Thursday, 21 April 2011

News Report: African Union Lifts Ivorian Sanctions But Violence Simmers

One Of The Aftermaths Of Ivorian Violence

The African Union lifted sanctions on Ivory Coast on Thursday, ending four months of diplomatic isolation, but fighting between armed groups underscored the challenges facing the new president.

The AU's move follows President Alassane Ouattara's victory in a post-election power struggle with Laurent Gbagbo, who had refused to step down after a November election but was captured last week in a French and United Nations-backed assault on his forces. Gbagbo is now under house arrest in the country's north.

Ouattara received almost universal international backing during the stand-off and international organizations have shown they are ready to help out. But he must heal deep divisions, including many within his own camp.

"We recommended that the president-elect (should) pursue building peace in Ivory Coast, reconcile people and make Ivory Coast a country where people are in unity," Joseph Nsengimana, Rwanda's AU ambassador and chairman of the AU's Peace and Security Council, told journalists on Thursday.

Nsengimana was speaking after the punitive sanctions, imposed to try and force Gbagbo to relinquish power, were lifted at a meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The European Union has also eased some of its restrictions, paving the way for exports to resume, although shippers say it will take weeks to reach normal volumes. Ivory Coast is the world's leading cocoa producer.

But more than ten days after Gbagbo's arrest, pro-Ouattara forces are still struggling to get full control of the main city Abidjan, which was wracked by nearly two weeks of heavy fighting and looting.

On Wednesday Ouattara's forces clashed with remnants of pro-Gbagbo militia, as well as members of the formerly allied "Invisible Commando", which spearheaded attacks on Gbagbo's forces ahead of last month's full-out assault.Residents said fighting had died down in Abobo and Yopougon overnight, though sporadic gunfire was still heard.

Kascou Coul, a member of the Abobo-based "Invisible Commando", said they were on high alert and some colleagues had been arrested but Ibrahim Coulibaly, the force's chief, was seeking to resolve the situation. There are long-standing divisions between Coulibaly and the pro-Ouattara forces.

A member of the pro-Gbagbo militia in Yopougon also said talks were under way. "They started yesterday. We want peace so life can return to normal in Yopougon," said Gerome Youan.

After months of failed diplomacy, the pro-Ouattara former rebels from the north launched an offensive in late March, seizing swathes of territory before becoming bogged down in urban combat.

U.N. and French forces intervened to destroy Gbagbo's heavy weapons in an operation that provided Ouattara forces the breakthrough they needed, ending a crisis that has killed well over 1,500 people and forced 1 million from their homes.

The turmoil has shattered Ivory Coast's economy and social services and the United Nations on Thursday warned of the threat of spreading polio after three children were confirmed as having the crippling disease.

Credit: Reuters

News Release: Afenifere Lauds Jonathan’s Victory, Condemns Violence In The North

Fasoranti: Afenifere Leader
Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has congratulated President Goodluck Jonathan for his victory in the presidential elections, while condemning the violence, arson and general breakdown of law and order rocking some Northern states.

The group sued for peace and an end to the killings and destruction in the North.
Afenifere also commiserated with the families of innocent citizens killed in the mayhem, especially NYSC members patriotically serving their Fatherland. It prayed that God would give their families the grace to bear the tragedy.

Applauding President Goodluck Jonathan on his emergence as the President-Elect, Chief Chief Fasoranti noted that the PDP Candidate, “obtained majority votes in the South-West, and substantial support in all the other five geo-political zones in Nigeria across political party lines in last Saturday’s presidential elections.”

Afenifere wished the President well, and urged him to satisfactorily utilize the mandate he had received from all Nigerians to manage the affairs of the Nation for the next four years.

A statement by Afenifere Leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, advised aggrieved politicians with evidence and facts capable of impeaching the acclaimed transparency of the recently conducted elections to seek redress from courts of competent jurisdiction.

Saying that following the legitimate path to redress would strengthen and deepen the nation’s democracy, Fasoranti however observed that resorting to violence in reaction to the election results clearly endangered the nation’s democracy.

“The aggrieved parties may not accept the current electoral results but so far this appears to be the standing decision of the majority,” Fasoranti said. He added however that, “Fortunately, the Judiciary in the past has shown itself convincingly capable of dispensing justice in electoral matters. And politicians should show faith, follow due process avail themselves of the very promising opportunity offered by the courts.”

Fasoranti warned politicians to refrain from making inciting and unsubstantiated statements regarding the electoral process.
In what appears to be Afenifere setting an agenda for the President, the group’s Leader said Nigerians expected the President to address salient issues critical to their country’s survival as a Nation State.

“Afenifere expects him to immediately embark upon an urgent public works programme to stimulate the economy and also alleviate the mass youth unemployment in the country. Afenifere expects the President to address the issue of infrastructural deficit in all parts of Nigeria and ensure that existing trunk roads are rehabilitated to make them motorable highways immediately,” the statement said.

Noting that President Jonathan on coming to power last May had promised enhancement of electricity generation and distribution, Afenifere hoped the country would achieve stable power supply within the next two years.

Pa Fasoranti further said: “Afenifere expects an increase in the revenue allocation for the education and health sectors in the President's next budget. Afenifere has always objected to the lack of transparency in the economic management of our resources and the endemic corruption in the polity. We expect a more prudent management of our collective wealth, a reduction in the cost of running government and a robust determination on the part of Jonathan's administration to combat corruption through the investigation and prosecution of public office holders who either have allegations or established financial impropriety leveled against them. The administration must not just be mouthing its determination to combat corruption.”

According to Afenifere, the Jonathan administration would enhance Nigeria’s democracy and write its memory in gold by introducing a Bill to the National Assembly for the convening of a Sovereign National Conference.

“A Sovereign National Conference will further strengthen our democracy as Nigerians can then restructure the polity by fashioning out an autochthonous Constitution as opposed to the unitary military Constitution we have been operating since 1999,” Afenifere’s statement said.

 Chief Reuben Fasoranti O.F.R.
 Leader of Afenifere.

Article: Details Of Election Rigging Spree In Imo State

Governor Ohakim Of Imo State
By Ikenna Samuelson Iwuoha
The April 9th 2011 election has come and gone but its reverberating effect in Imo State will continue for a very long time because the  will of the people have been short changed. It should be recalled that on the 22rd of March 2011, this writer did an expose on how INEC, PDP and Ikedi Ohakim plan to rig the election in Imo State. It is important to note that apart from the fact that Professor (Mrs.) Selina Okoh, the state INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner and the State INEC Administrative Secretary are very corrupt people who assisted in rigging the April 9th 2011 election for PDP. It should also be noted that the appointment of Professor Celestine O.E Onwuliri, the Vice-chancellor of the Federal University of Technology (FUTO) and Husband of the Deputy Governorship candidate of PDP as the state Returning Officer for governorship and presidential elections is an indictment on Professor Attahiru Jega.
This information of appointment of Professor Celestine Onwuliri as the State Returning Officer was contained in a letter dated April 1st  2011 and addressed to the resident electoral commissioner INEC Imo State (Prof Selina Okoh) with reference number INEC/CH/ROE/VOL.I and signed by Professor Attahiru Jega himself.  Despite opposition to the appointment of professor Celestine Onwuliri as the State Returning Officer, Professor Attahiru Jega refused to change him as at 12th April 2011.
Apart from that, many FUTO lecturers have been appointed as local government returning officers. Also lecturers of Federal Polytechnic Nekede are local government returning officers. The rector of the polytechnic is the wife of current commissioner for education in Imo State, Professor Jude Njoku. It is therefore very obvious that there is a clear conspiracy to rig the on-coming election for Imo PDP as it happened on the National Assembly Election Day.
Let me use the April 9th election to prove that there in indeed a conspiracy among INEC officials, PDP and Ikedi Ohakim to rig the election. Using Owerri Municipal Council as a test case, election materials were distributed late. In Aladimma Ward I, election in Booth 001 was cancelled by residents of the ward because it was discovered that all the 668 registered voters in that booth do not live in the ward and are unknown people. The same fake voters’ registration happened in so many wards in the State.
In Ohaji/Egbema, the speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Mr Goodluck Nana Opia
used Lorry loads of armed men to intimidate, harass and disperse voters. Ballot boxes were then carried under the watchful eyes of police officers.
In Ohaji L.G.A, results announced by INEC were far above the registered number of voters. In Oru West L.G.A, the former  secretary to the state government Mr. Ignatius Umunna was seen snatching ballot boxes with his armed boys. He took the ballot boxes with to his house and thumb printing started.
In Mbutu Ward, Aboh- Mbaise L.G.A, the following happened: (1)At Isiala town hall (001 unit), there were no voting and no result because of gunshots that scared voters away and Armed thugs employed by “Hon”. Emeka Ihedioha, the PDP candidate carted away all the electoral materials including ballot papers and result sheets. (2)At town school Mbutu (010 unit), there were no voting and no result because the ACN  agents  were kidnapped by Armed thugs and so the voters ran away for fear of their lives. (3)At Ubaha hall polling booths, no results were declared because the ballot boxes were carted away by armed thugs employed by the PDP candidate. The booths are 016 and 018 units. (4) At Ihetteoha hall polling booths, no results were declared because the ballot boxes were also made away with by armed thugs employed by the same PDP candidate. The units are 011 and 012. etc. They fabricated results. No accreditation, no voting, no counting of votes and no results entered in any of these booths in Mbutu ward. No wonder only the PDP agents signed the ward result sheets. However, at the Aboh Mbaise INEC office, results appeared from no where and the Returning Officer accepted them despite objections from other party agents. Consequently the results were used in determining the outcome of the election.
The case of Isi –ala Mbano local government area is that of desperadoes. Both Mr. Ikedi Ohakim and the PDP candidate for Okigwe North Federal Constituency Mr. Chikwem Onuoha were seen instructing ward returning officers to manipulate results. Also Ikedi Ohakim openly contravened the electoral act by moving from one local government to another in his long convey of vehicles and with over fifty armed police men. Ikedi Ohakim visited Nwangele L.G.A twice. He visited Mbaitolu  L.G.A once. He visited Ikeduru L.G.A once. He also visited Onuimo and Isu L.G.A. He specifically visited six wards in Isi-ala
Mbano L.G.A. This is against the electoral act. The case of Mr. Chikwem Onuoha is pure electoral fraud.
Mr.Chikwem Onuoha connived with Ikedi Ohakim and rigged the Osuama Anara ward election by forcing the ward returning officers to change the figures at the ward collation center. Chikwem Onuoha was also involved in ballot box snatching and confiscation of election materials. He used his personal vehicles for this purpose. He moved about with over ten armed police men and thugs at Osu-Owerre Ward I which happened to be Ikedi Ohakim’s ward. Chikwem Onuoha was seen at the collation centre influencing the returning officers to inflate figures for PDP. When news of what Chikwem Onuoha was doing spread throughout Isi-Ala Mbano L.G.A, youths of the local government came out in anger to confront and resist this. The Isi-Ala Mbano youths led by one Mr. Ben Uwakwe popularly called “Obeleugwu” finally caught Chikwem Onuoha at Osu-Owerre Ward II (Umu-Ichi Centre). He was beaten up.
After Chikwem Onuoha was beaten up by the youths, he was stripped to his pants and taken to Isi-Ala  Mbano police station where he made statement confirming that he was caught by the youths manipulating figures. Mr.Ben Uwakwe (alias Obeleugwu) who led the youths also made statement confirming that Chikwem Onuoha attested to the Commissioner of police that he was caught by the youths when he was manipulating results in Isi-Ala Mbano local government area.
His partner in electoral crime and man-Friday Mr. Jude Egbuleze from Umuegbe village in Isi-Ala Mbano L.G.A was also seen carrying ballot boxes at Osu-Achara Ward with his Toyota Avlon saloon car with registration number “Lagos CX 852 LSD.  He was assisted by armed men. Unfortunately, results of ISI-ALA Mbano L.G.A for the National Assembly election have been accepted by INEC despite objections.
In Oguta L.G.A, ballot boxes were snatched in most voting centres by armed thugs loyal to Ikedi Ohakim. Thumb printing of ballot papers took place at the residence of a notorious politician in Oguta called Opene.
In Ehime Mbano L.G.A, thumb printing of ballot papers took place at the residences of (1) Barr. Evang. Jerry Egemba (Umumu ward 6), (2) Chief Zeek Martins Nnadozie (Nsu ward) (3) Chief Aloy Iwunze  (Umumuno ward 4) (4) Chief Dimaku (Agbaja ward) (5) Chief Amajuoyi Nzerem (Ikpem ward) (6)  Chief Tony Chukwu (Umueze ward I) In Nkwere L.G.A, the special Assistant to Ikedi Ohakim on political matters Mr Rex Anunobi was seen personally carrying ballot boxes, he moved about with soldiers and policemen. He used his house in Nkwerre  village and that of the palace of Eshi of Nkwerre (HRH Eze Dr. Chijioke Okwara) as the thumb printing centre.