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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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100 Civil Servants Die In Jigawa Within One Month

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The Jigawa State and Local Governments Contributory Pension Scheme said 100 civil servants died within one month.

Executive Secretary of the Board scheme, Alhaji Kamilu Aliyu Musa, disclosed this while briefing newsmen on the payment of the retirement and death benefits in his office.

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He said the Board has paid N1.215bn to 550 retirees for the month of July, 2022.

Kamilu explained that, the beneficiaries are categorized into four for the payment of their rights.

According to him “the first category include 411 beneficiaries who have retired from the service and were paid over N920,331 million.

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“The second category of the beneficiaries are those 100 people that have died while in service and their families received the total amount of N267,329 million”

“The third category of 8 beneficiaries are under the death pension balance and will get N27, 952 million as their entitlement

READ ALSO: BREAKING: APC Presidential Primaries: Jigawa Delegate Dies In Abuja

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“While the fourth category of beneficiaries are those who are not in service for up-to five years, the board will refund 8 percent to them amounting to N201,437 thousands as their entitlement.”

The Executive Secretary also reiterated the board’s commitments to pay each retired civil servant his entitlement within one month of his retirement.

He then commended Governor Muhammad Badaru Abubukar for his support to the Board and releasing the Pensioners entitlement in a right time.

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INEC Reacts As Hoodlums Burn Razed Its Enugu Office

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has confirmed that hoodlums burnt down its office at Igboeze North Local Government Area of Enugu State.

The incident occurred on Sunday night when the arsonists stormed the office situated at the council’s headquarters in Ogurute.

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Confirming the incident, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mr. Emeka Ononamadu, in a statement on Monday, said the arsonists overpowered the security guards, forced their way into the premises, and set the building ablaze.

He said although no casualties were reported, 748 ballot boxes, 240 voting cubicles, office furniture, and equipment were destroyed in spite of the effort of the Enugu State Fire Service deployed from Nsukka.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: Hoodlums Set INEC Office Ablaze In Enugu

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Ononamadu added that the Commission is working to ascertain the status of voter registration machines for the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise as well as uncollected Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) locked up in the fireproof cabinet.

”The incident has been reported to the Nigeria Police for investigation and further action.

”The attack, coming in the middle of the voter registration exercise and other preparations for the 2023 General Election, is worrisome. It will be recalled that on 23rd May 2021, our office in the neighbouring Igboeze South Local Government Area was attacked in a similar manner by unknown gunmen.

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”This followed earlier attacks on the Udenu Local Government Area office on 13th May 2021 and the State Headquarters in Enugu on 16th May 2021.

”The Commission has since substantially recovered from these attacks and resumed normal activities there, including the VR and collection of
PVCs.

READ ALSO: 2023 Elections: INEC Speaks On Voters Registration In Niger Republic

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”The Commission will continue to work with the security agencies and the emergency services to protect our facilities,” the statement added.

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Niger Attack: Death Toll Of Security Operatives Rises To 48

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The number of security personnel killed in Niger State by suspected bandits has increased following the discovery of more bodies in the bush.

Sani Kokki, the convener of Concerned Shiroro Youths of Niger State, explained that more bodies of the security operatives were discovered in the bush by the locals.

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According to Sani Kokki, “On Saturday evening, the dead body of a mobile policeman was also discovered by a passerby.”

READ ALSO: Pastor Adeboye Clarifies Reports Alleging He Asked Christians To Buy Guns

Recall that a number of soldiers, policemen and civilians were killed after bandits attacked a mining site on Wednesday in Niger State.

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He explained that the death toll of the security personnel killed by the bandits had risen to 48.

He alleged that the bandits killed 34 soldiers, eight mobile policemen and six civilians.

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