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CSOs, observers urge INEC to prosecute staff involved in election malpractice

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Malpractice

Jos,  March 13, 2019 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Coalition of Domestic Observers in Plateau have urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to prosecute any of its staff involved in electoral malpractice.

The leader of the groups, Godwin Okoko, told newsmen at a news conference in Jos on Wednesday, that some INEC staff allegedly compromised during the elections.

Okoko cited two cases where an electoral officer conveyed election materials from the Central Bank in Jos to a local government without security escort and a returning officer from Bokkos who absconded with election results.

According to him, INEC should also thoroughly verify the activities of its ad-hoc staff.

“We, the members of the above groups, agreed to come together to deepen and strengthen democratic practice in Nigeria through the strengthening of electoral structures and processes.

“It has become imperative to address you today on the just-concluded elections held on March 9, in Plateau and other states of the Federation.

“The elections, you are aware, were to elect governors and members of the States House of Assembly.

“We observed the elections across the seventeen (17) local government councils in Plateau.

“Our members were stationed in more than 2, 500 polling units, in all Registration Area Centres (RACs), Local Government Area Results Collation Centres as well as State Collation Centre.

“We had 12 roving observers in the Northern Senatorial Zone of the state, 13 roving observers in Central Senatorial Zone and 15 roving observers in Southern Senatorial Zone of the state,” he said.

Okoko said that the groups observed the elections were generally peaceful and orderly, but that there was voter apathy in most polling units visited across the state.

He, however, commended INEC for early arrival of officials, sensitive and non sensitive materials and early set up of polling units and voting points.

“Smart card readers in almost 98 per cent of polling units visited were functional, compared to the challenges encountered in the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

“Adhoc staff acted more professional than in the Presidential and National Assembly elections.”

Politics

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

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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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General news

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

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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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Health

CSOs conducts perception study on COVID-19 in Lagos

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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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General news

CSOs laud Buhari over appointment of Obioma as NECO boss

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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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Economy

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

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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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General news

COVID-19: Kwara Govt mulls labour-CSOs boundary monitoring volunteers

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2020) Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara has suggested the setting up of a volunteer team drawn from the organised labour and civil society to monitor inter-state boundaries with other security agencies to stop the influx of people into the state.

The governor made the suggestion on Monday night during a virtual meeting he had with leaders of CSOs in Ilorin.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Rafiu Ajakaye on Tuesday, quoted the governor as saying that people are sneaking into the state between 10 p.m and 5 a.m.

“It has been established that some people sneak into the state between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

“This poses a grave danger to us when you consider the fact that virtually all our COVID-19 cases were imported.

“We would like to have volunteers from labour and the civil society organisations who, working with the security agencies, would man our borders between those hours,” AbdulRazaq said.

He said the government would offer incentives and security cover to volunteers who would form a boundary surveillance team.

The team, according to the governor, will man the various entry posts of the state from its western and northern flanks; especially Eiyenkorin, Oko Olowo and Jebba where influx of people has been reported in the past few days.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the meeting was a follow up to the first engagement AbdulRazaq had with some civil society leaders in April.

The governor, at the April meeting commended the CSOs for their credible roles in the distribution of government palliatives after he invited them to join the initiative.

AbdulRazaq said the invitation was premised on the need to ensure that the palliatives facilitated with public funds got to the targeted people in the state, irrespective of their affiliations.

“We are here to serve the people. We have nothing to hide and that is why we called you to observe and own the process.

“We may have our doubts and we may disagree on modalities of how to get things done for our people, but we must never at any time turn our back against one another,” he told the CSO leaders.

AbdulRazaq said he had called the meeting to brief them on the status of Kwara in fighting the deadly virus.

“We all need to do more to contain the spread of the virus and prevent community transmission,” he added.

He said the state would soon have a testing centre as the NCDC team would be in Kwara in the coming days to discuss the issue.

The governor added that there was no use buying rapid test kits whose results would not be recognised.

Speaking on behalf of leaders of the other CSOs, Malam Lawal Olohungbebe of the Centre for Community Development, KWASU, commended the governor for taking engagement with the civil society so serious in a way never seen before. 

Olohungbebe welcomed the challenge amidst calls on the administration to strengthen enforcement of various regulations put in place to tackle the pandemic.

He noted that some of the issues raised in their position paper recently sent to the governor have been addressed.

Olohungbebe listed the issues to include the need to relax lockdown internally, ensure regular payment of civil servants’ salary and compulsory quarantine of anyone who sneaked into the state.

He however urged the government to look into other areas of concern such as a review of the social investment programme because of paucity of funds.

“We thank you for this engagement. The civil society should not be seen as rival to the government. We should be partners.

“We just want the best for our state. There is no doubting your good intentions for our state, but we also urge you to consider the passage of the FOI Bill.

“Other issues we want the government to look at are farmers’ market, off taker policy and agriculture master plan,” he said.

Other leaders of CSO at the meeting were Dr Lateef Alagbonsi of the Elite Network for Sustainable Development (ENETSUD) and Hajia Bilqees Oladimeji of the COVID-19 National CSO Emergency Intervention Group (CEIG).

The rest were Idris Buko Musa of the Coalition of Kwara North Groups (CKNG); AbdulRahman Ayuba of the Centre for Community Empowerment and Poverty Eradication (CCEPE) and Anthonia Oshiniwe of the Theios Caregivers Initiative.

Also at the meeting were AbdulRasheed Sa’adudeen of the Volunteers of Ilorin Community and the Emirate (VOICE); as wel as Saliu Saliu of the Haashim Initiative for Community Advancement (HICA).

 

Edited By: Muhammad Suleiman Tola (NAN)

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Environment

Migratory Bird Day: CSOs advocate ban on illegal bird, wildlife trade

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A Civil Society Organisation (CSO), Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet), has call for the prohibition and enforcement of laws against illegal birds and wild life trade.

The coalition of Environment based Civil Society Organisations said this in a statement issued by Mr Pius Oko, Project Officer, CSDevNet, in Abuja to mark the World Migratory Bird Day celebrated on May 9.

Oko said that there should be preservation and protection of breeding areas, wintering areas and stopover sites along their migratory flyways and a united effort on indigenous tree planting.

He noted that these birds play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy ecosystems, nature conservation and environment.

He said migratory birds were increasingly at risk due to climate change and human induced activities such as agriculture and logging.

Oko listed other negative activities to include illegal game hunting, pollution, encroachment for human settlement and invasive species result in rapidly changing environments.

“In commemoration of this year’s World Migratory Bird Day, CSDevNet in collaboration with the Nigerian Civil Society Framework on Paris Agreement and the SDGs, call for increased awareness on the important role migratory birds play.

“The importance of migratory birds and the crucial role they play in maintaining a healthy
ecosystems worldwide highlights the need for collaboration to ensure the conservation of these species.

“By conserving these birds and their environment, we ensure the conservation of biodiversity on a wider scale.

” The Nigerian government should lead efforts at conserving and restoring the ecological connectivity and integrity of ecosystems that support the natural cycles that are essential for the survival and well-being of migratory birds.

“Given that there is clear evidence that the destruction of wild areas can facilitate the kinds of infectious diseases the world is now combating, urgent action to better protect and sustain wildlife and their habitats is needed,” he said.

He said the day came at a time when most of human population was under some form of restricted movement due to the coronavirus.

Oko added that the theme for this year’s Day “Birds Connect Our World” carried a particular relevance and poignancy to Nigeria.

According to him, about 20 per cent of all bird species are migratory, and how these bird species involved in large scale movement fare in these ever-changing environments is of conservation importance.

Oko said migratory birds could be found everywhere: in cities, in the countryside, parks and backyards, forests, mountains and deserts, in wetlands and along the shores.

“They connect all of these habitats, and they connect people and the places where we live to people around the world.”

He noted that birds were often considered to be outstanding indicator of the health of the overall environment, adding : “Migratory birds serve key functions in the interconnected ecosystem that keep nature healthy; including pollination and seed dispersal of crops for human and livestock consumption.

“They also serve as early warning system for environmental disasters such as restless birds before a volcanic eruption; pest and rodents regulation saving farmers expenditure on pesticides and crop protection measures.

” These birds also contribute to recycling biomass and in waste disposal and as an aesthetic source of pride for cultures across the globe.”

Oko said by conserving these birds and their environment, the conservation of biodiversity on a wider scale would be ensured.

Edited By: Dorcas Jonah/Rabiu Sani Ali (NAN)

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Lockdown: CSOs to monitor human rights violations in Bauchi

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The Bauchi State coalition of the Civil Society Organisations  (CSOs), COVID-19 Intervention Situation Room, says it is monitoring human right violations over the implementation of the lockdown order in the state.

Mr Sodangi Chindo,   Chairman of  the coalition, made the disclosure in a  statement on Sunday in Bauchi.

Chindo said that the coalition pledged to monitor human rights violations arising from the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

“We are also monitoring compliance of the citizens to preventive mechanisms such as border security among others,” he said.

He explained that Bauchi CSOs COVID-19 Intervention Situation Room was introduced to contribute in curbing the spread of coronavirus pandemic, while at same time monitor the distribution of palliatives to the residents of the state. 

Chindo  urged  the State Taskforce on COVID-19  to sustain efforts on resource mobilisation and  support,  toward combating the pandemic.

The chairman lamented  the absence of civil society representation in both the Taskforce and the palliative committees cosntituted by the state government.

According to him, the coalition believes it an oversight, given  the inclusive policy of the current  administration in the state.

“We also believe that CSOs’ active participation will contribute to reversing the rise in infection rates in the state, as well as ensure the identification, isolation and treatment of persons who have contracted the virus,”  he said.

Mr Chindo  urged the state Taskforce  and  other sub committees to ensure working  with existing community structures for proper inclusion of vulnerable groups.

He reiterated commitment to supporting the government in the fight to stem further spread of the pandemic in the state.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Rabiu Sani Ali (NAN)

 

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Health

COVID-19: CSOs urge strict adherence to safety measures

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Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Nasarawa State Chapter, has urged Nigerians to adhere strictly to safety measures against COVID-19 to stay safe and for overall development of the country.

Dr Asmau Oyanki, the CSOs Coordinator in the state, made the call on Friday in Akwanga during an interface with officials of Akwanga Local Government Council.

Oyanki said that they were in the area to create awareness on the dangers of the global health challenge known as COVID-19.

She said that coronavirus had affected lives and the socioeconomic activities of the country negatively, hence the need for all hands to be on deck to tackle it.

“We are here to create awareness and educate the people on the danger of COVID-19.

“People should adhere to safety protocols as advised by the government and health experts by staying at home, observe social distance, avoid overcrowded environment, and wash their hands frequently.

“Use face mask among other safety protocols; if this is done, it will go a long way in curtailing spread of the disease and people will be safe,” she said.

Oyanki said that COVID-19 is real, hence the need for people to be cautious by observing total compliance with safety measures against COVID-19.

She also urged residents of the area and other Nigerians to maintain personal and environmental cleanliness, as cleanliness is next to Godliness.

Also speaking, the Chun Mada of Mada nation, Mr Samson Gamu-Yare, appreciated the CSOs for being in the area to sensitise his subjects on the danger of COVID-19.

The first class traditional ruler appealed to them to report back to the state government observations and findings during their visit to the area.

He appealed to Nigerians to adhere strictly to the preventive measures against COVID-19 to curtail spread of the virus in the country.

Responding, Mr Samuel Meshi, the Executive Chairman of the Council, assured of his determination to assist the CSOs to achieve their goal of making the area free of COVID-19.

Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)

 

 

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