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.
Coronavirus Case In Lagos As Italian Tests Positive
Coronavirus: Senate Panics, Says FG Doing Nothing To Prevent Disease …11 Suspected Cases Turned Negative In Nigeria -FG …As NASS Proposes Stiffer Sanctions Against Gas Flaring From 2021
The President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, yesterday, indicted the Federal Ministry of Health for not putting serious measures in place to prevent the outbreak of Coronavirus in Nigeria.
He, therefore, urged the Senate Committee on Primary Health Care to further liaise with the ministry to intensify screening of passengers at the nation’s airports and seaports.
Lawan stated this following a point of order by the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Ajayi Boroffice.
Boroffice drew the attention of the Senate to the failure of health personnel at the airports and seaports to thoroughly screen passengers coming into the country.
He explained that he was subjected to screening for Coronavirus on arrival at a South African airport, recently.
He said the screening at the South African airport usually takes up to 30 minutes before passengers would be allowed to disembark the aircraft.
He said the situation was different on his arrival at the Nigerian airport when the health officials in the nation’s airports merely issued a form for passengers to indicate if they were sick or not.
He said, “There is no form of any screening of passengers for Coronavirus by Nigerian officials at the airport.
“It is worrisome, situations where travellers coming into the country were not dully screened for the dreaded virus.”
Boroffice said he brought the attention of the Senate to his experience for the Federal Ministry of Health and other concerned agencies to take note.
Lawan commended Boroffice for raising the issue.
He said every country in the world was making efforts to ensure that the virus did not cross their borders.
He said although the Federal Ministry of Health and other associated agencies were doing their best, their best was not good enough.
“We must take all the necessary measures at our ports, airports, seaports, to protect our people.
“If anybody is coming from China, he or she should be quarantined not even isolation for two weeks or four weeks, we have to protect the lives of Nigerians,” he added.
Similarly, the Senate, yesterday, condemned the high lending rates in the country, accusing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of not encouraging investors with the monetary policy.
The Senate insisted that the CBN has not done enough in balancing the deposit interest rate and lending with the goal of encouraging savings.
The chamber expressed concern that with higher interest rates, interest payments on credit cards and loans are more expensive.
It said the development was thereby discouraging people from borrowing and spending.
The red chamber, therefore, mandated two of his committees to probe the CBN and the commercial banks involved in the monetary policy.
The committees are Finance and that of Banks, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions.
The decision was taken sequel to a motion by Senator Solomon Adeola, representing Lagos West and chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts.
The motion titled, “Urgent need to bridge the gap between the lending interest rate and deposit Interest rate among commercial banks and other financial institutions”.
He said, “The latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that the inflation rate further rose from 11.98 per cent in December, 2019 to 12.13 per cent in 2020.
“This development negatively affects the deposits of commercial bank customers in addition to the low-interest rates on deposits.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria still has no confirmed case of the raging Coronavirus infection, according to the National Economic Council.
However, 11 suspected cases in the country turned negative so far.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire and the Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, had given an update on the infection to the NEC meeting chaired in Abuja Abuja by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday.
Briefing State House Correspondents after the meeting, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said Coronavirus, otherwise known as Corvid-19, had yet to reach Nigeria.
Egypt and Algeria are the only African countries with confirmed cases.
He spoke more, “In Nigeria, the good news is, yes there have been a total of 11 suspected cases, but all the 11 have turned out to be negative.
“In fact, there was a scare in Lagos yesterday (Wednesday), about two cases, but all have been confirmed negative as we speak.
“But Nigeria still places itself on high risk, as also advised by the World Health Organisation. So, what are the federal and all the states are doing? We are looking at all the international airports that we have as major entry points.
“They are Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Enugu and Port Harcourt. The alertness in each of these airports is very high.”
He added that the country had testing facilities in Lagos, Abuja and Edo State to respond to any emergencies.
On Lassa Fever, the governor said there were 690 reported cases in the country from January to date, out which 118 of the patients died.
He added that Edo, Ebonyi and Ondo states had 72% of all reported cases out of the 18 states with incidents.
The states include Edo, Ebonyi, Bauchi, Plateau, Enugu, Gombe, Katsina, Kogi, Sokoto, Taraba, Delta, Rivers, Adamawa, Nasarawa and Lagos.
“Of all these confirmed cases, about 72 per cent of them are prevalent in Edo, Ondo and Ebonyi states.
“So, the Ministry of Health and the federal government are concentrating on these three major states”, Sanwo-Olu said.
Similarly, the Senate, yesterday, considered a bill which proposes stiffer sanctions for any person or corporate entity involved in gas flaring in Nigeria from January 1, 2021.
The Gas Flaring (Prohibition and Punishment) Bill, 2020, which scaled second reading during plenary, was sponsored by Senator Albert Bassey Akpan (Akwa-Ibom North East).
Clause 11(a) of the bill provides that, “Any person who flares gas after December 31, 2020 contrary to section 4 of this Act, commits an offence under this Act, and shall be liable on conviction to pay a fine which shall not be less than the cost of gas at the international market.”
Leading the debate on the floor, Akpan recalled that though the Bill was passed by the 8th Senate in 2018, it failed to receive concurrence by the House of Representatives due to time constraints as it was close to the end of the legislative session.
He said that the bill’s introduction by the 9th Assembly, which promises guaranteed rapid infrastructural development of the oil and gas sector, will enhance revenue accruable to government and ensure environmental improvement for the people of the Niger Delta.
“The flaring of natural gas produce in association with crude oil is one of the most dangerous environmental and energy waste practices in the Nigerian petroleum industry.
“Gas flaring affects the environment and human health, results in economic loss, deprives the government of associated tax revenues and trade opportunities, and deprives consumers of a clean and cheaper energy source and environment,” Akpan added.
The lawmaker stated that available data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) showed that in 2018, Nigeria lost over N217billion in revenue as oil and gas companies flared a total of 244.84 billion standard cubic feet (scf) of natural gas within the same period.
He added that with the average price of natural gas put at $2.90 per 1,000 scf as of February 16, 2017, the 244.84 billion scf flared translates to a loss of $710m or N217billion – using the official exchange rate of N305.25/ dollar.
According to the lawmaker, “The volume of flared gas according to analysis, is sufficient to feed 3 LNG trains or generate 3.5GW of electricity.”
Bassey explained that the bill when passed into law, will address the inadequacies and shortcomings of the 1979 Act; bring gas flare penalty in line with current economic realities; and ensure the achievement of the National Flares-out target of January 1, 2030.
“The current gas flare penalty of N10 per 1,000 scf is too low, and not in line with current economic realities and encourages continuous gas flaring by operators with its attendant negative effect on our environment instead of encouraging investment in infrastructure by the operators to make gas available for our domestic use,” Akpan lamented.
The Gas Flaring Prohibition and Punishment Bill 2020, according to the lawmaker, “seeks to increase the gas flaring penalty to an appropriate and commensurate level sufficient to de-incentivize the practice of gas flaring, whilst introducing other market measures to encourage efficient gas utilization.
“The Bill equally makes it mandatory for operators to submit gas utilization plan within 90 days of the commencement of the Act for effective monitoring and makes provision for a two year periodic: review of the Minister’s powers granted under the Act,” he added.
Citing the United States of America, he said that the piece of legislation also makes specific provisions for the installation of requisite gas flare meters equipped with facilities that enable real time, online data retrieval for independent reporting and monitoring by the industry regulator.
President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, referred the bill to the Senate Committee on Gas for further legislative inputs.
Police Take Over APC Secretariat, As Pro, Anti-Oshiomhole Protesters Clash
No fewer than four Hilux patrol vehicles, loaded with battle-ready, mobile and regular policemen on Thursday stormed the headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to forestall the deteriorating security situation at the area.
The policemen, who strategically positioned themselves outside the complex were mobilised to the headquarters around 11am, to fortify and complement the internal regular security details almost subdued by the anti-Oshiomhole protesters that grounded activities at the complex, yesterday morning.
The arrival of the detachment of the regular and mobile policemen had forestalled a bloody clash of the pro and anti-protesters against the National Chairman of the ruling party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.
The situation almost degenerated into a bloody clash when stern-looking bouncers numbering over eight men dressed in black jeans and t-shirts, arrived at the secretariat and chased out the anti-Oshiomhole protesters.
The protesters, who arrived at Blantyre Street, housing the party secretariat, at different times, had engaged themselves over who has the right to display placards.
Obvious to the anti protesters, comprising young men, women and the aged, that the regular security details manning the secretariat could not guarantee their safety, they hurriedly dispersed, scampering for safety to avoid the anger of the pro and furious-looking bouncers.
To arrest the situation, the regular security detail at the APC secretariat had to send signals to the divisional police headquarters in charge of the area which wasted no time in deploying personnel to beef up security at the complex.
Although neither the security agents nor the protesters was able to address newsmen, a police officer who spoke in confidence said that they saw the pro and anti-protesters hauling weapons at each other, noting that they tried to calm down the situation.
Lamentably, the protests for the removal of the embattled party’s national chairman had continued since last week, resulting in members of the National Working Committee (NWC) avoiding the secretariat for fear of their lives.
The anti-Oshiomhole protesters that have consistently disrupted activities at the secretariat insisted on his removal, accusing him of demarketing their party.
The group that gave its name as APC Members Coalition Movement, threatened to continue the protest until Oshiomhole was removed.
One of its leaders, Umar Mohammed Musa said: “We are here to express our feelings, to show or tell the whole world that we are not happy with what is happening in our party.
“The leadership of this party is getting out of hand and that is why we are here to tell our leaders that Oshiomhole must go; we insist that Oshiomhole must leave.
“When you look at the situation of our party and what has happened at the last primaries in 2019 general elections, you will agree with me that we have no leader.
“Since Oshiomhole came on board, there has been no progress in the party; there is no development, no achievement or tangible thing to show you that there is a good example of leadership in the party. So, that is why we say Oshiomhole must go.
“Even in FCT, his leadership led to loss of lives. It was also same in Zamfara, Bayelsa, etc. Look at what happened recently in Bayelsa State; so we are asking what is going on? We have noticed that Adams Oshiomhole is an agent who has come to destabilise our party. He is an agent that wants to see how this party would collapse and would not win election in 2023,” the group alleged.
Dismissing the claim that Oshiomhole won the presidential election for APC, the group’s spokesperson said, “This party won the presidential election because of the helping hands of Nigerians and not because of the leadership of Oshiomhole.
“The party members and the citizens of this country have the love for President Buhari. When you look at it very well many of our members who could have won election for us lost the primaries because of the selfish interest of Oshiomhole.”
While also condemning Oshiomhole’s leadership style, another speaker, Comrade Zata Nehemaih said: “l want to tell you that since he came in, there have been factions in all the states.
“I want to tell you that Oshiomhole has no interest of the party. He is here to destroy APC; he is like a PDP mole. If you look at the last election, APC lost Zamfara, Bauchi, Imo, Adamawa, Taraba, Bayelsa and so many other states because of Oshiomhole.
“Instead of him to add more states, we lost states. If they allow Oshiomhole to continue till 2023, l want to assure you that APC will lose the presidency,” he said.
Meanwhile, the deputy youth leader APC FCT, Idris Umar Faruk, has while defending Oshiomhole, claimed that those protesting against him were not members of APC.
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