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CSO decries attacks on INEC offices




Abuja, March 8, 2019 YIAGA AFRICA, a Civil Society group, has expressed concern over the  increasing reports of attacks on the  Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) materials and structures.

Dr Hussaini Abdu, Chairman, Watching The Vote Working Group at a news conference on YIAGA AFRICA’s pre-election report, also condemned attacks on INEC officials.

Abdu called on the security agencies to effectively deploy security personnel to properly secure INEC officials and election materials, especially during the March 9 elections.

He said that YIAGA AFRICA condemned the destruction of INEC office in Ibesikpo, Akwa Ibom.

The chairman said that the group was also concerned about the non-compliance with results collation guidelines by INEC officials especially Presiding Officers, Ward Collations Officers and Returning Officers.

“INEC should ensure collation centres are accessible to accredited observers.

“The form EC 40 G should be revised to include details for cancellation for every polling unit cancelled.

“ The current form only captures the name of the polling unit and the total number of registered voters affected without reasons for cancellation.

“To increase transparency of the collation process, INEC is encouraged to share Form EC40G series with party agents present during the different stages of the collation process,” he said.

Abdu urged the commission to fully comply with the electoral guideline for the conduct of the general election by posting Forms EC.60E series in all collation centers.

He said that the recommendation was made based on WTV presidential election observation findings of results not posted in 19 per cent of the observed sampled polling units.

He said that the group’s  presidential election observation noted the high percentage of cancelled ballots and called on INEC to ensure that the guidelines on cancelled ballots  were strictly adhered to so as to reduce discretion on the part of INEC officials.

He said that YIAGA AFRICA noted that during the Feb. 23 elections, card readers were not used throughout the process of accreditation of voters in some polling units.

According to him, that such infraction poses a threat to the integrity of the electoral process if not curtailed.

He urged INEC to ensure strict compliance to use of the card readers for voter accreditation, saying that polling officials who disregard the INEC guidelines and regulations should be sanctioned.

Abdu said that for the March 9 Governorship elections, YIAGA AFRICA Watching The Vote would not be deploying the Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) methodology.

He added that as such the group would  not be verifying the election day result but will be assessing the election day process at the polling units and collation centres.

Abdu called on the security agencies to ensure proper coordination especially between the military and police.

“It is important to note that the Police have the coordinating responsibility of election security and not the soldiers, as such proper lines of communication and rules of engagement should be adhered to,” he said.



CSOs call on FG to declare state of emergency on sexual, gender based violence



A coalition of 10 Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria, on Friday called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on sexual and gender based violence in the country.

The group made the call during a peaceful protest to the Police Headquarters in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the protest was led by ActionAid Nigeria, in collaboration with TechherNG, Connected Development; Enough is Enough Nigeria, Stand to End Rape and SilverChipFox.

Others are Yiaga Africa, Dorothy Njemanze Foundation, Girl Child Africa and Education as a Vaccine.

The protesters had placards reading ‘No means No’, ‘Rapist and Rape Apologist are Cancelled,’ ‘To be a woman is not a crime’, among others.

Mrs Ene Obi, Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, said that declaring a state of emergency on SGBV would ensure accelerated investigation, arrest and prosecution of offenders.

She added that without strong state response, incidences of sexual and gender based violence including rape and murder would continue to increase.

“Gender based violence is no longer a women issue but a national issue.

“The situation has degenerated to the point that security operatives who are meant to protect are also threatening to rape and kill women and girls in the face of conflict.

We urge the Presidency to declare a state of emergency on Gender based violence, as this is the time to take concrete actions before Nigeria comatose into a state of anarchy where women and girls are left to wallow in hopelessness,” she said.

Dr. Jumai Ajijola, Chair, ActionAid Nigeria, added that the protest was brought to the police headquarters to remind them to be diligent in their duties of protecting the lives of Nigerians.

She added that it was important for them to carry out prompt investigation, prosecution and conclusion of all rape, sexual and gender based cases in the country.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, while addressing the protesters appreciated them for their peaceful conduct.

Adamu, who was represented by Mr Frank Mba, Spokesperson of the Nigerian Police Force, added that it was important for victims’ families to also cooperate with the law enforcement agency to ensure that the perpetrators do not go unpunished.

“Every police officer you see in Nigeria today is a father, mother, uncle, aunty, and so on and by implication, we all have a woman in our lives and we will not want them to be sexually abused.

“Therefore, we are together with you in the quest for a rape free Nigeria and to enthrone a zero tolerance for all forms of sexual violence against women and girls,” he said.

NAN reports that one-minute silence was observed at the end of the protest, for those who lost their lives to sexual and gender based violence in the country.

Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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INEC seeks CSOs’ inputs on new policy to guarantee voters’ safety



The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has sought the contributions of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to its new policy on conducting elections during  the COVID-19 pandemic, in a way that would guarantee safety and security of voters.

The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the request at his first virtual consultative meeting with CSOs on Tuesday.

Yakubu described the document recently released by the commission as a living document which required the input of stakeholders for its effective implementation.

I urge CSOs to consider this policy as a living document,  hence the decision to engage with you on how we can strengthen it in a manner that will further engender public confidence.

“On how to encourage greater citizens’ participation in the electoral process and, most importantly, guarantee the safety and security of voters in the process of exercising their democratic rights to vote.

” Your comments and contributions to the 10 items listed in the policy document and consequential amendments to the 2019 Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections are critical.

” I wish to reassure you that they will be taken into consideration in reviewing the policy as well as the regulations where necessary.

“In addition, we also welcome your input into the implementation of the policy before, during and after the election,” he said.

Yakubu said the engagement with civil society organisations remained at the core of the commission’s electoral process, assuring that the commission would continue to deepen such engagement.

Speaking on INEC’s preparations for Edo governorship election, the chairman disclosed that as usual, CSOs would be accredited to observe the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, as well as the upcoming by-elections

“However, in the spirit of deepening the use of technology in our electoral process and also in line with the new reality of conducting electoral activities under the COVID-19 pandemic, accreditation of observers will be done online.

“A dedicated portal has been created by the commission for this purpose and you will be briefed at this meeting on the new procedure.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma and Abdullahi Yusuf (NAN)

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National Day of Mourning: CSOs in Kwara seek end to incessant killings



The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Kwara has advocated a halt to the incessant killing of innocent lives in Nigeria.

Mr Kareem Abdulrasaq, the Coordinator of the coalition, made the call in a statement on Thursday in Ilorin to mark the 2020 National Day of Mourning and Remembrance (NDoM).

Abdulrasaq urged government at all levels to stop politicising the problem of killing and bring an end to the menace.

He said that the day was as a result of resolutions reached by civil society actors on April 30, 2018, in Abuja.

According to him, the meeting is meant to undertake a National Day of Mourning as symbolic action capable of registering citizens’ dissatisfaction with the state of national security, since protests no longer seem to impact the conscience of political elites.

”Nigeria has between 2018 and now recorded about 7,904 violent killings across the country.

“Within the first quarter of 2020, 1,416 people have lost their lives as a result of cult clashes, extra judicial killings, communal clashes, pastoral conflicts, bandit, herdsmen, Boko-Haram/ISWAP, and isolated attacks.

“This shows that on average, about 38 people died in every state and the Federal Capital Territory within the period.

“While many lost their lives without just cause, others died without getting justice,” he sad.

The coordinator advocated value reorientation and sensitisation by traditional rulers, religious leaders and other stakeholders on the need for their subjects and followers to promote peaceful coexistence in the country.

“We called on the government to enhance discharge of its constitutional responsibilities of protecting the lives and properties of citizens.

“We urge the government to provide all the necessary equipment, materials and support needed by security apparatus to bring an end to the impunity.

“We appeal to security apparatus in the country to double their effort by timely responding to distress calls from communities under attack.

“We are advocating provision of relief materials for the survivors of all violent attacks and killings in Nigeria that becomes IDPs in their homeland,” Abdulrasaq said.

He further called on well-meaning Nigerians irrespective of ethnicity, religion or political affiliations to be bold and openly condemn the spate of violence, killings and insecurity in the country.

He added that representatives at State and National Assemblies would be required to take bold step and do the needful to bring an end to the merciless killings of Nigerians, if truly they are people’s representatives.

He urged the government to take security issue very seriously with prompt releases of fund.

”There is need to ensure effective supervision and oversight of all the security agencies by the relevant institutions to ensure that security of lives and property is guaranteed,” he said.

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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CSOs conducts perception study on COVID-19 in Lagos



The Lagos Civil Society Coalition Against COVID-19 says it has embarked on a perception study to ascertain the success, impacts and unintended consequences of responses deployed by the Lagos State Government toward containment of COVID-19 pandemic.

Its Executive Director, Humanity Family Foundation, Mr Razaq Olokoba, made this known at a press briefing on Wednesday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the coalition is a platform of non-governmental organisations committed to process-led engagement of public health concerns, as well as governance issues relating to COVID-19 pandemic.

The coalition is particularly concerned with monitoring and reporting on the responses being deployed toward containing the spread of the infection.

Olokoba said that the coalition became imperative in Lagos State considering the magnitude of threats to public health constituted by the virulent nature of COVID-19 pandemic.

He noted that the perception study would examine predisposing factors, as well as level of vulnerability to transmission of the virus in communities.

“The perception survey is accessing impacts of the lockdown, growing numbers of infection, high rate of community transmission and options available for mitigating the spread of the virus.

“The survey is also targeted at evaluating impacts of critical measures such as total lockdown, social/physical distancing, personal and environmental hygiene, information dissemination, ease of lockdown, #MaskupLagos initiative, neighbourhood /community engagements.

“The perception survey also seeks to evaluate gaps and shortcomings noticeable in government interventions and how the measures could be improved upon,” he said.

According to him, the outcomes of the study will enable the coalition to properly engage the government toward scaling up strategies for contact-tracing, testing and containment of the virus at the community level.

He noted that the coalition would regularly provide updates of its responses to COVID-19 in the state with periodic evaluation of impacts of responses on the environment, awareness creation, performance of government and motivation of healthcare workers.

“The coalition would undertake assessment of engagement of compliance with measures introduced by government and agencies toward controlling the spread of COVID-19.

“We would regularly share salient facts on COVID-19 pandemic with the populace as regards the prevailing myths and seemingly misleading narratives on COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Olokoba maintained that the coalition appreciates and supports the government’s
efforts toward containing the spread of the pandemic thus far.

“We, therefore, envisage continued commitment of Lagos residents across board to make huge success of responses being deployed by the government,” he said.

Olokoba said that the coalition would undertake training on monitoring and reporting of situations in the isolation centres, undertake social dialogues on COVID-19 and sensitise journalists and social media influencers.

He added that the coalition would mobilise COVID-19 Civic Engagement Situation Room and engage CSOs actors with networks across the 20 Local Government Areas and 37 Local Council Develepment Areas in the state.

The Situation Room will periodically review and analyse impacts of COVID-19 interventions and as well access progress of response measures deployed in containing COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

According to him, the coalition is partnering the Nigerian Environmental Society (NES), which is currently undertaking COVID-19 related Air Quality Study for Lagos State.

Olokoba listed some organisations which were part of the Coalition as, YALI Nigeria South West Region; Project Heart to Earth; National Youth Council of Nigeria and EnviroNews Development Network.

Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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CSOs laud Buhari over appointment of Obioma as NECO boss



Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has commended President Muhammadu Buhari, on the appointment of Prof. Godswill Obioma as the National Examination Council (NECO) boss.

The CSOs in a statement issued by its Executive Director, Conscience Nigeria, Mr Tosin Adeyanju, in Abuja, described the appointment as a’ welcome development’ that has the capacity to positively turn around the fortunes of the agency.

Adeyanju expressed confidence in the capacity of Obioma, who before his appointment was the Resident Electoral Commissioner(REC) in Ebonyi state.

He said that the nation and all stakeholders would in no time be proud of Obioma’s giant strides at NECO.

“Obioma is bringing on board a rich wealth of experience in the educational sector as a former Executive Secretary of Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) and Director at the Universal Basic Education (UBEC).

“We have no doubt in our minds that the appointment is one of the best decisions to have been made to reposition our educational sector in recent times.

“The president have simply put a round peg in a right hole this time around, “ he said.

Adeyanju advised Mr President not to entertain any blackmail or recently issued statement asking for Obioma to be dropped saying those behind the demand did not know the history of Obioma which he described as upright man.

He said Obioma was incorruptable in the discharge of his duties as Ebonyi REC, which must necessitated his appointment by President Buhari.

“This track record is what our President stands for and that is what Professor Obioma has exhibited in all his public service engagements.

“This is the major reason he has been saddled with onerous responsibilities at all times and the recent one is not surprising to us in the Civil Society Community,” he said.

Edited By: Modupe Adeloye/Felix Ajide (NAN)


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COVID-19: CSO advocates opening up economy, urges Nigerians to take responsibility



A Civil Society Organisation (CSO), has advocated total opening of the economy in order to save small businesses, service-oriented and entertainment industries from extinction due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The Executive Director of Leadership Entrepreneurship and Advocacy Network (LEAD Network), Mr Chukwuma Okenwa, made the call while speaking with News Agency of Nigeria in Enugu on Monday.

Okenwa also advocated for Nigerians to take personal responsibility by compulsory and regular wearing of face mask and use of alcohol-based sanitisers as recommended by WHO, Federal Ministry of Health and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

According to him, if the current lockdown or partial lockdown continuous through the end of the second quarter, which means a complete quarter of the year, the adverse effect will be so devastating on the economy.

He said that the reality presently was that most entrepreneurs in small businesses and service-oriented and entertainment industries found it extremely hard to pay salaries of employees and meet other financial obligations.

Okenwa noted that considering that education service industry was one of the biggest employers of labour, a continuous closure of schools would impact negatively on employees in education industry greatly.

He said that although public service teachers might still be able to get their monthly salaries, what about the other millions of teachers in the private sector.

“Talking about vaccine as the only possible solution, it is worthy to note that up till now the vaccine for has not be found but precaution remains the way forward.

“Thus, if the world (WHO) says that mask can shield persons from getting the virus, then let all mask ourselves and kids and get back to our businesses and schools.

“From every indication and observation so far, Ebola virus is deadlier than COVID-19, but because it is in African the West did not recommend a lockdown.

“We went on with our businesses notwithstanding.

“Do not also forget that everyone did not need to receive a compulsory vaccine for us to be free from Ebola virus,’’ he said.

Okenwa said that it was unfortunate that we were compelled to adopt a lockdown with little capacity for sustainable palliatives and stimulus packages for all businesses especially those in the service-oriented and entertainment industries.

“Opening places where foods are sold without opening up businesses where the money for the food are made is counterproductive,’’ he said.

Okenwa called on the Federal Government to urgently commission university researchers in virology, microbiology and pharmacy to come up with clear home-grown remedies for COVID-19.

Edited By: Donald Ugwu (NAN)


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COVID-19: CSO cautions Nigerians against stigmatisation, misinformation



Amb. Ahmed Shehu, Chairman, Northeast Civil Society Network, a CSO, on Friday warned Nigerians against stigmatisation of coronavirus (COVID-19), patients that either tested negative or positive, but had been discharged.

Shehu, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria , in an interview in Abuja, also warned against the dangers misinformation on the global pandemic posed, saying it could lead to more health challenges.

According to him, the rise in harmful stereotyping, stigmatisation and pervasive misinformation related to COVID-19, can further complicate the already serious situation.

“Stigmatisation can increase the ongoing transmission, and this can make it difficult for the disease to be controlled.

“Stigma and misinformation can increase the likelihood of potential infected persons”fear of seeking immediate medical attention.

“It will also encourage the patients to hide, instead of boldly coming forward for medical help,” he said.

Shehu urged Nigerians to support broader dissemination of public health messages and ensure that such information reached marginalised and vulnerable communities.

He said the information must be based on reliable scientific data and the latest official health advice.

The chairman noted however, that some Nigerians were being fed information that could be more deadly than COVID-19, adding that such act should be discouraged.

“While disseminating any COVID-19 information, make sure you use simple language and avoid clinical terms and abbreviations, this will help the vulnerable communities to understand the message clearly.

“Also, ensure that reliable and accurate information is provided at community level. All these measures will prevent stigmatisation, misinformation, as well as promote the importance of proper prevention,” he advised.

Shehu, who also the member representing civil society in the National Humanitarian Coordination Committee, advised Nigerians to always report any symptoms or cases of COVID-19 to appropriate authorities for immediate medical action.

He said that the organisation’s objective was to  support effective and massive awareness creation on COVID-19 in various communities to curb spread.

He said it was in line with this that the organisation collaborated with UNICEF and Borno State Government, to train 25 community-based organisations and 350 volunteers on COVID-19 sensitisation in the state.

He said that the intervention greatly impacted on more than 94 communities and three local government areas in the state.

Edited By: Nyisom Fiyigon Dore (NAN)

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COVID-19: Trade Fair in total compliance with directives – CSO



DSP Okechukwu Emechebe, Chief Security Officer, Trade Fair Complex, Alaba, on Thursday said that the complex was strictly adhering to the directives of government to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Emechebe, while speaking to newsmen in Lagos said that all the plazas in the complex had been mandated to provide water and soap as well as hand sanitizer,  to prevent the spread of the virus.

He, however, said that the challenge of making people to keep to the directives of wearing face masks at all times was a bit difficult because of the complex nature of human beings.

“The challenge we have, is dealing with human beings because of their complex nature.

“The efforts we have made to ensure that the Federal Government’s directive gets to the grassroots has been cumbersome because many people still believe that there is no Coronavirus.

“However, we will keep sensitising the public on the truthfulness of the virus and that the virus is not a hoax,” he said.

The officer said that he had invited doctors, health care workers, among others to educate the people on the best way to protect themselves against the virus.

“Every morning, we have a team that will remind the people of government policies and what they are supposed to do to stay safe.

“At our main gate, we have water and soap for washing hands before entering the market, secondly, if you do not have your face mask on, you cannot enter the market.

“We have also advised marketers to ensure they use mobile banking for their transactions, instead of cash transactions,” he said.

Emechebe said that he had also set up a team that would go from shop to shop with the theme: “Operation Show Your sanitiser” to ensure strict compliance with government directives.

“We have also stationed vehicles that go round the complexes during the closing period to remind them of the 2.30 p.m closing time, because of the curfew, which starts by 8.00 p.m.

“This has had positive impact in ensuring that people adhere to the directive of government because if they do not adhere to it, their shops will be locked,” he said.

Emechebe commended the Divisional Police Officer, Trade Fair, John Ajigidi, for his support and encouragement in ensuring that people complied with the directive.

He also said that the Trade Fair Management Board was happy with efforts made in ensuring that the spread of the virus was curtailed to its barest minimum.

“We have also ensured that people with cars coming into the market maintain a linear queue and avoid following one way so that law and order would be maintained.

“This has helped to prevent fighting and reduce traffic gridlock, usually known during market hours,” he said.

Emechebe, however, urged the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, CP Hakeem , to allow the arrest of violators.

According to him, this would further help to enforce law and order in the market.

“It is observed that some of the plazas did not adhere to the provision of water and soap for the washing, which is one of the ways of curbing the spread of the virus.

“We seal the shops of those who do not comply with the directive of  government, but I would be happy if we can hand them over to the government.

“This will bring sanity to other defaulters, when they see their members being quarantined tor 14 days,” he said.

Also, Mr Tony Obi, President, Balogun Business Association, Trade Fair Complex, said he was satisfied with the level of compliance even though they still had few defaulters.

“It is not possible to get the directives of the Federal Government in curbing the spread of the virus 100 percent,  however, I am satisfied with the level of compliance.

“We have buckets and soaps at the gates as well as thermometer readers.

“We have also mandated the various shops to ensure they provide water buckets and soap for their workers and clients during the shopping hours,” he said.

Obi said that the management’s main duty was to enforce the directives of the Federal Government, which includes social distancing, wearing of face masks, providing and ensuring the use of hand sanitiser by customers.

“My advice to everyone is to try to beat the adverse effect of the virus and stay alive because it is only the living that can come back to do business.

“I also thank the government for providing palliative items for the people, to alleviate the effect of the lockdown,” Obi said.

Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Ifeyinwa Omowole (NAN)

















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COVID-19: CSOs, media seek partnership with Kaduna State to track public procurement



Stakeholders in the procurement sector have urged Kaduna State Government to strengthen partnership with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media to effectively track public procurement requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The stakeholders comprising CSOs and the media made the call in a communiqué issued in Kaduna on Wednesday at the end of an Open Government Partnership (OGP) dialogue via Google Meet.

The dialogue was entitled: “COVID-19: Redefining Open and Public Procurement’’.

The communique was signed by Mr Danjuma Abbas of Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development (CALPED) and Zaliha Lawal of Connected Development (CODE).

Other signatories were Mr Ehis Agbon of Invicta Fm and Mr Sulaiman Yusuf of Soba Youth Awareness Movement.

The stakeholders commended the Kaduna State Government for its rapid and decisive response toward containing the spread of COVID-19 and its negative impact on the economy.

They noted that the pandemic provided the government a rare opportunity to build and strengthen citizens’ trust through proactive disclosure of information on public procurement.

They, however, raised concerns over the near absence of transparency, accountability and robust citizens’ engagement in the procurement and distribution of the N500 million relief materials to low-income earners in the state.

According to them, there is currently little or no participation of CSOs in the public procurement process of requirements for COVID-19 response.

“We are, therefore, calling on the government to provide a clear framework that allows civil society to engage the government toward improving transparency and accountability in public procurement related to COVID-19.

“We also want the government to increase citizens’ awareness on the e-procurement, Open Contracting Data Standard and Eyes and Ears portals of the government toward improving the quality of participation in procurement and contract activities.

“Kaduna State Public Procurement Authority should also strengthen partnership with CSOs toward improving availability and access to procurement information on COVID-19 by citizens.

“The Office of the Auditor-General of the state should equally come up with a mechanism to ensure adequate accountability in post COVID-19 period, following the adjustments to the state’s Public Financial Management System,’’ the group said.

They also stressed the need to engage the state assembly for a joint oversight in ensuring efficient allocation of resources to priority sectors, quality service delivery, value for money and accountability in the response to COVID-19.

Edited By: Oluyinka Fadare/Ese E. Ekama (NAN)





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