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Pensioners Storm Benue Govt House Over Unpaid Arrears

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Protesting Benue State pensioners yesterday held a prayer session at the Government House’s gate, Markurdi, over unpaid N25bn pension arrears and gratuities.
Our correspondent who monitored the prayer session organised by Concerned Pensioners, reports that the senior citizens had, since September 4, been sleeping under rain and sunshine at the gate to drive home their demand.
Our correspondent reports that the pensioners are demanding payment of over 20 months’ pension arrears and gratuity, amounting to N25bn owed them by the state government.
Reading from the Bible in the book of 1st Kings, chapter 12, verses 3 to 10, while preaching a sermon, Pastor John Awaodi urged the pensioners not to give up hope.
He said that God was with them since they were demanding their legitimate income.
Addressing the pensioners at the prayer session, their Leader, Mr. Peter Ikyado, said they were not tired and would continue to sleep at the gate until paid.
Ikyado urged them to be steadfast and pray fervently.
He earlier told newsmen that over 500 pensioners in the state had died due to lack of food and proper medication.
“We are senior citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Our motto says, ‘Enjoyment After Retirement,’ but in this case, it is suffering after retirement,” he said.
Gov. Samuel Ortom had, while addressing the pensioners on Friday, said that his administration would have to seek an overdraft of N611m to be able to complete the shortfalls from the April 2018 and May 2018 unpaid pension arrears.
He gave the assurance that the money would be paid by September 10.
Ortom said that his administration inherited unpaid pension arrears of over N34bn, with outstanding gratuities of over N17bn.
He said that although his administration was able to make significant efforts in the payment of the arrears of pensions and gratuities, the government was still owing over N20bn.
He said that his administration also moved a step further by signing into law the PENCOM Bill and constituted the state Pensions Commission in an effort to find lasting solutions to the non-payment of pension and gratuities.
Ortomapologised to the senior citizens for the inability of the government to pay their entitlement as and when due.

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Political Space Is Only For Parties Ready To Take Power – Okoye

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Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC’s), Festus Okoye, national Commissioner on Information and Voter Education has reminded Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) that political space is meant for political parties that are ready to take power, maintaining that political associations can exist, mobilise, build structures before seeking registration, as soon as they get registered they must be ready to take power.
Okoye said this while speaking on a local media station after the High Court adjourned hearing in the case filed by 33 political parties under the auspices of IPAC, challenging their deregistration by INEC.
The national commissioner reminded IPAC that as registered political parties, they should be ready to take power, because the space was not for learning, as the electoral body would be prepared to de-register any political partyand relegate it to an association if it found out that the party failed to meet the threshold of its registration, in accordance with the 1999 Constitution.
“The political parties contesting did not meet the terms of their registration, neither did they win elections in their various states, nor met the projections. Two of the parties that went to court, Labour Party and African Democratic Party, were not deregistered. They claimed they had court injunctions and I don’t know what they are doing in court.”
“The spirit and intent of the constitution, is that political associations can exist, mobilize people, build up structures. The moment they come for registration means they are ready to take power. If you are not due for political power, you should not apply for registration, because the political space is not for learning or testing the ground”, he said.
Okoye said that 74 political parties had been deregistered and the deregistion had already taken place.
He maintained that because the 33 political parties that went to court were aware that deregistration had taken place, that was why on 14 February they filed an application in court, asking the court to reverse it.
The INEC official stated that the act had already been completed, that was why the court adjourned till 27 February for accelerated hearing.

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IPAC Hails Court Order Restraining INEC From De-Registering 31 Parties

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The Inter-Party Adversary Council (IPAC) has described the judgment stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from deregistering political parties as victory for democracy and future generations.
National chairman of the council, Peter Ameh, who made the comment while addressing newsmen shortly after the ruling, said the late Gani Fawehinmi gave the 33 political parties that went to court the courage.
Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in her ruling, said, having failed to counter the application by the applicants, the affected political parties had the legal right, which must be protected.
In an interlocutory motion with suit number FHC/ABJ/ CS/444/19 between Advanced Congress of Democratis (ACD) and two others vs. Attorney-General of the Federation and another (INEC), the applicants had on October 30, 2019, approached the court.
The IPAC chairman insisted that there was no way the commission would have succeeded in the illegality it perpetrated against the parties and the fundamental rights of Nigerians.
“We have every reason to thank everybody who stood against this illegality, especially Okey Raph Nwosu, who, despite his party scaling the deregistration hurdle, still joined in the suit because he believed in democracy.
“We believe in the spirit of the Constitution as stated in Section 40, which gave Nigerians the right to freely belong to any political association, and the Constitution stipulated that no agency of government can restrict that right.
“We started this case since last year when we saw that there was plan to put Nigeria upside down. It is our right to defend the constitution through section 225 to challenge the commission to stop it from taking this illegal action.
“INEC should know that if the interest of a political party is to talk about free education, the party should be allowed. If the interest is to talk about tree planting in the North-East, it should be allowed to continue with it.

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Group Advises Women On Increased Participation In Politics

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Enugu State chapter of the Nigeria League of Women Voters, has urged women to be very active in politics to avoid marginalisation.
The state chairperson of the league, Mrs Nnenna Anozie made the call in an interview with our source in Enugu yesterday.
was a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) and a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) that aims at empowering women both politically and economically.
She said that the league encouraged women to participate in election; adding that they discovered that in the last elections, many women did not participate either as voters or contestants in the elections.
Anozie said that the organisation aimed creating more awareness on the girl child and for every woman to be aware of her civil rights in the state and the country at large.
The chairperson said the group recently visited one of the girls schools in Enugu where they shared sanitary pads, carried out sensitisation awareness on dangers of drug abuse, rape and others.
”This is one way of giving back to the society as well as empowering our women because knowledge is power. Most of them are not knowledgeable about their rights and how to keep hygiene.
”Many of them are rape victims and they are not opening up because of stigmatisation.
”We want to embark on the sensitisation drive in all the states in the country; hoping that come 2023 most of our women will be equipped to run for political offices both at the local, state and national levels,” she said.

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