The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege says the National Assembly will give legal backing to card reader in the new Electoral Act, to further enhance the integrity of the electoral process in Nigeria.
He gave the assurance when he received the Nigerian Representatives of the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council, (AU-ECOSOCC), led by Dr. Tunji Ashaolu in Abuja on Thursday.
A statement by his spokesperson, Yomi Odunga in Abuja, quoted Omo-Agege as saying that it was important the card reader be made part of the legal regime for elections.
He said the senate maintained that card reader would ensure credible polls.
According to him, the mistake of the Eighth National Assembly is that the amendment of the Electoral Act breached ECOWAS Protocol, which will not be repeated.
“I am sure any minute from now, we are going to be coming up with a revised Electoral Reform Amendment Bill that will address issues that are very dear to us and issues that came to the fore in the 2019 elections, most especially revolving round the legality of the card reader.
“We know that there is no way you can have genuine, credible, free and fair elections in this country without addressing the issue of the card reader.
“Most of the litigations that arise from the 2015 and 2019 elections have always centred around the legality or otherwise of the card reader.
“The courts have made it very clear that as far as they are concerned, Section 49 of the Electoral Act is very clear that the only document recognised by law for purpose of accreditation is the voters register.
“To the extent that we believe that we want to introduce any innovation including but not limited to the card reader.
“We have to do the right thing, the right thing as far as we are concerned is for us to pass the law to make the card reader.
“We are hellbent on doing that, and we actually tried in the committee that I served on in the eighth senate but the leadership of the eighth senate delayed it and by the time it passed, it had ran into challenges with the ECOWAS Protocol,” he said.
He, however, explained that contentious areas in the amendments made by the eighth National Assembly would be removed before the bill will be passed and sent to the President for assent.
Omo-Agege, who represents Delta Central Senatorial District, also expressed the desire of the ninth senate to ensure that the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) was given accelerated approval.
He assured that the bill would have the buy-in of the executive arm of government to avoid the mistakes of the past.
He said: “This time around, it is the determination of the ninth senate that we are going to have this (PIGB) passed.
Earlier, leader of the delegation, Dr. Tunji John Ashaolu, emphasized the need for Nigeria to take its rightful place in the African Union (AU).
He also called on the National Assembly to immediately revisit the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, as well as the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB). (NAN).
Edited by Felix Ajide
Reps to proffer “lasting solutions” to NAF crashes
The House of Representatives has said it is set to proffer “lasting solutions” to the incessant air crashes experienced by the Nigerian Air Force since 2015, the Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, has said.
Gbajabiamila spoke during a Investigative Hearing by the house Committee on Air Force on Monday.
Regrettably, in recent times, the Nigerian Air Force has been witnessing incessant air crashes.
Between the years 2015 and 2019, there have been at least eight air crashes in various Nigerian states that have endangered lives and property.
As joint partners, we are determined to proffer lasting solutions to this problem.
Gbajabiamila said the committee would meet with NAF to investigate the causes of crashes and recommend actions to forestall future occurrences.
The speaker also said that the committee would examine the level of financial loss suffered by the country, insurance cover for the personnel and other matters that could lead to ending such disasters.
He said the committee would report back to the house after the completion of the investigation.
The committee Chairman, Rep. Shehu Koko, said the hearing was pursuant to a motion titled “Need to Investigate the Incessant Non-Combatant Related Air Crashes by the Nigeria Air Force”.
Koko said the committee was poised to achieve the desired result by unravelling the circumstances surrounding the frequent crashes with a view to nipping such incidences in the bud.
The chairman also recalled that the crashes occurred from 2015 to 2019.
On Aug. 29, 2015, Nigeria Air Force Dornier 228 crashed in Kaduna. Similarly, on Oct. 10, 2015, the F-7NI crashed with one casualty, while on Nov. 15, 2016 in Makurdi, Augusta Westland 101 Helicopter crashed.
We therefore set to find out the problems and proffer lasting solution to stop it for the future of the military and the safety of our personnel.
In his address, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said NAF would cooperate to forestall such incidences in the future.
I am delighted that in addition to recognising the enormous contributions of the force, today you have looked at other areas we are having some drawbacks.
I think that is the right direction to follow and I want to say the government is doing everything to support us and we, in the Air Force, will do everything humanly possible to ensure we fly safe.
We are ready to give all the information you require to make our country greater.
The committee, however, continued in a closed door session.
Edited by: Chukwudi Ekezie
Omo-Agege introduces amendment bill on electoral malpractice
Omo-Agege introduces amendment bill on electoral malpractice
Abuja, Dec.9, 2019 Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege on Monday said, he had introduced a bill for comprehensive amendment of the Electoral Act No. 6 of 2010.
Omo-Agege said this at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room Stakeholders Forum on Elections, organised by the coalition of more than 70 civil societies in Abuja.
He said the bill, co-sponsored with Sen. Abubakar Kyari of Borno North Senatorial District, was now making its way to public hearing, having scaled Second Reading with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate.
It is a decisive response to a plethora of our Supreme Court’s decision inviting the National Assembly to make sensible amendments to the Electoral Act.
And I believe it is responsible for us to take the apex court’s constructive guidance on issues that fundamentally affect our democracy.
This apart, Section 153 of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, specifically and expressly empowers INEC to “issue regulations, guidelines, or manuals for the purpose of giving effects to the provisions of this Act and for its administration thereof.
The pervasive non-compliance with the Guidelines, Regulations and Manuals, would carry clear consequences for people who think violating electoral due process is a rewarding exercise.
“The proposed Bill to amend the Electoral Act would focus on resolving issues surrounding INEC’s introduction of modern technologies into the electoral process, particularly accreditation of voters.’’
Omo-Agege said that the bill would also mandate INEC to publish the Voters’ Register for public scrutiny at every Registration Area and on its website, at least seven days before a general election.
According to him, it also mandates INEC to suspend an election in order to allow a political party that losses its candidate before or during an election to conduct a fresh primary to elect a replacement or new candidate.
He said the bill would grant agents of political parties the right to inspect original electoral materials before the commencement of election, define over-voting to include situations where “total votes cast also exceed total number of accredited voters’’.
According to the lawmaker, it also provides greater clarity and transparency in the process of reaching the final announcement of election results, starting with sorting of ballots, counting of votes among others.
Omo-Agege said the bill would mandate INEC to record and keep relevant detailed information of results sheets, ballot papers and other sensitive electoral materials used in an election, with clear consequences for violation.
He said the bill also provided sanctions for giving false information on registration of a political party, and that failure by INEC and others to comply with any provision of the Act carried clear and adequate sanctions.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who was represented by Mr Festus Okoye, Chairman Information and Voter Education, said the Commission was committed to electoral reforms that would strengthen the power and value of the vote.
Yakubu said the Commission would work assiduously with critical stakeholders in the electoral process in providing clarity, removing ambiguities, plugging existing lacuna in laws and constitutionally implementing those aspects of the law that guaranteed the credibility of elections.
“The Commission will definitely send its proposals to the National Assembly to clearly state aspects of the existing Law it supports, aspects that need further retooling, and new proposals that will strengthen the electoral process and the regulatory functions of the Commission.’’
Mr Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was committed to tackling electoral fraud and violence through the establishment of an Electoral Offences Commission.
Malami who was represented by Ms Juliet Ibekaku, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Ethics and Justice, said the government was already working with the 9th National Assembly with a view to ensuring an early passage of amendments to the Electoral Act and the Election Offences Commission Bill into law.
Earlier, Mr Clement Nwankwo, Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, said the objective of the event was to discuss the current state of the electoral environment in the country.
Nwankwo said it also aimed to make recommendations and suggestions that would improve the political and electoral process in Nigeria.
“We believe INEC has the responsibility to be a key driver of the much needed change in the electoral sector,’’ he added.
Edited by: Nyisom Fiyigon Dore
LG autonomy bill: ex-commissioner seeks states’ legislators support
Dr Paul Okorie, a former Commissioner for Works, Housing and Transportation in Ebonyi, has called on lawmakers in the 36 states houses of assembly to support the National Assembly on the local government area autonomy bill it recently passed.
Okorie commended the courage and patriotism of members of the National Assembly in passing the bill granting full autonomy to the 774 local government areas in the country.
He said that the move would deepen democracy and engender development at the grassroots level, urging state houses of Assembly to give concurrence to the bill to enable it become a law.
The Senate and the House of Representatives have demonstrated that are representing the people well by passing the local government autonomy amendment bill.
I want to use this medium to appeal to state houses of assembly to concur with the bill very swiftly.
I want to remind lawmakers in the various state houses of assembly that they are there for the people and must not succumb to intimidation and antics of the state governors.
They can hold town hall meetings in their respective constituencies to aggregate the views of their constituents on the issue.
I know that in their bid to hold on to the funds of the local governments, governors will begin to lobby members of the state legislature to vote against the bill when it is brought down to them.
I am advising that our state lawmakers do the needful by concurring to what the national assembly has done so that local government area can be fully autonomous.
National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU); Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) have been strengthened to go after anybody that mismanages public fund”, Okorie said.
He reiterated that the local government autonomy would enable council chairmen to embark on infrastructure and human capital developments in their respective areas without undue interference by state governors.
The former commissioner added that elections at the various councils would no longer be a decision of the governors.
The autonomy will promote good governance and deepen participatory democracy at the grassroots, because people will exercise their rights to choose who will lead them in a more transparent and credible election.
“The councils will be able to choose their priority projects that will impact on the lives of the citizens at the local governments, including opening access to farm lands and empowering the poor and vulnerable,” he observed.
Edited by: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Kayode Olaitan
Observers rate Ekiti LG elections free, fair
The Coalition of Civil Society Domestic Election Observer Groups has described the Saturday’s local government elections in Ekiti as free and fair.
The coalition’s team leader, Mr Muhammad Al-Jameel Hashidu, told newsmen in Ado Ekiti on Monday that voting materials arrived in the 2,195 polling units promptly.
He said further that voting and collation were done without harassment and intimidation, attesting to the credibility of the poll.
The group noted that the election witnessed high turnout of voters in major cities in contrast to what were witnessed at the grassroots, hinging this on low level of sensitisation at the remote centres.
The coalition called for more voter education and advocacy at the grassroots and proper funding of the state electoral commission to conduct better future elections.
The National Coordinator of Network of Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria , Mr Victor Kalu, said the neutrality maintained by government and security agencies reinforced the acceptability of the poll.
We emphasise the contributions of the Ekiti Police Command in posting officers to every nook and cranny of the state during the exercise,” he said.
Edited by: Kayode Olaitan
Anambra 2021: Political group backs merit, opposes zoning
A political association, Anambra Destiny Movement (ADM), says that party affiliation or zoning should not determine who becomes the next governor of the state but a candidate with programme that aggregates the challenges of the state.
Chief Ekene Enefe, president of the movement, said this at a parley with newsmen in Awka on Monday.
He said that Anambra had become sophisticated for such considerations and that the group would support candidate from any part of the state who had capacity to address the collective aspirations of the people.
It would be recalled that the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance has zoned its ticket to Anambra South Senatorial District while the opposition Peoples Democratic Party said its ticket was open to candidates from all zones.
Enefe said political parties hoping to clinch the mandate of the people should present the best from among them and not rely on the assumption that the name of their party could win election for them.
According to him, Anambra Destiny Movement does not believe in zoning, apart from not being constitutional, zoning is archaic in a sophisticated state such as Anambra where power has gone round the three zones.
Anambra is neither a birthright of any political party nor an empire that was up for grab by any other party, it is a state in dire need of focused and purposeful leadership, that is why the ADM is calling on them to bring their best to the arena or lose the election.
We are not even going to support anybody because he is a member of party A or party B because experience has shown that the so-called good parties don’t allow the masses to have access to quality candidates.
Candidates for Anambra governorship election in 2021 must be merit based, ADM which is rooted in the 21 local governments of the state, will work for the victory of the best candidate based on his/her track record and the manifesto of the party,” he said.
Enefe said though the present administration had done well in the area of security, Anambra still suffered infrastructure deficit which had hindered its economic prosperity.
He said that part of the agenda of ADM for the next dispensation included rural access roads, functional public water supply, sustainable industrialisation drive and state-wide development approach.
The group called for conduct local government council election to encourage political participation at the grassroots level.
Edited by: Kayode Olaitan
War against corruption: NASS urges Nigerians to leverage on FOI Act, Whistle-blowing policy
Mr Garba Shehu,Chairman House Committee on Anti-Corruption, has urged Nigerians to leverage on the Freedom of Information Act, Whistle-blowing policy and Open Government Imitative (OGP) to enhance the anti-corruption fight in Nigeria .
Shehu made the call on Monday in Abuja at a rally organised by Say No Campaign a coalition of Civil Society Groups to mark the 2019 World Anti-corruption Day with the theme “United Against Corruption.’’
According to him, Nigerians can use these policies and laws as powerful tools to advocate for good governance and demand accountability especially with the aid of social media.
I want to commend the Coalition of Civil Society for taking it upon them to sensitise Nigerians to the importance of Dec. 9 set aside by UN to highlight devastating impact of corruption.
Corruption deprives the citizens of the resources that should be used to improve on our socio economic wellbeing; we have bad roads, poor schools, we cannot really overemphasise the devastating impact of corruption.
“We should do whatever we can as citizens, as civil society organisations to highlight the impact of corruption in all spheres of our society, because it thrives everywhere, so the war has to be total.’’
Shehu urged Nigerians to be vigilant and work against corruption while the National Assembly would continue to advocate for measures that would empower citizens to be able to fight the war.
Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, the Co-convener, Say No Campaign, said that the rally was organised to create awareness on the need for citizens to join in the fight against corruption.
Nwagwu said that it was the constitutional responsibility of the government to fight corruption and it would be subverting the constitution for not doing that.
He said it was the duty of citizens to follow-up abandoned projects by tracking the contractors to ensure they deliver the projects.
Ms Vivian Bellonwu, another co-convener, said that the position of Nigeria today why the country was not where it ought to be was due to the devastating effect of corruption.
Bellonwu urged the judiciary to not compromise on corruption cases but help in convicting criminals to serve as deterrent to others .
So today, we want to join our voices not just as women or children but as Nigerians to say that we collectively reject corruption.
“We call on anti-graft agencies to take all necessary measures to see that they bring all perpetrators to book,” she said.
Edited by: Kayode Olaitan
Gov. Fintiri swears-in newly elected LG Chairmen in Adamawa
Gov. Fintiri swears-in newly elected LG Chairmen in Adamawa
He said the victory of the party was a testimony that the people of the state were satisfied with the performance of the PDP led administration.
“The result showed that the people of Adamawa are happy with the fresh air agenda of this administration,” Fintiri said.
While urging the new chairmen to carry everyone along, he cautioned them against unnecessary traveling outside their areas of jurisdiction.
“Government will not tolerate a situation where chairmen travel at will abandoning their areas,” Fintiri said.
Speaking on behalf of the chairmen, Mr Michael Shehu of Michika local council thanked the people for the confidence reposed in them and assured that they would not disappoint them.
Edited by: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Ali Baba-Inuwa
APC wins all 16 Chairmanship seats in Ekiti council poll
Ekiti State Independent Electoral Commission (EKSIEC) on Sunday declared the candidates of the All Progressives Congress winners of all the 16 Chairmanship seats in the local government election conducted on Saturday .
Results of the 177 Councillorship seats were, however, still being awaited as at the time of filing this report.
Aladejana said contrary to reports, no death was recorded at any polling booth on Saturday.
” Nobody was killed at Ward 7 Unit 006 in Ikere on Saturday . Nobody was shot, though we heard that someone came violently and made away with unused ballot papers
” Even in the whole unit, there were just 280 registered voters and this does not in any way vitiate the outcome,” he said.
Describing the election as peaceful , Aladejana commended the security agencies in the state for ensuring that no one was intimidated during the poll.
Meanwhile, the PDP in the state has rejected the outcome of the poll as announced by EKSIEC, describing it as concorted and unacceptable.
” From what we heard all over the state, the election was riddled with violence in most places, especially in Ikere Ekiti where one person was reportedky killed and about four others sustained injuries,” he said.
(Edited by: Mufutau Ojo)
Ganduje restates commitment to human rights protection
Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has restated his administration’s commitment to respect and protect human rights to education, health, justice and life.
Ganduje said this on Sunday while receiving the Most Outstanding State Government Human Rights Award at the 2019 Human Rights Summit/Awards in Abuja.
Nigeria News Agency reports that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) organised the summit to commemorate 2019 International Human Rights Day.
The theme of the summit is titled “Adopting Human Rights-Based Approach in the Public Sector Sustainable Development Agenda””
Ganduje said his administration’s provided free education for pupils particularly female students to ensure that they finish secondary school before going into marriage.
He listed the establishment of a commission for physically challenged persons, protection of sick and aged rights as well as establishment of anti-corruption body as some of his administration’s feat on human rights protection.
Mr Tony Ojukwu, the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, said that the commission held the summit to sensiitise Nigerians to the importance of human rights protection.
Ojukwu, who thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for supporting the commission to deliver its mandate, restated the commission’s determination to ensure that every one’s rights are respected and protected without any hindrance,.
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Edited & Vetted By: Tukur Muntari.
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