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IZE-IYAMU: A Witch Hunt Turned Smear Campaign

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By Nosa Omorodion
Suddenly, although not unexpected, the political vampires are at it again in the sustained campaign to tarnish the image of the Reverend Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, with the concocted case of financial corruption. And like it has come to be, the circumstantial allegation of liability in the alleged misuse of a federal government fund for the prosecution of the President Goodluck Jonathan 2015 reelection campaign is the blackmail tool.
Ize-Iyamu’s involvement with the money in question (N700m), was in his capacity as the Edo State Director General of the PDP Presidential Campaign. On the eve of the 2015 presidential election, he along with the State PDP Chairman, Chief Dan Orbih and other persons signed as recipients of the election fund from the PDP National Secretariat, on behalf of the state chapter of the party. They subsequently, as directed, distributed the money among relevant local government officials and others for election purposes such as payment of party agents on polling duties and other related activities.
Despite the transparency of the transaction, the EFCC says that the accused, including Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu are liable to financial offences, having taken delivery of money from a questionable source, and for distributing same without using the bank accounts of the designated recipients.
It is important to note that the charges do not include Ize-Iyamu taking the money for his personal use. The origin and the handling of the money are actually the issues and not taking money for personal aggrandizement.
However, as it was in 2016, in the run up to the Edo State Governorship Election in which Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu was the PDP Governorship Candidate against APC’s Mr. Godwin Obaseki, so it is now that Ize-Iyamu has crossed over to the APC and perceived to be a threat to the chance of the incumbent governor getting the APC Governorship Ticket to contest in the general election.
While the supporters of the Governor are enraged over the threat Ize-Iyamu allegedly poses, they are joined in mutual vendetta by the agents of the PDP from which Ize-Iyamu recently decamped to the APC. Pursuant to executing their vendetta, they have resorted to using the Ize-Iyamu’s EFCC trial over the distribution of election money as if it portrayed a conviction. Ordinarily, the manner in which the fund in question was received and distributed is a normal practice by all political parties until the EFCC decided to make an issue of it, four years ago.
Since 2016, prior to the Edo State Governorship Election, the case has not been decided. It has rather become a sort of handy report for maligning Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu anytime his opponents want to attack his credibility. fact, it has  disingenuously been promoted as evidence of Ize-Iyamu’s corruption. The peculiar nature of the allegation is deliberately obfuscated so it would look like a case carried over from when Ize-Iyamu was a high official of Edo State Government between 1999 and 2007.
In the light of this, it is therefore pertinent to state that Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has never been indicted, prosecuted or convicted of corruption for the eight years he served Edo State Government. Nevertheless, like most government officials, he has had to live with the stigma of being corrupt. This has been particularly so, given that he was a very influential member of the indicted Lucky Igbinedion administration. Some of his critics have tried to justify their perception of Ize-Iyamu’s alleged corruptibility on the ground of his being a man of great means.
However, it is fallacious to use his manifest acquisitions as indicators of involvement in financial impropriety while he held public office. That he took public office did not mean he lacked the capacity to grow his wealth or had stopped growing it with legitimate earnings. Definitely, among public officials are persons with the innate ability to grow wealth with legitimate earnings through investment in diverse businesses. Among such persons is Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who from his earnings while in public office, including fringe benefits and goodwill, grew and continues to grow his assets. It is instructive to note that prior to becoming a Chief of Staff to Governor in 1999, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu had engaged in sundry businesses that included, contracts and buying and selling. He continues to do these to date in addition to real estate business.
Without equivocation, I want to say that Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s characterization as a corrupt man by his opponents, with particular reference to the unrested EFCC case, is without basis in law and morality. He has only been a victim of a witch-hunt turned smear campaign.
Pursuant to understanding Ize-Iyamu’s peculiar circumstance, it is relevant to look at the dictionary meanings of these terms “witch-hunt” and “smear campaign”. According to Collins Dictionary, witch-hunt is “an attempt to find and punish a particular group of people who are being blamed for something, often simply because of their opinions and not because they have actually done anything wrong”.
If one may ask, what is Ize-Iyamu’s wrongdoing in taking delivery and signing for election money, along with others, on the instruction from their party’s national secretariat? How could Ize-Iyamu and others have known that the money sent to them was from a forbidden source, if really it was, when there was no accompanying document that indicated such?
It is obvious that some elements of the new administration, not necessarily President  Buhari, had wanted to quickly score a political point having rode on to power with the promise of jailing all looters of public fund. On this basis and in haste, the campaign funds for prosecuting the election by the party that was in power prior to the election looked like a fine proposition. Thus, Ize-Iyamu and many other chief actors across the nation became the scapegoats. That is not to say that there could not having been genuine instances of misappropriation by election funds by some handlers. However, the money received in Edo State was transparently and judiciously distributed by Ize-Iyamu and company. Nevertheless, his traducers would however want the public to perceive it otherwise.
Smear campaign, according to Collins Dictionary, is “a deliberate attack on somebody, by spreading an untrue and unpleasant rumour about them, or by making an accusation intended to damage their reputation”. That is exactly what Ize-Iyamu’s opponents, who are against his realizing his chance of becoming governor of Edo State have set out to do. They have even taken upon themselves the unofficial role of mouthpiece of the EFCC, advertising court dates for a case that will in the end amount to little or nothing.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that when this EFCC witch-hunt turned smear campaign first surfaced in 2016 as a ploy to frustrate Ize-Iyamu from winning the governorship election, it succeeded to the extent that some gullible electorate bought the lie. However, it could be said to have largely failed because it did not deny Ize-Iyamu of his overwhelming popularity among Edo people. As a demonstration of the confidence reposed in him, the electorate voted massively for Ize-Iyamu despite the shenanigans which saw his rival, Godwin Obaseki of the ruling party defeating him with a relatively small margin of approximately 50,000 votes. At any rate, it is popularly believed, even among Obaseki supporters, that Obaseki did not defeat Ize-Iyamu in the 2016 governorship election by the actual votes cast at the polls. Obaseki is believed to have won on the strength of massive compromise by electoral officials as well as unfair legal and judicial technicalities.
In spite of the above true narrative, the promoters of Governor Obaseki’s second term agenda and their allies in the PDP, are unrelenting in continuing with the distorted smear campaign. The sole objective, this time around, is to create a ground for forestalling the nomination of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as the governorship candidate of the APC of which he is believed to be interested in although he is yet to declare his interest.
Finally, it must be emphasized that Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s record of public service to Edo State Government for eight years remains unblemished. It is without a mention of any form of official misconduct, including financial impropriety. Those that were found culpable have been investigated and duly convicted. Ize-Iyamu is not one of them. And against the backdrop of the facts of the lingering EFCC election funds trial, it is clear that the case will not end up denting the unimpeachable character of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. However, pursuant to realizing the wickedness of their vain imagination, his devious opponents would rather want to hold up a misleading picture with the intention of deceiving as many as possible.

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PICTORIAL: Rep Gifts Daughter SUV For Graduating From Secondary School, Netizens React

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A member of the House of Representatives from Plateau State, Yusuf Gagdi, has gifted his daughter, Aisha, a new Sport Utility Vehicle as a gift on her graduation from a secondary school, Lead British International School Abuja.

Aisha was said to have excelled in her Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations, and to mark the achievement, her father surprised her with the luxury vehicle.

Sharing pictures from the graduation ceremony on Instagram on Saturday, Gagdi wrote, “Today, I attended my amazing daughter’s graduation ceremony. Watching you, my dear daughter, walk across that stage fills my heart with immense pride and love.

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“I celebrate your achievements and the strength you’ve shown. Here’s to a future filled with endless possibilities and happiness.
Congratulations, my shining star!”

READ ALSO: NEDC Inaugurates Multi-million Cattle Market In Bauchi

On Sunday, Gagdi further shared a report by #northern_trending_ on Instagram, which confirmed that he surprised her with a car gift.

The report partly read, “To celebrate her graduation and great performance in JAMB, her father surprised her with a gift of a car.”

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The lawmaker’s gesture has generated mixed reactions on social media, with some praising his generosity and others criticising the extravagant gift amidst Nigeria’s economic challenges.

One Yusuf tweeting as #kubcy17 on X.com wrote, “Absolute nonsense and rubbish in this trying time. Hon. Yusuf Gagdi doesn’t have a single respect for the people of his constituency.”

READ ALSO: Sen. Buba To Empower 130 Youth On Crop, Animal Production In Bauchi

Haidar, tweeting as #AliyumuazuIbra2, wrote, “It’s not surprising to see that a car, which even university graduates and professors dream of owning, is given as a gift to a secondary school graduate.

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“If she completes university, she might receive a private jet or a personal yacht as a gift.”

Some others, however, stood on the side of the lawmaker.

#Uthmann__ wrote on X.com, “Hon. Gagdi only displayed the car he gifted to his daughter after graduation from secondary school.

“People celebrate their children according to their pockets. This is nothing new in Abuja. And this is even a gift from dad to his daughter.”

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Sen. Buba To Empower 130 Youth On Crop, Animal Production In Bauchi

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Sen. Shehu Buba, representing Bauchi South at the Senate has selected nothing less than 130 youth to be trained and empowered on crop and animal production as well as agric extension services in Bauchi state.

Mr Mohammed Dahiru, one of the Programme Coordinators, stated this during the distribution of training forms to the selected youths in Bauchi on Saturday.

According to him, the youth were selected across the seven Local Government Areas of the Bauchi South Senatorial district the senator represents at the senate to fight food insecurity in the state.

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He said that the senator’s attention has diverted to agriculture where he thought it wise and mandated them to select 130 participants to be trained on both crops and animal production as well as Agric extension services.

READ ALSO: Relief As Foundation Takes Free Medical Outreach To Gelegele

“They will be trained on crop production like rice, maize, soya beans and many others and there is also a portion of animal production which consists of the process of raising and breeding animals for various purposes such as meat, milk, eggs, and other animal products.

“At the end of the programme, they would be able to have a knowledge of farming in both crop and animal production, financial management of farming and they will also know how to farm some selective crops that are more predominant in the state and animals that are not predominantly reared in the state.

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“They will also know how to monitor and evaluate a particular farm and the safety precautions that are within the farming activities,” he said.

Also speaking with newsmen, Engr. Musa Idi, the second programme Coordinator, said after the training, each of the beneficiaries would be empowered with some farming equipment that consists of a solar powered spraying machine.

READ ALSO: Heavy Security As Kenya Braces For More Protests

“After giving them the empowerment materials, they will be given an allowance that would help them to start something.

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“With this, they would be able to start a small farming business and put what they have learned into practice.

“This is going to help them a lot as the move by the senator is a huge one geared toward eradicating poverty,” he said.

One of the beneficiaries who spoke on behalf of others, Mohammed Ibrahim, lauded the senator for initiating the training and promised to make effective use of the training.

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NEDC Assures Adequate Development In Northeast Region

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The North East Development Commission (NEDC) has reiterated its resolve to leave no stone unturned to ensure adequate development in every part of the region.

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mohammed Alkali, made the assurance on Saturday while on project inspection to monitor the level of progress of the projects embarked upon by NEDC in Ningi Local Government Area of Bauchi state.

According to him, the commission was ever ready to provide the necessary interventions to cushion the effect of hardship experienced by the people in the region as a result of insurgency and other disasters.

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Alkali, who also assured that NEDC had not skewed its interventions towards a particular state, said every state would continue to be treated equally as far as development is concerned.

READ ALSO: NEDC Inaugurates Multi-million Cattle Market In Bauchi

He however, expressed displeasure at the pace of work with the contractor handling the construction of some structures at the National Obstetrics Fistula Center, Ningi and summoned him to Maiduguri, the Headquarters of the commission for explanations.

The Managing Director, added that this became necessary as the Commission needed to know what was causing the delay in the completion of the projects.

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He further expressed the desire of the commission to see that the facilities were put to use as soon as possible, saying that NEDC was desirous to see that both the Surgical ward and the skills acquisition centre were equipped in order to facilitate treatment and rehabilitation of the patients.

Alkali also lauded the Management of the Centre for providing adequate care to the parents and reiterating that the NEDC would always support the Centre in order to meet up to the objectives of its establishment.

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