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Cross River APC stakeholders kick against Ayade’s pronouncement on zoning governorship to south

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From Judex Okoro, Calabar

Cross River All Progressives Congress (APC) stakeholders from the central senatorial district have kicked against Governor Ben Ayade’s pronouncement of zoning governorship to the South ahead of 2023.

Ayade had in different fora stated categorically that it is the turn of the southern senatorial district to produce the next governor that would take over from him in 2023.

The Governor had argued vehemently that the state has operated the zoning principle since 1999 and, therefore, it would unfair, unjust and against equity to jettison zoning at this crucial stage, adding that he is also “a product of zoning.”

But barely a month after Ayade re-stated his support for back-to-south at a rally held at Mary Slessor Avenue Calabar to welcome defectors to the All Progressives Congress (APC), there are indications that he may have quietly backed down on the push for south as some stakeholders are said to have raised eye-brows against such moves, describing it as anti-central and not in the best interest of the party.

The stakeholders are said to have spoken up against it in separate meetings with the Governor where they advised him to pipe low on zoning and allow all politicians to jostle for it while he watches from behind.

The stakeholders, especially from the central senatorial district, are piqued that their district, which parades political heavyweights including the former Senate Leader, Sen Victor Ndoma Egba, former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, Sen John Owan Enoh, Barr Okoi Obono Obla, former board chairman of NPA, Akin Ricketts, and the incumbent Reps member representing Yakurr/Abi federal constituency, Hon Dr Alex Egbona, were sidelined in the zoning arrangement even when they have contributed to building the party before Ayade defected on May 20, 2021.

It was learnt that most of the above-listed personages are interested in taking a shot at the governorship race and have been making wide consultations across the state.

Our correspondent gathered that, during the Yuletide, the like of Pastor Usani Uguru Usani, Sen John Owan Enoh and Chris Agara, Ayade’s close ally, had series of meetings with their core supporters just as they doled out Christmas gifts to their communities and party members, an indication that they are coming soon.

It was learnt that the above names, all governorship aspirants from central, have made up their mind to throw their hearts into the ring, no matter the consequence, claiming that they were not consulted and cannot be bound by’Oga’ decision to zone only to the south.

To douse the tension in the central, sources said the Governor has already commenced discussions with some of the stakeholders and has had meetings with some of them on the need to sheathed their sword as every interest would be accommodated as the political processes unfold.

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The source revealed that the Governor had gone a step further to contact Sen Ndoma Egba to initiate an-house meeting where zoning issues and other subtle disagreements would be sorted out amicably before dabbling into congresses to elect party standard-bearers ahead of 2023.

The source said the alleged commissioning of Sen Ndoma Egba to carry out a peace talk is an indication that Ayade may have conceded to competitive contest, thereby abandoning the zone-to-south mantra which has rent the air in the last two months.

Speaking with our correspondent, an APC chieftain, Chief John Agbor Agbor, from the Ikom chapter, said the central district is unhappy with the public pronouncement by Ayade zoning governorship to the south as it is capable of rocking the fragile peace in the party.

Agbor said: “I can tell you that critical stakeholders of the party are aggrieved by the Governor’s singular action with regard to zoning and this is already generating crisis and bad blood between south and central.

“We had expected a meeting of state caucus where issues affecting the party after the last congress including zoning would have been discussed extensively. Availing every opportunity to pronounce zoning to the south means forclosing the electoral process against everybody in our zone. It is undemocratic and we would not abide by it.

“When the Governor defected to APC, he promised to consult and he has reneged on that. INEC has released time table on party activities ahead of 2023 and it behoves him to initiate caucuses’ meetings to decide on the next line of action. So, now is the auspicious time except if they want APC to go into another round of crisis.”

Also speaking, a member of the state working committe of APC, who don’t want his name in print, said he is totally against exclusively zoning governorship to the south and excluding central because it would generate more internal problem.

The party official from central revealed that Owan, Usani and Agara are all oiling their political machinery to run for governorship and are only waiting for the APC national convention in February so that they can roll out their campaigns in full swing, adding that denying such calibre of politicians opportunity to contest would be suicidal for the party.

He added that APC does not engage in exclusive zoning but believe in democracy tenets which give everybody and every segment the right to aspire to any political office as long you meet the constitutional provisions.

According to him, the party needs the best material to run for the governorship and every position because PDP is very strong and ready to challenge APC on all fronts.

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Our helicopter did not crash – Police

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By Christopher Oji 

The Nigeria Police high command has denied reports making rounds that one of its Bell 429 5NMDA helicopters flying from Abuja to Bauchi on Wednesday crash-landed. 

In a statement by Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), CP Frank Mba, the police explained that the helicopter was involved in a controlled safe landing at the Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport, Bauchi.

“The aircraft did not crash, as being reported in some sections of the media, and none of the occupants sustained any injury whatsoever.

“All six on board, including the pilot and co-pilot, are in good condition.  

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“Similarly, the aircraft, which was flown by one of the best police pilots, was professionally safe-landed with minor damage on the rear rotor as a result of obstacle at the landing spot.

The incident occurred around 7:30pm (local time). The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, has commended the Police Air Wing for their professionalism in safe-landing the aircraft and averting any serious air mishap.

He further noted that the Nigeria Police Air Wing, with a fleet of one fixed-wing aircraft, a Citation jet and 13 helicopters, has got a strong history of air safety since its establishment in the year 1972.”

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Police arrest wife, 2 others for murder of Lagos hotelier 

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By Christopher Oji 

The Lagos State Police Command has arrested three persons in connection with the death of a popular hotelier, Mr. Femi Bakare Alaba, who was allegedly murdered last Monday by his wife. 

The deceased’s family had  returned from a trip from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, before he was murdered in their house at 9, Finance Road, Maplewood Estate, Oko- Oba, Agege, Lagos.

The family had accused Alaba’s wife of using a hot pressing iron to burn the man while he was sleeping.

The police said three persons, including his wife, have been arrested in connection with the murder and that the  body has been deposited at Yaba Mainland Hospital’s morgue for autopsy. 

According to Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), CSP Adekunle Ajisebutu, “The deceased’s wife and three others have been arrested in connection with the suspected murder case. Meanwhile, the case has since been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence  Department, Panti, for diligent investigation on the order of the Commissioner of Police, CP Abiodun Alabi.”

A police source at the homicide section of  SCIID, said the woman was not cooperating with the police as she has refused to tell investigators on what really happened to her husband.

The police source who said there was more to the murder beyond the allegation that the deceased impregnated another woman as his family were alleging that their brother was questioning the paternity of two of her two out of their three kids.

“ We are investigating and there are many things we are trying to unrevel but they are not what I can tell you till further notice. For now, we are having his wife and two others who though are not cooperating with us,but they will soon open up”, the senior police officer said.

When  Alaba and his wife returned recently from a trip from Dubai,their house was a Mecca of sort as family members and friends thronged the premises to welcome them back home

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No one could envisage that danger loomed. In fact, if anyone had told them that the life of one of the couple would be abruptly cut short, the person would have been dismissed and tagged a prophet of doom. 

Those who visited them when they returned were not disappointed as they were well entertained and got one gift or the other .

The family was described as philanthropists as well as peace lovers that they were the envy of residents. The couple was loved and admired by all.

But in the morning of January 24, things took a dramatic turn to the amazement of all. The owner of the popular Bama Hotel was murdered by his wife of eight years. 

According to a source, Bama, as he is fondly called was allegedly roasted to death with a hot iron by his wife.

A resident, who identified himself simply as Emmanuel, said: “My brother, we are still in shock because the unexpected really happened. We were told that Bama’s wife discovered that another woman was pregnant for her husband and was embittered.

“She waited for the man to sleep and used hot iron to press his body and the man died out of severe pain. We are still baffled and surprised how the woman who we saw as easy-going would have the mind to kill her husband in his sleep.

“The deceased was the owner of Bama Hotel and Suite. He was a good man that we respected him a lot. The couple has three kids and they just returned from Dubai before the incident occurred.”

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Fire  razes 57 shops, properties in Niger 

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From John Adams and Umar Yunusa Minna

An early morning fire yesterday razed no fewer than 57 shops, destroying  goods worth millions of naira  at  Mokwa main market in Mokwa local Government Area of Niger State.

The fire was said to have started at about 4:00am when the shops owners were at home.

A source close to the market, Abubakar Umar, said the inferno razed many shops and destroyed properties worth millions of naira as nobody or agency was on ground to put out the fire or salvage the goods. 

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According to him:” The fire  destroyed many shops in the market. The situation was very serious because there was no help coming from anywhere.The fire started around 4:00pm this morning and it was so serious that no body could go near it.

The hamattan weather  could not help the situation. We are grateful to God that no life was lost.

Adamu Usman, a  revenue officer of  Mokwa LG ,said that  about 57 shops were destroyed by the inferno.

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