It is exactly one year today after the Supreme Court upheld the election of Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike
The apex court had delivered the judgement on January 27 but said it would explain the reasons for it on February 12, 2016.
In arriving at the ruling, it set aside the judgments of the River State Governorship Election Tribunal and the Court of Appeal, which nullified Wike’s election.
Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, who read the unanimous judgement, explained that the inability of the tribunal to be properly constituted during the determination of the matter amounted to lack of fair hearing of the governor’s case.
She said the action of the tribunal was a good ground to set aside the entire proceedings before it, but that since it was an election matter which was time-bound, according to Section 289 (6) and (7) of the Constitution, it was necessary to consider the appeal according to its merit.
On the alleged violation of documents tendered at the tribunal and the appeal court, she said the function of the card reader, though quite commendable in the conduct of the 2015 elections, is solely to authenticate the owner of the voter’s card and prevent multiple voting by a single voter.
She said the card reader cannot replace the voters register, recognised by the constitution.
Kekere-Ekun further said the 49th prosecution witness (PW), who is an assistant director of information communication and technology at the Independent National Electoral Commission, acknowledged that the report she had testified to, was prepared by a certain Mrs. Nnena, a staff of her unit.
She added that the witness also told the tribunal during cross examination that she was not in Rivers State during the election and did not examine the card reader after the exercise.
She said since the witness did not take part in any stage of the accreditation of voters, she was not in any position to testify as to how the card reader functioned during the election.
“The position of the law is that there is a difference between admissibility (relevance) and probative value (proof) to be attached to the said evidence,” Kekere-Ekun said.
“Where the maker of a document is not called to testify, the document should not be accorded probative value, not withstanding its status as a certified copy document.”
The justice further stated that the testimony of PW49 is evidence to the fact that exhibit A9 could be a conclusive proof of the number of accredited voters at the election.
Kekere-Ekun said witnesses at the tribunal had testified that where the card reader failed to read a voter’s PVC, incident forms were used, but that none of the forms were tendered by the first and second respondent.
She also noted that out of the 11 voters registers tendered for 11 out of 23 local government areas of the state, no attempt was made to link them to exhibits A9, which contained the number of accredited voters.
She added that documents before the court proved that the number of accredited voters stated in forms ECA8 was different from the number stated in exhibit A9.
This, she said, was grossly inadequate in proving non-compliance, which is expected to have been done, poling units by poling units, according to the provision of the constitution.
She said, “Section 139 of the Constitution states that where a petitioner complains of non-compliance with the provisions of the act, he has an onerous task of proving it, poling unit by poling unit, ward by ward and the standard of proof is on a balance of probabilities.”
Meanwhile, Wike yesterday received the Authority Newspaper’s Governor of the Year award in Abuja.
Aside that, the governor also got awards from The Sun and Independent Newspapers as “Governor of the Year.”
The award was received on his behalf by his Deputy, Dr Ipalibo Banigo-Harry, who thanked the management of the newspaper for the award, saying the recognition is significant as the state celebrates it golden jubilee.
Harry-Banigo assured that the governor is poised to do more in pursuance of his vision for a better and prosperous Rivers State.
RSG Implements TSA To Block Revenue Leakages, Soon …Tasks State Internal Revenue Service To Grow Monthly IGR To N10bn …Seeks Informal Sector’s Support Through Payment Of Prescribed Taxes
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has announced that the state government would soon commence the operation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) to boost its revenue base.
Wike also charged the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS) to grow the state’s monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to N10billion.
He spoke during the flag off of Informal Sector Tax Drive with vehicles donated by Access Bank Limited at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The governor said: “We will initiate the Treasury Single Account to block revenue leakages. I assure that very soon, the Treasury Single Account will become operational.
“The Treasury Single Account will be implemented to checkmate what is presently going on. It is not good to have several accounts which lead to unnecessary leakages.
“Our revenue base fluctuates. The board has been directed to expedite action for the state to hit N10billion Internally Generated Revenue every month.”
Wike explained that the Treasury Single Account will be diligently implemented in the interest of Rivers State, and restated that his allegiance was to Rivers people who voted him, because he was not sponsored by any group.
He urged the informal sector to support the Rivers State Government by paying their taxes as prescribed by the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS).
“The drive for informal sector tax is key. I believe it will boost our revenue base, and we need it”, he said, and thanked Access Bank Limited for supporting the revenue drive of the state with the donation of 10 buses.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Rivers State Internal Revenue Service (RIRS), Mr Adoage Norte said that the flag off of the informal sector tax drive would ensure that informal sector entrepreneurs pay their taxes.
He said that at present, the informal sector has not been paying taxes, explaining that the flag off would unlock the tax potentials of the informal sector.
Norte lauded Access Bank Plc for supporting the informal tax drive of the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service with the donation of 10 buses, pointing out that the buses would be used across the state.
He added that the service was also in dire need of branded kiosks for point of sales transactions, and suggested the operation of Treasury Single Account to optimize revenue generation in the state.
Representative of the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr David Tinad, thanked the Rivers State Government for the opportunity to partner on revenue generation.
He assured the Rivers State Government that Access Bank Plc would continue to support efforts by the state government to improve its revenue base.
Fake Policemen Disrupted Polls In Bayelsa, Kogi, IGP Admits …Says We’re Aware People Planned To Wear Police Uniforms …As Senate Moves To Okay E-Voting For Future Polls
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, has said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted Saturday’s governorship polls in parts of Bayelsa and Kogi States were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.
Adamu stated that all security personnel, who worked during the polls had “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.
He spoke with State House correspondents after President Muhammadu Buhari and security chiefs held a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
However, he said an investigation was ongoing, while 11 arrests had been made.
Similarly, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, yesterday, said that the police were aware of the plan by politicians to sew police uniforms for their supporters during the Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections.
The IGP also said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted the November 16 governorship polls in parts of the two states were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.
Briefing State House correspondents after a security meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, Adamu stated that all security personnel, who worked during the elections were given “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.
The IGP, who said that the security situation in the country was stable, however, said investigation was ongoing to unravel the identities of those that caused violence during the elections, adding that 11 arrests had been made.
On the alleged police extortion of motorists in South East by police officers at checkpoints, he advised that people should always copy the names of such police officers and report them to the police hierarchy in the area.
Meanwhile, the Senate has begun a fresh electoral reform which has mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt the much-awaited electronic voting method for future polls.
The lawmakers also compelled INEC to operate an electronic database into which all results in an election should be transmitted.
A bill to amend the Electoral Act 2010 through which the reform would be achieved has already been published in an official gazette and debate on its general principles may begin on the floor of the Senate during the week.
A copy of the bill, made available to newsmen, also stipulates that data of accredited voters must be transmitted to the central data base upon the conclusion of the accreditation of voters which would be done through the use of the card reader.
“At the end of accreditation of voters, the presiding officer shall transmit the voter accreditation data by secure mobile electronic communication to the central database of the commission kept at the national headquarters of the commission.
“Any presiding officer who contravenes this provision shall be liable, on conviction, to a minimum of imprisonment of at least five years without an option of fine,” the bill also stipulates.
It prevents INEC from shutting down the central data base until all petitions arising from the elections are determined by a tribunal or court.
“In respect of data of accreditation of voters, including polling unit results, for an election, the commission shall not shut down its central database kept at its national headquarters until all election petitions and appeals pertaining to that election are heard and determined by a tribunal or court.”
On the specific provisions for the adoption of the central database, the bill, which is being sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege and Abubakar Kyari (APC, Borno State), seeks amendment of Section 65 of the Electoral Act 2010 by introducing a “National Electronic Register of Election Results.”
It states: “The commission shall compile, maintain and update on a continuous basis, a register of election results to be known as the National Electronic Register of Election Results which shall be a database of election results from each polling unit, including collated results of each election conducted by the commission.
“National Electronic Register of Election Results shall be kept by the commission at its national headquarters and any person or political party may obtain from the commission, on payment of reasonable fees as may be determined by the commission, a certified true copy of any election result kept in the National Electronic Register of Election Results for the federation, a state, local government, area council, ward or polling unit, as the case may be and the certified true copy may be in printed or electronic format.”
On electronic voting, the Electoral Reform Bill seeks amendment of Section 52 (2) of the 2010 Electoral Act and introduced a new provision stating that “the commission may adopt electronic voting or any other method of voting in any election it conducts as it may deem fit.”
It was learned that many lawmakers are not comfortable with the additional clause which permits INEC to use any other method it deems fit and may delete that option during the consideration of the bill.
The current law completely prohibits the use of electronic voting as it states: “The use of the electronic voting machine, for the time being, is prohibited.”
The reform bill has also slashed the nomination fees charged by political parties.
Presidential aspirants are to pay not more than N10million while governorship aspirants are to pay N5million.
Specifically, the bill states: “For the purpose of nomination of candidates for election, the total fees, charges, dues and any payment howsoever named imposed by a political party on an aspirant shall not exceed: N150,000 for a ward councillorship aspirant in the FCT; N250,000 for an area council chairmanship aspirant in the FCT; N500,000 for a House of Assembly aspirant; N1,000,000 for a House of Representatives aspirant; N2,000,000 for a senatorial aspirant; N5,000,000 for a governorship aspirant; and N10,000,000 for a presidential aspirant.”
The Bukola Saraki-led National Assembly had attempted the electoral reform but failed to get the presidential approval at the end.
The bill sought to strengthen internal democracy, reduce the cost of politics, widen political participation and the conduct of free fair and credible elections through technological innovations and an electronic database.
However, there were concerns raised over the enforceability of some of its provisions.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in refusing to sign that bill, had said: “I am declining assent to the bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new electoral bill this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general election, which commenced under the 2015 Electoral Act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process.
“Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process.”
Wike Recommits To Harmonious Host Communities, IOCs’ Ties
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has reemphasised that the state governments’ aim as mediator in conflicts affecting oil companies and host communities was to ensure peaceful working relations that propel community development.
Wike said that most community-based crisis organisations experience could be averted, if they involved the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Community Affairs in dealings with host communities as well as abide by the GMoUs in the cause of carrying out their commercial activities.
The governor stated this in Port Harcourt during a peace meeting between Niger Delta Petroleum Resources Company, operators of OML 54 and its host communities, Ogbehe, Obumeze and Ugbokor in Ahoada East Local Government Area and Otari Community in Abua/Odual Local Government Area.
According to the governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo, corporations which are able to abide by signed GMoUs stand to experience less friction as most host communities want a fair share of their social responsibility.
“We don’t like when host communities are distressed neither do we like operating companies disturbed,” he said.
He further advised companies to desist from using force because community misunderstanding cannot be handled with harassment.
The closed-door meeting was attended by Niger Delta Petroleum Resources (NDPR) representatives led by the Manager, HSC, Tom-George Walter, House of Assembly member representing Abua/Odual, chiefs, youths and opinion leaders of both communities and the permanent secretaries of Ministry of Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Special Service Bureau, Office of the Secretary to the State Government.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government is also mediating on the face-off between Prime Exploration and Production Ltd and Asarama community in Andoni LGA.
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