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Flood Threatens Bayelsa Guber Poll …As INEC, Parties Sign Peace Accord

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised the alarm over the challenges of flooding in most parts of Bayelsa State, saying it was posing a huge threat to the smooth conduct of the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in the state.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, IVEC, Festus Okoye Esq, made this known during a formal meeting with journalists tagged “Meet the Press/Session with NUJ, at the Ernest Sei-sei Ikoli Press Centre in Yenagoa.
Okoye, disclosed that the only thing the commission has the capacity to do is to conduct elections and if unable to conduct in a particular polling unit in account of natural disaster or other disasters, Section 23 of the Electoral Act as stipulated tells the commission what to do.
He noted that people who must have left their homes and currently putting up with their relatives and friends are not IDPs, and will not be considered, noting that the commission has conditions for only IDPs that can be located in a camp, documented and a remedial action will be taken to ensure they vote.
On the readiness of the commission, he said, after the release of the revised timetable with 14 items, INEC has been able to implement 12 already, which remains the end of campaigns and election proper.
“We have implemented almost all. We are on ground zero and everything is set. We have trained all categories of Ad hoc staff that will be needed for the election. All non-sensitive materials are on ground and at the LGAs, while the sensitive materials will arrive few days to election and domicile with the CBN.”
“The question that should be asked is whether political parties are ready because they had enough time to prepare. INEC remains the only body that has the mandate to conduct elections, and no political party can insist that its position in relation to whatever it wants will be accepted, we regulate the political parties and they can’t regulate us,” he added.
Earlier, the state Residence Electoral Commissioner (REC), Pastor Monday Udoh Tom, said INEC Bayelsa has moved to the red zone, which means it’s ready to go.
He emphasized that the commission was ready to conduct a free, fair, credible and inclusive election on the 16th of November in the state, adding that the persons living with disability will also be captured.
Tom commended the media in the state for the level of their partnership with the commission, stating that the cordial relationship had helped in educating and informed voters in the state.
However, history was made, yesterday, in Yenagoa, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and all the 45 political parties that nominated candidates for next weekend’s Bayelsa State governorship election, signed a peace accord.
In attendance to witness the epoch-making event were, Chairman, Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers, Alfred Diete-Spiff, the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Abubakar, the Director General National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brid-Gen Ibrahim Shauibu, Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) from Adamawa, Anambra, Delta, National Commissioners Festus Okoye, Okey Ibeanu, representatives of Nigeria Immigration Services, Nigerian Correctional Services, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, among many other stakeholders.
In his brief remarks, commission’s Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, reassured the readiness of the commission for the poll, just as he pleaded with stakeholders to cooperate with the commission.
Delivering her speech, National Commissioner in charge of Bayelsa and Chairman, Legal Services Committee, May Agbamuche, read riot act, warning that vote buyers, ballot box snatchers risk heavy imprisonment of 12 months and/or N1million fine.
“Another very disturbing trend is the use of hate speech and provocative language during political campaigns. This is unacceptable and is an electoral offence under Section 95 ( l ) and (2) of the Electoral Act.
“It is unethical to use language or words that will incite violence in the name of politics, as is character assassination equally destructive and damaging to the very core of our society.
“Stakeholders should rise against this and bring it to an end. With social media hate speech has plunged to ever greater depths.
“A person who contravenes this provision commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of Nl,000,0000.00 or 12 months imprisonment. For a political party, a fine of N2,000,000.00 will be levied in the first instance and Nl,000,000.00 for any subsequent offence.
“We must here also highlight that it is an offence under Section 23 (l)(a) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) for a person to be in possession of a voter’s card that is not bearing his or her name unless he can legally justify why he is in possession of such a card.
“You have a duty to tell your members, constituents and the general electorate that it is an offence to buy or sell a voter’s card. Any person who buys or tries to buy any voters’ card whether on his own or on behalf of any other person, commits an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine of N1,000,000.00 or to l2 months imprisonment, or to both ad punishment, as stated in section 120(l)(c) and (d) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended)
“There are certain election day offences which I must additionally draw your attention to which are unacceptable within a distance of 300 metres of a polling unit on Election Day.
“These are canvassing & soliciting for votes, persuading any voter not to vote for any particular candidate, loitering around a polling unit or being in possession of any offensive weapon. A person who commits any of these of the above-stated offences is liable on conviction to a fine of N1000,000.00 or imprisonment for a term of six months.
“The particularly odious offence of ballot paper, ballot box and election material snatching is prevalent in our society today. Please, note that a person who commits such an offence of snatching or destruction of any election material is liable on conviction to 24 months imprisonment. And in this situation zero votes will be recorded against that polling unit,” the commission warned.
Stressing readiness of the commission, INEC boss, said: “The commission has also delivered all non-sensitive materials to our office here in Yenagoa long ago. They have all been sorted out, categorized and batched, ready to be delivered to the LGAs, wards and polling units. The sensitive materials are also ready and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is delivering them to Bayelsa State, this weekend.
“The normal process of inspection and distribution within the state will be done in the presence of party agents, security agencies, observers and the media. The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Bayelsa State will give the date and time for the inspection and the itinerary for deployment in line with the commission’s standard practice for the inspection and movement of sensitive materials.
“The Smart Card Readers (SCRs) have been configured and will be added to other sensitive materials and delivered together. Once again, let me reiterate that it is mandatory to use the SCRs for voter accreditation and authentication.
“Let me also reiterate that voter inducement in all forms, including vote-buying at polling units is a violation of the law. The ban on the use of mobile phones and other photographic devices in the voting cubicles is still in force and will be strictly enforced and monitored.
“I urge all stakeholders to continue to eschew violence and maintain peaceful conduct during the election. It is our collective responsibility to safeguard the process and to protect all election duty staff including the corps members who serve at the polling units which is the basic level of the voting process,” he said.

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PH Law School Campus Ready For Commissioning …As Wike Hands Over C Of O To Ngige …Says Institution’ll Be Self-Sustaining

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Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has re-emphasised that the Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt has been provided to be a self-sustaining institution in Nigeria, saying that the campus was now ready for commissioning.
To achieve that mandate, Wike, last Monday, handed over the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) of adjoining property to the campus acquired by the Rivers State Government to the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN.
The presentation was made when Wike conducted the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, together with the Director General of Nigeria Law School, Prof. Isa Hayatu Chiroma, SAN, and other dignitaries round structures within the law campus that were completed and ready for formal handover.
Wike said the acquisition of the adjoining property to the campus would enable the operators of the campus to use them for sundry commercial and revenue generating activities in order to meet the financial needs of the law school in Port Harcourt.
“We are using this opportunity to present the Certificate of Occupancy of the property we have acquired and paid for by the Rivers State Government for the Nigerian Law School, Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas, Port Harcourt Campus to you (chairman).
“We are giving the property to you for the purpose of making some revenue to run this campus. Whatever revenue derived is to be utilised for this campus alone.
“Very soon, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and the Director General will meet to prepare a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). It will ensure that you won’t take revenue from here to subsidise for other campuses. Any money you make here; put it here in this campus.”
Wike also told them that with the construction work on all the structures in the campus now completed, the state government awaits the Council of Legal Education to choose a date when they desire the campus to be formally handed over to them.
In his response, Chairman of the Council of Legal Education, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, noted that they were on inspection of the facility, and were amazed at what they have seen.
“17th July, 2021 was when we came for the foundation laying ceremony, and the governor promised that this project will be delivered in one-year. Behold, today is June 27th, not up to July yet, and he had delivered.
“Recall that when we were doing the ground breaking ceremony, the governor promised that every month, he will give this campus N10million for four years, and will be given in advance, that is about N480million to run this institution.
“When I learnt that he had acquired adjoining property: houses, shopping malls and other business facilities for the law school to rent out to raise revenue to run this institution, I can tell you, it is unparalleled,” Ngige said.
On his part, the Director General of Nigerian Law School, Prof. Isa Hayatu Chiroma, described the Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas Campus in Port Harcourt as the best and mother of all law campuses in Nigeria.
“On behalf of the council, we are very grateful for a promise made and promise kept. This is the turning point in the history of legal education in Nigeria”, Chiroma said.
During the inspection of the lecturers’ quarters in New Government Residential Area in Port Harcourt, former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Onueze C. J. Okocha, SAN, said Wike was a performer, who keeps promises and has delivered the Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas Port Harcourt Campus that was tastefully constructed and furnished before the record time he set for himself.
Also speaking, another former President of the NBA, Okey Wali, SAN, noted that Wike had done this to show that he was a lover of democracy and for promotion of the judicial system in Nigeria.
The Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, SAN, described the project as historic and iconic because there was nothing like it across the country.
He said Wike has provided it as a commitment to advancing legal education in the country.

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Again, INEC Extends CVR For Nigerians …Warns Against Political Campaigns

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has, again, extended the continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise in the country until further notice.
This is even as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cautioned political parties and their proxies against hiding under the excuse of the ongoing voters’ registration exercise to engage in any form of politicking or campaigns.
The commission made this position known in a statement signed by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye Esq, in Abuja, yesterday.
The statement read: “The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) met today, (Thursday, 30th June, 2022) and deliberated on a number of issues, including the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise, the issuance of Certified True Copies (CTCs) of documents and the commencement of the Uploading of the List and Personal Particulars of Governorship and State Assembly Candidates.
“The Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) will continue nationwide, and all the Resident Electoral Commissioners and Electoral Officers have been directed to continue with the exercise pending further directives from the commission.
“The commission has consistently reiterated its resolve to continue to provide electoral services commission has yet again deployed additional machines to areas of pressure and will continue to serve the people of Nigeria.
“Furthermore, the case at the Federal High Court relating to the terminal date of the CVR came up yesterday Wednesday, 29th June, 2022, and based on the request of the Commission, the Court granted an accelerated hearing and adjourned the matter to Monday 4th July 2022 for hearing of the substantive matter. The commission will give an update after court hearing next week.
“The Commission has been inundated with applications for CTCs of various documents. So far, 186 requests for CTCs, some running into hundreds of pages, have been processed. The Commission is working round the clock, including weekends, to attend to all such requests. We wish to assure political parties, aspirants, candidates, and all applicants for CTCs of documents that their applications will be treated expeditiously and will be issued in earnest.
“By the Timetable and Schedule of Activities released by the commission, Political Parties that conducted valid Governorship and State Assembly primaries shall upload the list and personal particulars of their nominated candidates between 1st and 15th July, 2022.
“We urge political parties to scrutinise the list and personal particulars of the candidates they propose to sponsor at the election to avoid any mix-up and duplication of names. Political parties are advised not to wait until the last day before uploading the list and personal particulars of their candidates.
“The Candidates Nomination Portal will shut down at 6pm on 15th July, 2022. Political parties that have challenges with uploading documents should contact the commission’s Help – Desk, through the dedicated telephone lines or contact the candidate nomination centre at the commission’s headquarters”, the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cautioned political parties and their proxies against hiding under the excuse of the ongoing voters’ registration exercise to engage in any form of politicking or campaign.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Kano State INEC, Risqua Shehu, issued the warning at a press conference in his office in Kano, yesterday, saying that that any political party that was found wanting in this regard would face the law.
Risqua, a professor, reminded the political parties that doing such was against the dictates of the Electoral Act, which has since set forth a time frame for campaigns for the governorship and presidential elections.
“The commission monitors and would need to establish full proof cases and then allow prosecution to take place. We do not prosecute, but we gather evidences against any defaulting political party and I assure you that that would be done”, he stated.
While applauding the upsurge in the number of registrants in the state, he, however, lamented the huge cases of illegal and double registrations, saying that over 40percent of registrants in Kano State were found to have registered before.
Risqua explained that INEC has been making concerted efforts to educate the people that the PVCs issued by the commission do not expire; hence there was no need for anybody to register twice.
He cautioned that, “When one is found guilty, he is liable to a fine or an imprisonment or both. There is a provision for a fine of N100, 000 or one year imprisonment or both.
“But at the moment, I am not in the position to establish what the commission would do to those with double registration, considering the huge number of offenders across the country”, he said.
“The beautiful thing is this. We have made adequate arrangements in our robust system to be able to identify and eliminate all those who have registered twice and cancel their new registration and retain only the old information that is there. That is what the commission is doing now”.
While appreciating all stakeholders that have been sensitising and supporting eligible Nigerians on the registration exercise, he stressed that under no condition should any individual, cyber -café, civil society or group extort or collect money from any registrant for that exercise.

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Reps Plan Separate Contributory Pension Scheme For NASS

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The House of Representatives has begun the process of pulling out the National Assembly from the Contributory Pension Scheme under the administration of the National Pension Commission.
The House is to create a separate body to administer matters relating to pensions for workers in the federal parliament.
At the plenary, yesterday, the House passed for second reading, the legislation titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the Pension Reform Act, 2014 to Exclude/Exempt the National Assembly Service from the Contributory Pension Scheme and Establish the National Assembly Service Pension Board.’
Chairman of the House Committee on National Planning and Economic Development, Hon Olododo Cook, who sponsored the bill, said the proposal was to exempt the personnel of the National Assembly from the Contributory Pension Scheme and to establish a National Assembly Service Pensions Board “to be charged with the responsibility of administering the pension scheme for personnel of the service.”
Cook stated, “This bill is in consequence of the exit of the service from the application of the contributory pension scheme under the Pensions Reform Act, 2014.”
The bill seeks to amend Section 5(1)(a) of the Act by inserting the words ‘the National Assembly service’ to read thus: “The categories of persons exempted from the Contributory Pension are (a) the categories of persons mentioned in Section 291 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), members of the intelligence community and the National Assembly service personnel.”
Clause 2(1) of the bill also proposes that, “There is established a pension board which shall be charged with the responsibility of managing payment of pensions and gratuities to all personnel of the service.
“Application of the bill to personnel who retired before the commencement of this bill: (2) This bill shall apply to all personnel of the service, including those who had retired before the commencement of this bill. (3) The retirement benefits of personnel referred to in Subsection (2) above shall be adjusted to be commensurate with the provisions of this bill.”

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