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2023: We Won’t Release Poll Timetable Until Electoral Bill Is Signed Into Law -INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it would not release the 2023 general election timetable until the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is signed into law.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this, yesterday, in Abuja during the commission’s first quarterly consultative meeting with political parties.
He said, “On the Electoral Amendment Bill currently before the National Assembly, the Commission is encouraged by the Senate President’s assurance to give priority attention to the bill when the National Assembly reconvenes from its recess today, and the commitment by the President to assent to the bill as soon as the issue of mode of primaries by political parties is resolved. We look forward to a speedy passage of the bill, which is crucial to our preparations for future elections.
“As soon as it is signed into law, the commission will quickly release the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election based on the new law”.
Noting that 2022 is going to be a very busy year for the commission and the political parties, Yakubu reminded them that the 2023 general election was just 396 days away.
He said all the critical preparations must be concluded this year, explaining that the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), which commenced in June, last year, has entered the third quarter.
“As of yesterday, Monday, 17th January, 2022, a total of 8,260,076 eligible Nigerians commenced the online pre-registration, completed the registration physically or applied for transfer to new voting locations, replacement of their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) or updated their voter information records as required by law.
“At the moment, the Commission is undertaking the most comprehensive clean-up of the data to ensure that only eligible citizens are added to the voters’ register for the 2023 general election and will share our findings with Nigerians and the actual dates for the collection of the PVCs nationwide will be announced very soon”, Yakubu stated.
According to him, the commission has also decided that the suspended Ekiti East I State Constituency bye-election would be combined with the State Governorship election holding on June 18, 2022.
He said the date for the Shinkafi State Constituency bye-election in Zamfara State would be announced after a thorough review of the security situation in the area, while the commission awaits the declaration of vacancy by the Kaduna State House of Assembly in respect of Giwa West State Constituency.
“Turning to the major end-of-tenure and off-cycle elections, party primaries for the Ekiti State Governorship election are scheduled for 4th – 29th January, 2022. For the Osun State Governorship election, primaries will hold from 16th February to 12th March, 2022.
“In the case of Ekiti State, all the 18 political parties have served the mandatory notices for the primaries. Let me seize this opportunity to draw the attention of parties to the necessity for transparent and rancour-free primaries. Parties should also respect their chosen dates for the primaries based on the commission’s Timetable and Schedule of Activities.
“Already, many parties have rescheduled their primaries several times. While the commission has earmarked a period of three weeks and 4 days (i.e. 25 days) for the conduct of the Ekiti State Governorship primaries, virtually all political parties have decided to hold their primaries in the last 4 days i.e. 26th – 29th January, 2022. In fact, seven political parties have chosen the last day for their primaries.
“Similarly, no party has so far submitted its list of aspirants, the composition of its electoral panel, or the register of members or list of delegates depending on the chosen mode for electing its candidates.
“As of yesterday, only one party has indicated the venue for its primaries. I urge you all to do so immediately to enable us to work out the detailed plans for monitoring the primaries. All primaries for electing candidates must take place in the constituency where election will hold as required by law. In the cases of Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections, any primaries conducted outside the two States will not be monitored by the commission and their outcomes will not be accepted. This also applies to primaries for bye-elections conducted outside the constituencies”, he added.
On the Federal Capital Territory FCT Area Council election, Yakubu gave insights into the distribution of voters to Polling Units in the territory, particularly the fact that 593 out of 2,822 or 21% of the total do not have voters.
“This is because voters failed to take advantage of the expansion of access to transfer to these new Polling Units. The detailed distribution of voters to Polling Units in the FCT is among the documents in your folders for this meeting”, he stated.
Responding on behalf of the political parties, Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), Engr. Yabagi Sani said the parties are anticipating more superlative performance by INEC in the remaining off-season elections, beginning with the council elections in the Federal Capital Territory and later on, the gubernatorial elections in Osun and Ekiti states.
He said the most serious and potent impediment to the successful conduct of the 2023 general elections, is the lingering debacle between the Executive and the Legislature on the fate of the 2021 Electoral (Amendment) Bill.
“While time is dangerously running out for the resolution of the disputes between the two arms, the IPAC is of the position that the controversy may have been contrived in the first instance, purely and clearly in the pursuits of narrow and self-centred political ambitions of some of the gladiators.
“We are therefore, using this occasion to once again make our strident call for the immediate resolution of the unnecessary impasse over the Electoral Amendment Bill in the superior and overriding national interest. The IPAC has persistently suggested at various forums that, the first rational step in the circumstance is for the two apex legislative houses to immediately expunge from the bill, the provisions that make it mandatory for political parties to use direct primary elections in the selection of their flag bearers in general election.
“Going forward, we have also called on the President to thereafter, assent to the Bill without delay. Our concern in the IPAC is that failure to reach a compromise in the short run may invariably translate into the death of the other very crucial provisions, such as the provisions on the electronic transmission of election results”, he stated.

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Hold Leaders Without Character Responsible For Nigeria’s Woes -Wike

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Leading Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant and Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said that Nigerians should be wary of those who campaigned vehemently and foisted President Muhammadu Buhari on Nigeria as its messiah, for the woes that have overwhelmed the country.
Wike specifically berated some aspirants in the PDP who caused disunity in the party in 2015, formed the new-PDP and sold out the party’s goodwill and electoral opportunities.
He made the accusation when he met with Oyo State PDP leaders and delegates in Ibadan, capital of Oyo State, yesterday, to solicit support ahead of the party’s presidential primary this month.
“The issue is, who are those who made PDP to lose election in 2015 that today we are suffering? Today, we are in opposition and trying to take power back.
“But see what the country has been turned into. Who are those who told Nigerians that President Buhari is a saint, that President Buhari will salvage Nigeria? What is their sense of judgement? Who are those aspirants who abandoned PDP, betrayed PDP and went to support President Buhari?”
Wike insisted that some PDP presidential aspirants brought Buhari to power, and now, the country is suffering for their wrong sense of judgement.
“Now, we are suffering. People are dying every day. From January to March in Kaduna, over 1,000 people have been killed. So many people have been kidnapped.”
The Rivers State governor also alluded to a similar behaviour that was demonstrated by a PDP chieftain who got immense support of the party in 2019.
Wike stated that there was need for electorate at all levels to be more concerned about the kind of people they want to entrust the leadership of the country.
The Rivers State governor said anyone who desires to govern Nigeria must be must be firm, courageous and should own up what he says.
“If it was the wrong thing that was said, say I am sorry but I have to say something as a leader. Not when you say something one minute, the next moment you say they didn’t get your approval.”
Wike said PDP and Nigeria as a while do not require theorists, but somebody who has the ability and qualities to offer focused leadership.
He explained that if he becomes the president of Nigeria, he would put the best of heads together who will work under good supervision and coordination.
According to him, anybody who fails to deliver would be relieved of the appointment.
“Nigerians know my views. I believe in restructuring. I believe in state police. You cannot stop insecurity in this country without state police which is the practice in all countries that run true federalism. Intelligence is key. Before it happens, you’ve stopped it or cage them.”
Wike insisted that Nigeria has to be rescued from the APC-led Federal Government so that sanity can be restored and conscience reinforced in public servants.
“Look at it, 42 people died in train blast, up until now, no concrete report. This is a country where a Minister of Transport, after people died in such accident and the next day, he went and collected form for Presidency.
“You’re a Minister of Education, schools have closed for how many months, the next thing, the minister went and collected form for Presidency. I have not seen a country like this, no conscience.”
In his remarks, Oyo State Governor, Engr Oluseyi Makinde, assured Wike of the support of Oyo and South-West geopolitical zone support.
“If they say Seyi Makinde and the delegates from the South-West of Nigeria are supporting Governor Wike, say there is a reason. When people come to canvass for your vote listen to them, but at the end of the day tell them this is who (Wike) we are supporting.”
Similarly, the former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, explained that South-West delegates would be meeting in Ibadan before the PDP national convention to take decision on who to support.
According to Fayose, for the first, delegates from the South-West will be speaking with one voice during the convention to pick the party’s presidential flagbearer.
“We will take a position and we will hand over the delegates to our governor, our leader (Makinde). If you like me, follow me. If you like Governor Wike, follow him. But by the grace of God we will do house meeting before we set out. We will go to Abuja with, at least, 85 to 90percent of our votes in one direction.”

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Electoral Act: S’Court Joins Rivers In Buhari, Malami’s Suit

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The Supreme Court, yesterday, okayed an application that Rivers State Government filed to be joined as a party in the suit President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami filed to void Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
A seven-man panel of the Justices of the apex court led by Justice Musa Dattijo, allowed the joinder application that Rivers State brought through the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani and the state Attorney-General, Prof Zacheaus Adangor, even as it shifted hearing on the suit till May 26.
The applicants told the court that they were opposed to the suit marked SC/CV/504/2022, which originally had the National Assembly as the sole Respondent.
President Buhari and Malami had approached the Supreme Court to contend that Section 84(12) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2022, is inconsistent with the provisions of Sections 42, 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the Constitution as well as Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
They are, among other things, seeking, “a declaration that the joint and or combined reading of Section 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the Constitution, the provision of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 which also ignores Section 84(3) of the same Act, is an additional qualifying and/or disqualifying factors for the National Assembly, House of Assembly, Gubernatorial and Presidential elections as enshrined in the said Constitution, hence unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void.
“A declaration that having regard to the clear provision of Section 1(3) of the Constitution read together with section 4 of the same Constitution, the legislative powers vested in the defendant do not permit or empower it to make any other law prescribing additional qualifying/disqualifying grounds for election to the National Assembly, House of Assembly, gubernatorial and presidential election outside the express constitutional qualification and disqualification provisions as already provided in each or all of Sections 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), and without amendment to any of those sections is for the reason of inconsistency, unconstitutional, and therefore, null and void.
As well as, “An order nullifying the provision of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 by application of the blue-pencil rule, for being unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and having been made in excess of the legislative powers of the defendant as enshrined in Section 4 of the Constitution (as amended).”
In the same vein, the National Assembly has asked the Supreme Court to strike out the suit.
The National Assembly, in its counter-affidavit, filed by its lawyer, Kayode Ajulo, said the Supreme Court cannot be invoked to amend the provision of any law validity made by lawmakers in the exercise of their legislative powers as granted by the Constitution.
They argued that the 1999 Constitution, as amended gave the National Assembly the power to make laws for good governance.
May 11, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, vacated the judgement of the Federal High Court in Umuahia, Abia, which voided the provisions of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022.
The appellate court, in a unanimous decision led by Justice Hamma Akawu Barka, held that the High Court, acted without jurisdiction.
It held that the Plaintiff, Mr Nduka Edede, lacked the locus standi to institute the action.
According to the appellate court, Edede, failed to establish any cause of action that warranted him to approach the court on the issue, noting that the plaintiff was unable to prove how he was directly affected by that section of the newly amended Electoral Act.
Consequently, it struck out the suit marked: FHC/UM/CS/26/2022, which Edede filed before the Umuahia court.
Nonetheless, the appellate court, while determining the appeal on the merit, held that the said provision of the Electoral Act was unconstitutional because it was in breach of Section 42 (1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, stressing that the section denied a class of Nigerian citizens their right to participate in election.

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Experts Express Worries Over Paediatrics HIV Prevalence

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An expert in HIV/AIDS, Dr. Adesigbin Clement Olufemi, has said that in order for Nigeria to end HIV by 2030, necessary attention should be paid to checking paediatrics HIV prevalence.
Speaking at a two-day meeting on “FGN/Breakthrough Partnership, Advocacy Mapping Consultation” in Abuja, recently, Olufemi said there was the need to “expand active paediatric and adolescent HIV case-finding, using novel strategies”.
Olufemi, whose presentation was titled, “Paediatrics and Adolescent HIV Status in Nigeria: Advocacy Mapping”, also called for an improved community-focused service delivery strategies, which, he said, would focus greatly on specific identified children.
Olufemi, who is of the National AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), and Viral Hepatitis Control Programme (NASCP) of the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, and Deputy Director, Head, Treatment Care and Support at the ministry, stated the need to address demand-side barriers to uptake HIV services by children, adolescents and their families.


According to him, Nigeria will further need to implement service delivery frameworks, as well as to ensure weight-based Anti-Retroviral (ARV) prescription and transition of treatment optimisation.
These, he said, are in line with the reversed National Acceleration Plan for Paediatrics and Adolescent HIV Treatment and Care (2020-2022).
“Of course, children die of HIV because they are fragile. If we don’t find these children on time, within two years we can lose up to 50percent of them, and in five years, we can lose 80percent of them.
“Currently, Nigeria records about 12,000 children that die yearly of HIV”, he stated.

Speaking in a post-meeting exclusive interview, the Senior HIV Specialist, UNICEF, New York, Dr. Dorothy Nbori-Ngacha, explained that the essence of the two-day meeting was to work towards ending HIV/AIDS in 2030 by focusing on HIV infection in children and women.
While acknowledging that Nigeria has achieved a lot in checking HIV among adults, she stated that the country has not fared well in paediatrics infection.


“Nigeria has done something exceptionally well in adults getting tested and being placed on treatment at a high level. Over 90percent of adults needing treatment in Nigeria are already receiving treatment.
“Unfortunately, for the children, we are not doing well. Only 40percent to half the proportion we’re seeing in adults get treatment. Why are our children left behind?” she said.

By: Sogbeba Dokubo

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