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Constitutional Amendments Alone Can’t Solve Electoral Challenges – Okoye

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says constitutional and legal alterations and amendments alone cannot solve the challenges of the electoral process in the country.
Tthe INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye, said this at the Post 2019 General Elections Review Meeting with the Media on Monday in Lagos.
“While it is right and rational to alter the constitution and amend the laws to take care of new, emerging and novel issues that may arise or have arisen and not contemplated or anticipated by the lawmakers, we must be careful not to fall into the trap of believing that every electoral challenge must be solved through constitutional or Electoral Act amendment.
“We must acknowledge that constitutional and legal alterations and amendments alone cannot solve the challenges of the electoral process.
“Reforms in the electoral process must include improvements in the administration and management of elections.
“It must include a change in attitude by the major stakeholders in the electoral process and a commitment to play by the rules.”
According to him, as the country looks forward to off-season elections, the media, civil society organisations, political parties, the executive and the legislature must tease out areas of the Constitution that are problematic, ambiguous or where we have lacuna.
He said that such areas should be harvested, turned into bills and presented to the National Assembly for legislative action.
Okoye said that the commission had carried out and was still carrying out in-house review of the 2019 elections, urging all stakeholders to do the same.
He said that the commission had flagged a few problematic constitutional and electoral issues that the Nigerians should pay attention to in shaping and reshaping the electoral process.
The INEC commissioner advised the stakeholders to lead the debate on the desirability, workability, viability and utilitarian value of some of the suggestions for legislative and constitutional intervention.
Okoye said that the commission was interested in participants’ views on the adequacy or otherwise of the constitutional and legal framework for registration and regulation of political parties.
“Should the number of political parties be regulated through legislative intervention or should a threshold be set on the conditions for their getting on the ballot?
“Should the National Assembly take a second look at the conditions for the de-registration of political parties as spelt out in section 225(A) of the Constitution?
“Are the conditions for de-registration of political parties adequate?
“The possibility of shortening the timelines provided for the activation of the courts and disposal of all pre-election matters as provided in section 285 of the constitution.
“Should Nigeria adopt full electronic voting and transmission of results or should the country adopt a duality that allows for manual voting and electronic transmission of results?
“Should the country have a separate Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal to handle the issues of arrest, investigation and prosecution of all electoral offences?”
Okoye said that the commission would no doubt harvest issues and implement needed reforms within its mandate and would remain focused.
He said that the commission would remain open to ideas and new challenges, urging the media to assist it in reshaping the electoral landscape to make for the conduct of free and transparent elections.
“The Commission needs the support of the media in reshaping the perception of the Nigerian people relating to its intentions and its ability, courage and willingness to conduct good elections.
“The ability of the media to play this role also depends on its understanding of the intricate issues in the electoral process.
“We urge the media to see the commission as a worthy ally in the patriotic duty of giving the Nigerian people a good election,” Okoye said.
The event was attended by the NUJ, line editors and producers from various media organisations, INEC National Commissioners and directors, among others.

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Senate: Bill Against Small Arms’ Proliferation Passes Second Reading

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The Senate yesterday passed for second reading a bill for establishment of the Nigerian National Commission against proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi).
Adeyemi in his lead debate on the general principles of the bill noted that the bill was first read at plenary on Dec . 18 2019.
He said the bill essentially seeks to provide for establishment of National Commission against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons to coordinate and implement activities to combat the problems of small arms in Nigeria.
This, he said was in line with ECOWAS states on small arms and light weapons.
Adeyemi listed the objectives of the bill to include identifying sources and main routes of small arms, light weapon and reasons why the illicit trade thrives in Nigeria.
He said the bill when passed would help recommend possible ways to monitor, control, halt, and mitigate illegal activities of people involved in arms proliferation.
He said the commission would also help to identify the promoters, users, patrons of the illegal activities.
He said the bill when passed would also make provision for the training and building the capacity of the corps and other security officials towards an effective enforcement of the mandate of the commission.
He said the proliferation of small arms and light weapons has been a stricken issue in the international agenda since 1998.
“It is eating into the survival of emerging nations in the international scene especially in Africa.
“It is a phenomenon that is destabilising the peace, development and threatening the national security of sovereign nations,” he said.
Adeyemi expressed believe that the bill, if passed would further help to curb the insecurity challenges in Nigeria.
Other bills that passed second reading at plenary are: A Bill for an Act to Establish the Nigerian Civil Defence Academy, Pondogari in Niger State, sponsored by Sen. Musa Sani (APC Niger).
A Bill for an Act to provide for establishment of the Federal University of Environment Technology, Saakpenwa, Ogoni Rivers State, sponsored by Sen. Mpigi Barinada (PDP Rivers).
Others are Bill for an Act to establish the Police Academy Wudil, Kano as a degree awarding institution, sponsored by Sen. Jika Halliru (APC Bauchi).

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Kwara By-Election: 43,695 Voters Collect PVCs In Patigi LG -REC

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The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Kwara, Malam Garba Attahiru-Madami, has said that 43,695 voters collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) in Patigi ahead of the scheduled by-election into the vacant state assembly seat.
The REC disclosed this on Wednesday in Ilorin during a meeting with the eight political parties that would participate in the by-election and members of Inter-Agencies Committee on Election Security (IACES).
Our source reports that eight political parties have so far signified interest to take part in the March 14, by-election into Patigi state constituency.
The political parties are All Progressives Congress (APC), African Democratic Congress (ADC), People Democratic Party (PDP) and New Nigeria People Party (NNPP).
Others are the Action People Party (APP), Action Alliance (AA), African Action Congress (AAC) and Allied Peoples Movement (APM).
Attahiru-Madami promised to be open, transparent and give all the political parties participating in the by-election a level playing ground.
According to the REC, there are 52,233 registered voters in Patigi state constituency, while 51,476 PVCs were received from INEC headquarters.
He added that a total of 43,695 PVCs were collected, leaving 7,781 uncollected PVCs which he said were kept in the vault of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in Ilorin.

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Amaechi Loses Security Aide To Electrocution

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Mr. Tony Iwelu, the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has passed on.
The aide, who died on Monday, February 17, suffered an electric shock from a shower hose in a Kaduna hotel while on an official assignment.
A statement by the Head, Press and Public Relations in the ministry, Eric Ojiekwe, said until his passage, Iwelu was in charge of all issues relating to the minister’s security, a job he was reputed to have executed with utmost professionalism.
“There is no gainsaying that the professionalism he brought to bear in the discharge of his job sustained him for the over two decades in the service of the minister,” the document read in part.

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