Kogi to be killed.
He said before this time, he had contested in the Kogi governorship primary election under the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ajaka averred that to dissuade him from contesting the APC primary, the governor, who had announced his cousin, Alhaji Usman Ododo, as his successor, pointedly demanded that he step down.
“He (Bello) further accompanied this demand with threats to taking my life on the failure of compliance,” he alleged.
The applicant said in view of the foregoing, he sought an audience with the then President, Muhammadu Buhari, where he intimated him of these threats with a request for intervention and protection.
“The president, in response, requested that the applicant make a formal report to his official and relevant security agencies, which he did,” he alleged.
He further alleged that Bello’s schemes became unwieldy when he (Ajaka) moved to the SDP and secured the party’s ticket as its governorship candidate for the Nov. 11 poll.
“That after leaving the APC for the SDP, the applicant was still being threatened by the overt and covert acts of the 1st respondent (Bello)
“That the 1st respondent has co-opted the 2nd to 11th respondents in threatening the right to life, liberty and association of the applicant,” he alleged.
He alleged that on June 3, he left Abuja to pay courtesy visit to the Ohimege of Koto at KotonKarifi.
He said no sooner had he departed and was heading to Lokoja to pay a courtesy call at the palace of the Mai gari of Lokoja than the vehicle he was travelling in with was hit with a hail of bullets in an unprovoked attack against him and his supporters.
“In the midst of the confusion, the vehicle the applicant was travelling in was overtaken by a vehicle with the insignia of the government blocked the expressway, and then the 1st respondent (Bello) physically highlighted from the vehicle while ordering the men of the 2nd and 5th respondents (police and SSS) to again open fire on the vehicle of the applicant and his motorcade.
“That several vehicles belonging to the applicant and his supporters were riddled with bullets and demobilised, two other vehicles branded with the applicant’s party (Social Democratic Party) Logo were set ablaze by the men of the 2nd and 5th respondents on the direct order of the 1st respondent,” he said.
Ajaka, who alleged that the deliberate attempt at assassinating him was made under the direct supervision of the governor, urged the court to grant his reliefs in the interest of justice.
Gov. Bello, in his preliminary objection, sought an order striking out the suit for want of jurisdiction and another order setting aside the earlier order of the court made on July 13 for want of jurisdiction.
Giving eight grounds for the objection, he said Ajaka had filed the action against him, a sitting governor of Kogi.
He argued that the applicant did not sue him in his official capacity, as the Attorney-General of Kogi was not a party to the suit.
Besides, he argued that the alleged breach of Ajaka’s fundamental right and all facts constituting the breach as per his affidavit in support of the originating motion occurred in Kogi, hence, the suit was incompetent, among others.
The governor also disagreed with Ajaka that he (Ajaka) was an aspirant in the APC primary poll.
Bello submitted that there was an existing court order barring Ajaka from participating in the said primary election.
He said he had neither dissuaded the SDP candidate from contesting the APC governorship primary elections nor did he at any time pointedly demanded that he stepped down as he was ineligible to even contest the said primary election.
Bello equally denied issuing any threat against Ajaka to take his life for failure to comply with anything whatsoever.
The governor, who denied anointing any successor, said Ododo contested the APC primary poll and won on his own merit.
He said the 2nd to 11th respondents are all federal agencies and not under his command and control, thus, he could not have co-opted them to threaten Ajaka’s right to life, liberty and association.
He alleged that Ajaka, in company of thugs and armed militia men, attacked and obstructed his convoy along the Abuja-Kogi Expressway which prompted officers and men of the 2nd to 5th respondents to repel the attacks from the criminals.
Bello said all through the episode, he never alighted from his vehicle neither did he order any person to open fire on either Ajaka’s vehicle or any vehicle whatsoever as the officers of the relevant security agencies attached to his convoy were charged with his security and carried out their duties within the ambit of the law.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Ekwo said he found that none of the governor’s averments in the entire affidavit, was specific.
“In other words, they are merely general averments. Furthermore, none of the averments specifically mentions the incident of 3rd June, 2023 and proffer a defence thereto,” he said.
He held that Bello’s counter affidavit was so feeble and had failed to effectively challenge Ajaka’s case.
“It is also the law that affidavit evidence which is not challenged or controverted howsoever, is deemed admitted and can be relied upon by a court,” he said.
The judge also said he found that the account of what transpired on June 3 by the governor’s Aide De Camp (ADC), DSP Iwanger Ifeoma Akaya, was in conflict with the account of SP Elvis Aguebor, who was also at the scene.
“It is not hard to see that the 1st respondent was acting clever when he sent his Aide De Camp to make a report to the same police that acted in concert with him at the scene of the shooting, after preventing the applicant (Ajaka) from entering Lokoja,” he said.
According to him, it is my opinion that it is in the attempt of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents to make a case to cover up for the act of the 1st respondent and the officers of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th respondents that has caused the obvious inconsistencies in their evidence.
He held that none of the respondents’ affidavit evidence was able to address the incident of June 3, which was the subject matter of Ajaka’s case.
His words: “It is my finding that the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th respondents violated thr rights of the applicant as enshrined in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“The case of the applicant succeeds on the merit against the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th respondents in this case and I so hold.
“In awarding damages in this case, I will take into account the trauma of the applicant of being shot at by those whose statutory duty is to protect the citizens, acting under the command of the 1st respondent (Bello) who is statutorily the chief security officer of a state for a cause that is manifestly unlawful but inhuman.
“I will also take into consideration the physical and mental anguish of the applicant when he stood in utter helplessness and watched the 1st respondent using his political might through the apparatus of the state for security and law enforcement to shoot and burn down the campaign vehicles of the applicant’s political party.
“I will further take into account the near-death experience of the applicant and the mental torture that comes with it, when the vehicle in which he was, was riddled with bullets from the guns that ought to have been used to protect him and other citizens.
“It must be understood that fundamental rights of all citizens are sacrosanct and unless as authorised by law, any action by which an unlawful breach thereof is successfully proved, will be determined to reflect the depth of condemnation by the court.”
The judge struck out the 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th respondents in the case for having found no evidence implicating them on the incident of June 3 or any claim against them.
He declared that the unprovoked shooting at Ajaka, his cars and his supporters by armed officers of 2nd to 7th respondents on June 3 was reprehensible and a gross violation of his right to life and dignity of his human person.
This, he said, is enshrined under Sections 33 and 34 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Articles 4 and 5 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. A9 Laws of the Federation, 2004. (NAN)
The Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) has shut a branch of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), four others churches and a mosque over noise pollution.
The agency also sealed seven hotels, night clubs, bar and a supermarket due to noise pollution.
LASEPA, in a statement on its X handle (formerly Twitter), listed the churches and a mosque sealed to include Children of God Healings Deliverance and Adoration Ministry, City of Testimony Church, Cherubim & Seraphim (Ayo ni), Station of Relief Christ Ministry, Redeemed Christian Church of God (Sanctuary of Favour), and Ifelodun Mosque.
The hotels, night clubs and others sealed are; Euphoria Night Club, Mainland Leisure View Hotel, House 46 Hotel and Suites, Selino Hotel, Lady B Gold Bar,Da-Villa Hotel, Perch Hotel & Suites, and Avro Supermarket.
The sealed properties are all located in various parts of Lekki and Surulere areas of Lagos State.
According to LASEPA, the affected properties were shut in line with its mandate to safeguard the environment from Noise pollution and other violations.
“We took decisive action by sealing several establishments, including hotels, bar, nightclubs, supermarket, mosque, and churches.
“These measures were put in place to address the identified instances of noise pollution and other environmental violations,” it stated.
The Zamfara state government led by Governor Dauda Lawal has reportedly recovered all fifty vehicles allegedly stolen by his predecessor, Bello Matawalle.
During a press briefing held in Gusau on Thursday, Governor Dauda Lawal’s spokesperson, Sani Sambo, informed journalists that the recovery follows a judgement made by the Federal High Court in Sokoto last Friday.
Sambo emphasized that the process of recovering the vehicles from the former governor’s residences in Gusau and Maradun was carried out meticulously, as the former governor had previously denied possessing any government property when he left office.
Furthermore, Sambo highlighted that the administration led by Governor Dauda Lawal is committed to achieving the desired development in the state, rather than engaging in a witch hunt or tarnishing anyone’s reputation.
The controversy surrounding stolen operational vehicles at the Government House in Gusau and the misappropriation of public funds arose when Lawal assumed office as governor of Zamfara on May 29, 2023, Naija News understands.
As a result, security agencies conducted raids on Matawalle’s residences in Gusau and Maradun, leading to the recovery of several vehicles.
The former governor quickly secured a court order restraining the state government from such action, pending the court’s decision on the matter.
However, the state government pressed further to have the court in Sokoto dismiss the former governor’s suit against it.
The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has sentenced Wahab Hammed, a ward Leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the Surulere Local Government Area of the state, to a one-year jail term or in the alternative a fine of N1m.
Justice Ismail Ijelu sentenced the defendant after convicting him on a two-count charge of conspiracy and bribery.
At his arraignment on Wednesday, the EFCC Prosecutor, Samuel Daji, told the court that on February 25, 2023, the defendant conspired with one Segun Ijitola (who is still at large), to corruptly pay bribe to voters during the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly Elections.
Daji said that the defendant committed the offence at Unit 28, Gbaja Girls Junior High School, in Surulere.
The offences contravene the provision of Sections 121 (1) and (5); 121 (1) and 1 (3) of the Electoral Act 2022.
The defendant pleaded guilty and the court subsequently adjourned till Thursday, Dec. 7th to enable the prosecution counsel to review the facts of the case preparatory to conviction and sentencing.
At the proceedings on Thursday, the EFCC counsel, Daji, tendered in court the statement of the review of the prosecution’s facts against the defendant.
Daji also told the court that, “The EFCC officers while on election monitoring duties during the 2023 Presidential and National Assembly Election held on the 25th February 2023, received an intelligence report that certain individuals were involved in vote buying and bribery at Polling Unit 28 located at Gbaja Girls High School, Surulere, Lagos.
“After the receipt of the intelligence, the operatives of EFCC who were on election monitoring duties were dispatched to the venue.
“On sighting the operatives, the voters involved in vote buying took to their heels but the defendant was arrested with the sum of N121,000 in N500 denominations.
“He was brought to the EFCC’s Ikoyi office with the exhibit. When he was interviewed, he stated that he is a ward leader of APC in Unit F3 in Surulere, Lagos and he confessed that the money was given to him by one Hon. Segun Ijitola who is a Senior Special Assistant to Chairman Surulere Local Government.
“He admitted that he had shared part of the money to those who ran away and it was to bribe the voters to vote for his party, APC.
“He also admitted that he had spent part of the money. He made voluntary statements of at least 2 pages where he admitted these facts. He also admitted that he is ready to forfeit the sum found with him to the Federal Government being proceeds of criminal activities”.
The court admitted the defendant’s statements as evidence and also admitted as exhibit, the money recovered from him.
The Prosecutor also urged the court to accept the facts as presented, convict the defendant accordingly and order the forfeiture of the exhibit to the Federal Government for being proceeds of crime.
The defendant on his part admitted that he understood the facts as presented by the prosecutor through an interpreter and he reiterated his guilty plea.
Having satisfied himself that the defendant clearly understood the facts as reviewed against him and intended to admit same, Justice Ijelu found him guilty and convicted him accordingly.
The defendant pleaded for mercy. He told the court, “I have never been arrested. If not for the situation of the country, I would not be in this situation. I’m over 70 years old. I’m not fit, I have high blood pressure, ulcer and urinary incontinence and if not for this case, I was to undergo surgery last Saturday. I have not been well since my arrest, and I plead with the court to forgive me.
“I wouldn’t be here in this situation if my children were doing well and working. I have six children who are well-educated and their mom is no more, she is late.”
The defendant’s counsel, Mr. Olaniyi Ademola, in his speech also asked the court to note that his client voluntarily decided to plead guilty. He also noted that the client was a first-time offender who had never been convicted before.
In his sentence, Justice Ijelu reminded the defendant’s counsel that he owes a duty to society to speak words of truth to his clients. He reminded all parties that everyone must be partners in nation-building.
He said, “The defendant has further put himself deeply in the mess that contributed to his children not having jobs by taking to crime. Is that the solution?
“The court has listened to the allocutus of the convict, that he is a first offender and has no criminal record. He also appears to be remorseful.
“S 121 (1) (c) of the Electoral Act 2022 under which the convict was charged states that “any person who advances or pays or causes to be paid any money to any person with the intent that such money shall be expended in bribery at any election, commits an offence and is liable on conviction of a maximum fine of N500,000 or imprisonment for a term of 12 months or both.
“This section gives the court a discretionary power to exercise. The court finds high culpability on the part of the convict, the harm occasioned by his conduct is significant. The court found no aggravating factor against him.
“In mitigating the sentence, the court considers that he made a guilty plea and has no previous convictions and he is a first offender.
“There’s no doubt that the need to sanitize our electoral process cannot be over-emphasized. Having pleaded guilty, the court takes the view that imposing a non-custodial sentence on this convict may deter him from future misconduct.
“For this reason, Alhaji Wahab Olaniyi Hammed is sentenced to a term of imprisonment for one year or an option of 500,000 on each of the two counts against him. He shall forfeit the proceeds of the crime to the FG.
“He shall also undertake to the EFCC in writing to always be of good behaviour and to never indulge in crime again.”
Seeks NNPC Audit
Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has called for a proper audit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), noting that this call was what cost him his job at the apex bank.
Sanusi made this known while delivering his remarks at The Bank Directors Summit holding at the Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja.
Sanusi, who was CBN governor from June 2009 to February 2014, insisted that the President should not be the Minister of Petroleum.
For the ex-CBN chief, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) must remain until banks get together and pay up what they owe the system.
He also maintained that the banking sector must shore up its trust deficit in the eyes of the public and that there is no need to amend the CBN Act to keep the apex bank free of political influences.
In August, about three months after his inauguration, President Bola Tinubu split the Ministry of Petroleum Resources with the appointment of Ekperipe Ekpo as Minister of State, Gas Resources; and Heineken Lokpobiri as Minister of State, Petroleum Resources.
However, Tinubu, in an apparent tradition of his predecessor, ex-President Muhammadu Buhari, kept the position of the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources to himself.
Ondo is one of Nigeria’s most enlightened states. It is, perhaps, side-by-side with Oyo, one of the most significant political bellwethers of the South-West. Apart from Olusegun Agagu’s four-year spell as governor, that state has maintained its progressive credentials in the last 24 years. But that illustrious tradition has fallen on bad times.
And you know this when the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has governed the state for only four of the last 24 years, begins to suggest to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) how to manage what is obviously a delicate intra-party power transition. With nothing left to do in the wilderness, PDP is pleased to hold the beer while APC turns on itself.
It’s not the opposition’s fault, though. The tenure of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu will not expire till 2024, but his illness, especially in the last six months, during which he has been virtually absent from the state, has created an opening for forces within and without.
There are suggestions that Akeredolu who has reportedly been in Oyo State since he returned from a medical trip abroad in September, is terminally ill. No one is sure. The suggestions, worsened by his physical absence from the state, has fueled a proxy war between his loyalists and those of the Deputy Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa. There are already comparisons to similar dark episodes in the country’s not-too-distant past.
Umaru Yar’Adua’s presidency, for example, was a troubled one. Whether or not Yar’Adua had properly transmitted power before he went abroad for medical treatment, as is required by law, and whether he had the presence of mind to continue discharging his duties as his condition deteriorated, remained a matter of feverish speculation traded on by vested interests.
The National Assembly had to improvise the “Doctrine of Necessity,” to remove him, paving the way for his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan, to become acting president.
Two years after the death of Yar’Adua, Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State, who, like Yar’Adua, was elected in 2007, survived an air crash that, sadly, incapacitated him. But power brokers in Taraba preserved him like a sacrificial totem, exploiting his mummified image. As long as he could still be wheeled around and papers shuffled in his name, it was good business. Suntai, who had spent less than two years into his second term, was shunted between German and US hospitals at considerable expense for 10 months, while the state was left stranded.
When the puppeteers could no longer sustain the hideous drama, or perhaps they had just about made enough out of it, they wheeled the governor back into the country and left him in a limbo. His estranged deputy remained “acting governor” until Suntai’s tenure officially ended in 2015. Two years later, Suntai died.
I have been reliably informed that Akeredolu’s relationship with Aiyedatiwa is not, ordinarily, one that should warrant the insane stalemate that has made fools of the state’s wise men and women. After Akeredolu fell out with his former deputy, Agboola Ajayi – who remained in position even though he switched parties, following a failed attempt to impeach him – he chose Aiyedatiwa as his running-mate for his second term. The pair have been like six and seven.
Although cloak-and-dagger is a popular currency in politics, anyone who saw Aiyedatiwa’s pictures until June this year, would remember how difficult it was to spot the difference in physical appearance between him and the governor. With every inch of carefully manicured grey stubble, caps, glasses, and even posture, both of them looked like political Siamese twins.
But the remoter the chances of Akeredolu’s return seemed, the greater the pressure Aiyedatiwa came under to discard his beard and nurture his own path to power. How long before he would step out of the shadows and live up to his name, Aiyedatiwa (the world shall become ours)?
“Loyalty is at the heart of the matter,” one source close to both parties told me on Tuesday. “People began to suggest to Aiyedatiwa that he could actually get power if only he could be his own man, and soon enough. To plot his way, he began to hobnob with Abuja politicians and some of Akeredolu’s arch enemies.”
But “loyalty” to who? To a person or to the constitution and the law of the land? Anyone who remembers former Governor Babatunde Fashola’s words when, during his ministerial nomination screening, he was asked about his spectacular fallout with then former Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, might agree that “loyalty” is one point on which politicians pray never to be tested.
“May your loyalty not be tested,” Fashola replied to uproarious laughter from senators. But what is happening in Ondo is not a laughing matter. Especially the suspicion by Akeredolu’s camp that the deputy governor is in cahoots with some notoriously dangerous politicians in Abuja and elsewhere.
It’s fair to ask why Akeredolu – or those who claim to speak for him – cannot set aside personal grudges and put the interest of the state first?
Why? Some personal grudges run deep. I’ll mention two shared by insiders.
One, in June, the governor was said to have signed some papers and returned them to his deputy for action. Upon receiving the papers, his deputy was alleged to have said, flat out, that Akeredolu could not have signed the papers; not in the mental state he was believed, or suspected, to be in at the time. The buzz from then on, magnified, repurposed and retailed in several salacious versions, was that there was no further need of proof that Aiyedatiwa wanted the governor dead. The world was, indeed, nearly his.
The second point, according to sources, has nothing to do with Aiyedatiwa directly, but with his new company. The governor’s wife, Betty Anyanwu, a most robustly active political wife, if ever there was one, had set her sights on the Senate in the February general elections in her native Imo State.
The problem was how to get past her state governor, Hope Uzodimma, who before the presidential primaries had pitched tent with Ahmed Lawan against Akeredolu’s preferred candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. In fact, it was Uzodimma and Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, who submitted Lawan’s nomination form.
As for the Owerri senatorial district, Uzodimma, an enigma, had other plans. He wanted Alex Mbata instead. Betty was forced to withdraw from the senatorial primaries in humiliation.
By the time Mbata lost to the Labour Party candidate, Ezenwa Onyewuchi, the damage had been done. The Akeredolus, still smarting from that defeat, are now also trying to get used to the fact that their man, Aiyedatiwa, is in bed with their foe, Uzodimma. Yet, if a politician sleeps with three women in one day, you can only thank God it was not four.
For a state with Ondo’s political sophistication, it’s a bit of a travesty to suggest that petty squabbles have held it hostage for months now. But that would be naïve. From the Spanish marriages to the Crimean War over the right of access to a church key, history is full of battles fought for the dumbest of reasons. President Tinubu’s last-minute intervention has kept the fragile peace in Akure. But no one is sure how long.
The longer it takes for the parties to find a sensible, common ground, the worse it would be for citizens whose interest they claim to serve. All said, if Akeredolu were in a position to make the call today, I’m not sure he would take a position different from the principled one he took as president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) when Yar’Adua was in a similar situation. He should resign.
If Akeredolu cannot make this call, those who can should do so for the sake of his legacy and the wellbeing of the citizens of the state. That is the painful but proper and necessary thing to do.
Azu Ishiekwene is the Editor-In-Chief of LEADERSHIP.