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INEC Trains Staff On Voter Education In Southern States

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has promised to make polling units more accessible to voters nationwide ahead of 2023 general elections.
Director of Voter Education and Publicity at INEC, Mr Nick Dazang, made the promise at a stakeholders’ workshop held yesterday in Akure.
Dazang said that it has become imperative for the commission to move with time and take advantage of the benefits of social media to educate stakeholders.
INEC, in collaboration with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) organised the two-day Train-the-Trainers’ workshop for the staff of INEC.
He said that the workshop was part of efforts to strengthen voter education and public enlightenment at the grassroots and to also address the problem of declining voter access to polling units.
According to him, this has become imperative because voter education strategies keep changing with the introduction of technology.
“Most of our youths are now on social media more than before.
“Today, INEC and IFES organise voter education manual review, validation and training of trainers workshop for voter education staff in southern states and Abuja.
“Already we have developed a manual to be used in training the Head of Department of voter education and publicity in the state.
“They will in turn train their own staff in the state,’’ he said.
Dazang said that the commission had received no fewer than 9,000 requests for the creation of more polling units, adding that the commission had started to consult stakeholders across the country.
The director said that the commission intended to expand voter’s access to polling units as the existing ones were created about 25 years ago.
“Many of voters today were born at that period.
“It means some of them don’t have access to polling units where they can vote.
“There are many districts and communities that have come up or expanded since 1996.
“So far, we have consulted with the leadership of political parties, civil societies and people with disabilities, media, Arewa Consultative Forum and the national economic council.
“This week, we will meet with the National Assembly and Federal Executive Council.
“We intend to continue the consultation with Afenifere leaders, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, middle belt forum with frontline leaders of federal base organisations and traditional rulers to let them understand our determination to establish polling units,’’ he said.
He, therefore, called on all stakeholders to have trust in INEC to enable it to conduct free, fair and credible election in the country.
Residence Electoral Commissioner of INEC in Ondo State, Dr Rufus Akeju, said that the workshop was organised to correct the atrocities of voters during the elections.
Akeju also said that the training would help the INEC staff to educate electorate.
“It has been major concerns of the commission to address inadequacies of the polling units across the country and other electoral challenges,’’ the REC said.
According to him, the electoral body has been concerned by the poor voting pattern and turnouts in past elections, which in most times, result in high invalidated votes and riots.
He expressed optimism that the workshop would improve the conduct of the electorates at the polling units during the next elections.

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Group Urges Police To Apologise To Protesters

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The Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), has asked the Nigeria Police to apologise for violating the fundamental right of the protesters to freedom of expression.
A statement by the human rights group yesterday, by its Interim Chair, Femi Falana (SAN), also accused the police of deliberately contravening Section 83 (4) of the Police Establishment Act 2020. 
The section provides that “Where a person or organization notifies the police of his or its intention to hold a public meeting, rally or procession on a public highway or such meetings in a place where the public has access to, the police officer responsible for the area where the meeting rally or procession will take place shall mobilize personnel to provide security cover for the meeting, rally or the procession.”
The group noted that Section 36 of the Constitution guarantees the fundamental right of the Nigerian people to freedom of expression including the right to protest against policies of the government. 
Many Nigerians in many states across the country trooped out on Saturday, June 12 to mark the day– Democracy Day – with protests against bad governance. 
The protesters chanted ‘Buhari must go’ in apparent dissatisfaction with the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government that has seen security, economy, youth employment rate and some other sectors and indices worsen. 
However, there were arrests and harassment of peaceful protesters by the policex particularly in Abuja, Lagos and Cross River. 
The group in the statement said, “For having the audacity to insist on their fundamental right to protest against unpopular policies of governments, teams of armed police personnel fired teargas to disperse the peaceful rallies. As if the unprovoked attack was not enough, the Police brutalised and arrested scores of protesters in Lagos, Abuja and Calabar (Cross River State capital). 
“Since the protesters who were arrested during the peaceful rallies did not commit any offence, they have since regained their liberty. But the police authorities ought to apologise for violating the fundamental right of the protesters to freedom of expression.
“More so that the Police had deliberately contravened Section 83 (4) of the Police Establishment Act 2020 which provides that ‘Where a person or organization notifies the police of his or its intention to hold a public meeting, rally or procession on a public highway or such meetings in a place where the public has access to, the police officer responsible for the area where the meeting rally or procession will take place shall mobilise personnel to provide security cover for the meeting, rally or the procession.’
“While commending the protesters for conducting the themselves in a matured and peaceful manner, we condemn the official lie that the protesters were teargassed to prevent hoodlums and miscreants from hijacking the peaceful rallies. Since the Police admitted that protesters committed no offence whatsoever why were some of them arrested? Why were the so-called hoodlums and miscreants who wanted to cause mayhem and unleash violence on the protesters not arrested? 
“Or were they treated like sacred cows because they had been hired to disrupt the peaceful rallies of the protesters? Why were the scanty pro-government protesters who were reported to have fought openly in Abuja over their booty not arrested for breach of the peace in the Federal Capital Territory?

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‘MKO Most Acceptable Nigerian Democrat’

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Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, has described the late Chief Moshood Abiola, widely believed to have won the June 12, 1993 presidential poll, as “the most acceptable democrat cherished by Nigerians”.
Mohammed said this in Gamawa Local Government Area (LGA) of the state during the distribution of empowerment items to youths and women under the Kaura Economic Empowerment Programme (KEEP).
He said the empowerment scheme historic as it coincided with Democracy Day which he described as an unforgettable day in the history of Nigeria.
The governor, who was full of praises for the late business mogul, said Abiola provided the country with a lot of empowerment programmes without considering the tribe, language and geographical location of the beneficiaries.
“Our launching of this empowerment programne today is historic and passionate; we remember today is democracy day and we decided to do it on this day.
“This is because Chief Moshood Abiola, who we are celebrating, empowered several people.
“He did that across board without considering the religion, language and origin of those that benefited from the gestures.
“Abiola will remain in our memory as the most acceptable democrat or politician in Nigeria.
“We all voted for him and that is why myself, my deputy and the government decided honour to him this day by coming to Gamawa and Zaki to empower the people,” he said.
Mohammed noted that democracy day meant remembering people who had empowered the masses, adding that the late Abiola was in that category.
The gesture, he said, was also to show appreciation to the people who brought his administration to power, adding that his government had a lot to offer to the people.

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Buhari, Bello Greet Abubakar At 79

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President Muhammadu Buhari has felicitated former Head of State, retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, on his 79th birthday, joining family members and friends to celebrate with the iconic leader.
The president’s congratulatory message is contained in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja yesterday.
Buhari noted that Abubakar’s legacy of setting the country on the path of democracy and good governance, and passionate pursuit of peace had continued to yield results.
He congratulated the General for another age, appreciating his patriotism and visionary leadership style of always advocating unity, projecting maturity and wisdom on national discourse, and providing a rallying point for the future of the country.
The president noted the goodwill that the former Head of State had continued to attract to the country, both at national and international levels.
He particularly lauded him for sacrificing his time and resources to reach out to individuals and institutions on the need to work for the growth of Nigeria.
Buhari prayed for increase in wisdom, strength and long life for the former military leader that midwifed return of democracy to the country in 1999.
Similarly, Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello of Niger has felicitated former Military Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (Rtd), on his 79th birthday.
Sani-Bello, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mrs Mary Noel-Berje, last Saturday in Minna eulogised Abubakar and described him as a “complete gentleman”.
According to him, the former head of state is a patriot who has remained “consistent and significant” in the progress and development of the country.
He said Niger and the country were indeed lucky to have an outstanding leader and statesman who had consistently remained on the path of promoting national unity and integration, as well as pursuit of global peace.
“Undoubtedly, your resolve to rededicate yourself to the service of our fatherland and humanity in general is a clear testimony of your statesmanship and influence which cuts across the length and breadth of the country,” Sani-Bello said.
He noted that at 79 years, Abdulsalami had remained a reference point for good governance, diplomacy and conflict resolution.
He prayed Allah to grant him sound health, many more years of wisdom, courage and determination to continue to offer selfless service to the nation and humanity.

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