The Independent National Electoral Commission has said that it will continue to deploy smart card readers in all its elections, including the Saturday November 30 rerun in Kogi West and others in Kogi State.
The electoral umpire made this known yesterday via its verified Twitter handle @inecnigeria.
The statement reads, “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will continue to use and deploy the Smart Card Reader (SCR) in all elections, including the re- run elections in the Kogi West Senatorial District, the Ajaokuta Federal Constituency and Sabuwa State Constituency elections holding on Saturday, November 30, 2019.
“This clarification has become necessary in the light of remarks attributed to the National Commissioner in-charge of Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye Esq, at a program organized by the Situation Room, which gave the impression that Smart Card Readers are no longer useful in the electoral process.
“To the contrary, the National Commissioner spoke in the context of attempts by some political interests to willfully by-pass the Smart Card Reader during elections, to inflate their votes. They do this against the backdrop of the Supreme Court decision that the SCR is not to be used exclusively to determine over-voting.
“However, the Commission introduced the Smart Card Reader (SCR) in the electoral process principally as additional confirmatory and authentication tool to determine the authenticity of cards presented by voters and eliminate impersonation, which are serious challenges to the electoral process in Nigeria. The SCR is therefore designed to strengthen the integrity of the electoral process and eliminate multiple voting.
“In accordance with Section 49(1 & 2) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and Clause paragraph 10(a) of INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the Conduct of Elections, a person intending to vote with his voter’s card shall be verified to be the same person on the Register of Voters by use of the Smart Card Reader (SCR).
“Furthermore, by paragraph 10(b) of the said Regulations and Guidelines.
“Any Poll Official who violates the provisions of paragraph 10(a), relating to the use of the Smart Card Reader, shall be deemed to be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to prosecution”.
“Political Parties, candidates in election, Poll Agents and the electorate are reminded that voter resistance to the use of the Smart Card Reader and obstruction and resistance to the deployment/distribution of electoral materials constitute unlawful truncation of the electoral process and zero votes will be entered for the affected polling unit.
“The Commission will continue to work with the National Assembly and all the critical stakeholders to reduce malpractices in our electoral process, including over voting. As part of this process, strengthening the legal basis of the use of the SCR, as well as other amendments that will advance the electoral process, would be vigorously pursued.
“The Commission will also continue to work with the security agencies and other stakeholders to prevent individuals and/or groups from undermining the use and application of the Smart Card Reader in elections.”
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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