As part of preparations for the general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will be conducting field tests on the functionality of the smartcard readers (CRs) to be deployed for the accreditation of voters on election day.
According to the commission’s Decision Extract issued recently and signed by its Director, Commission’s Secretariat, Ishiaku A. Gali, the field tests would take place in two states of each of the six geopolitical zones of the federation, and would take place simultaneously on Saturday, March 7, 2015.
The states selected for the exercise are: Ekiti and Lagos in the South-West; Anambra and Ebonyi in the South-East; Delta and Rivers in the South-South; Kano and Kebbi in the North-West; Bauchi and Taraba in the northeast; and Niger and Nasarawa in the North-Central zones.
According to INEC, the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) of the selected states would be charged with the tasks of selecting registration areas with the full complement of Permanent Voters Card (PVCs) and with an appreciable distribution of such PVCs for undertaking the field test.
Also, they are to ensure that the register of voters in respect of all polling units in the selected registration areas is printed for the conduct of the exercise.
INEC further directed its national commissioners to supervise the conduct of the exercise in their zones, adding that RECs who are not selected for the exercise should observe the conduct of the exercise in their zones in conjunction with the national commissioners, so as to enable them carry out engagements with key stakeholders at the state level, and in particular, stakeholders in the selected registration areas where the exercise would be conducted to ensure massive participation by registered voters.
Providing further clarification, the commission’s Director, Voter Education, Mr. Oluwole Uzzi, yesterday stated that the demonstration of the pilot scheme in two states in each of the six geopolitical zones is aimed at explaining to the people what the card reader technology is all about.
Their deployment, he said, would drastically nullify all irregularities in the voting process.
In a related development, a Federal High Court in Abuja has refused an application brought by four registered political parties – United Democratic Party (UDP), Action Alliance (AA), Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) and Alliance for Democracy (AD) – seeking to restrain INEC from using the electronic card readers in the conduct of the polls.
The political parties are challenging the powers of the electoral body to introduce a process not specifically provided for in the statutes as it prepares to conduct the polls.
The suit was filed by Alex Iziyon (SAN), BolajiAyorinde (SAN), Ikechukwu Ezechukwu (SAN) and Adekunle Oyesanya (SAN) on behalf of the four political parties.
Arguing the ex parte application, Iziyon told the court that the proposed use of the card readers was contrary to the provisions of the Constitution as well as the Electoral Act.
Iziyon told the court that the National Assembly had legislated on the Electoral Act to govern the conduct of elections in Nigeria, and that the “head is the Electoral Act while INEC is the body”, contending that the body could not be more important than the head.
Consequently, the court declined to make any interim order against the electoral body on the proposed use of the electronic card readers.
However, it abridged the time for INEC to file its response to four days after receiving court papers on the matter.
Hearing on the substantive motion on notice was thereafter adjourned to Tuesday, March 10.
The parties are among the 16 parties that supported the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in objecting to the conduct of the elections as earlier scheduled.
They also have adopted President Goodluck Jonathan (the presidential candidate of the PDP) as their candidate.
They based their prayers on the grounds that the use of card reader machine for the forthcoming elections was not in conformity with the Electoral Act and that their members across the country who have been enlightened on the accreditation procedure as contained in the Electoral Act would be disenfranchised as they were not educated on the use of card readers.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed support for the presence of the military in the forthcoming elections, saying it would give the electorate confidence to come out and vote.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Ondo State, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje, stated this in Akure, the Ondo State capital, at a town hall meeting with stakeholders on non-violent electoral participation.
On the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs), the commissioner said all were not yet ready, saying while some PVCs were still being awaited from the INEC headquarters, others were yet to be collected by their owners.
He disclosed that the collaborative efforts of the civil society organisations (CSOs) have assisted the commission, especially in the area of knowledge sharing workshops, voters and civic education, among others.
FBI, S’African Police Nab Nigerian Scammers In Cape Town
Eight Nigerians aged between 33 and 52 were, yesterday, arrested for Internet scams, money laundering and international-wide scale financial fraud in Cape Town.
According to reports, those arrested were members of the Black Axe that preys on widows or divorcees and scammed them out of their millions.
Six leaders and the founder of the Black Axe organised crime group’s Cape Town chapter were amongst those arrested.
The group is believed to be behind hundreds of thousands of romance scams.
Spokesperson for South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), otherwise called Hawks, Col. Katlego Mogale said the operation involved the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), United States Secret Service (USSS) Investigations and Interpol.
They were assisted by the Hawks Serious Commercial Crime Investigation unit, Crime Intelligence (CI), K9, National Intervention unit, Special Task Force (STF), Tactical Operations Management Section (TOMS), Criminal Record Centre and Cape Town Metro Police.
According to reports, Mogale said the operation was initiated based on the Mutual Legal Assistance from Central Authorities of the United States of America that was approved by the Republic of South Africa.
She said all suspects were arrested during a large-scale operation in the early morning hours of yesterday, and would be charged with a variety of financial crimes, including conspiracy to commit wire/mail fraud/mail and money laundering.
“The suspects in this investigation are alleged to have ties to a transnational organised crime syndicate originating in Nigeria,” she said.
It was alleged that those suspects allegedly preyed on victims, many of whom were vulnerable widows or divorcees who were led to believe that they were in genuine romantic relationships but were scammed out of their hard-earned money.
The suspects used social media websites, online dating websites to find and connect with their victims.
Other modus operandi used by the suspects includes business email compromise, where email accounts are diverted in order to change banking details.
They assumed fake names and trolled dating sites.
Mogale said once they had ingratiated themselves with their victims, they allegedly concocted sob stories about why they needed money – taxes to release an inheritance, essential overseas travel, crippling debt, etc. – and then siphoned money from victim’s accounts to the amount of R100million.
She said the crimes allegedly committed by the suspects hit close to home.
Neighbours, parents, friends and family would be targets of this organisation.
“The fraudsters intimidated and berated their victims, ruined their lives and then disappeared. We are confident that this investigation will have a significant impact on this region and beyond,” Mogale said.
The FBI estimates that more than 100 people lost more than R100million in romance scams from 2011 till date.
Anambra Guber: Stakeholders Set To Sign Peace Accord, Nov 4
Ex-Head of State and Chairman of National Peace Committee, Gen Abdusalami Abubakar, has disclosed that a peace accord by various political parties and stakeholders in the forthcoming Anambra State governorship election would be signed on November 4, ahead of the exercise slated for November 6, 2021.
This came as the committee appealed to various contending interests in the election to eschew violence and all other actions inimical to a peaceful democratic process in the state.
In a statement, yesterday, on behalf of the group adjudged to be greatly responsible for the nation’s ongoing peaceful democratic transition, the former Head of State said the peace-signing accord would take place at the Prof. Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka.
“As Ndi Anambra prepare for the November 6, 2021, Governorship Election in Anambra State, the National Peace Committee (NPC) wishes to announce that a peace accord will be signed by the various political parties and stakeholders on November 4th, 2021, at the Prof. Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka,” the statement read.
He tasked key stakeholders to come forward to contribute their quota to the peace and stability of the country, particularly before, during and after the Anambra election.
The state read in part: “In ensuring the effective discharge of its objectives, the NPC has been carrying out back-channel negotiations and private meetings for peace amongst political stakeholders across party lines.
“We call on all key stakeholders to come forward and contribute their quota to the peace and stability of the country, particularly before, during and after the Anambra Governorship Election.
“The NPC also wish to reiterate that as an apolitical body, the peace, unity and tranquillity of the country is of paramount importance which cannot be over emphasised.
“Considering the orgy of violence witnessed in Anambra State in recent time, which in particular, has claimed the lives of notable personalities in the state, we therefore, call for the collaboration of all stakeholders as we work towards achieving our desired goal,” Abdulsalami said.
The National Peace Committee further urged all stakeholders to eschew violence before, during and after the election so that Anambra State will come out of the election stronger and live up to its name as the ‘Light of the Nation.’
Fashola, Kyari, Others Headline Editors’ Confab On Security,’Morrow …Govs, CBN, UBA, Glo, NNPC, Others Boost Summit
All is now set for the 17th All Nigeria Editors’ Conference, starting tomorrow, with Publisher of Premium Times, Mr. Dapo Olorunyomi; Editor-in-Chief of Leadership Newspaper, Azu Ishiekwene; Minister of Works, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Malam Mele Kyari; Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, and other security chiefs, scheduled to lead discussions at the conference.
A statement signed by the NGE President, Mustapha Isah; and General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren; indicated that some state governors with security challenges, including Dr Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); Malam Nasiru el-Rufai (Kaduna); Alhaji Yahaya Bello (Kogi); Engr. Seyi Mankide (Oyo); Alhaji Bello Matawalle (Zamfara); Prof Babagana Zulum (Borno), and Chief David Umahi (Ebonyi) have also been scheduled to be part of the conversation.
Others state governors expected at the event include, Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, SAN (Ondo); Prof Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun); and others.
The conference with the theme, ‘’Media in Times of Crises: Resolving Conflict, Achieving Consensus’’, would bring together editors and media owners across the country, as well as their foreign colleagues to discuss the security challenges in the country and agree on the solution to the raging strife.
Sponsored by corporate moguls, including Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), United Bank for Africa (UBA), Glo, Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Air Peace, and Trustfund Pensions Limited, the conference would take place at the Nigerian Air Force Conference Centre, Kado area of Abuja.
Other promoters are Nigeria Deposit Insurance Company (NDIC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and the Yobe State Government.
Olorunyomi, an accomplished internationally acclaimed investigative journalist and journalism teacher, would give the keynote address that would be discussed by security chiefs, including Monguno; Irabor; Director-General, Department of State Services (DSS), Mr. Yusuf Bichi; and the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Usman Baba.
The NGE said Kyari would be the special guest of honour, while the President, Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Malam Kabiru Yusuf, would be the guest of honour.
‘’A doyen of the media, Mr. Ray Ekpu, would chair the opening session with Fashola and others, including President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Chris Isiguzo, and foreign ambassadors giving goodwill messages.
‘’Besides the opening session, the conference would have three others; the second session for the Day 1 of the conference has a paper titled, ‘Conflict Reporting: The Editor as a Mediator’, to be delivered by the Editor-in-Chief, Leadership Newspapers, Mr. Azu Ishiekwene.
‘’The paper would be discussed by Editor-in-Chief, 21st Century Chronicle, Dr. Mahmud Jega; Director-General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Mr. Mansur Liman; and another leading journalist, Mr. Emmanuel Yawe. Notable broadcaster, Ms. Kadaria Ahmed, would chair the session’’, the statement added.
The statement said that the morning session of the Day 2, would have Managing Director, Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture Lending (NIRSAL), Mr. Aliyu Abdulhameed, presenting a paper, ‘’Accessing Capital for Alternative Career Development for Editors.’’
Discussants at the session to be chaired by the Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, are former NGE President, Mrs. Funke Egbemode; Managing Director of New Telegraph Newspapers, Mr. Ayodele Aminu; and Executive Director (News), FRCN, Mr. Sani Suleiman.
The afternoon session with the theme, ‘’Security Challenges: Recovering Lost Grounds’’, which the statement explained, would be attended by state governors, would be chaired by the Minister of Defence, Maj-Gen. Bashir Magashi.
“The conference is to be rounded off in the evening with the induction of new fellows and members of the Guild,” the statement stated.
Over 300 editors and media owners – from print, broadcast stations and online newspapers have registered for this year’s conference.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
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