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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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INEC Releases 2023 General Elections Report

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The Independent National Electoral Commission has released the 2023 general elections report.

Its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Sam Olumekun, disclosed this in a statement on Friday.

The report was released almost a year after the 2023 general elections.

Some Nigerians had expressed disappointment over the delayed uploads of the presidential election results to the INEC result viewing portal.

However, Olumekun said the election report was reviewed and approved for publication at the commission’s weekly meeting held on Thursday.

READ ALSO: CJN To Swear In New Supreme Court Justices Monday

He noted that the publication was done in keeping with the commission’s tradition over the last four electoral cycles, and its commitment to transparency.

Olumekun said the “comprehensive 526-page document, structured into 13 chapters and enhanced with 60 tables, 14 boxes, and 10 graphs, offered an in-depth analysis of the election’s key processes, achievements, and challenges, along with valuable lessons learned.”

Giving more insights, the national commissioner stated “The report showcases the election’s unparalleled diversity in party representation, demonstrating significant democratic progress.

“This election saw four political parties winning gubernatorial races, seven parties winning senatorial seats, eight in federal constituencies, and nine in state legislatures, illustrating a broad shift in political representation across Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Why Petroleum Tanker Drivers Called Off Strike — NARTO President

“The report underscores the pivotal role of technological advancements, particularly the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, in enhancing electoral integrity and reducing fraud.

“Furthermore, it addresses public concerns about the INEC Result Viewing portal, explaining the technical issues encountered during the upload of polling unit results for the presidential election.”

He added that other aspects covered in the report include logistics, security arrangements, staff recruitment and training, inclusivity measures, and the electoral framework,” he said.

Olumekun further stated that the commission would welcome feedback to inform future electoral reforms and improvements.

 

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CJN To Swear In New Supreme Court Justices Monday

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The newly-appointed 11 Justices of the Supreme Court will be sworn in on Monday, according to The PUNCH.

The justices are Jummai Sankey, Chidiebere Uwa, Chioma Nwosu-Iheme, Haruna Tsammani, Moore Adumein, Obande Ogbuinya, and Stephen Adah.

Others are Habeeb Abiru, Jamilu Yammama Tukur, Abubakar Sadiq Umar, and Mohammed Baba Idris

The National Assembly had on December 21, 2023, confirmed the elevation of the justices following President Bola Tinubu’s recommendation.

READ ALSO: Nursing Student Killed Self Over Unwanted Pregnancy

According to an invite sent to our correspondent on Friday, the Supreme Court’s Director of Information, Festus Akande, disclosed that the oath of office will be administered on the justices by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola.

He said, “The newly appointed 11 Justices of the Supreme Court will be sworn in by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola on Monday at 10.00 a.m. at the Main Courtroom of the Supreme Court.”

When the swearing-in of the elevated justices is done, the apex court will have the full complement of 21 justices, as stipulated by the Constitution

 

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Akeredolu’s Widow Slams Critics As Ex-governor Is Buried In Ondo

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The ancient town of Owo, Ondo State on Friday, played host to people from all walks of life who stormed the town to grace the final burial of the late former governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu.

Akeredolu, who passed away on Wednesday, December 27, 2023, during a protracted illness in a German hospital, at the age of 67, was laid to rest at the burial site in the community.

In line with the burial programme, the body of the former governor arrived in the state on Wednesday where a special court session was held in his honour after which the remains were taken to the Akure Township Stadium for a lying-in-state and commendation service.

On Friday, a funeral service was held at the St. Andrew’s Cathedral Anglican Church, Imola, Owo. The Vice President, Mallan Kashim Shettima and many dignitaries were in attendance.

READ ALSO: Aiyedatiwa Declares Public Holidays In Ondo To Honour Late Akeredolu

The wife of the late Akeredolu, Betty, in her tribute, hit hard on the critics of her relationship with her late husband.

The former first lady said “It’s me, your adorable Betty. You just left me. Just like that! It hurts. Badly it hurts. Now alone to face all manners of mockery from the so-called friends and adversaries alike. Now alone. A beg o! Can an Amotekun generalissimo be a weakling? Mbanuu! It doesn’t add up nau. Haba!”

“Not a few lashed out that you (Akeredolu) were a weakling because you loved me. I don’t think so in their homes while growing up they saw their mothers trampled upon as doormats. By the way, do they know what love is?

“They copied the template and treated their wives as pieces of furniture that can be easily discarded as trash. In many instances, the subjugation was garnished with beatings while the community looked the other way and remained unperturbed by gender-based violence. Beaten up like punch bags.”

READ ALSO: Ekiti Declares Three Days Of Mourning For Akeredolu

Speaking at the service, President Bola Tinubu, who was represented by the Vice President, described the deceased former governor as a fearless man who always stood by the truth.

“We are gathered here today to bid farewell to a remarkable soul, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu SAN, CON,” the President began, reflecting on the transience of life and the enduring impact of our choices. He is a fearless soldier for his people.”

“There was no point in life where his voice shook in telling his truth. He was a vastly intelligent man whose passion has created quite a wide vacuum beyond this community,” the President eulogised.

READ ALSO: Aiyedatiwa Replaces Five Akeredolu’s Aides

Similarly, the state Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa said his former boss always stood for good governance and the rule of law.

He stated, “You are all here because he stood for something: good governance and the rule of law. He means a lot to different people, and that is why he has been described in different words. He was a courageous leader, a fighter, and a warrior. How can we forget him so soon? It is not possible because he lives on.

“He used the instrument of governance to intervene in different sectors of the state, including education, health services, and infrastructural development and security, among others.”

Dignitaries at the burial ceremony include the Ondo State Governor Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa, the Governors of Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Osun, Ekiti, Edo, Delta, Anambra and Benue States, Engnr Seyi Makinde, Dapo Abiodun, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Abiodun Oyebanji, Godwin Obaseki, Sheriff Oborevwori, Charles Soludo and Hyacinth Alia respectively and the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje and host of others.

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