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2019 Polls: Civil Society Groups Present Reports, Demand Offenders’ Prosecution

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Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Abuja have demanded immediate prosecution of all the people involved in electoral malfeasance during the last election even as they called for the signing of a new electoral law to forestall a repeat of pitfalls of 2019 polls.
This is as the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied claims that the body compromised the 2019 elections, insisting that the blame for whatever shortcomings that might have been discovered in the election should be taken to the doorstep of politicians and mischief makers.
It said that it would soon submit to the National Assembly the report of the last election as required by the constitution.
Both the CSOs and INEC spoke at the presentation of 2019 General Election Report and 2019 General Election Observation Statements. The events were organised by Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) and Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room.
At the two well-attended events include the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, was represented by represented by the Resident Electoral Commissioners in charge of Information, Festus Okoye, Amina Zakari, Mohammed Haruna, May Agbamuvhe-Mbie and Chairman, Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Peter Ameh .
Others were Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom, Mike Igini, his colleagues from Zamfara, Enugu and Osun States.
Describing as unfortunate a situation where months after the general election those who committed diverse electoral offenses were walking the street free, the acting Executive Director of CTA , Ms Faith Nwadishi said the situation was sending a wrong signal to the public.
She said: “Let us state clearly here that the ultimate test of credibility is how the government handles criminality. If people do not see electoral offenders prosecuted and punished, the message would be clear that these persons work for those we have elected and who tomorrow will come seeking our votes again. If the government and the political class continue to act nonchalant, the people will lose confidence in politics and democracy and anarchy and self-help would be the outcomes. That would spell the end of Nigeria as we know it. It is therefore, the duty of the government, INEC and every patriotic citizen to ensure that. We have to work for a better electoral system now by ensuring that the law is upheld and offenders are appropriately punished.
“Her stand was re-echoed by Mike Igini who said the problem with the country’s democracy was the elite whom he said were benefiting from the current situation.”
According to him, “the political elite is the greatest threat to our democracy. They are working to consolidate on their wrongdoings.
“The problem we have is the absence of consequence for offenders. A situation a wrong is allowed, it could be repeated tomorrow. That is the challenge we have on our hands.”
Calling for a concerted action to rebuild credibility in the country’s electoral system , Nwadishi canvassed joining of forces by stakeholders to firm up new laws in that regard.
She said. “We believe the attempt to rebuild electoral credibility must start with the law. The incoming National Assembly must work in collaboration with INEC, civil society organisations and other stakeholders to firm up our electoral laws. We are prepared to make our technical contributions in this regard. Indeed, there is a need to give INEC more powers to reflect the presumed independence of the body. It must as much as possible be put fully in charge of the resources and personnel it needs for elections.”
On security, she said: “While we generally commend members of the security services for helping with maintaining law and order during the election, we cannot overlook the fact that the deployment of the military was unlawful and uncalled for. Our laws do not give soldiers any role to play in our election and our courts up to the highest level have ruled accordingly. Their deployment and brazen partisanship against the opposition was an affront on decency. Of course, we realise that they could only have acted on the orders of their political and civil superiors, but no soldier or commander of military forces is compelled to obey an unlawful order.

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Govs To Hold Virtual Meeting On Judicial, Legislative Autonomy

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The Governors of the 36 states of the federation will hold a virtual meeting today to further discuss the issue of financial autonomy to judicial and legislative arms in states.
This is contained in a statement by NGF Head of Media and Public Affairs, Mr Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo on Monday in Abuja.
Bello-Barkindo said efforts were already being made in all states to either constitute State Accounts Allocation Committees (SAAC) or inaugurate them.
This, according to him, is preparatory to the granting of full autonomy to the two arms of government at the subnational level.
The Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) had since embarked on a nationwide strike on the issue.
He said the governors had been working day and night to establish modalities for the autonomy in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution.
He said that the governors would also be updated on the activities of the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19 by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, who headed the governors’ interface with the committee.
Bello-Barkindo said that the meeting would also review the agenda of the National Executive Council (NEC), which would take place a day after.
“Other items on the agenda include the regular update on the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability for results (SFTAS) to provide states’ status on their DLI’s and upcoming deadlines.
The meeting would also receive presentation from the Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises, regarding unlocking liquidity through sale/optimisation of state-owned redundant/sub-optimal assets,” he said.
He added that the Policy Development Facility (PDF) bridge programme would also discuss diversification and non-oil export opportunities for states in post Covid-19 era.

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2023: PDP Flexes Muscle Over C’ River

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Leading members of the main opposition PDP converged in Calabar, Cross River at the weekend to strategise on how to retain its grip on power in the state.
This is contained in a statement e-mailed to newsmen in Abuja, yesterday.
The Tide source reports that the PDP has been in power in Cross River since the return of democracy in the country 22 years ago but the defection of the current governor appears to mark a turning point.
Political pundits argue that the defection of the state Governor Ben Ayade from the PDP to the ruling APC may affect the fortunes of the PDP in the years ahead.
The governor’s departure is now seen as a major test for the PDP in what is now seen as a game of wits between the PDP and the APC.
Addressing the party’s chieftains, the National Chairman of the party, Mr Uche Secondus, declared that Cross River would “remain the stronghold of the PDP, in spite of Gov. Ayade’s defection.
“PDP will work to retain the confidence the people of Cross River State reposed in our party and retain its dominance in the state.
“Our party has governed since the return of party politics in 1999.
“Cross River will remain the stronghold of our party well after 2023,’’ said Secondus, flanked by other chieftains of the party, including Sen. Bukola Saraki and Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.
Secondus told PDP members in the state to remain resolute to make the party retain power in the upcoming general elections.
Also speaking, a former governor of the state, Sen. Liyel Imoke, gave assurance that no other party would take the state from the PDP, “being the dominant party in the state.
“PDP is the only party known to our people. I assure the leadership of our party that we will deliver victory in 2023,’’ he stated.
Imoke governed the state from 2007 to 2015 when he handed over to Ayade now of the APC.
Other PDP chieftains, who were present at the event included former Governor Peter Obi of Anambra, former Gov. Donald Duke of Cross River and the Chairman of the party’s Caretaker Committee, Mr Efiok Cobham.
Also present were Hon. Daniel Asuquo, Hon. Etta Mbora and Hon. Essien Ayi, all serving members of the House of Representatives among other party’s chieftains.

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…Vows To Take Over Anambra

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The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu, says the party remains focused to take over the state in the upcoming governorship poll.
Nwobu said this in an interview with newsmen in Awka yesterday, adding that he would not be distracted by those trying to destabilise the party in the state.
He lauded the National Executive Committee of the party for organising successful ward congresses in the state.
He described the success of the exercise as a sure step to the party’s free, fair and credible primary election.
“We want to conduct our primary election, where party people will freely vote and produce a candidate that will be acceptable to Anambra people at the November 6 poll.
“This is not time for distractions. We are focused on taking over government from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
“The party has shortchanged millions of Anambra people in terms of governance.
Nwobu said he remained the valid chairman of PDP in Anambra, having emerged from a valid process that was upheld by a Federal High Court in its May 24, 2018 judgment.
He said the judgment had not been reversed by any higher court and was “unfazed by any court judgment”, which purportedly removed him.
“My leadership is still subsisting, no superior court has set that judgment aside and a court of coordinate jurisdiction cannot do that.
“Our team of legal experts is taking care of that. The decision to appeal will be advised,” the PDP chairman said.
The Tide source reports that Chief Chukwudi Umeaba at the weekend announced that he had taken over the party in the state as the Acting Chairman of the Caretaker Committee.
Umeaba, who announced the suspension of the ward congresses, said his action was predicated on the judgment of an Abuja Federal High Court.
According to him, the judgment delivered on June 9, nullified the process that produced Nwobu’s leadership.

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