Child marriage: Bayelsa summons four-year-old girl’s parents, 54-year-old groom

The Bayelsa Government has invited the parents of a four-year-old girl and the 54-year-old man allegedly involved in a marriage in Akeddei community, Sagbama Local Government Area of the state, Sunday PUNCH has learnt.

The government’s intervention is coming on the heels of media reports of a marriage between the child bride and the 54-year-old.

In a statement on Saturday, sighted by our correspondent, the government frowned at the development, terming the ‘union’ illegal.

The statement was jointly signed by the Chairman, Gender Response Initiative Team, Dr. Dise Ogbise-Goddy, and the Director, Child Development at the state Ministry of Women Affairs, Children and Social Development, Mr Paniebi Jacob.

The government said the “illegal marriage” was not based on tradition and customs, adding that it was repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.

It added that it would not support child marriage under any guise.

The government also noted that it had received a formal complaint from a child rights advocacy group, DO Foundation, on the controversial marriage.

Also, the state Human Rights Commission said the traditional ruler of the Akeddei community honoured the government’s invitation and promised to produce the child, her parents, the groom, the youth leader and the chairman of the Community Development Committee.

“The Bayelsa State government did not hesitate to assent to the passage of the Bayelsa State Child Rights Law.

“We are taking steps to rescue the child from all the key actors in this illegal ceremony that they tagged a ‘mere spiritual’ affair.

“The law is clear on issues of tradition and customs that are repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience. Working with the Bayelsa State Police Command, we shall ensure incidents like this do not occur in the state again.

“On behalf of the governor of Bayelsa State, we express our gratitude to all the non-governmental organisations, including the International Federation of Women Lawyers and DO Foundation, that have risen to the rescue of this innocent child.

“Bayelsa State is children-friendly and this case will be pursued to a logical conclusion,” it added.

However, several media reports have alleged that the marriage involving the man, simply identified as Elder Akpos, was at the instant of the girl’s parents.

(Punch)

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Off-season gov polls: Tinubu praises INEC as PDP faults Kogi, Imo results

President Bola Tinubu, on Monday, congratulated Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State, and Governor-elect Usman Ododo of Kogi State, on their victory in the November 11 governorship elections in their respective states.

Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, said in a statement that “President Tinubu says the outcome of the elections reflects the wishes of the people, emphasising that democracy thrives when voters reward competence, transparency, and good governance.”

The President also commended the electorate in Imo, Kogi, and Bayelsa for their participation in the electoral process.

But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party faulted the results of the Kogi and Imo polls, alleging that the security agents connived with the staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission to rig the elections.

The PUNCH reports that in Imo State, Uzodimma scored 540,308 votes, defeating the PDP candidate Samuel Anyanwu who scored 71,503 votes to come second, while the Labour Party’s Athan Achonu, emerged third with 64,081 votes.

Ododo won the Kogi governorship election with 446,237 votes, defeating Muritala Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party, who garnered 259,052, while Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party came third with 46,362 votes.

In Bayelsa State, the incumbent governor, Diri, polled 175,196 to defeat his closest rival, Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress, who got 110,108 votes while the Labour Party’s Udengs Eradiri polled 905 votes.

To the winners, Tinubu said, “May your tenure in office be defined by close collaboration with all of your counterparts across party lines in the attainment of pan-Nigerian developmental achievements that benefit everyone, and may you lead at all times with compassion and a deepened commitment to our nation’s unity.”

He affirmed the resilience of democratic institutions and the power of the people in shaping the nation’s political landscape.

He also expressed gratitude to INEC for working to create a level playing field for all contestants and the nation’s security agencies for maintaining law and order during the highly-anticipated elections.

He tasked the victors to prioritise the common good of the people over partisan interests in the spirit of nurturing a harmonious, inclusive political landscape in the three states.

Uzodimma, in a broadcast in Owerri on Monday,  dedicated his electoral victory  to God and to the people of the state.

He said, “It is with a deep sense of humility, appreciation, and an abiding faith in God that I humbly accept the great honour and privilege to serve as your governor for a second term of four years.

“Because I acknowledge God in everything I do and because I know that power comes from God, the first thing I did upon receiving the news of my victory yesterday was to proceed to the church to thank God for his goodness to me and Imo people.”

Similarly, shortly after he was declared the winner of the Bayelsa poll by the INEC state Returning Officer, Prof. Kuta Farouq, Diri declared that he would continue to be governor for all Bayelsans.

He said, “I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to everyone who cast your vote in my favour and entrusted me with the responsibility of leading our beloved state.

“I am also immensely grateful to the leadership of our great party, PDP, at all levels and our dedicated campaign team and supporters, who worked tirelessly to spread our message of progress and unity throughout Bayelsa State. Your unwavering belief in our vision for prosperity and your relentless efforts have brought us this sweet victory.”

But the Bayelsa APC rejected the result of the poll.

The state APC agent, Dennis Otiotio, refused to sign the results sheets.

Otiotio claimed that the APC would have won the governorship election if over 84,000 votes scored by the party in the field were not allegedly voided by INEC.

He said, “Over 84,000 votes scored by the APC in Nembe and Southern Ijaw were cancelled. So, we will not be signing this result. In Nembe, over 29,000 votes that the APC scored were cancelled; in Southern Ijaw, over 54,000 votes that the APC scored were cancelled.

“If you add the total cancelled votes that APC scored in the field, which were about 84,806 votes if you add it to what APC scored here (at the collation centre), APC clearly won the election.

“But it is clear that INEC has colluded, connived with the PDP to cancel (it) here in this INEC office, not at the field. The votes were brought from forms EC8A and EC8B down here, and at this INEC office here, they decided to cancel over 84,000 votes scored by the APC.”

Before the Monday declaration of Diri’s victory at the poll, some PDP members had on Sunday morning marched towards the INEC state office on the Swali Market Road in peaceful protest demanding that the commission should reject results from Nembe-Bassambiri in the Nembe LGA.

They were, however, blocked by armed security operatives, who stationed Armoured Personnel Carriers and other security patrol vans before the junction on Swali Road leading to the INEC state office gate.

However, after the declaration of the final results on Monday, PDP governors congratulated Diri on his victory at the poll.

PDP Governors Forum under the leadership of Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, also commended INEC for ensuring the integrity of the process.

The forum, in a statement by its Director General, Cyril Maduabum, on Monday, noted that the good stewardship by the Diri in his first term in office won the people’s votes.

The statement read in part, “We commend the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for ensuring the integrity of the election through the proper usage of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System in instilling public confidence in the electoral process.”

Also, the Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, has congratulated Diri on his re-election for a second term.

In a congratulatory message, Shaibu described the governor as a true brother and friend.

Similarly, the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum and the Northern Emancipation Network as well as the Unified Nigeria Youths Forum, have lauded the conduct of the off-cycle governorship polls held in Kogi, Imo, and Bayelsa states, describing them as free, fair and credible.

According to the AYCF President, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, the elections were free, fair, and credible.

On their part, a statement signed by NEN’s Chairman, Suleiman Abbah, noted the commendable neutrality displayed by the security personnel deployed to the respective states in ensuring secure environments for voters to exercise their civic rights freely during the recent elections.

Also, the Unified Nigeria Youths Forum noted with delight that the Imo state polls results reflected the wishes of the people.

The UNYF’s National Publicity Secretary, Aliyu Mohammed, while addressing a press conference in Kaduna on Monday, commended the peaceful conduct of the Imo election despite earlier predictions of violence.

Also, the ruling APC applauded President Tinubu, INEC and security agents over the peaceful conduct of the just concluded governorship elections in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa states.

In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, APC National Director of Publicity, Bala Ibrahim, stated that it was a validation of the president’s promise to hold free and fair polls during his administration.

But the leadership of the Labour Party has rubbished the notion, lamenting that the just concluded governorship elections were a carryover of the 2023 general polls.

Reacting, the Chief Spokesman of the Labour Party Campaign Organisation stated that it would be a mockery for anybody to label the elections as free and fair conduct.

“There was no free and fair election anywhere. This is the danger of refusing to address the 2023 February election where you saw manipulation and stealing of ballot papers take place,” he said.

(Punch)

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Nigerian Dailies: 10 talking points this Monday

Good morning! Here is today’s summary from Nigerian Newspapers:

1. The Peoples Democratic Party and the Labour Party on Sunday cried foul as Governor Hope Uzodimma, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, was declared the winner of Saturday’s governorship poll in Imo State by the Independent National Electoral Commission. The electoral body affirmed Uzodimma’s re-election, having won in all the 27 local government areas of the state.

2. Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has said his refinery has secured a licence to refine more than 300,000 barrels of Nigerian crude per day and will begin to process gasoline soon. Dangote said this in an interview in Riyadh on the sidelines of the Saudi-Nigeria business roundtable, according to Bloomberg.

3. The Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle, says the Federal Government has achieved a lot in the fight against oil theft. Matawalle, in an interview, said many practical gains had been recorded in the resolve to end oil theft in the Niger Delta region. He also said the country was hopeful of producing 1.9 million barrels of crude oil per day before the end of the year.

4. The All Progressives Congress Governorship candidate, Usman Ododo, has been announced winner of the just concluded November 11 governorship election in Kogi State. Ododo won with 446,237 votes, defeating his closest rival, Murtala Ajaka of the Social Democratic Party, who garnered 259,052, while Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party pulled 46,362 votes.

5. The Independent National Electoral Commission has adjourned the collation of governorship election results from the local government areas in Bayelsa State till 12 noon on Monday. The Head of Department, Voter Education and Publicity INEC office, Yenagoa, Mr. Wilfred Ifogah, announced this to party agents, election observers and journalists at the state’s collation centre on Sunday.

6. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Sunday, fixed Saturday November 18, 2023, to conduct elections in wards in Ogori/Magogo where it earlier suspended elections over irregularities. INEC, in a statement by its National Commissioner & Member Information and Voter Education Committee, Mohammed Haruna, however said the conduct of the proposed fresh elections would be “subject to the Returning Officer’s determination of the application of the Margin of Lead Principle.”

7. The candidate of the People Democratic party(PDP) Senator Dino Melaye has rejected the result of Saturday’s governorship election. Melaye described the election as a sham and charade, saying “the purported APC victory was a pure daylight robbery that can not withstand democratic test in all measure”.

8. Governorship candidate of Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Kogi State, Murtala Ajaka, has alleged irregularities in Saturday’s election. Ajaka said he won’t challenge the outcome of the poll in court, saying it will be a waste of time. He spoke when he appeared on Channels TV on Sunday.

9. Senate President Godswill Akpabio has described Nigeria’s legislature as the least misunderstood arm of government, saying the body has always been the subject of attacks and ridicule. He spoke in Abeokuta, Ogun State, at the 100th birthday colloquium in honour Senator Kunle Oyero, a member of the Senate in the Second Republic, representing Ogun Central.

10. The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, has welcomed the decision of the Senate to probe alleged admission racketeering in universities, saying it would be vindicated. It will be recalled that the Senate had on Wednesday, agreed to investigate allegations of admission racketeering in the nation’s universities, following a motion moved by Senator Onyeka Nwebonyi, Ebonyi North.

(Daily Post)

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Bayelsa guber: Labour Party’s candidate loses polling unit to Gov Diri

Udengs Eradiri, the candidate of the Labour Party, LP, has been defeated at his own Polling Unit by incumbent Governor Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Diri, who is seeking re-election, won at Unit 05, Ward 10, Yenagoa local government area (LGA).

The final tally showed that Diri garnered 130 votes, while Eradiri managed only eight votes. The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timipre Sylva, got 45 votes in the same polling unit.

Diri also claimed victory at the Yindimie Compound Square, Polling Unit 013, Ward 10, Sagbama LGA, with 137 votes. Sylva secured 55 votes in the same location.

It was observed that PDP won at the Amadikurumor Compound Square, Polling Unit 014, Ward 10, with 195 votes, while the APC received 89 votes.

Eradiri garnered only one vote in Unit 014 and failed to secure any votes in Unit 013.

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Bayelsa guber poll: Judiciary vindicated for reinstating me, says APC guber candidate, Sylva

Following the Appeal court verdict reinstating him as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva has said that the judiciary has vindicated itself.

Recall that the High Court in Abuja had on October 9 declared that Sylva was not eligible to participate in the gubernatorial contest having already spent five years in office as governor of the state.

The Court of Appeal reversed the high court verdict on Tuesday, reinstating Sylva as APC candidate for the November 11 guber poll.

Sylva reacted to the development on Tuesday in Abuja after meeting with the Deputy National Chairman, North, Bukar Dalori and the National Secretary of the party, Senator Ajibola Bashir.

The immediate past Minister of Petroleum insisted that it was very clear that the APC is going to win the November 11 governorhip election.

Sylva said that was the reason the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) decided to go to court to stop him to make sure he’s not on the ballot.

Sylva stated: “Today, when the court now said that the guy who did not participate at all in the process had no locus, and I was a little bit confused, but the judiciary has vindicated itself.”

He said although the person that took him to court claim to be a member of APC, the suit was orchestrated by the PDP.

(Daily Post)

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