The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved N2.6 billion for the printing of 40 million permanent voter cards for distribution to registered voters in the country.
Section 16 of the 2010 Election Act as amended, mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to print and issue permanent voter cards to all registered voters in the country.
INEC had issued Temporary Voter Cards (TVCs) to no fewer than 73.5 million voters registered in the 2011 Nationwide Voters’ Registration.
Addressing State House correspondents after the weekly FEC meeting, chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan, the Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, said the approval was for the first phase of the exercise.
Maku said that INEC would be expected to print additional cards next year to meet the requirement of registered voters in the country.
He said the issuance of the permanent voter cards was in line with the 2010 Electoral Act, and that they would replace the nearly 73.5 million Temporary Voter Cards issued by the commission for the 2011 general elections.
“Next year, INEC is expected again to bring to Council additional proposal to print more voter cards for the registered voters across the country.
“This was approved by the Federal Executive Council in view of the commitment of this administration to the deeper reforms in the electoral process.
“The electoral process is one of the key programmes of this administration and from the reforms that the President brought on board, we saw from the last election, that our elections are getting cleaner by the day and indeed when we look at the outcome of the last election, post-election cases in courts were down by more than 2/3, and that was a record in this country.”
According to the minister, the new cards which contain security features such as hologram, microtext, guilloche, barcode, fingerprints, contactless/embedded chip with printed voter’s details and photograph, will last for at least 10 years.
“This and other features are expected to prevent multiple voting no matter the location of the voter in the country since the cards will be electronically enabled.”
Maku maintained that the project was part of government’s commitment to organising transparent and credible elections in the country.
The contract to print the new cards was awarded to ACT Technologies Limited, which is expected to deliver them within seven months.
President Jonathan, according to the minister, also directed federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to step up action to begin the procurement of items locally in line with his earlier instruction.
“The president, therefore, orders the MDAs to list items in their respective budgetary provisions which they could procure within the country and make such available in subsequent presentations to FEC.”
Maku stressed that President Jonathan’s action was aimed at encouraging local manufacturers and foreign investors to start manufacturing locally, so as to boost the nation’s economy.
Also addressing the Correspondents on the outcome of the FEC meeting, the Minister of State for Finance, Alhaji Yerima Ngama, said he made a presentation to the Council on the outcome of the last 37th meeting of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in Sudan, where Nigeria was rated as the third fastest growing economy in the world with a GDP of 7.68 per cent.
“Today in Council, I presented a report on the presentation made at the 37th Annual General Meeting of the Islamic Development Bank.
“The bank has 56 member-countries and at the annual general meeting, each country is supposed to present a report on the economic performance of the country.
Twitter Ban: Court Fixes Oct 4 To Hear NBA’s Suit Against FG
A Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed October 4 to hear a suit by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) challenging the legality of the Federal Government’s suspension of the operations of micro blogging and social media website, Twitter.
The Incorporated Trustees of the NBA filed the suit numbered FHC/L/CS/613/202 on June 18, following the government’s June 4 threat to prosecute Nigerians who defy the directive by continuing to use Twitter.
President Muhammadu Buhari; the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); are first to fourth defendants, respectively.
The NBA, via its seven-member legal team led by Dr Charles Mekwunye, is seeking 11 reliefs.
They include, among others, a declaration that the ban or suspension of the microblogging site is unlawful and a declaration that any prosecution of users of the site will be unconstitutional.
It is also seeking a declaration that the ban affects the business, employment and economic activities of lawyers and Nigerians generally and an order mandating all mobile network and internet service providers to unblock the use of the microblogging and social media site.
The Chairman of the NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA/SPIDEL), Monday Ubani, has a similar suit at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
So does the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) at the Federal High Court in Abuja; and 176 other Nigerians and SERAP at the ECOWAS Court of Justice.
Last Friday, the Federal Government told the Federal High Court in Lagos that it had not stopped Nigerians from using Twitter.
The government and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami stated this in a counter-affidavit deposed to in response to an originating motion filed by human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, challenging the suspension.
In the affidavit deposed to by Mr Ilop Lawrence on behalf of the Federal Government, Malami said the suspension of Twitter was not an abuse of human rights because Nigerians were still using social media platform.
It read in part, “The applicant (Effiong) and the class he seeks to represent can still operate those Twitter accounts from anywhere in the world and even from Nigeria. Nigerians are still tweeting, even at this moment as the ban on Twitter is not aimed at intimidating Nigerians or an infringement on the rights of Nigerians to express their opinion.
“The respondents (Federal Government and AGF) have never stopped the applicant (Effiong) and the class of persons he seeks to represent from voicing their opinions to access government information and offer criticism where necessary.”
Nigeria suspended Twitter after the social media platform pulled down a tweet by Buhari on the ground that it violated its rules.
A few days after restricting citizens’ access to Twitter, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) also directed all broadcast outfits to “suspend the patronage of Twitter immediately”, labelling the platform as “unpatriotic”.
The legality of the government’s move has been widely questioned and stakeholders in the civic space have moved to challenge the controversial decision, which has sparked national outrage and attracted international criticism for weeks.
Court Jails Five Oil Thieves In PH
Five oil thieves have been convicted and sentenced to different jail terms by three Judges of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The convicts are: Noel Akpan; Digie Global Marine Services; MT Europort, MV Sea Rich and Obinna Onyeneho Kenneth.
They were all convicted for illegal dealing in petroleum products.
While Noel Akpan, Digie Global Marine Services and a vessel, MT Europoort were convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment each by Justice S. Pam on July 22, 2021, Justice P. M. Ayuba convicted and sentenced a vessel, MV Sea Rich to three years imprisonment on July 16, 2021 while Justice E.A. Obile convicted and sentenced Obinna Onyeneho Kenneth to three years imprisonment on June 30, 2021.
The trio of Akpan, Global Marine Services and Europort were originally arraigned by the Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on June 6, 2017, and pleaded “not guilty” to three-count charges bordering on conspiracy and illegal dealing in petroleum products.
They later changed their pleas to “guilty” on July 22, 2021.
One of the charges against them read, “That you Noel Akpan (a.k.a. Ughaeze Chibuzo Valentine) and others at large on about the 2nd day of June, 2015, around Forupa Waterways, Bayelsa State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did conspire to commit felony, to wit: adulteration of 1,500 metric tonnes of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) loaded into M.T. Europort and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3 (6) of Miscellaneous Act CAP 10 M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishable under 1 (18) if the same Act”
Another count read: “That you Noel Akpan, a.k.a. Ughaeze Chibuzo Valentine, Digie Global Marine Services Ltd, and others now at large, on or about the 2nd day of June, 2015, around Forupa Waterways, Bayelsa State within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court engaged in adulteration of 1,500 metric tons of Automotive Gas Oil, (AGO) loaded into MT Europort and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (18) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishable under Section 1 (18) of the Act”
Based on their pleas of “guilty”, prosecution counsel, F.O. Amama prayed the court to convict and sentence them accordingly.
Defense counsel, C.J. Nmerem did not oppose the prayer of the prosecution.
Justice Pam convicted and sentenced Akpan to two years imprisonment with an option of fine of N1million which is to run concurrently.
He convicted Digie Marine Global Services and MT Europort to a fine of N1million and N3million, respectively.
The fines are to be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Government.
The judge also ordered that the product on board MT Europort be sold by the Chief Registrar of the Court and the proceeds paid also into the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Government and evidence of payment filed in court.
Akpan’s journey to the Correctional Centre began when he was arrested by a patrol team of the Joint Task Force, JTF (Operation PULO Shield) at Forupa waterways in Bayelsa State on board MT Europort loaded with about 1,500 metric tonnes of suspected illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO).
He was handed over to the EFCC alongside the vessel and his company: Digie Global Marine Services.
In another court, Justice P.M. Ayuba convicted and sentenced MV Sea Rich to three years imprisonment.
The vessel was arraigned on one-count charge bordering on illegal dealing in petroleum products.
The charge read, “That you MV SEA RICH on or about the first April, 2017 around El-Totuama Boat Yard Waterside in Port Harcourt, Rivers State within the jurisdiction of this honourable court dealt in petroleum products to wit: Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) which was not of quality expected of such product and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 1 (18) (a) (ii) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, CAP M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.
The vessel, represented by Sebastine Godwin, pleaded “guilty” to the lone charge preferred against it.
In view of the plea of “guilty” by the defendant, prosecuting Counsel F. C. Obinwa, prayed the court to convict and sentence the defendant accordingly.
Counsel to the defendant, James Allen prayed the court to temper justice with mercy, stressing that “he is a first- time offender and has no previous criminal records”.
Justice Ayuba convicted and sentenced the vessel to three years in Correctional Service with an option of fine of N1million payable into the Federal Government’s Account.
Troubles came for MV Sea Rich when it was intercepted by the patrol team of Sector 3, Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, Okirika, Rivers State, on April 1, 2017, loaded with a large quantity of substance suspected to be illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil, AGO.
The captain and crew members vanished into thin air, leaving behind the vessel.
In the matter of Obinna Onyeneho Kenneth, Justice E.A Obile convicted and sentenced him to three years imprisonment on one-count charge bordering on illegal dealing in petroleum product.
The one count charge read, “That you Obinna Onyeneho Kenneth on or about the 11th September, 2019, around Borikiri, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did deal in petroleum product, which is not of good quality and being transported in a vehicle with a registration number HAF 841 TY, and thereby committed an offence contrary Section 1 (18) (a) (i) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act M17 of the Revised Edition (Laws of the Federation of Nigeria) Act 2007, and punishable under Section 1 (18) (a) (of the same Act).
In view of his plea, prosecution counsel, K.W. Chukwuma-Eneh prayed the court to convict and sentence the defendant accordingly.
Justice Obile found him guilty as charged and consequently convicted and sentenced him to three years imprisonment with an option of fine of N500,000.00).
Benin Republic Hits Igboho With Fresh Charges
As the Sunday Igboho saga continues to drag on, the Benin Republic Government has slammed fresh charges against the wanted Yoruba nation agitator.
One of Sunday Igboho’s lawyers, Ibrahim Salami, told BBC Yoruba that the legal team was expecting extradition charges from the Nigerian Government against the activist.
Salami said Igboho was further remanded to allow police to conduct a thorough investigation into the charges, which included illegal migration, dubious connivance with immigration officers and an attempt to cause civil unrest.
“First, the judge wanted to know how Sunday Igboho entered into the Benin Republic through an illegal means. They also want to investigate how Sunday Igboho conspired with others to enter Benin Republic through wrong means.
“They want to know how long he has been in Benin Republic and his plans in the country. They also raised a charge on whether he wants to come and cause unrest or social disturbance in Benin Republic,” the lawyer said in an interview with BBC Yoruba.
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