The Kogi state government has raised an alarm over plans by the People’s Democratic Party and its candidate, Senator Dino Melaye, to disrupt Saturday’s senatorial rerun in Kogi west.
The rerun is expected to take place in 52 polling units after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the November 16 election inconclusive due to reported cases of violence during and after the poll.
Special Adviser to Kogi State Governor on Security, Jerry Omodara, while briefing journalists on the arrangement put in place for the rerun election, alleged that Senator Melaye has arranged with hoodlums to force INEC to cancel the election.
He called on security agencies to hold the opposition party responsible if there are breaches that may hamper the integrity of the election.
Attempts by Channels Television to reach the PDP and Senator Melaye to clear the allegations failed as at the time of filing this report.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has congratulated the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidates on their victory in the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States.
Lawan particularly rejoiced with the Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello on his reelection and David Lyon for making history as the first governor Bayelsa has elected on a platform different from the outgoing ruling party in the state.
The Senate President praised President Muhammadu Buhari for ensuring a level playing field that enabled the people to assert their sovereignty and choose their leaders.
“The impressive turnout of voters in the two states is a ringing endorsement of democracy by Nigerians as their preferred system, notwithstanding its current challenges,” Lawan said in a statement signed by his Special Adviser (Media), Ola Awoniyi.
Lawan also thanked the security personnel for their sacrifices for peace and order in the face of great difficulties.
The Senate President enjoined the winners to be magnanimous in victory by accommodating all sections of the state in their governments and development agenda.
Lawan also admonished the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, to learn from the challenges experienced in the two states with a view to constantly improving its institutional performance and the electoral process.
The Senate President called on the relevant agencies to ensure thorough prosecution of the electoral offenders in the two states to serve as deterrence to others.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has also congratulated the winners.
In a message signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, Gbajabiamila said the victory recorded by the APC candidates in the two states was an indication of the wide acceptance that the party enjoys.
The Speaker said Bayelsa State, in particular, has now joined the Next Level train, having seen the massive change driven by the APC-led government at the federal level.
“It is gladdening to know that our party, the APC, came out victorious in the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states. This is a testimony that Nigerians across the length and breadth of the country are beginning to realise what the APC means for the country.
“This victory is not for the party or its members alone, but for the entirety of Nigerians.
“May I call on the two governors-elect to be magnanimous in victory. The APC stands for the good of Nigerians, and I know the two governors-elect are part of the journey to make Nigeria better,” the Speaker said.
He called on the people of the two states, including members of the opposition parties, to join hands with the governors-elect to make their states great.
Three people were killed on Monday morning following a petrol tanker explosion in the Felele area, Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.
An eyewitness told Channels Television that the accident occurred after the brake of the trailer failed and the driver lost control. The tanker then rammed into a motorcycle resulting in multiple accidents and eventual explosion of the fuel-laden tanker.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected election results from two local government areas in Kogi State.
At the INEC collation office in Lokoja, the PDP’s agent, Mr. Joe Agada stated that the figures reeled out by the Collection Officers were outrageous.
Mr. Agada reacted majorly to results from Adavi and Okene Local Government Areas, where the ruling All Progressive Congress won with a very humongous margin.
According to results as reeled out by the Collection Officers of the two local government areas in question, the All Progressives Congress polled – 64,657 votes, while the Peoples Democratic Party polled – 366 votes in Adavi and in Okene, the APC polled 112,762 votes while the PDP polled only 139 votes.
Reacting to the results from Adavi, Mr. Agada argued that the turnout of voters reported by the collation officer is false.
In the case of Okene LGA, the PDP agent said that it is surprising that all of a sudden, the voters’ statistics for the council has changed in the gubernatorial election, away from what it was in the Presidential election conducted earlier in the year.
He strongly condemned the results and urged the electoral body to disregard the figures as presented, stating that the anomalies are outrageous.
In reply to Mr. Agada’s take on the results, Professor Ibrahim Umar, the Returning Officer of the Kogi Governorship election, asked the PDP agent to put his observations and complaints to paper, and file it at the appropriate quarters.
Prof. Umar, the Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, noted that at the appropriate time, the electoral body will look into the complaints of all parties involved and act accordingly.
The police have lamented that the violence in Kogi State during the governorship elections was worse than that of Bayelsa State.
Elections had been disrupted in Ward 2, Lokoja, after gunshots were fired into the air by suspected thugs.
They also made away with ballot boxes, even as electorates scampered for safety.
Speaking about the situation during an appearance on Channels TV’s special election programme, the Police Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, noted that although some of the incidences had been identified in the threat analysis and preventive measures were taken, a lot of things are still beyond the control of the security agencies.
He, however, explained that if the public knew the level of threat that was detected as well as the amount of work that went into identifying, isolating and neutralising a lot of the threat they would appreciate the efforts of the security agencies.
According to him, the fact that there were incidences of some isolated cases of violence should “not distract from the heavy investments and amount of work (they) have done”.
“The situation in Kogi has actually been very challenging, more challenging than the situation in Bayelsa,” he said.
“The truth, however, is that we saw a great deal of this in the threat analysis we conducted earlier and we actually took a lot of measures and strategic steps to isolate and neutralise some of these problems”.
Speaking further, he blamed some of the electoral malpractices and violence on politicians who play very desperate games.
According to Mba, despite being armed, the security agencies have to exercise maximum restraint in order not to harm innocent citizens.
“When you are policing an environment where politicians play very desperate games, where politicians believe in winning at all cost, where they do not believe in the rule of law or political process, you will constantly be swimming against the tide and of course you understand that as police officers, we can never behave like thugs.
“As much as we are armed, we believe first and foremost that our weapons are given to us by the state to preserve our citizens and so even when we are responding to incidents at the polling stations, we are conscious of the fact that we need to exercise maximum restraint.
“We need to exercise a lot of due care and diligence to ensure that in trying to stop the thugs, stop the law breakers, we do not bring the innocent into harm’s way”.
Voting in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital is yet to commence due to late arrival of security officials at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Registration Area Centre (RAC) in Ajayi Crowther Memorial Senior Secondary School.
According to the Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo who has been at the RAC since Friday to observe the proceedings, only two security officials were deployed the previous night, despite several requests made by officials from the Local Government office in Lokoja.
He added that security officials eventually arrived at the centre at 7:42 am which questions the transparency of the management of election security deployment.
“When the officials deployed from the local Government office requested for security, only two security officials were deployed as of last night and it delayed the distribution of sensitive materials.
“Several calls were made to security agencies and they promised they were going to deploy, but we were shocked and surprised that up till about 7:40 am this morning, the security officials were not here.”
Mr Itodo asked INEC to prepare for an extension of voting time due to the late deployment of security officials and the fact that two elections will be taking place at Kogi West; the governorship and senatorial elections.
“The INEC officials were ready to deploy but they couldn’t; so for this particular ward that has got 27 polling unit, 100 voting points with a total number of 49,000 registered voters is commencing the elections very late.
“This cast a lot of doubt on the transparency of the management of election security deployment, particularly for this ward which is big and critical.
“They need to prepare because there may need to extend voting for this polling unit that is commencing late due to late deployment of security officials,” he added.
He also revealed that other RAC’s had similar delays in the deployment of security officials based on preliminary data gathered from the PVT centre.
“Other RACs we discovered that there was delay in the deployment of security officials. As at 7 am, the reports we got from over 222 polling units, 53% of PU had reported the presence of INEC officials based on preliminary data we received from the PVT Data Centre.
“I hope that INEC is watching this situation and ensuring that when it comes to logistics deployment for this election are guaranteed.”
Mr Itodo gave details of some incidents reported at Omala Local Government Area, where thugs are interfering with the process and intimidating the polling officials.
South African Airways workers on Friday embarked on an indefinite strike for higher wages and against the national carrier’s retrenchment plan, forcing the cash-trapped airline to ground hundreds of flights.
The strike has forced South Africa’s largest carrier to cancel more than 200 domestic, regional and international flights between Friday and Saturday.
The company has asked travellers who had flights booked between Friday and Saturday not to turn up at airports and offered them a chance to rebook for free or to fly on other flights operated by partner airlines.
More than 3,000 workers, including cabin crew, check-in, ticket sales, technical and ground staff, are taking part in the open-ended, according to unions.
Hundreds of placard-waving workers picketed near O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg – one of the continent’s busiest airport – singing and dancing.
“We will continue with the strike (until demands are met),” Sifiso Mabena, an aircraft mechanic at the airport told AFP.
Unions pressed on with the walkout after talks with management deadlocked.
Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi, president of the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA), however said a new round of mediated talks with the airline was expected on Saturday.
“We have always and will always be willing to negotiate and talk to management, we have told them this time and time again,” Nsibanyoni-Mugambi told AFP.
The airline, which employs more than 5,000 workers, is one of the biggest in Africa, with a fleet of more than 50 aircraft providing dozens of domestic, regional and European flights each day.
But the company is deep in debt, despite several government bailouts, and has not recorded a profit since 2011.
The unions are pressing for a three-year guarantee of job security and an eight percent across-the-board wage hike. The airline is offering a 5.9 percent increase.
The unions said “inflated contracts” outsourcing work were “crippling SAA’s finances (and) literally bleeding SAA dry every day.”
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced in February that the government would reimburse the company’s 9.2-billion-rand ($620-million) debt over the next three years.
South Africa is struggling to get its state-owned companies back on track after nine years of corruption and mismanagement under former president Jacob Zuma.