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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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Rivers LGA Gets Substantive Female Chairman

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Mrs Alaso Obi has been sworn-in as the substantive Chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, following the death of the former Chairman, Chief Odiari Princewill.
Obi, who was the vice chairman of the council, was sworn-in on Wednesday by Governor Nyesom Wike at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
Wike charged the new council boss to use her new position to make a difference for the people to feel the council’s impact.
He said: “Go and put your local government together. Do not allow busybody politicians to distract you. Use this opportunity you have to make a difference.
“We never thought that Chief Odiari Princewill will die but as God will have it, he is dead and we have to abide by the Constitution.
“That is why you, as the deputy, has to step in as the substantive chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Area today.
“In choosing your Deputy, you must consult widely with all the stakeholders of the Party. As election is coming up next year, you have an opportunity to sell yourself.’’
Wike also used the occasion to direct the closure of the accounts of the Joint Account Allocation Committee from banks that allegedly gave unauthorised loans to some local government chairmen in the state.
He also directed the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to take legal action against the affected banks.
According to the governor, both the banks and local councils will “suffer the consequences of the illegality’’.
He noted that the banks should not seek refund of the loans because they contravened extant laws of the state.
“We have taken a decision that for all those loans taken without approval, the affected accounts must leave the defaulting banks.
“I have told the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to take necessary steps.
“The banks cannot go and seek for refund from the local governments. When you default the law, you suffer for it,” Wike said.

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Edo Assembly: Buhari Pushing Nigeria Towards 1983 Crisis – CUPP

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The Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, to stop pushing Nigeria towards the 1983 crisis that led to collapse of democracy.
Describing Adams Oshiomhole as a disgraced former APC factional Chairman, the coalition said Buhari must call the former Governor to order before his actions instigate electoral violence that will consume democracy.
CUPP said the attempt to use former members of Edo State House of Assembly whose seats have been declared vacant to take over the House is an invitation to anarchy and an act of treason.
The Coalition urged the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki to mobilise the citizens to resist political bandits using provision of Section 20 of the criminal code.
CUPP praises Obaseki for showing maturity in the face of unwarranted provocation but says the red line must be drawn.
In a statement signed by Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, the spokesman for the Opposition Coalition and made available to our source, yesterday, CUPP said it was disturbed by the news of forceful takeover of the Edo State House of Assembly by men of the Nigeria Police Force.
“Opposition Coalition views this development taking place in a democracy as an affront to all our past and present heroes who fought hard for the enthronement of democracy in the country,” the statement added.
“The attempt to use former members of Edo House of Assembly whose seats have been declared vacant to take over the House is an invitation to anarchy and an act of treason.
“We, therefore, call on President Muhammadu Buhari and his men to halt all actions and inactions capable of pushing the nation towards a crisis like the 1983 crisis that led to collapse of democracy.
“We also urge the President to call the disgraced former factional chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole and his desperate followers, to order before his actions in Edo State instigate electoral violence that will consume the nation and its hard-won democracy.
“The CUPP also calls upon the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, to mobilise the citizens of the state to resist these political bandits.
“In doing so, the governor is urged to invoke the provisions of Section 20 of the Criminal Code and mobilise the citizens to exercise their constitutional right to stop people flouting the laws or carrying out criminal activities in their presence
“We however praise the governor for showing maturity so far in the face of unwarranted provocation. We advise him that while he is displaying maturity, the red line must be drawn,” the statement added.

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INEC To Clear Materials For Previous Elections

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The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has directed that used and unused materials for 2019 general elections be disposed of the commission’s stores nationwide.
Yakubu spoke with our source in Nasarawa when he inspected election materials for the Nasarawa Central State Constituency, bye-election.
He told the National Commissioner, Mohammed Haruna, to find a way in ensuring the materials were properly disposed of.
He said there was need to clear the materials for the previous elections since there was no longer litigations on them.
Yakubu in a sideline interview said that there was need to clear them to create space in the commission’s offices.
”It has been part of the traditions of INEC that after elections, we have a large number of election materials from the elections.
“So, after litigations, we normally clear these materials. That is a protocol.
“Not only the unused materials or some of the used materials like ballot papers, but ballot sheets are preserved for eternity.
”Unused materials lying in the INEC offices and those in the state branches of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) around the country. We have a protocol for disposing these materials.
“That is why when I saw the heaps of such materials used for the general elections in Nasarawa State, I said that they should find a way of disposing them. Not only in Nasarawa but across the nation.
“Otherwise, our stores will be filled up with used and unused materials from previous elections,” Yakubu said.

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