The Federal High Court sitting in Benin City has ruled that it has jurisdiction to entertain the money laundering charge brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the Peoples Democratic Candidate (PDP) governorship candidate in the 2016 governorship election in the state, and four others.
Ize-Iyamu and the other defendants; a former deputy governor of Edo State, Lucky Imasuen, former PDP chairman, Chief Dan Orbih; Tony Aziegbemi and Efe Erimuoghae were alleged to have sometime in March 2015 in Benin City directly taken possession of the sum of ₦700,000,000 without any contract award which sum was allegedly part of proceeds of an unlawful act.
They had pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against them.
However, the counsel to the first defendant, Charles Edosomwan, SAN, had challenged the jurisdiction of the Court to hear the matter arguing that the appropriate Court to try the matter was the Magistrate or High Court of the state.
Justice Mohammed Garba Umar in his ruling however said the matter before the Court was money laundering which the Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction over and therefore dismissed their application adjourning the case till May 18 for further hearing.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Benin City the Edo state capital has set aside the jugdement of the High Court which nullified the candidacy of the deputy governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the 2020 Edo governorship election, Audu Ganiyu and governorship candidate in that poll, Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
The high court had in the judgement delivered on 6th January 2021 held that Ganiyu had submitted false information to the independent national electoral commission, INEC, in his form ec9.
In delivering judgement on three separate appeals filed against the judgement by Osagie Ize—Iyamu, Audu Ganiyu and the APC, the Court of Appeal on Monday held that the case at the high court was statute barred as the matter was filed out of time.
As to the claim of forgery, the court of appeal set aside the judgement of the lower court holding that it lacked merit as no proof of forgery was made against the defendant and the claims concerning the differences in spelling of name amounted to mere discrepancies and not enough to prove actus reus.
No other person had come out to claim that the appellant was using his certificate.
The Edo State High Court sitting in Benin has disqualified the All Progressives Congress deputy governorship candidate in the September 19, 2020 election, Audu Ganiyu.
While delivering judgment in Benin City on Wednesday, the presiding judge, Justice H.A Courage-Ogbebor said that Ganiyu presented false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission in his Form EC9.
This comes as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, Sunday Kadiri Oshoakhemhe, had in a suit No: B/358/20 filed a case against the APC deputy governorship candidate and two others.
In his suit, Kadiri said the APC deputy-governorship candidate allegedly gave false information in form EC 9 to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to aid his qualification.
Meanwhile, the Edo APC Media Campaign Council has reacted to the court verdict, saying the party’s candidate; Osagie Ize-Iyamu would appeal the ruling
In a statement issued shortly after the judgement, Chairman of the party’s Campaign Council, John Mayaki, said the governorship election remains subject of litigation over what he described as contended discrepancies in the academic credentials of the declared winner, Governor Godwin Obaseki.
“I have already instructed my Counsel to appeal against the judgment, as I am convinced that the Court of Appeal will dispassionately consider the facts presented before the Court and arrive at a just decision in accordance with the law,” he said.
Ize-Iyamu also described the ruling as “unfortunate and utterly wrong,” urging his supporters to remain calm and law-abiding, while expressing confidence that justice will prevail in the matter.
A spokesman for the Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu Campaign Organisation, John Mayaki, on Thursday said reports that his principal asked Governor Godwin Obaseki to return to APC are false.
In a statement forwarded to Channels Television via email, Mayaki suggested such reporting was a continuation of the media’s lack of news verification before publication.
Some news media (not Channels Television) had earlier reported that Ize-Iyamu, in a television broadcast on Wednesday, had made the appeal.
However, Mayaki insisted Ize-Iyamu is yet to address the press since the election results were announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission on Sunday.
He said the video being referenced was broadcast three months ago.
“We warned several times that the media should beware of fabrications from Obaseki and the PDP camp, but they did not listen,” Mayaki said. “That is why they have reported that the election was free and fair, and that is why they have said our candidate appealed to Obaseki to come back to APC.
“The video in reference is from three months ago, not after the election but doctored by Governor Obaseki media handlers to seek undue legitimacy.”
Mayaki also wondered if the media was being sponsored by Governor Obaseki and the PDP, as it seemed implausible that they (the media) actually believed the story.
“Pastor Ize-Iyamu was reported in the stories as speaking from Abuja, but it was the Benin reporters that covered the story. Were the reporters transported to Abuja? Do these media agencies actually believe the stories they carry? Obaseki and the PDP has a way of leaking false news to the media and the media has to be sensitive and professional in receiving these news,” he said.
He also warned that there is a fake Twitter account purporting to belong to Pastor Ize-Iyamu, which has been disseminating false information. He warned the media to avoid it like a plague and verify all their information before passing them on.
“I only wish the media had been more professional during the elections; they were not and what is done is done,” he said. “They don’t know how violent and anti-democratic it was in several parts of Edo State, including Egor in Benin City, and so they reported that the elections were free and fair. At least, going forward, let them verify all news before passing it on. It is the basic ethic of the profession.”
The re-elected Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has extended a hand of fellowship to leaders and members of the opposing party, All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
Obaseki while receiving his certificate of return on Tuesday at the INEC office in Aduwawa, Benin City, said the fight is over between him and his predecessor Adams Oshiomhole who is also the former Chairman of the APC.
He called on the flagbearer of the APC, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and other members to join in the administration of the state.
“I am using this opportunity to extend a hand of fellowship to my brother Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and other colleagues in the APC to join us and work with us so that we can move Edo forward.
“On a specific note, I want to use this opportunity to call on the former Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole that the fight is over and he should come and join in building the house where he was part of laying the foundation. We have no malice. The only thing we disagree on is the approach in moving Edo State forward,” he said.
Obaseki adds that both members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and APC are one family and cooperation is needed in moving Edo State forward.
“To our friends and brothers on the other side of the divide, we are one family in the pursuit to provide services and public goods for our citizens.
“Our citizens have decided that for now, they trust us more to provide the leadership. It does not mean that they do not have a role to play. It does not mean that they are not part of the family,” the governor stressed.
The electoral body had earlier issued certificates of return to Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and his deputy, Phillip Shaibu at the INEC office in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The National Commissioner, INEC in charge of Edo, Rivers, and Bayelsa, Mrs May Agbmuche-Mbu made the presentation and commended stakeholders including the security agencies for their role in the smooth conduct of the poll.
The Edo election is the first major poll amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the exercise saw an average turn out across the voting centres with both young and old alike coming out for the accreditation process and thereafter, casting their votes.
Voting has officially ended and now Nigerians await the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to complete the process of collation and counting the ballots to find out who has the mandate to run the state’s affairs for the next four years.
While the incumbent governor believes godfatherism has been destroyed at the state level, he says the goal is to end it at the Federal level, making reference to a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, who had earlier on Tuesday in a broadcast, asked voters to reject him (Obaseki).
“Then, the real one that is disturbing Nigeria, he came up yesterday with some strange conference. He is afraid; he knows that when we finish the Edo god-father on Saturday, then it is him next and by the grace of God, we will end godfatherism in Nigeria.”
Obaseki said he was confident of his victory on Saturday, saying over one hundred groups have endorsed him, including the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Nigerian Union of Teachers, the association of welders, among others.
“With so many groups, more than 120 groups endorsing me and my deputy as governor, who is left?,” he said.
After weeks of controversial campaigns and events, the election is set to hold on Saturday with both Governor Obaseki of the PDP and Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the APC, widely believed to be leading candidates.
With the Edo State governorship election less than a week from now, the fear of violence and tension can now be doused following the signing of a peace pact by political parties and their candidates.
The signing organised by the National Peace Committee (NPC) took place on Tuesday in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
During the programme, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate and incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki embraced his main rival and contender in the poll, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The duo beaming with smiles warmly hugged each other, an indication that they have decided to toe the line of peace and avoid unnecessary bloodshed in the election.
Spirit Of The Pact
On his part, Obaseki promised that he, as a PDP candidate, will live by the letters and spirit of the peace pact.
He, however, asked the NPC to reach out to some political actors whom he said wield much influence and are interested in the election.
The governor explained that the move is necessary in order not to let the exercise to end in futility, adding that, “I want to commit publicly once again that I will live by the letter and spirit of the accord that has just been signed.
“Before leaving the stage, I want to appeal to the National Peace Committee not to end their work with the signing of this accord.
“There are other actors in the political space who will have and exercise influence in the political space and also elections to reach out to them to persuade them about the importance of this accord we have just signed,” he said.
Talk To Our Supporters
In furtherance of the peaceful conduct of the election, Pastor Ize-Iyamu promised that the APC will conduct itself peacefully.
The APC candidate pledged that the party will talk to its supporters to eschew violence before, during and after the polls.
He also commended the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare for his efforts in ensuring that the exercise holds in a manner free from bloodshed.
“Let me reaffirm to our commitment to what has been signed and to reassure Nigerians that and particularly our people in Edo State that we will talk to all our supporters.
“We will conduct ourselves peacefully. We will do all our best to ensure that the election is peaceful,” he said.
Strong disagreements over approaches to governance and records took centre stage during the governorship debate between the governorship candidates of the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party on Sunday.
Viewers who tuned in for the two-hour debate between Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the APC and Governor Godwin Obaseki of the PDP witnessed first hand the disagreements and issues that have seen the state witnessed one of the most controversial campaigns in recent years.
Both candidates, widely believed to be leading candidates for the September 19 election, disagreed on virtually every issue – job creation, debt profile, governance, qualification, and the facts that they built their plans on.
Beyond a handshake at the start of the debate, they would only agree on the need for community policing and the importance of a refinery project; the latter still sparked some disagreement.
The debate kicked off with opening statements.
Ize-Iyamu said, based on his experience and agenda, he would be a square peg in a square hole. “I have a clear cut agenda and we know what to do,” he said.
In his opening statement, Obaseki said his administration had made remarkable and fundamental changes in how Edo state is governed. “Our achievements are so numerous,” he said.
Ize-Iyamu quickly went on the offensive, accusing Obaseki of creating bogus jobs in the state. “In the past one month, he has appointed over 2,000 people as SSA and social media and the rest of them; those are not jobs.”
In his defence, Obaseki said jobs created by his administration – about 157,000 – were verifiable via third-party sources such as the National Bureau of Statistics. He also noted that the government’s role was not to directly create jobs but to leverage and create an enabling environment for the private sector.
Ize-Iyamu said his government will abolish multiple taxations in Edo state. “I heard them say they have abolished Agberos, but I can name so many who are still in the employment of the Edo state government,” he said. He also advocated for the widening of the tax net. “I do not believe, because we are looking for money, we should maintain a very high tax level.”
He said the Obaseki administration hasn’t done anything new to improve tax administration. “All they have tried to do is to increase taxation, or because of election, relax on it.”
On tax, Obaseki said his administration only collects tax from people who have earnings. He also claimed to have widened the tax net by bringing more people into the formal sector. He insisted that his administration had deployed technology to eliminate the use of cash collection and reduce corruption in the process. “I will not allow lions and tigers to collect taxes in Edo state,” he said.
Edo state is an oil-producing state and Obaseki said his administration has worked to set up a modular refinery in the state.
“The refinery is 90 percent read and in the next few months, it will be ready and commissioned and people will see oil being produced in Edo state,” Obaseki said.
However, Ize-Iyamu said the modular refinery was an APC idea and lampooned Obaseki for not investing enough in its success.
“I know that the initial capital is $10million,” he said. “It will interest Edo people to know that our investment is just N700 million, which is less than one percent of the share in that company. That, to me, does not show seriousness.”
Obaseki defended his administration’s record on debt by saying his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole, borrowed recklessly.
The federal government, he said, had to restructure the state’s debts.
“What people don’t even know is that there were unpaid debts to contractors, to the extent of another N60 to N70 billion,” he said.
In his response, however, Ize-Iyamu faulted Obaseki’s criticism of the Oshiomhole administration.
“Sometimes you seem to forget the role you played in the past government,” he said.
Obaseki served the Oshiomhole administration as an economic adviser.
Ize-Iyamu further went on to accuse the Obaseki administration of financial misappropriation. He said about N75 billion has been collected and “shared to cronies.”
Bloated Civil Service?
Obaseki said the Edo State civil service was not bloated, but aged.
“We need to bring more people, smarter people into government,” he said.
He accused Ize-Iyamu, during his time as Secretary to the Edo State Government, of sacking the Crème de la crème of the civil service.
“Currently, we are restructuring the civil service,” he said.
Ize-Iyamu refuted Obaseki’s claim that he sacked the best of the civil service by mocking his fellow contestant for not being able to re-train civil servants. “I left office 13 years ago,” he said. “For eight years, you served under a government and you are telling us that you did no training. That lamentation is scandalous.”
He added that Obaseki’s model for the civil service was not working.
“The model the Governor has tried to adopt is to reduce the workforce to the barest minimum, but unfortunately, whatever savings he thinks he is making is not being seen in capital projects,” he said.
Ize-Iyamu accused Obaseki of under-investment in security.
He claimed Obaseki has not invested in tracking technology and drones.
“When you invest in security, the issue of cultism, thuggery, violence, you can tackle them,” he said.
In his response, Obaseki said his administration has rethought security and created a new security architecture for the state.
He also informed the audience that his administration actually has invested in trackers.
“These are security matters,” he said, “so I am not going to sit here and tell you how much we have invested in security.”
One of the issues both candidates agreed on was community policing.
Ize-Iyamu said the concept is not bad, but grey areas must be sorted with the federal government.
“I believe that state police is required,” Obaseki said.
Under Nigeria’s constitution, security is on the exclusive list.
Ize-Iyamu said it was regrettable that Edo state is being stigmatised on the issue of human trafficking.
“We don’t want our state to be stigmatised,” he said.
He said it was imperative to make the state economically viable to discourage people from leaving.
Obaseki said he was proud of what his administration has done to reduce human trafficking in the state and criticised past governments for downplaying the issue.
“We were in denial,” he said. “Government was pretending it didn’t exist because people were benefiting from the trade.”
Ize-Iyamu advocated for a shift to e-learning.
“We need to resort to technology,” he said. “We also need to train our teachers.”
He said the Obaseki administration was trying to train a teacher for N1.5 million.
“And the Governor said they have trained 11,000 teachers; that means they have spent over N16 billion on just training teachers. But this training, how has it impacted our children?”
Responding to Ize-Iyamu, Obaseki said he wished he had the kind of money (N16 billion) being bandied. “We would do wonders,” he said.
He said his administration has transformed basic education in Edo state, through EdoBest, “to the applaud of the whole world.”
Obaseki said Edobest was about using technology to facilitate education; the system, he said, has come in handy through the pandemic.
Ize-Iyamu faulted Obaseki’s record on healthcare in terms of personnel compensation and recruitment, and infrasttructure.
“There are some things you can’t cut corners with,” he said. “Today if you do an audit of the entire doctors in Edo State Health Management Board, they are less than 200. We need to employ health personnel.”
Responding, Obaseki said his administration is rethinking healthcare.
“We should not think of healthcare as hospitals, but as a system,” he said.
He also said his administration has introduced the Edo State Health Insurance scheme. “Once people can put something aside for their health care, then it becomes easy to pay for care and get investments into the health care system.”
Obaseki lauded his administration’s efforts in agriculture.
He argued that they’ve helped farmers de-risk farming by providing support with fertilisers, new seedlings, and off-take.
“The sort of yield we are getting from maize, rice, has been impressive,” he said.
In a riposte, Ize-Iyamu said the Obaseki administration has failed to position the state for agriculture excellence.
“As of today, what do you know Edo for?” he asked. “There are some states you say rice, some you say cocoa, but what do you know Edo for? Nothing.”
He said his administration will invest in small-scale and commercial farming. “We believe that farming is the right way to go,” he said.
Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu contested in the 2016 Governorship election in the state.
In 2020, both have switched political allegiances, with Obaseki moving from the APC to the PDP after Ize-Iyamu switched sides.
Describing why he left the APC to join the PDP, Obaseki said it was a decision he made with the support of his base after he was disqualified from the APC primaries.
He thanked the PDP leadership for admitting him into the party and giving him a platform to contest for a second term.
On his part, Ize-Iyamu said he was one of the founding fathers of the APC and only left because of certain issues.
“I am going to a place that I built,” he said. “It’s a homecoming.”
Obaseki was disqualified from the APC primaries based on controversies around the authenticity of his University certificate obtained from the University of Ibadan.
On Sunday, he defended his school credentials by re-stating that he attended the university.
The University had confirmed he graduated.
“It’s a very sad testimony that in a country like Nigeria, you find people who do not have the qualifications, have the effrontery to challenge the qualifications of those who went to proper schools,” he said.
Allegations of cultism and violence during his time at the University of Benin have previously been leveled against Ize-Iyamu.
On Sunday, he waved off the allegations.
“I graduated from the University of Benin. I was very active in the Students Union. And my records are clear. People have alleged that ‘oh, when you were in school, you did that’.
“But I think they should go to school authorities and find out exactly what was the offence. I am proud to say that throughout my stay, I had no criminal matter.”
Ize-Iyamu went on to allege that Obaseki failed his O-Levels and has not been able to present an A-Levels certificate.
The Oshiomhole Affair
Oshiomhole, undoubtedly a major factor in the election, came up at the tail-end of the debate.
Asked to describe their relationship with the former Governor, Obaseki said he was one of those who helped Oshiomhole win his election as Governor.
“I supported him,” Obaseki said. “I put together the plan for his administration and for eight years I worked pro-bono to make sure he succeeded.”
However, he said Oshiomhole had his own agenda when he (Obaseki) became Governor.
“He had his own personal agenda and thought that I would be so subservient, and he didn’t realise I would have been as independent as I have become,” he added.
But Ize-Iyamu said he was shocked at Obaseki’s claim.
“When I heard the claim that he raised money (for Oshiomhole), I laughed,” he said.
The debate ended with both candidates getting the opportunity to ask each other a question.
Ize-Iyamu questioned Obaseki over one of his agriculture projects in Sobe, Edo state, for which he had apparently borrowed N2 billion. “That money, has it been plowed back to that project? Is that money back to the state coffers? Or has the project failed?” Ize Iyamu queried.
Obaseki denied that N2 billion was spent on the project and said it was still ongoing.
For his own question, Obaseki asked Ize-Iyamu how he hoped to fund his SIMPLE agenda, in light of the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The waste you waste money is not the way I waste money,” Ize-Iyamu replied. “I’m very prudent in financial management.”
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Edo State election, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, says Governor Godwin Obaseki has spent over 75billion naira on projects that have all gone to waste.
Speaking at the governorship debate put together by Channels Television and its partners on Sunday, Ize-Iyamu said the present government has nothing to show for monies purportedly allocated to various projects.
Ize-Iyamu went on to give examples of sectors and projects for which ‘Obaseki has collected loans’, describing the figures as “staggering”.
“Let me give you just an example, in the agricultural sector, the loan that the governor has collected is staggering.
“The failed Sobe Maize project, 2billion went down the drain. The Agenebode rice project 5billion went down the drain and then the oil palm project you have collected 69billion from the Central Bank and the money has been shared with cronies, and no Edo person has benefitted from that money and I can tell you that has also gone down the drain.
“So just from agriculture alone, I have named three areas where over 75billion has been collected, not to talk about monies you are collecting from the World Bank and the rest of them.
“You came in at a time when you had so much windfall, Paris Club, bailout funds, 75million C4 World Bank loan, all these monies came in, what did you do with them? Where are the projects? Where are the roads? Where are the hospitals?
“All the promises that you made remain unfulfilled,” Ize-Iyamu stated.
He maintained that in the past four years, the economy of Edo has been mismanaged and plundered, stressing that all the huge amounts that we receive at the inception of this administration have practically left the state without any serious project to show for them.
According to the APC candidate, Obaseki had the opportunity to diversify Edo State’s economy, but “the governor made a very lame attempt and he failed completely and we are in a very sorry state”.
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Edo State election, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has faulted Governor Godwin Obaseki on his claim on job creation during Sunday’s governorship debate.
Ize-Iyamu, reacting to a claim by Obaseki that his administration had created 157,000 jobs so far, accused the governor of getting his facts wrong.
“I am sure he is not going to misplace the appointments he is making now as jobs,” Ize-Iyamu said during the debate in Benin City.
“I know in the past one month, he has appointed over 2,000 people as SSA s on social media and the rest of them.
“Those are not jobs. When you say you have created jobs, in what area? We know for example that there is a glaring vacancy in the teaching profession and every school we went to, they practically had no teacher,” he said.
Governor Obaseki, while defending his performance in the area of human capital development had said, “At the onset, I promised to create a minimum of 200,000 jobs within a four-year period.
“Just before COVID-19, we had created both direct and indirect jobs for Edo people as much as 157,000 jobs.
Ize-Iyamu, who did not provide alternative figures to counter the governor’s jobs creation claim, said if the numbers were true, it would have significantly boosted the state’s economy.
“If it is true that we are able to have the number of jobs that the Edo State governor claims, our IGR will not be where it is. There will be a significant leap,” he said.