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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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FG Tackles UK Parliament Over Attack On Gowon

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The Federal Government has berated a UK parliamentarian, Tom Tugendhat, for accusing a former Nigerian leader, retired Gen. Yakubu Gowon, of stealing during a debate on the #EndSARS protest in the House of Commons.
The government also rebuked the UK parliament for acting in an uninformed manner in recommending sanctions for Nigeria over the hoax massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate during the protest.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at a meeting with online publishers in Lagos yesterday said the knee jerk reaction of the House of Commons was informed by fake news and disinformation.
He lambasted the chairman, Foreign Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons Tugendhat, for being “ignorant’’ and “flippant’’ in his accusation against Gowon.
“It is most disheartening that parliamentarians in a country with a history of upholding the finest ideals of democracy will act in such an uninformed manner on an issue such as EndSARS.
“The quality of the debate at the British Parliament on EndSARS was under par.
“Fake accusations based on fake news and disinformation were levelled against the Federal Government by poorly-informed participants at the debate.
“One MP even accused former Nigerian leader, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), who served this country to the best of his ability, of stealing half of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“Sheer Ignorance! The flippant MP, who unfortunately chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons, did a great disservice to himself, the committee he chairs and the entire parliament by allowing himself to be misled by fake news exponents.
“Fittingly, the British Government has distanced itself from him,’’ he said.
Tugendhat, a Conservative Parliamentarian for Tombridge, Edenbridge and Malling had during the debate which led to the recommendation of sanctions against Nigeria, accused Gowon of stealing and money laundering.
“Now some people will remember when Gen. Gowon left Nigeria with half of the Central Bank, so it was said, and moved to London,’’ the MP had said.
Mohammed stressed that the twin evils of fake news and disinformation aggravated the recent #EndSARS protest and the aftermath.
He said the reactions of some countries were informed by fake news and disinformation, and varying figures of those purportedly killed in the hoax massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate.
“For example, parliamentarians in Britain put the figure of those killed at 10, CNN first reported 38 and then lowered the number to 1.
“And DJ Switch’s numbers cascaded from 78 dead to 15 to 7!
“Even an international broadcaster like CNN was misled by fake news and disinformation.
“But CNN has itself to blame for relying on unauthenticated videos which it took from social media
“Now, CNN is seeking to save face by trying to clarify its report, which was not only inaccurate but failed the simple test of balance and fairness,’’ he said.
The minister recalled that the government had petitioned CNN, asking it to use its own internal mechanism to probe its so-called investigative report on the Lekki Toll Gate incident.

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Senate Confirms Yakubu As INEC Chairman

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The Senate has confirmed the appointment of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission for the second term of five years.
Recall that the Senate had received a request from President Muhammadu Buhari to confirm the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, for a second and final term in office.
Following the request, the Senate Committee on INEC, led by Senator Kabiru Gaya, made the confirmation at the plenary yesterday.
Senators who spoke before his confirmation also described him as highly qualified for the job.
Meanwhile the Senate has advised that President Muhammadu Buhari to replace the service chiefs following the killing of 43 farmers.
The senate President, Ahmed Lawan told Buhari to immediately restructure the country’s security architecture in order to fight against insurgents and secure lives of citizens.
“I urge the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria to immediately initiate the transitionary process of phasing out the current over-stayed security chiefs and replacing them with new ones with new ideas and solutions;
“I urge the President to take immediate steps to restructure, remodel and revamp the country’s entire security architecture and provide enough state-of-the-art weapons and equipment to effectively combat the belligerent power of the insurgents.”
The Senate President also advised the President to immediately set up a probe panel into widespread allegations of corruption and leakages within the security structure and put mechanisms in place to foster transparency.
“The President should ensure all resources meant and deployed for security are actually spent on the needs on ground; Impress on the Federal Government to aggressively explore multilateral and bilateral options of partnership with the neighboring nations of Chad, Niger and Cameroon towards reviving and strengthening the Multinational Joint Task Force.
“Finally, as a way of proffering long term solution to Nigeria’s existential security challenges, the Federal and States Government must adequately address all immediate and remote causes of insecurity in the nation,” Lawan added.

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Lagos By-Elections: INEC Delivers Non-Sensitive Materials To LGAs

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Lagos State, says that it has delivered non-sensitive materials for the Saturday’s Lagos East Senatorial and Kosofe Constituency II House of Assembly by-elections to all the five affected councils in the area.
INEC spokesman, Femi Akinbiyi, told newsmen yesterday in Lagos that the commission would soon receive the sensitive materials for the elections.
Akinbiyi said that the receipt of the materials would be in the full glare of the political parties’ representatives, election observers and the media.
“The non-sensitive materials have been delivered to various local governments already, and they have been batched into various registration areas (Wards).
“We are not leaving any stone unturned in our preparations to conduct free, fair, credible and acceptable by-elections on Saturday in Lagos East Senatorial District and Kosofe State Constituency II,” INEC PRO said.
Akinbiyi said that the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Sam Olumekun, has advised the people to come out en mass to exercise their franchise on Saturday in a peaceful and orderly manner.
He said that the commission was poised about conducting elections that everyone including all participating political parties would be proud of.
He said that INEC in collaboration with security agencies had made adequate arrangements for smooth and safe conduct of the election.
The Tide source reports that the five local government areas that make up the Lagos East Senatorial District are Somolu, Kosofe, Ikorodu, Epe and Ibeju-Lekki.
Candidates from 12 political parties will be contesting in the Lagos East Senatorial by-elections while eight candidates will be contesting the Kosofe Constituency II, Lagos State House of Assembly by-elections.
The contestants for the senatorial election are: Muyiwa Adebanjo, Action Alliance (AA); Ms Mercy Adeoye, African Action Congress (AAC) and John Kome, African Democratic Congress (ADC).
Others are: Adebowale Ogunlaru, Action Democratic Party (ADP); Adetokunbo Abiru, All Progressives Congress (APC); Olusola Babatope, Allied Peoples Movement (APM); Mrs Florence Trautman, Labour Party (LP) and Ms Adijat Lawal, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
The rest are: Babatunde Gbadamosi, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Akin Olukunle, National Rescue Movement (NRM); Saheed Aluko, Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Taiwo Temitope, Young Progressive Party (YPP).
The eight contestants for the Kosofe Constituency II bye-election are: John Akerele, AA; Sadiq Olawale, AAC; Wasiu Saheed, APC; Adekunle Oladapo, LP; Muyideen Agoro, NNPP; Ademorin Adelaja, NRM; Sikiru Alebiosu, PDP and Mrs Mary Abojeh, ADC.
The two by-elections, slated for December 5, became necessary following the demise of the former occupants who were members of APC.

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