The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reacted to a Federal High Court ruling which invalidated the candidacy of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming election in Bayelsa State, David Lyon, insisting that despite the court verdict, the poll would go on as scheduled, tomorrow.
It would be recalled that the High Court in Yenegoa, had yesterday, declared that the APC does not have a governorship candidate in the election taking place on Saturday.
The court presided over by Justice Jane Inyang ruled that the governorship primary conducted by the APC in the oil-rich state was not done in compliance with the guidelines and the constitution of the party, and, therefore, the party has no candidate.
A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday had also disqualified Mr Lyon’s running mate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, from participating in the forthcoming election on the grounds that he provided conflicting information on the documents he presented to INEC.
In its reaction, INEC said the election will go on despite the disqualification of the APC candidate.
“The court did not say INEC should stop the election”, said Sarian Dangosu, INEC Publicity Secretary in Bayelsa.
“The court only said those who do not have candidates will be disallowed therefore, the other 43 candidates will go to the polls,” she noted.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says no voter will be allowed to vote without voter card recognised by the Smart Card Reader in the November 16 elections in Bayelsa and Kogi.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. James Apam, said this on the sideline of a one-day Training on Election Duties, organised by Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) for its staff at Kogi Sector Command Headquarters in Lokoja.
Speaking on behalf of Apam, a staff officer of the commission, Mr Olugbenga Ajayi, warned that no person would be allowed to vote without being accredited using the card reader.
“We keep learning everyday; and we want to obey what we have said as electoral umpire; if card reader cannot identify you, you cannot vote.
“It is either card reader or no voting in Kogi and Bayelsa elections; anything apart from the use of card reader for accreditation and voting will be disqualified.
“No manual accreditation would be allowed; it is either card reader or no voting,” he reiterated.
He enjoined all the personnel participating in the elections to conduct themselves very well and not to compromise but respect their dignity and protect the sanctity of the elections.
He further urged other security personnel to adequately secure electoral staff and election materials, saying all eyes are on Kogi and Bayelsa elections.
He also called for timely arrival of security personnel at INEC Local Government Secretariat, who would be escorting their staff and election materials to INEC Registration Area Centre (RAC) for timely dispatched.
“We urged the security personnel to live by the oath they swore to and not chasing after politicians for money,” he said.
Saturday poll in Bayelsa was expected to be a straight race between candidates of the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but for the controversy trailing Lyon’s emergence.
Lyon, a relatively unknown aspirant then, defeated five other aspirants in the APC governorship primary in September, including a former minister of state for agriculture and rural development, Heineken Lokpobiri, who was seen by many as a front-runner in the race.
Lokpobiri scored 571 votes, the second-lowest in the primary, while Lyon, who had the backing of the Minister of State for Petroleum and former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, had 42,138 votes.
Many party chieftains said the primaries left much to be desired, accusing the party National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, of conducting another undemocratic election.
A party chieftain and former senator from Bayelsa, Felix Oboro, said that Lokpobiri would have made a better governorship candidate for the APC.
He said Lyon has an obscure background, and nobody knows anything about him.
After the primaries, Lokpobiri approached the court, asking it to declare him, and not Lyon, the authentic candidate of the APC.
If yesterday’s ruling stands, the ruling APC would suffer yet another defeat caused by internal wrangling within the party hierarchy.
It was the same internal party crisis that caused APC loses in states such as Zamfara and with Rivers.
In Rivers, the party’s candidates were disqualified before the general elections and thus could not take part while in Zamfara, the candidates who had earlier been declared winners were disqualified by the Supreme Court and opposition candidates then declared winners.
Like Bayelsa, in both Rivers and Zamfara, the cases were taken to court by aggrieved APC members.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Operation, AbdulMajeed Ali, has warned those planning to snatch ballot boxes during Saturday’s elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states to have a rethink as the police will not condone such behaviour.
“Anyone caught will not be spared and will not live to do that ever again,” Ali said.
Addressing a press conference, yesterday ahead of Saturday’s elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, Ali, who is overseeing the Kogi elections said that the Inspector General had deployed enough personnel to adequately police the state and deal with any eventuality during the election.
“We have enough personnel and capacity to deal with anyone that tried to foment trouble on Saturday. Just watch, if anyone tries to snatch ballot box on Saturday, he will pay dearly for it.
“We are determined to provide the enabling environment for a peaceful election. We are tired of being held to ransom by Kogi and Bayelsa states every election period, we will put a stop to that this time around.”
He said that the force had undertaken a security threat assessment in both Kogi and Bayelsa states and have identified possible risks, geo-located trouble spots, and classified individuals and groups that could constitute security challenges to the process.
Ali added, “The outcome of this intelligence-driven initiative guided our election deployment plans and informed our post-election security projections.”
The DIG said that the police are determined to create an environment that is secure and peaceful enough to give confidence to the political actors to undertake their campaigns and other political activities and for the citizens to freely exercise their electoral franchise.
But barely 48 hours to the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, the police said it had identified possible risks that could constitute a threat to the smooth conduct of the elections.
The Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of Operations, Abdulmajid Ali, made this known to newsmen in Lokoja, yesterday.
He said that individuals and groups that could pose security challenges to the election had been identified, classified and placed under surveillance.
Ali said that a security threat assessment carried out in the states made it possible for the police to discover all these.
According to him, the outcome of the intelligence-driven assessment was also used as a guide in the deployment of personnel and logistics for the elections.
Ali said that the objective was to create a secure and peaceful environment to give citizens the confidence to freely exercise their franchise.
He explained that adequate security had been put in place for all INEC personnel, ad-hoc staff, agents, domestic and international observers during the entire period.
“We have also emplaced adequate security for both sensitive and non-sensitive election materials, both at the voting centres, while on transit and at the various collation points.
He said that 66,241 policemen would be deployed for election security operations in both Kogi and Bayelsa states on November 16.
Out of this, he said 35,200 personnel will be deployed to Kogi State while 31,041 will be deployed to Bayelsa State.
He said that they would be complemented by deployment of Police Mobile Force, Special Protection Unit and Counter-terrorism Unit and other security outfits.
In addition, Ali said that the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had ordered the posting of Deputy Inspectors-General of Police (DIGs), AIGs, CPs, DCPs and ACPs to all senatorial districts and local government areas within the two states.
He made it clear that the heavy deployment of policemen for the election was not to intimidate voters but to make the elections a success.
According to him, personnel deployed on the election security operations have been charged to be civil, fair and professional and be the rule of law-guided in the discharge of their duties.
“In so doing, however, they have been additionally instructed to be firm and decisive,’’ he said.
Ali said that all entry and exit points into Kogi and Bayelsa states from contiguous states shall be closed as from 12 a.m. of November15 to 4 p.m. of November16.
“There shall also be restriction of movements within the two states as from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. of November16, with the exemption of those on election duties and essential services,’’ he said.
Ali said that the Inspector-General of Police had directed that with effect from Friday, November 15, all security aides attached to political office holders be withdrawn until the conclusion of the elections.
He gave an assurance that the police and other security agencies were fully ready to support INEC in delivering successful elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
He said that the country has had enough of electoral violence, warning those planning to foment trouble on Election Day to have a change of mind.
“In securing the law-abiding citizens during the elections, we shall not hesitate to deploy our potent assets to deal firmly and decisively with electoral deviants,’’ he warned.
DIG Ali gave out telephone lines that can be useful.
He said, “For any complaints, members of the public are urged to reach the Kogi State’s Joint Operation Room on 08066002020, 08065948693 and 08151532944; and Bayelsa State’s Joint Operation Room on 07034578208 and 09055555803.”
Similarly, a suit challenging whether the Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello, is fit to contest for the November 16 governorship election in the state will today, come up at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The originating summon, which is instituted by Natasha Akpoti, the Social Democratic Party (SDP)’s governorship candidate in the forthcoming poll, will be mentioned at Court 5 before Justice Inyang Ekwo.
While SDP candidate is the plaintiff, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are 1st and 2nd defendants respectively.
The suit, dated October 10 and marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1221/2019, filed by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, on Akpoti’s behalf, sought the court’s determination on the eligibility of Governor Bello in the Saturday election, having allegedly involved in double registration as a voter.
Akpoti said “that by his wilful act of making double registration as a voter, Yahaya Bello, candidate of the 1st defendant is not a fit and proper person to be allowed by the 2nd defendant to vote or be voted for in the forthcoming Kogi State governorship election, having committed act of electoral fraud.
“That Mr Yahaya Bella, the candidate of the 1st Defendant was initially registered as a voter sometime in 2011 in Abuja, by the 2nd defendant.
“That Bello, the candidate of the 1st defendant again fraudulently procured from the 2nd defendant. A second registration as a voter on 23rd May, 2017, at Government House, Lokoja, while his 2011 first registration as a voter in Abuja was still live, extant and subsisting.
“That the said Yahaya Bello, the candidate of the 1st defendant carried out the double registration with the 2nd defendant so as to scuttle due electoral process.
“That such a person is not a fit and proper person to vote for in any election, let alone for the high office of the governor of a state.”
Justice Ekwo had, last Tuesday, delivered judgment, disqualifying the APC Deputy Governorship Candidate in Bayelsa, Sen. Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, over false information given in his CF0001 Form submitted to INEC for the Saturday’s poll.
In his message, President Muhammadu Buhari called for fairness and transparency ahead of Saturday’s governorship polls in Kogi and Bayelsa states, according to a State House statement.
In Kogi, a repeat election will also be held in Kogi-West senatorial district.
“On Saturday, November 16, voters in two states, Bayelsa and Kogi, will be left alone to decide who takes charge of the administration of their important states for the next four years.
“Since the ban on campaigns was lifted a few weeks ago, their citizens have been called to attend political rallies of various hues and were bombarded with advertising on billboards, radio and TV; texts, tweets, WhatsApp and Facebook posts in campaigns that sadly, have so far recorded not a few uninspiring incidents of violence and of intemperate use of language.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has made a strong demand for exemplary conduct of non-partisanship on the part of election and law enforcement officials in the two states. All must carry out their functions with fairness and transparency; without let or hindrance and without fear or favour”, the statement signed by presidential media aide, Mr Garba Shehu, said.
It quoted Buhari as saying, “I call on voters in Bayelsa and Kogi states to exercise their franchise in a peaceful and orderly manner and in line with the law in all situations. Law enforcement officials must ensure that citizens are allowed to vote without harassment and intimidation and any attempt to steal or hijack ballots must be stopped using all legal means.
“In all democratic elections, there are bound to be winners and losers and the elections in Bayelsa and Kogi will not be different. All candidates should be ready to accept the outcomes and wherever they are dissatisfied, they should follow the due process of the law in seeking redress. There must not be a resort to self-help.”
He acknowledged that the polls would be “suspenseful”, but wished the participants well.
Rivers State Needs College of Education-Don
Following the upgrade of the former College of Education to a university, a university teacher has sued for the establishment of a new college of education to replace the old one.
The plea was made by a lecturer in the political Science Department of the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Dr. Iwarimie Uranta.
Uranta who made his views known in an interview with The Tide pointed out that College of Education if established will address the middle manpower in the educational system of the state.
For now, Uranta said “there is a vacuum,” National Certificate of Education (NCE) will help bridge the gap of middle manpower in the teaching profession.”
He continued”, it will boost the teaching of core courses, because NCE teachers are trained as teachers in those courses”.
The university don pointed out that currently there is a limited number of people who wants to do education. It reduce pressure on the universities and reduce social vices by the youths, Uranta stressed.
Besides, he said the current reforms in the educational system will benefit as many private schools will have manpower to recruit instead of engaging quacks in their schools.
In a similar vein, Head of Educational Psychology/ Guidance and Counselling in the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Dr. Sunday Ordu has commended the State Government
for the policy to sanitise privately schools in the state.
“A lot of private schools don not have professional teachers so the policy is in the right direction.
It will improve manpower faculties to enhance educational growth. The environment must be conducive” he added.
RSG Implements TSA To Block Revenue Leakages, Soon …Tasks State Internal Revenue Service To Grow Monthly IGR To N10bn …Seeks Informal Sector’s Support Through Payment Of Prescribed Taxes
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has announced that the state government would soon commence the operation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) to boost its revenue base.
Wike also charged the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS) to grow the state’s monthly Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to N10billion.
He spoke during the flag off of Informal Sector Tax Drive with vehicles donated by Access Bank Limited at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The governor said: “We will initiate the Treasury Single Account to block revenue leakages. I assure that very soon, the Treasury Single Account will become operational.
“The Treasury Single Account will be implemented to checkmate what is presently going on. It is not good to have several accounts which lead to unnecessary leakages.
“Our revenue base fluctuates. The board has been directed to expedite action for the state to hit N10billion Internally Generated Revenue every month.”
Wike explained that the Treasury Single Account will be diligently implemented in the interest of Rivers State, and restated that his allegiance was to Rivers people who voted him, because he was not sponsored by any group.
He urged the informal sector to support the Rivers State Government by paying their taxes as prescribed by the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS).
“The drive for informal sector tax is key. I believe it will boost our revenue base, and we need it”, he said, and thanked Access Bank Limited for supporting the revenue drive of the state with the donation of 10 buses.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Rivers State Internal Revenue Service (RIRS), Mr Adoage Norte said that the flag off of the informal sector tax drive would ensure that informal sector entrepreneurs pay their taxes.
He said that at present, the informal sector has not been paying taxes, explaining that the flag off would unlock the tax potentials of the informal sector.
Norte lauded Access Bank Plc for supporting the informal tax drive of the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service with the donation of 10 buses, pointing out that the buses would be used across the state.
He added that the service was also in dire need of branded kiosks for point of sales transactions, and suggested the operation of Treasury Single Account to optimize revenue generation in the state.
Representative of the Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr David Tinad, thanked the Rivers State Government for the opportunity to partner on revenue generation.
He assured the Rivers State Government that Access Bank Plc would continue to support efforts by the state government to improve its revenue base.
Fake Policemen Disrupted Polls In Bayelsa, Kogi, IGP Admits …Says We’re Aware People Planned To Wear Police Uniforms …As Senate Moves To Okay E-Voting For Future Polls
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, has said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted Saturday’s governorship polls in parts of Bayelsa and Kogi States were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.
Adamu stated that all security personnel, who worked during the polls had “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.
He spoke with State House correspondents after President Muhammadu Buhari and security chiefs held a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
However, he said an investigation was ongoing, while 11 arrests had been made.
Similarly, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, yesterday, said that the police were aware of the plan by politicians to sew police uniforms for their supporters during the Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections.
The IGP also said that ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted the November 16 governorship polls in parts of the two states were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.
Briefing State House correspondents after a security meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, Adamu stated that all security personnel, who worked during the elections were given “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.
The IGP, who said that the security situation in the country was stable, however, said investigation was ongoing to unravel the identities of those that caused violence during the elections, adding that 11 arrests had been made.
On the alleged police extortion of motorists in South East by police officers at checkpoints, he advised that people should always copy the names of such police officers and report them to the police hierarchy in the area.
Meanwhile, the Senate has begun a fresh electoral reform which has mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt the much-awaited electronic voting method for future polls.
The lawmakers also compelled INEC to operate an electronic database into which all results in an election should be transmitted.
A bill to amend the Electoral Act 2010 through which the reform would be achieved has already been published in an official gazette and debate on its general principles may begin on the floor of the Senate during the week.
A copy of the bill, made available to newsmen, also stipulates that data of accredited voters must be transmitted to the central data base upon the conclusion of the accreditation of voters which would be done through the use of the card reader.
“At the end of accreditation of voters, the presiding officer shall transmit the voter accreditation data by secure mobile electronic communication to the central database of the commission kept at the national headquarters of the commission.
“Any presiding officer who contravenes this provision shall be liable, on conviction, to a minimum of imprisonment of at least five years without an option of fine,” the bill also stipulates.
It prevents INEC from shutting down the central data base until all petitions arising from the elections are determined by a tribunal or court.
“In respect of data of accreditation of voters, including polling unit results, for an election, the commission shall not shut down its central database kept at its national headquarters until all election petitions and appeals pertaining to that election are heard and determined by a tribunal or court.”
On the specific provisions for the adoption of the central database, the bill, which is being sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege and Abubakar Kyari (APC, Borno State), seeks amendment of Section 65 of the Electoral Act 2010 by introducing a “National Electronic Register of Election Results.”
It states: “The commission shall compile, maintain and update on a continuous basis, a register of election results to be known as the National Electronic Register of Election Results which shall be a database of election results from each polling unit, including collated results of each election conducted by the commission.
“National Electronic Register of Election Results shall be kept by the commission at its national headquarters and any person or political party may obtain from the commission, on payment of reasonable fees as may be determined by the commission, a certified true copy of any election result kept in the National Electronic Register of Election Results for the federation, a state, local government, area council, ward or polling unit, as the case may be and the certified true copy may be in printed or electronic format.”
On electronic voting, the Electoral Reform Bill seeks amendment of Section 52 (2) of the 2010 Electoral Act and introduced a new provision stating that “the commission may adopt electronic voting or any other method of voting in any election it conducts as it may deem fit.”
It was learned that many lawmakers are not comfortable with the additional clause which permits INEC to use any other method it deems fit and may delete that option during the consideration of the bill.
The current law completely prohibits the use of electronic voting as it states: “The use of the electronic voting machine, for the time being, is prohibited.”
The reform bill has also slashed the nomination fees charged by political parties.
Presidential aspirants are to pay not more than N10million while governorship aspirants are to pay N5million.
Specifically, the bill states: “For the purpose of nomination of candidates for election, the total fees, charges, dues and any payment howsoever named imposed by a political party on an aspirant shall not exceed: N150,000 for a ward councillorship aspirant in the FCT; N250,000 for an area council chairmanship aspirant in the FCT; N500,000 for a House of Assembly aspirant; N1,000,000 for a House of Representatives aspirant; N2,000,000 for a senatorial aspirant; N5,000,000 for a governorship aspirant; and N10,000,000 for a presidential aspirant.”
The Bukola Saraki-led National Assembly had attempted the electoral reform but failed to get the presidential approval at the end.
The bill sought to strengthen internal democracy, reduce the cost of politics, widen political participation and the conduct of free fair and credible elections through technological innovations and an electronic database.
However, there were concerns raised over the enforceability of some of its provisions.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in refusing to sign that bill, had said: “I am declining assent to the bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new electoral bill this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general election, which commenced under the 2015 Electoral Act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process.
“Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process.”
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