The Senate has passed the last batch of the Electoral Act, making provisions for independent candidacy,
The 1999 Constitution (Electoral Act) stipulates that candidates for elections must be sponsored by political parties as in Section 177.
The Senate has now altered this section and inserted a new paragraph indicating that a candidate must be sponsored by political party or be an independent candidate.
Making his presentation to the Senate, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitution Amendment and Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu stated that, this would be the last time any sitting president would sign the Constitution as Section 9 of the same Constitution has been amended to ensure that after such amendments have been assented to by two thirds of the country’s state houses of assembly and the two chambers of the National Assembly, such amendments become law.
This fourth amendment to the 1999 Constitution had also put paid to issues on the autonomy of local government councils as the report of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Review showed that 20 out of the 36 state assemblies of the federation voted against the canvassed autonomy.
The 20 states that voted against are: Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kwara, Lagos, Ondo, Osun, Rivers, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.
States that gave the yes votes are: Adamawa, Anambra, Abia, Bauchi, Benue, Edo, Gonbe, Imo, Kebbi, Kogi, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Oyo, Plateau and Sokoto states.
The proposed amendment seeking that “a local government council not democratically elected shall not be recognised by all authorities and persons and shall not be entitled to any revenue allocation from the Federation Account or the state government.
“It shall not also exercise any function exercisable by a local government council under this Constitution or any law for the time being in force; and shall stand dissolved at the expiration of a period of four years, commencing from the date members of the council were sworn in”.
These were also by implication rejected thereby giving a constitutional backing to the creation of ‘development councils’
The report also indicated that the National Assembly has also empowered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deregister any political party that does not meet requirements of the Electoral Act.
The lawmakers inserted Section 225A, which states that INEC can deregister political parties if there is a breach of any of the requirements for registration.
The grounds for the deregistration, according to the lawmakers, is if such political parties fail to win presidential, governorship or at least one state, chairmanship or at least one local government/area council or a seat in the national or state assembly election.
All the 36 states of the federation also approved the amendment.
The new Constitution also stipulates the timeline within which every pre-election matter shall be filed which is not later than seven days from the date of the occurrence of the event, decision or action complained of in the suit.
Besides, the lawmakers approved that the court in every pre-election matter shall deliver its judgment in writing within 180 days from the date of filing of the suit.
They also requested than an appeal from a decision in a pre-election matter shall be filed within 14 days from the date of delivery of the judgment appealed against; and an appeal from a decision of a court in a pre-election matter shall be heard and disposed of within 60 days from the date of filing of the appeal.
Furthermore, Section 67 has been altered by substituting for section 67(1) a new subsection “67(1)” which states that a sitting president shall attend a joint meeting of the National Assembly once a year to deliver an address in respect of the state of the nation.
The new Constitution also stipulates that the president may attend any joint meeting of the National Assembly, either to deliver an address on national affairs, including fiscal measures, or to make such statement on the policy of government as he considers to be of national importance.
The report further reads, “The National Assembly has also separated the office of the Attorney General of the Federation from the Justice Minister. In a similar vein, the office of the Accountant General of the Federation has been separated from the office of the Accountant General of the Federal Government.
“The Accountant General of the Federation shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of National Economic Council, subject to confirmation by the Senate; and shall be responsible for the administration and disbursement of allocations from the Federation Account to the tiers of government.
“Both offices have a four-year non-renewable tenure. The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation shall, however, be funded from the Federation Account pursuant to an Act of the National Assembly.”
Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja
GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations
Against the backdrop of renewed piracy and hostage-taking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, have commenced a security engagement aimed at joint security initiatives to tackle the situation.
Speaking during the meeting held at Naval headquarters, Abuja, Vice Admiral Gambo said, “The Gulf of Guinea is currently bedevilled by the activities of criminal elements who take advantage of limited capability of the navies in the region to adequately secure the area.
“The threat posed by the activities of these criminal elements constitute a major challenge not only to the littoral states but equally undermines regional development and global trade.
“Notably, the trans-boundary and trans-national nature of maritime crime makes the security of the maritime domain a task beyond the capacity of any country acting alone.
“It is against this backdrop that this bilateral engagement was convened at the instance of the Heads of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Ghana towards addressing the maritime security challenges within the region”.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed belief that “the engagement would foster greater collaboration and burden sharing that is hinged on cooperative maritime security framework as envisioned in the 2013 Yaoundé Protocol to arrive at strategies that would help address the maritime insecurity for enhanced economic prosperity in the region”.
Declaring the technical session open, the CNS said, “In deliberations, please consider amongst others: maritime area of interest covering Zone E and integration of the capabilities of the countries in Zone E, emplacing a robust intelligence sharing mechanism and collaboration with international partners”.
On relations between both countries, Gambo said, “This good relation is equally manifest in the several interactions between the Nigerian Navy and Ghana Navy. I must not fail to mention the remarkable contributions of the Ghana Navy-CNS to manpower development during his tour of duty at the prestigious AFCSC, Jaji as a member of the Directing Staff. I have no doubt that this engagement would further strengthen the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana navies.
In his address, Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, noted that he and his delegation were in Nigeria at the behest of President Nana Akufo Ado to engage the Nigerian Navy and come out with collective strategies to tackle insecurity which is in the ascendancy in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We hope our navies will buy into this engagement to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea. We know our big brother Nigeria has bigger capacity to chart the way forward”.
He disclosed that, “Since year 2020, the situation has bot been good in the Gulf of Guinea”, noting that “Last May, two Ghanian vessels were attacked and 10 persons were abducted with investigations still ongoing”.
Consequently, the Ghanian Navy Chief said, “We are proposing an ECOWAS naval task force and joint maritime security architecture to checkmate these threats, adding that this was done in the past successfully during ECOMOG operations without problems with inter-operability and doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, he proposed the setting up of a ‘transit corridors’ where ships from fellow West African countries can go to anchor for assistance and joint naval assets will conduct regular patrols especially for protection of commercial fishing vessels.
Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered the destruction of all criminal hideouts in Ahoada, Elele, Eleme and Onne to prevent attempt to undermine security of the state.
The governor said criminals were already coming to terms with the reality that Rivers State was too hot for them to invade at will and detonate their foolish attacks on targeted security posts and personnel.
Wike, who made this assertion in a state broadcast, last Friday, disclosed that the state government has identified the hideouts, safe houses and secret places that provide both cover and comfort for the hoodlums to plan, execute and return to after operations.
“This was the reason we ordered the destruction of all the shanties and makeshift structures located along Elele to Ahoada expanse of the East–West Road to deny the criminals the opportunity to continue to undermine our security from these hideouts.
“We have equally decided to destroy all the shanties, illegal shops and mechanic sheds along the Eleme to Onne stretch of the East-West Road having discovered these places also as hideouts and operational bases for criminals and criminal activities in the state.
“Consequently, I hereby direct owners of such shanties and illegal structures along the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road to vacate the area within two weeks from June 11, 2021, as the state government will go ahead to destroy these structures without any further notice.”
Wike said the government was not unmindful of the economic effect these measures would have or may have had on residents carrying out businesses in the affected areas.
He, however, stressed that government was merely discharging its constitutional responsibility to advance the collective security of all with no ethnic targets in mind or attachment to political sentiments.
He explained that the existing curfew in Rivers State will not last one day beyond necessary, and pleaded with all residents to endure the temporary inconveniences in the interest of the state and collective wellbeing of all.
“We will continue to take the war on criminality and insecurity to the den of the criminals and we will neither yield nor lower the tempo of our assault until they are comprehensively neutralized. As a matter of fact, they want us to prematurely terminate the state wide night time curfew in order for them to have the leeway to operate again and roll back the gains of the last few weeks.”
Wike said he has received reports about the excesses of the State Task Force on Illegal Trading and Parks, especially the alleged shooting of motorists, extortions and abuse of the human rights of citizens.
He assured that government would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any member of the task force who crosses the boundaries of the law and rational behaviour.
The governor, who appealed to motorists and residents to be responsible road users by complying with the clear regulations against illegal trading, indiscriminate parking and irresponsible driving, noted that the situation where some motorists would have the effrontery to compete for traffic space with or even attempt to block his official vehicular convoy leaves much to be desired.
He has meanwhile, directed the management of the Rivers State Waste Management Authority to clear the state of filthiness within one week or be disbanded without any further notice.
Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers
The Nigerian Army, 6 Division, has announced that it would commence its annual range classification exercise from yesterday to Sunday, June 27.
The division’s spokesman, Lt.-Col. Charles Ekeocha, said in a statement in Port Harcourt, that the exercise aimed at ascertaining the professional competence of troops on the use of firearms.
He said troops from the division and its affiliated formations and units would conduct the exercise at the Army Shooting Range in Igwuruta and Elele Barracks, both in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
“The shooting exercise is a routine activity in the Nigerian Army which involves the firing of various calibre live ammunitions.
“Members of the public, especially residents of Igwuruta and Elele, as well as its environs, are advised to keep away from the general shooting area,” he stated.
The Army spokesman also advised the public not to panic over the movement of troops, military hardware and sound of gunshots.
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