We will not tolerate act of holding our officials hostage – INEC Chairman
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu gave the warning at the meeting of Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) ahead of Saturday elections, held at the commission’s headquarters on Thursday in Abuja.
He said that where such abduction occurs, the commission would not issue Certificates of Return.
Yakubu said that the commission was worried over the rate of attacks on its personnel and the loss of lives and election materials recorded during the Feb. 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections
“The Commission is concerned that many of our materials, including ballot boxes, voting cubicles, voters’ registers and Smart Card Readers were lost to acts of hooliganism and thuggery in the elections held two weeks ago.
“Most worrisome is the attack on electoral officials. Some of our staff were abducted and taken hostage in an attempt to disrupt elections or influence the outcome.
“In fact, some of the supplementary elections I referred to earlier were caused by such acts of thuggery.
“I am confident that working together with the security agencies, we will consolidate on the largely peaceful conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly elections while also taking decisive steps to deal with the minority of violators intent on disrupting the conduct of peaceful elections.
“However, the Commission will not tolerate the act of holding our officials hostage and forcing them to declare winners under duress.
“Where such occurs, the Commission will not reward bad behaviour by issuing them Certificates of Return.’’
Yakubu expressed the Commission’s appreciation to the security agencies for securing the environment during the national elections.
He noted that in the course of securing the elections, the security agencies, electoral officials and innocent Nigerians suffered needless attacks resulting in casualties including deaths and loss of personal and official properties.
“On behalf of the Commission, I extend our deepest condolence to the families of those who lost their lives, including personnel of the security agencies. We are glad that the Police has made several arrests and investigation is ongoing.
“I wish to assure Nigerians that the Commission will work closely with the Police to ensure the diligent prosecution of all violators of our electoral laws.
“Citizens are asking for effective but non-intrusive protection before, during and immediately after the elections in which their rights are respected and their choices safeguarded.’’
Yakubu expressed optimism that the Saturdays election would open by 8 am. going by arrangements already put in place by the commission.
“On Saturday March 9, Nigerians are once again going to the polls to elect Governors in 29 States, 991 members of Houses of Assembly in all the States of the Federation, 6 Chairmen as well as 62 Councillors for the Area Councils in the FCT.
“A total of 1,082 candidates will be elected by citizens across the country. Learning from the experience of the Presidential and National Assembly elections held two weeks ago, the Commission has effectively tackled the challenge of logistics.
“Materials for the election have been delivered to all States and the FCT. Movement to the Local Government Areas will be completed today.
Yakubu disclosed that INEC had also reconfigured its Smart Card Readers for the elections on Saturday, saying the use of the card readers was mandatory and there will be no exemption to their deployment for accreditation of voters.
“Under our Regulations and Guidelines, there are clear penalties for the deliberate failure to deploy them on the part of our staff.
“Where such happens with the connivance of communities, the result of election in the polling unit(s) will be cancelled and zero vote recorded.’’
Yakubu said that in addition to elections into 1,082 constituencies nationwide, the Commission would conduct supplementary elections in 14 States of the Federation covering 7 Senatorial Districts and 24 Federal Constituencies.
He said that the list of candidates that emerged winners in the Senatorial and House of Representatives’ elections held on Saturday Feb. 23 would be available on INEC website “later on Thursday.’’
He said that INEC would still maintain its Situation Room at the International Conference Centre (ICC) to monitor the elections nationwide and respond to issues that may arise.
Yakubu, however, said that no election results would be collated and no declaration of winners would be done at the ICC.
“All collation and declaration of results will be done at the various constituency and State declaration centers.’’
He disclosed that for Senatorial Districts and Federal Constituencies in which winners had already emerged, the Commission would issue their Certificates of Return next week.
“The Certificates of Return shall be presented at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, on Thursday March 14 starting with Senators-elect at 10 am. and members of the House of Representatives-elect at 2 pm.
He also disclosed that the Certificates of Return for Governors and Deputy-Governors-elect, Members of State Houses of Assembly-elect and Chairmen and Councillors for the FCT shall be presented in each State on a date to be announced next week.
Gov. Dickson inaugurates 41-member Transition Committee
Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa on Tuesday inaugurated a 41-member Transition Committee in readiness for the inauguration of the incoming administration in the state.
Chief David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the Nov. 16 governorship election and is slated to assume office on Feb. 14, 2020.
The committee which has the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Kemela Okara, as Chairman, also has Mr Talford Ongolo as Deputy Chairman and Mr Luka Obiri as Secretary.
Members of the committee which includes all serving Commissioners, five Permanent Secretaries and political appointees was inaugurated on Tuesday at the Governor’s Conference Room, Government House, Yenagoa.
A statement by Mr Fidelis Soriwei, Chief Press secretary to Gov. Dickson, said the constitution of the Transition Committee was in line with the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Dickson described the governorship election won by the APC on Nov. 16 as a charade.
He,however, noted that irrespective of the outcome of the several initiatives being taken by the PDP, there was still need for a proper handover process to be initiated.
“Knowing that what transpired is not an election, we have to set up a transition committee the first time in our democratic rule.
“I thank God for the grace and enablement for making this possible for eight years and with a lot of achievements,” Dickson said.
According to Dickson, the purpose of the committee is to articulate, record and document all the policies, programmes, projects and achievements of the administration in all sectors in eight years.
“The purpose is to articulate and record all that we have achieved and done in all sectors as a state.
“That’s why all commissioners are part of this committee to enable you to present a scorecard of all our policies and programmes both completed and ongoing projects.”
He said that the outcome of the work would be handed over in various forms to the incoming administration.
He said the achievements of his administration would be a testimony while Bayelsa people were assured of continually enjoying the dividends of democracy.
He thanked members of the committee for their diligence, sacrifice and manner they served his administration.
In his address, the chairman of the committee, Okara, gave the assurance that before the end of the year the committee would complete its assigned task.
The assignment includes the financial position of the state, in terms of assets and liabilities, in a clear document.
He added that they would produce a very thorough and standard report that other states would envy.
Edited by Donald Ugwu
Kogi, Bayelsa polls: PDP calls for investigation into violence
Abuja, Nov. 19, 2019 The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday called for “immediate investigation” into the violence that characterised the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections so as to fish out the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
The party, in a statement in Abuja, particularly decried the killing of its Women Leader, Mrs. Acheju Abuh, who was reportedly burnt in her house.
The statement was signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan.
“Our party is grieved by the killing of our members and other innocent Nigerians by thugs that disrupted the electoral process.
“While invoking the wrath of God on the perpetrators of the gruesome killings, the party calls on the Police to immediately track down and bring their killers to book.
“Indeed, their deaths will never be in vain as the mandates for which they were killed will surely be recovered,” he said.
Ologbondiyan claimed that the elections were rigged and declared that the results as announced by the electoral umpire would not stand.
“The PDP leadership will not fold its hands and watch the mandates clearly given to its candidates, Musa Wada in
“The Inspector-General of Police and the Chairman of INEC should look into the alleged cases of violence and manipulation that characterised the elections,” he said, adding that truth and justice would always prevail.
He urged PDP members to remain calm, keep the faith and be united while the National Working Committee commences lawful actions toward recovering the mandates.
Edited by Ephraims Sheyin
Senate probes GenCos,DisCos,over unsteady power supply
Abuja,Nov.19,2019The Senate has mandated its Committee on Power to investigate the activities of power generating and distribution companies to unravel the cause of unsteady power supply in Nigeria.
The investigating committee has four weeks within which to submit its report to the Senate for consideration.
The decision by the upper chamber to probe power generation, transmission and distribution in the country was reached sequel to a motion considered during plenary on Tuesday.
Sen.Chukwuka Utazi, (PDP–Enugu North) who sponsored the motion said Nigeria, with a population of 200 million and an annual growth rate of 2.6 percent per annum, is the seventh most populous nation on earth.
According to Utazi, the power generating or installed capacity of Nigeria in relation to its population and Gross Domestic Product cannot place the country to compete favourably in terms of development with other nations.
He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to find solutions to the power deficits faced by the country.
Citing Indonesia and Philippines as examples, the lawmaker noted that both countries with a population of 267 million and 107 million, respectively, have installed power capacity of 60,000 MW and generating capacity of 42,465 MW as well as installed capacity of 20,055 MW and generating capacity of 16,271ME.
The lawmaker while expressing optimism that Nigeria can set a realisable target of generating capacity of 100,000 MW in the next ten years, said same can be achieved through a mix of energy sources like natural gas, hydro, coal, wind and renewable energy.
He added that the various zones in the country are naturally positioned to take advantage of the various energy mix and renewables, particularly solar energy.
“The northern part of the country with vast expanse of land can tap into large solar farms while the southern parts of the country with significant reserves of natural gas and cola can generate power from same.
“Both the north and South have large water bodies that can still be dammed for hydro,” Utazi said.
The lawmaker further posited that Nigeria can improve on its transmission infrastructure by up-scaling its networks from the current 330kv and 132kv to 765kv super grid to enable big power plants to send power through such grid over long distances.
He added that beyond generation and transmission, Distribution Companies (DisCos) lack the financial and technical capacities required, thereby resulting in their inability to pay for power which Generation Companies (GenCos) deliver to the grid.
Underscoring the motive behind the privatization of the power sector in 2013, Utazi stressed that the objective in privatizing power distribution assets was not to achieve highest financial bids.
According to him, it is rather to get capable companies that can achieve the lowest Average Technical Commercial and Collection losses within five years.
In her contribution, Sen. Oluremi Tinubu (APC-Lagos Central) said the failure of the power sector was largely due to the refusal of the leadership of past governments to embrace new ideas.
According to her, “Government should embrace new ideas that would take Nigeria to the next level.”
Another lawmaker, Sen. Jibrin Barau (APC- Kano North) said uninterrupted power supply remains a fundamental requirement needed in a modern economy.
The lawmaker, who bemoaned previous policies particularly under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, said the power problems of the country remain the same despite their introduction.
He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to engage all stakeholders in the power sector with a view to coming up with workable solutions to Nigeria’s power crisis.
“We need to bring experts together to look at the power sector as a whole in a bid to realising these targets. Our companies are now being moved to Ghana, this is because of power.
“The Committee on Power should get everybody together. Government cannot do it alone. Let’s bring everybody together so we can find a lasting solution to this problem,” Barau stressed.
Sen. representing Cross River South, Gershom Bassey, said what Nigeria needs to resolve its power problem is to develop the country’s transmission infrastructure.
According to him, Nigeria’s transmission infrastructure currently lacks the capacity to withstand an increase to power generation.
The lawmaker, however, advised the Federal Government to build on existing policy frameworks inherited from past administrations.
Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC –Kebbi ) alleged that some high placed persons were sabotaging efforts by the Federal government to fix the power problems in the country.
He said: “Some people have sworn that nothing works in the power sector and had done everything possible to frustrate efforts by government to improve power generation and distribution.
“There is need to break their strong hold on electricity generation and distribution.”
Sen. Ibrahim Gobir (APC-Sokoto ) said the problem of the nation’s power sector was lack of political will, noting “our problem is lack of political will drive the power sector.”
He stressed the need to review the nation’s energy bill, noting that the generation and distribution of power could be decentralised to enable state and local government areas to participate in the sector to improve in the distribution.
Sen. Rochas Okorocha (Imo-West) cautioned that if the federal government wants to solve power problem it must concede the generation and distribution of power to Public Private participation (PPP), because of the huge capital requirement to drive the sector government can not successfully meet the nation’s power challengies.
Accordingly, the Senate urged the Federal Government to upgrade the transmission infrastructure of Nigeria’s power grid for a more efficient transmission of power.
While advocating for 100,000 megawatts installed capacity to match size of Nigeria’s economy and population, it further urged Federal Government to break-up the power distribution companies into smaller, more manageable distribution companies for optimal performance.
The lawmakers also urged the Federal Government to devise power generation models that are embedded for economic and industrial clusters, hinging around regional grids that are semi-autonomous but interconnected to the national grid .
edited by Sadiya Hamza
LASG to prosecute assailants of traffic officers
The Lagos State Government has vowed to prosecute anyone caught assaulting officers in the course of carrying out their official duties and responsibilities.
Mr Olajide Oduyoye, General Manager, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), in a statement on Tuesday, condemned the recent increase in reported cases of assault on Lagos State Traffic officers by unscrupulous members of the public.
Oduyoye recalled a recent incident of assault by a commercial bus driver at Costain, saying that the Lagos State Government would, henceforth, prosecute and severely punish offenders.
He said that the state would also prosecute and punish motorists and other road users who violated traffic laws.
According to him, the driver of a commercial bus with registration number FST 300 XV, now at large, plying the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor contrary to the law, was accosted by a Traffic Officer at Costain, Iponri, Surulere.
”The driver, however, knocked down the officer as well as the commercial motorcyclist and injured his passenger while trying to escape enforcement,” he said.
Oduyoye gave assurance that the commercial bus driver would be apprehended and warned members of the public to desist from attacking LASTMA officials in the course of their traffic control duties.
Meanwhile, the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), has said that a five-count charge has been instituted against the wanted driver at the Special Offences Court of Lagos State sitting at Oshodi, Lagos.
The five-count charge includes willful obstruction, driving against oncoming traffic, physical assault of traffic officers, resisting arrest by vandalising LASTMA vehicle and use of restricted BRT corridor.
The Magistrate, before adjourning the case to Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, granted the two applications made by the prosecution counsel – Abiola Olateju, Kehinde Akerele and Aderemi Amu – that the vehicle be held in the custody of the Lagos State Taskforce on Special Offences until the defendant appears.
The Magistrate said that the vehicle shall be forfeited to government after the expiration of one month.
Edited by Wale Ojetimi
Sanwo-Olu flags off “Exercise Crocodile Smile IV” in Lagos, urges citizens to be security conscious
Sanwo-Olu made this known on Tuesday during the flag-off of Exercise Crocodile Smile IV by 81 Division of the Nigerian Army held at Takwa Bay, Lagos.
Represented by his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, Sanwo-Olu commended the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, for his thoughtfulness and strategic foresight in conducting Exercise Crocodile Smile IV ahead of the Yuletide.
He said that the idea was geared towards ensuring peace and security within the South-West and South-South region during the festive period.
“From antecedents, the security issues prevalent within the Yuletide are not lost on any of us as criminal elements move to amass wealth through underhanded means during the period,” he said.
He said that Exercise Crocodile Smile IV was a welcome development that promised to ensure that criminal elements had no safe haven within the period.
“I commend the army for their resilience and determination towards providing security in Lagos and other states across the country including the Federal Capital Territory,” Sanwo-Olu said.
While seeking support for security operatives, the governor alluded to the need for citizens to be security conscious.
“They should notice what is going on in their environment and adopt the popular saying of ‘see something and say something’.
“If you see something wrong make sure you act.
“The police and other security personnel are not magicians, they do not look at oracle, they listen to information.
“It is for all of us to conduct ourselves and just be our neighbours keeper,” he said.
Commenting on the clean-up of the beaches as part of efforts to boost tourism, the governor urged citizens to own the beaches and treat them as their homestead by properly disposing their plastics and wastes.
Earlier in his remarks, Buratai, represented by Major-General John Irefin, GOC 81 Division, Nigerian Army, said that Exercise Crocodile Smile IV was part of the Army’s continuous commitment to combating security challenges in the country.
He added that the exercise would reduce to the barest minimum the prevailing security threat in the riverine environment such as illegal oil bunkering, militancy, kidnapping, pipeline vandalism, cultism and other common sundry crimes.
Buratai said that the exercise, aimed at sharpening the professional skills of security personnel, would be intelligence-driven and portray real time operation.
“This will be in line with the military’s constitutional role of conducting internal security operation to aid civil authority,” the COAS said.
He said that it would also provide good opportunity for collaboration with other services and relevant security agencies in order to strengthen greater inter- agency cooperation in combating crime and criminality in the country.
Edited by Wale Ojetimi
Kogi, Bayelsa poll: Rep calls for adoption of electronic voting
Rep. Leke Abejide (ADC-Kogi) has called for the adoption of electronic voting to eliminate thuggery and violence and ensure free, fair and credible election in the country.
Abejide said this while responding to questions from newsmen during a briefing in Abuja on Tuesday.
“Politics is not a do-or-die. Fighting or causing mayhem and killing is barbaric and I condemn it.
“We are going to come up with electronic voting system where people can vote using their phones.
“In a case whereby someone is bringing the ballot box and it is snatched, we cannot get proper election with this system.
“We cannot get free, fair and credible election with the system of voting we use now,” he said.
He called on aggrieved parties to seek redress in court and also pledged his support to whoever emerged winner.
“We (minority caucus of the house) are displeased and totally against what happened in last Saturday’s election.
“We are not impressed with the mode of conduct of the election given that many lives were lost.
“The party will be going to the tribunal to seek redress; we support them wholly, totally in that drive to reclaim the mandate,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we have come to degenerate in this country with regards to how elections are conducted.
“The level of violence orchestrated in just two states is disheartening; it is something that really needs to be investigated and we are calling on Mr President to take action on that.
“We believe that these matters will be interrogated in court and we will seek redress in the court and we will know that our remedy will be granted by the court.
“We shall drive to make sure the Electoral Act has to be amended and the time is now. We need to address some of these imperfections manifested in very clear forms,” he said.
Edited by Ali Baba-Inuwa
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