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Flood Threatens Bayelsa Guber Poll …As INEC, Parties Sign Peace Accord

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised the alarm over the challenges of flooding in most parts of Bayelsa State, saying it was posing a huge threat to the smooth conduct of the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in the state.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, IVEC, Festus Okoye Esq, made this known during a formal meeting with journalists tagged “Meet the Press/Session with NUJ, at the Ernest Sei-sei Ikoli Press Centre in Yenagoa.
Okoye, disclosed that the only thing the commission has the capacity to do is to conduct elections and if unable to conduct in a particular polling unit in account of natural disaster or other disasters, Section 23 of the Electoral Act as stipulated tells the commission what to do.
He noted that people who must have left their homes and currently putting up with their relatives and friends are not IDPs, and will not be considered, noting that the commission has conditions for only IDPs that can be located in a camp, documented and a remedial action will be taken to ensure they vote.
On the readiness of the commission, he said, after the release of the revised timetable with 14 items, INEC has been able to implement 12 already, which remains the end of campaigns and election proper.
“We have implemented almost all. We are on ground zero and everything is set. We have trained all categories of Ad hoc staff that will be needed for the election. All non-sensitive materials are on ground and at the LGAs, while the sensitive materials will arrive few days to election and domicile with the CBN.”
“The question that should be asked is whether political parties are ready because they had enough time to prepare. INEC remains the only body that has the mandate to conduct elections, and no political party can insist that its position in relation to whatever it wants will be accepted, we regulate the political parties and they can’t regulate us,” he added.
Earlier, the state Residence Electoral Commissioner (REC), Pastor Monday Udoh Tom, said INEC Bayelsa has moved to the red zone, which means it’s ready to go.
He emphasized that the commission was ready to conduct a free, fair, credible and inclusive election on the 16th of November in the state, adding that the persons living with disability will also be captured.
Tom commended the media in the state for the level of their partnership with the commission, stating that the cordial relationship had helped in educating and informed voters in the state.
However, history was made, yesterday, in Yenagoa, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and all the 45 political parties that nominated candidates for next weekend’s Bayelsa State governorship election, signed a peace accord.
In attendance to witness the epoch-making event were, Chairman, Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers, Alfred Diete-Spiff, the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Abubakar, the Director General National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brid-Gen Ibrahim Shauibu, Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) from Adamawa, Anambra, Delta, National Commissioners Festus Okoye, Okey Ibeanu, representatives of Nigeria Immigration Services, Nigerian Correctional Services, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, among many other stakeholders.
In his brief remarks, commission’s Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, reassured the readiness of the commission for the poll, just as he pleaded with stakeholders to cooperate with the commission.
Delivering her speech, National Commissioner in charge of Bayelsa and Chairman, Legal Services Committee, May Agbamuche, read riot act, warning that vote buyers, ballot box snatchers risk heavy imprisonment of 12 months and/or N1million fine.
“Another very disturbing trend is the use of hate speech and provocative language during political campaigns. This is unacceptable and is an electoral offence under Section 95 ( l ) and (2) of the Electoral Act.
“It is unethical to use language or words that will incite violence in the name of politics, as is character assassination equally destructive and damaging to the very core of our society.
“Stakeholders should rise against this and bring it to an end. With social media hate speech has plunged to ever greater depths.
“A person who contravenes this provision commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of Nl,000,0000.00 or 12 months imprisonment. For a political party, a fine of N2,000,000.00 will be levied in the first instance and Nl,000,000.00 for any subsequent offence.
“We must here also highlight that it is an offence under Section 23 (l)(a) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) for a person to be in possession of a voter’s card that is not bearing his or her name unless he can legally justify why he is in possession of such a card.
“You have a duty to tell your members, constituents and the general electorate that it is an offence to buy or sell a voter’s card. Any person who buys or tries to buy any voters’ card whether on his own or on behalf of any other person, commits an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine of N1,000,000.00 or to l2 months imprisonment, or to both ad punishment, as stated in section 120(l)(c) and (d) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended)
“There are certain election day offences which I must additionally draw your attention to which are unacceptable within a distance of 300 metres of a polling unit on Election Day.
“These are canvassing & soliciting for votes, persuading any voter not to vote for any particular candidate, loitering around a polling unit or being in possession of any offensive weapon. A person who commits any of these of the above-stated offences is liable on conviction to a fine of N1000,000.00 or imprisonment for a term of six months.
“The particularly odious offence of ballot paper, ballot box and election material snatching is prevalent in our society today. Please, note that a person who commits such an offence of snatching or destruction of any election material is liable on conviction to 24 months imprisonment. And in this situation zero votes will be recorded against that polling unit,” the commission warned.
Stressing readiness of the commission, INEC boss, said: “The commission has also delivered all non-sensitive materials to our office here in Yenagoa long ago. They have all been sorted out, categorized and batched, ready to be delivered to the LGAs, wards and polling units. The sensitive materials are also ready and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is delivering them to Bayelsa State, this weekend.
“The normal process of inspection and distribution within the state will be done in the presence of party agents, security agencies, observers and the media. The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Bayelsa State will give the date and time for the inspection and the itinerary for deployment in line with the commission’s standard practice for the inspection and movement of sensitive materials.
“The Smart Card Readers (SCRs) have been configured and will be added to other sensitive materials and delivered together. Once again, let me reiterate that it is mandatory to use the SCRs for voter accreditation and authentication.
“Let me also reiterate that voter inducement in all forms, including vote-buying at polling units is a violation of the law. The ban on the use of mobile phones and other photographic devices in the voting cubicles is still in force and will be strictly enforced and monitored.
“I urge all stakeholders to continue to eschew violence and maintain peaceful conduct during the election. It is our collective responsibility to safeguard the process and to protect all election duty staff including the corps members who serve at the polling units which is the basic level of the voting process,” he said.

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State Of The Nation: PDP Takes Protest To Foreign Embassies …Insists Buhari, APC Threat To Democracy

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For the second time in the past three weeks, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, took its protest to the embassies of the European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) and France, condemning among other things, what it termed, threat to democracy by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The protest, which took off from the party’s National Presidential Campaign Headquarters, Maitama, Abuja, attracted key members of the National Working Committee (NWC), led by National Secretary of the party, Senator Ibrahim Tsauri.
At the European Union Embassy, Tsauri, who stood in for the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, flayed the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government for allegedly constituting itself a clog in the wheel of the nation’s electoral progress since it first assumed office in 2015.
In a petition submitted by its leadership, yesterday, the party urged the international community to press on the government of President Buhari to preserve democratic institutions in the land at all cost even as they reminded them that most of their reports on election observations in the country recently showed in decline in the preservation of democratic ethos.
Addressing newsmen after the submission of the petition at the European Union, Deputy National Chairman (North) of the party, Senator Suleiman Nazif, expressed the party’s dissatisfaction at what he called the takeover of the Judiciary and the judicial arms of government by the APC-led government.
He said, “We are not happy, we are not satisfied with the way democracy is being run in Nigeria. We have come here to complain because we have realized that the National Assembly is being intimidated by the Executive.
“The Judiciary is being arm-twisted, the rule of law has become a mockery and we thought it wise to come and lay our complaint because they no longer listen to anybody and that is why the PDP decided to reach out to the international community to lay complaint with respect to the electoral act that has not been accented to up till now.
“You are aware of the systematic collapse in our electoral processes, the way elections are being conducted. In Kogi, we saw what transpired in the last election. Nigerians have seen for themselves what the opposition party is going through.
“We saw what happened in Bayelsa, we saw what happened in Imo with respect to the Supreme Court judgement and we are calling for a review of that judgement and we believe that with the amount of pressure from intentional organisations, I think the right thing would be done”.
On his part, Tsauri said, “Democracy is being derailed in this country. Democracy in Nigeria has been built on five pillars: the media, the electoral empire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security agents, the Judiciary, and the international community. These are the pillars that support democracy in Nigeria. If one of these pillars collapses, democracy will derail on that side.
“Out of the five, only two are left. The electoral umpire is compromised, you all know it. Security agents are part and parcel of APC government. Judiciary is being threatened and nobody has any confidence in the Judiciary again.
“The only one that is now left is the media and the international community. The international community, any where there is going to election, they go and monitor. They bring in their reports and most of these reports are negative.
“This is why we came to the international community to tell them that this is the expectations of Nigerians from them and we want them to do exactly what is expected of them to do.
“In Nigeria today, if you talk about security, it is zero. When Buhari came into government, he said that he was going to fight corruption, he was going to intensify effort on the economy and then security but none is working now. This government does not listen to any voice except the international community. That is why we are here”.
However, the officials of the three embassies failed to make statements after receiving the part’s petition.
Also, in the protest march were the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, National Woman Leader, Hajia Maryam Waziri and the National Youth Leader, Hon. Stanley Udeh-Okoye, amongst others.

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RSG Begins E-Registration Of Businesses …As Nsirim Heads C’ttee On Investment Promotion

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The Rivers State Ease of Doing Business Council headed by the State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo has taken far reaching decisions to give impetus to the mandate given to the council by the State Chief Executive, Chief Nyesom Wike.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the meeting at the Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, said that with effect from yesterday, an e-Registration Platform for all businesses in Rivers State has been put in place to ensure that all businesses in the state come under one database.
According to him, a help desk has also been established in the office of the deputy governor in line with the decision.
He further disclosed that the Ease of Doing Business Council also set up an Investment Promotion Committee headed by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim.
Other members of the committee include, the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Nwankpa, Chairman, House Committee on Commerce and Industry, Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Ezu Chibudhom, and President, Nigerian Entrepreneur and Investment Forum, Engr. Dozie Abajue.

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2021 AFCON: NFF Moves S’Eagles’ Games From Benin

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After several weeks of speculations, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), May have shelved the idea of playing Super Eagles first international match of the year at the refurbished Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, Edo State.
The refurbished stadium with a sitting capacity of 19,500 stands as one of the best in the country today and is equipped with modern facilities.
The venue was due to be formally opened with the Super Eagles’ Day-four match of the ongoing AFCON 2021 qualifying round clash with Sierra Leone on the 22nd of March, 2020.
However, it has been confirmed from a top official of the Glass House in Abuja that the ancient city of Benin which last staged Super Eagles match in 2011 against Boswana which ended goalless with Late Stephen Okechukwu Keshi in charge of his first match as gaffer, may have to wait for another time.
“We have a strong bond with Edo State Government and this explained why we’ve had many events in Benin lately but due to some reasons, this important match against Sierra Leone will not hold in the new stadium,” the top official told our source in a telephone chat last night.
With Benin no longer in sight, the NFF is looking in the direction of either the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta State or Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Both stadiums hosted Super Eagles’ matches in the past. Uyo Stadium in particular was were Eagles secured their qualification to the 2018 World Cup in Russia
The Asaba ground became new home to the Super Eagles lately following the massive support the team enjoy from Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa.
Delta bankrolled the sent forth match for the Super Eagles to the last AFCON tournament in Egypt where they claimed the bronze medal.
Although no clear reason was given for why NFF decided to move the Sierra Leone game from the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, our checks revealed that it may have something to do with the forth coming National Sports Festival (NSF) which the state will host next month to early April.
Physical infrastructure needed for the games are being completed at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium with base for the track being laid, as the football pitch is ready. Work at the tennis section is completed, while the swimming pools are being furnished.
Organisers of the festival have scheduled the football events at other designated venues leaving the edify to stage only track and field events, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies.
With the Uyo and Asaba as options for Eagles, NFF has at least two weeks to communicate the new venue to CAF as well as the visiting team in accordance with the tournament rules and regulations

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