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Activist urges joint action against electoral fraud, corruption

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Mr Idris Miliki, Executive Director, Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR), has called for joint action between electoral stakeholders to address issues of fraud and corruption during elections.

Miliki made the call at a one-day “Review Meeting for Media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Anti-Corruption, Transparency and Accountability in Elections”, on Friday in Lokoja.

He said that joint actions and activities between security agencies, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), political actors and the Media in checking corrupt tendencies in pre-election and during elections would go a long way in helping to conduct acceptable elections.

He also called for intensive voter and civic education using strategic Communication to enlighten and sensitise the electorate, especially at grassroots level.

Miliki also called for early warning risk assessment and response to be developed for flashpoints or trigger zones.

He said he had identified nine local government areas as flash points that might pose challenges to the smooth conduct of the Nov. 16 governorship election in the state.

He identified the local government areas as Dekina, Ajaokuta, Ofu, Bassa, Adavi, Okehi, Kabba/Bunu, Ijumu and Lokoja.

The activist urged security agencies to be proactive and address early warning signals taking strategic steps in making adequate provisions to contain possible outbreak of violence before, during and after the election.

He also revealed that Ofu, Ajaokuta, Lokoja, Kogi, Ibaji and Idah local government areas were prone to flood which could hinder smooth conduct of the election, urging INEC take proactive measures.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the programme was organised in partnership with Shehu Musa Yar’adua Foundation and supported by MacArthur Foundation. (NAN)

FDJ/AMY

Edited by Abdullahi Yusuf

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Edo Ministry takes delivery of equipment for The Observer newspapers — Commissioner

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Edo Ministry takes delivery of equipment for The Observer newspapers — Commissioner

Equipment

Benin, Nov. 20, 2019 The Edo commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Paul Ohonbamu, on Wednesday said that the ministry had taken delivery of 38 crates of equipment for the Bendel Newspapers Company Limited ((BNCL), publishers of The Observer newspapers.

Ohonbamu stated this when he appeared before house committee on Information, Orientation, Youths and Sports to present his briefs on performance of 2019 budget and also defend 2020 appropriation.

He said that the equipment were bought as part of state government’s plans to reposition it for efficient service delivery.

He noted that the ministry was expecting another batch of equipment from the contractor to complement the first batch to have a complete assemblage of a state of the art printing machine .

He added that the digitization of the Edo Broadcasting Service (EBS) was underway

“Government is poised to repositioning the state-owned media for efficient service delivery as regards dissemination of information to the members of the public.

“There are radical plans to revamp EBS, as government is thinking along the line of digitilization for this purpose.” he said.

The budget performance of both the observer newspapers and EBS according to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr Joses Sede, is 34.8 per cent based on the N1.5billion earmarked for capital expenditure in the 2019 budget.

Mr Sede said that only N100m was released out of N779m allocated to EBS for its digitization project.

The chairman of the committee and speaker of the house, Francis Okiye, in his submission after the briefing by the ministry said government was committed to overall repositioning of the state-owned media.

The speaker further revealed that in the 2020 budget efforts would be made to ensure that the budgetary allocations to carry out the total digitilization of EBS would be made available.

Meanwhile, the Director General of the Edo State Sports Commission, Dudu Orumen, and members of the commission have been directed to present themselves for budget defense on a later date.

The commission members were asked to come with a comprehensive list of the performance of the various sporting activities in the 2019 budget.

The Speaker, Francis Okiye, noted in his submission that soccer events could not be treated in isolation from other sports currently under the supervision of the commission.

Edited by Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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PDP senators reject Bayelsa, Kogi results

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PDP senators reject Bayelsa, Kogi results

Results

Abuja, Nov. 20, 2019The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the Senate, on Wednesday, rejected the Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship election results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The senators, led by the Minority Leader of the Senate, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe, made the rejection at a news conference in Abuja.

Nigeria News Agency reports that INEC had declared the candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), David Lyon and Yahaya Bello winners of the gubernatorial elections.

“We want to call the attention of Nigerians. We are very disturbed by the elections that were held last weekend in Bayelsa and Kogi.

“We totally reject the pronouncements after the elections by INEC and we are worried about the trend of what happened during the election.

“We know that the results that were announced were not a true reflection of what happened in the field.

“We are much more concerned about the fact that it seems that all the gains made by the PDP in all the period of democracy starting in 1999 seem to have been eroded from the elections starting in Osun, Edo and culminating into last weekend.

“We are further pained by the fact that the PDP woman leader, Salome Abuh, after declaration of result, hoodlums still chased her to her house and burnt her to dead in the clear view of security agents.”

The caucus called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Inspector-General of Police and other security agencies to immediately fish out the killers of Salome.

“We hear that the police are launching an investigation but this is something we don’t want to be put under the carpet because it involves life,” Abaribe said.

Meanwhile, the spokesman of the Senate, Sen. Godiya Akwashiki, in his reaction to the outcome of the Bayelsa and Kogi gubernatorial elections said: “I don’t think it will be right for the Senate to say anything about the election.

“Nigeria is not a lawless country and we must obey it. The Electoral Act has spelt out everything that there should be primaries between aspirants in political parties so a candidate will emerge.

“After the primaries, INEC will set aside a day for general election. Based on the Electoral Act, the elections have come and gone. If anyone has any grievances, the one knows what to do,” he said.

Edited by Olawunmi Ashafa/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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APC condemns post-election violence, killing in Kogi

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) has condemned the post-election violence reported in Kogi State, which led to the death of a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) woman leader, Salome Abuh, and destruction of property in the state.

The party, in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in Abuja on Wednesday, condoled with the family of the deceased and others affected by the post-election violence.

Issa-Onilu, who quoted the state police command as saying that the killing was as a result of a reprisal attack, urged the Kogi people to ensure that the violence was not allowed to escalate.

“We are aware that Gov. Yahaya Bello has already directed law enforcement agencies to fish out the perpetrators.

“The APC abhors violence and other criminalities which, sadly, have continued to plague our electioneering process.

“We urge people to see election as a democratic contest and not a do-or-die and for which we should pay with our lives.

“We pray that the culprits are caught and the full weight of the law brought to bear on them.

President Muhammadu Buhari has advised those who are not satisfied with the results of the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa to seek redress in court and shun violence.

“We must all heed this call,” the APC spokesman said.

Edited by Abiemwense Moru and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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BMO lauds ICPC’s renewed assault on corruption

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The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has commended the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for its renewed assault on corrupt officials in public service.

In a statement signed by its Chairman, Mr Niyi Akinsiju in Abuja on Wednesday, BMO said that ICPC’s revelations on the scope and extent of graft and stealing in the civil service was not only shocking but appalling and frightening.

Akinsiju lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye to drive his agenda of cleaning up the civil service.

According to him, recent revelations showed that the anti-graft body has in recent times raised the bar in the anti-graft crusade.

“Not since the tenure of late Justice Mustapha Akanbi have Nigerians witnessed so much activity by the ICPC, targeted at checking corruption in the public sector.

“It’s not even 10 months since Owasanoye assumed duty as ICPC chairman after his stint as Executive Secretary and Head of Secretariat of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), and Nigerians are seeing how well the President has chosen.

“Having helped draft a number of policies and strategy documents at PACAC, the ICPC chairman has been creating rumbles in the civil service by exposing lots of unethical practices.

“Imagine a situation where a number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been found to have either padded the 2019 budget or inflated contracts?

“How about a situation where 59 directors in one ministry are under investigation over a N 3.3billion fraud.

“We acknowledge that this is one of the cases of outright stealing the Buhari administration is keen on putting an end to in the public sector,” he said.

Akinsiju expressed hope that ICPC would not relent in its efforts, especially as its profile was on the rise.

“Aside from giving insight into the agency’s recent successes, we urge Owasanoye and his team to ensure diligent prosecution of public officials on trial,” he said.

= = = = = =

Edited by Olawunmi Ashafa/Ali Baba (NAN)-Inuwa

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Dino calls for cancellation of Kogi West election

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Sen. Dino Melaye, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for Kogi West Senatorial poll, has called for total cancellation of the Nov. 16 election.

Melaye disclosed this while submitting a petition at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquartres in Abuja over the election on Wednesday.

The petition addressed to INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, was received by INEC National Commissioner, Mr Festus Okoye and the Secretary to the Commission, Mrs Rose Oriaran-Anthony.

Melaye said he had also copied INEC National Commissioner supervising Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa.

He said that attached to the petition were 21 video CDs and documentary evidence to prove that there was no election in Kogi West on Nov. 16.

“The object of my petition is that I am demanding for the entire cancellation of the election.

“The demand is based on electoral malpractices, violence, ballot boxes stocking, the use of helicopters to intimidate voters among other electoral crime committed on Nov. 16,’’ he said.

Melaye alleged that the election results were manipulated and many lives were lost, including that of his nephew who was killed by hoodlums.

He said that he also have pictorial evidence of violence that took place during the election and the collation process.

“This is not an election; we are going to take it up and fight for our right to finish,’’ Melaye said.

He said in the petition, dated Nov. 18 and signed by his lawyer; Mr Tobechukwu Nweke that the 21 video discs captured total sabotage of the electoral process that marred the election in the area.

Melaye urged the commission to study painstakingly, the events captured in the said video discs, which reveal that election was not conducted in Kogi West and to cancel the entire election.

He alleged that the election was not conducted in substantial compliance with the dictates of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) as well as requisite Guidelines and Regulations issued for the election.

“We urge the commission to cancel the entire election for the Senate in Kogi West held on Nov. 16,’’ he said.

Melaye said that the claim that fake policemen operated during the election was condemn-able.

“If fake police officers overpowered over 66,000 security officers deployed for Kogi and Bayelsa, it means there is a problem in the country.

“If the police officers were fake, were the guns and bullets used, fake?

“Were fake police men driving police vehicles and helicopters?’’ Melaye asked.

Okoye who received the letter on behalf of INEC Chairman commended and assured Melaye that the commission would look into the petition.

He said that the commission would review the petition and the video CDs, consider the merit and get back to Melaye.

“We assure you that the commission is a public institution.

“We exist because political parties exist and because Nigerian people want democracy.

“We are going to collect your petition and the Chairman and his National Commissioners will look at it and we assure you that we are going to continue to serve Nigerian people and do justice in all circumstances,’’ Okoye said.

Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde/Ali Baba (NAN)-Inuwa

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Electoral Act amendment bill scales second reading in Senate

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Electoral Act amendment bill scales second reading in Senate

Act

Abuja, Nov. 20, 2019 Efforts to get a new electoral legal framework for Nigeria ahead of the 2023 General Election received a major boost on Wednesday as the Electoral Act Amendment Bill passed Second Reading in the Senate.

The bill titled: “A bill for an Act to amend the Electoral Act No. 6, 2010 and for other related matters, 2019 (SB. 122)”, was sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege (APC- Deltal) and co-sponsored by Sen. Abubakar Kyari (APC- Borno).

The bill was read for the first time on the floor of the upper legislative chamber on Oct. 29.

The bill seeks to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accommodate new technologies in the accreditation of voters during elections.

It also seeks the reduction of nomination fees charged by political parties and granting of party agents the right to inspect original electoral materials before the commencement of polls.

The bill also seeks the electoral body to suspend an election in order to allow a political party that lost its candidate before or during an election to conduct a fresh primary to elect a replacement or new candidate.

It also prohibits members of political parties from taking up employment in INEC and compelling of INEC to publish the voters register for public scrutiny at every registration area and its website seven days before a general election among others.

In his Lead Debate, Sen.Omo-Agege pointed out that the bill was in fulfilment of the Legislative Agenda of the 9th senate in the area of electoral reforms.

According to him, the proposed law will not only strengthen the nation’s electoral process in line with global best practices but also remove the lacuna in the current electoral law.

“Mr President, electoral reform is a major part of the Legislative Agenda of this 9th senate.

“Before the Legislative Agenda came to be, you made an admirably patriotic case for electoral reform before your popular election as the President of this 9th Senate.

“This bill is therefore a part of the process of fulfilling that promise to the Nigerian people. It is a bill of great significance to be considered with utmost patriotism.

“Mr President, this bill proposes comprehensive amendments to the principal Act.

“It is a response in part to a plethora of Supreme Court decisions directly or indirectly calling upon the National Assembly to act.

“The apex Court has persistently done this regarding INECs introduction of modern technologies into the electoral process, especially accreditation of voters,” he said.

In their separate contributions, senators who supported the bill included: Michael Nnachi (PDPEbonyi South), Abba Moro (PDPBenue South) and Ibikunle Amosun (APC- Ogun Central).

They stressed the need for the 9th Assembly to fast track approval of the bill and not repeat mistakes of the 8th Assembly where it was passed on the eve of the last General Election, hence did not receive presidential assent.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, who presided over the session, put the question to voice vote and it was unanimously approved.

He, thereafter, referred the bill to the Committee on INEC for further legislative input and report back in four weeks.

Edited by Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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