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.
No Party Can Win Election Fighting Itself, Wike Warns …Inaugurates Government VIP Lounge For FAAN
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has described as inconsequential confession of support by some politicians for Atiku Abubakar, if they are not working to mobilise grassroots voters to secure electoral victory for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Wike said it was the quantum of individual votes from units, local governments and states that would determine victory for the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubukar, in 2023 and not rumour peddlers.
He spoke, yesterday, at the inauguration of the new Government VIP Lounge at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa in Ikwerre Local Government Area, built by the Rivers State Government.
Wike said it was unfortunate that some politicians now based in Abuja, derive pleasure insinuating something against him to curry favour from the PDP presidential candidate.
“We are busy campaigning with our projects on how our party will win election in the state. Other people are busy in Abuja carrying rumours and gossips. We are busy here (Rivers) from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We’ll start Monday again, flagging off projects, commissioning projects that will sell our party.
“Every day in the newspapers, Wike did this, Wike did that, then, they will call the candidate, you see what I said about Wike today. Rent seekers. No job. Instead of you to do something that will make your party to win 2023 elections, you’re only busy, everyday Wike said this. When you heard from Wike I do not know. Maybe in your dream.
“You want to support the candidate, you’re not at home, and you’re in Abuja. Come home and campaign and work for the party. Stop this Abuja politics of carrying rumours to the candidate.”
Wike, who asserted that he was a practical and practicing politician, admonished that any party that wants to win election cannot be fighting itself.
“I think a party that wants to win election cannot, on their own, be causing problem for themselves.”
Wike pointed to how his administration has continued to flag-off and inaugurate projects that serve as evidence of fulfilled electoral promises, which have sustained the trust that the people have for the PDP in the state.
The governor expressed the belief that it is the services and projects that his administration has done that would sell the PDP to the electorate.
“We have said that whatever promise we have made, we are going to fulfil them before we leave office on May 29, 2023.
“And let me say; only one person can be a minister from the state. I would not be a minister. I am not a liability. Rivers State is an asset. If you don’t want to win election it is your business.
“I am not running for election. He who wears the shoe knows where it pinches. So, allow Rivers State to continue to do what they are doing by using our projects to campaign to our people.”
Wike explained that though the Port Harcourt International Airport is owned by the Federal Government, his administration decided to build the VIP lounge in order to offer Rivers people the best.
He assured that the Rivers State government would cater to the maintenance of the building so that it can serve the people for a long time.
Wike also commended the indigenous contractor that handled the project for the tasteful structural work that was accomplished.
“And let me commend the contractor. Of course, he is an indigenous contractor from Rivers State and of Port Harcourt Local Government Area. This is a good job well done. See the quality of what has been done. You can see that the difference is clear.
“We are willing to support our own. But you must also give us that assurance that when the job is given to you, you will complete it without any problem.”
Wike directed the Commissioner for Works to ensure the immediate arrest of a contractor handling a road project for the Rivers State Government in Trans Amadi Industrial Layout in Port Harcourt.
The governor accused the contractor of having collected 100percent of the project sum, but has failed to deliver the job.
In a brief, Rivers State Commissioner for Special Projects, Deinma Iyalla, said the edifice depicts the detribalised nature of Wike, and also serves to market the state positively.
According to him, the entire project comprises of a one storey building that has main lounge, bar, kitchen and administrative section on the ground floor.
He added, on the storey floor, there are Presidential Lounge, Governor’s Lounge and Executive Lounge.
Iyalla further added that there was a screening building that has installed screening and scanning machines with office space for FAAN, and a security house that would serve as waiting place for drivers.
Buhari Signs Bills On Electoral Act, Money Laundering, Terrorism, Others
President Muhammadu Buhari has given assent to some major bills. The bills include: Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2022; Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022, repealing the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended; Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022, which repeals the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended in 2013.
Others are, Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act, 1993 (Amendment) Act, 2019, for increased revenue; Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) Amendment Acts of 2019 and 2021; Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Bill, 2022, which approves the seizure, confiscation and forfeiture of properties derived from unlawful activity.
The rest include, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) Bill, the first legislation focused on curbing anti-competition practices, establishing the FCCPC; Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Establishment Act, 2018; The Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Act 2021; Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, 2019.
The bill facilitates the identification, tracing, freezing, restraining, recovery, forfeiture and confiscation of proceeds, property, and other instrumentalities of crime as well as the prosecution of offenders in criminal cases regardless of where in the world they might be;
The president also signed an Act establishing the Police Trust Fund, which will improve funding for the Nigeria Police Force (2019). “ Nigeria Police Act, 2020 – the first comprehensive reform of Police legislation since the Police Act of 1943.
He also signed the Repeal and Re-Enactment of the Companies & Allied Matters Act (CAMA), 2020, the first comprehensive reform since 1990; Not Too Young to Run Bill (2018), a Constitution Amendment Bill to reduce the age of eligibility for running for elective office in Nigeria; Nigerian Correctional Services Bill, 2019, the first comprehensive reform of prison legislation in close to five decades; Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Bill, 2019 – the first anti-piracy legislation in West Africa.
TCN Begs Electricity Workers To Suspend Planned Strike
The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has appealed to the electricity workers to suspend their proposed strike billed to begin, today.
The Managing Director, TCN, Dr Sule Abdulaziz, made the appeal in a letter to the workers, yesterday, following their threat to embark on strike to drive home their demands.
The workers under the aegis of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) had on August 15 directed its members to picket TCN offices nationwide on August 16, after which they would embark on strike on August 17.
The General Secretary, NUEE, Comrade Joe Ajaero, had in a statement, said the picketing was to protest the directive by the TCN board that all principal managers in acting capacity going to acting general manager must appear for a promotion interview.
Ajaero said the directive was in contravention of the workers’ conditions of service and career progression paths and alleged that it was unilaterally done without the relevant stakeholders.
Other issues raised include stigmatisation of staff from the office of the Head of Service of the Federation from working in other areas in the power sector and non-payment of the December 2019 entitlement of ex-PHCN staff.
Abdulaziz said: “We are pleased to inform you that management has suspended the said proposed interview for those on acting appointment of assistant general managers and general managers while we conclude discussion with the board.
“On the other two issues: circular from the office of Head of Service on the stigmatisation of the defunct PHCN staff; payment of entitlement of ex-PHCN staff by market operator, the management has contacted the Honourable Minister of Power for his further action.
“In view of this development, we appeal to your union to stay in action; please accept the assurances of our highest regards.”
Also, the Federal Minister of State for Power, Mr Goddy Jedy-Agba, in a letter dated August 15, 2022, to the union, said that the ministry was committed to proffering solutions that would be acceptable to all parties concerned.
“May we appeal to your great union to allow us two weeks from the date of this letter to address the issues and come up with proposals toward acceptable resolution of all issues,” he said.
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