The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the COVID-19 pandemic might disenfranchise many voters in the September 19 governorship election in Edo State.
, INEC Head of Voters Education and Publicity,Mr Timidi Wariowei expressed this concern yesterday in Benin.
He said that the commission had not been able to carry out the continuous voters registration exercise as well as the distribution of the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) ahead of the election.
He spoke at a roundtable on the 2020 Edo governorship election organised by Centre for Democracy and Development in Benin.
The theme of the roundtable is “Issue at stake and their implications on the conduct of credible election”.
He, however, assured the electorate that INEC was fully ready to conduct a credible poll.
Wariowei noted that preparation had begun for the exercise while issue of fund was never the problem.
“The need to protect the people against the pandemic is placed above other interests.
“The continuous voter’s registration would have taken care of those that have attained the age of 18 years after the last execise and those that were unable to register for one reason or the other during the exercise.
“The Covid-19 pandemic didn’t allow us to also carry out distribution of the PVCs.
“We do not want to be accused unnecessarily or seen to be undermining the people, but for their own protection,” he said.
Wariowei said in spite of the challenges, election must be conducted in the state to avoid constitutional crisis.
He said the poll would be conducted by following the precautionary measures and maintaining social distancing by avoiding mass contact.
According to him, NCDC guidelines have been mainstreamed into the guidelines’ provided by the commission for the conduct of the governorship election.
“Every voter at the polling units must wear a face mask, if you don’t have face mask, you must at least have something to cover your nose and mouth to be allowed to vote.
Ondo Assembly Petitions NJC Over Court Order Halting Dep Gov’s Impeachment
Members of the Ondo State House of Assembly have petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC) over a Federal High Court order restraining them from performing their functions as an arm of government.
They described an ex-parte granted by the court on the 26th of September, 2023, restraining the Assembly from impeaching the Ondo State Deputy Governor, Hon. Lucky Aiyedatiwa, as “unconstitutional and clearly malevolent”.
In a petition addressed to the National Judicial Council (NJC) and signed by the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Olamide Oladiji, it accused Justice Emeka Nwite, who granted the order for allegedly compromising his office and violating the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The lawmakers alleged that Justice Nwite was “heavily and/or compromised his office to grant an unconstitutional ex parte in favour” of the embattled Deputy Governor.
The petition read, “As the Speaker of the 10th Ondo State House of Assembly, and on behalf of the entire members of the House of Assembly (hereinafter referred to as “ODHA”), I write your lordship to formally lodge a complaint against Hon.
“Justice Emeka Nwite of the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court, for compromising his office and violating the extant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), ignoring judicial decisions of the appellate courts and extant Practice Directions and/or relevant Circulars of the Federal High Court, to grant an unconstitutional, clearly malevolent, and ostensibly procured ex parte order on 26th September, 2023 in Suit FHC/ABJ/CS/1294/2023 restraining ODHA as an arm of government from exercising its constitutional powers.”
The assembly recall that on “September 2023, Eleven (11) members of the Ondo State Assembly presented a notice of allegation(s) of gross misconduct (impeachment notice) against the Deputy-Governor of Ondo State, His Excellency, Hon. Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa to me as the Speaker, in line with Section 188(2) (a) & (b) of the Constitution. I hereby attach a copy of the notice as Annexure ODHA.
“As your lordship would observe, annexure ODHA contains 14 allegations, many of which relate to alleged financial improprieties running into hundreds of millions of naira.”
“My Lord, as a ranking member of ODHA and based on the benefit of a detailed legal advice which the House has sought on the subject matter, I know as a fact that impeachment is a purely legislative affair.”
“Section 188 (10) of the Constitution clearly provides that: “No proceedings or determination of the House of Assembly or an Impeachment Panel or any matter relating to such proceedings or determination shall be entertained or questioned in any court.”
“However, in spite of the above provisions of the Constitution, the Deputy-Governor approached Justice Emeka Nwite with an ex parte application on 21st September, 2023, just a day after I received Annexure ODHA1 (the notice of allegations of gross misconduct) against him at the plenary of the House, to procure an order to stop the legislative process of his impeachment.”
“My lord, as a Judge of the Federal High Court, Hon. Justice Emeka Nwite knows or ought to know that there are extant Circulars and Practice Directions prohibiting Federal High Court Judges from granting ex parte injunctions in political cases and/or taking cases that did not originate from their immediate Judicial Divisions.”
The House, however, resolved that Hon. “Justice Emeka Nwite should be investigated for “abuse of ex parte injunction and/or his office to gratify the Ondo State Deputy-Governor, and if found liable, the National Judicial Council should mete out the appropriate sanction against him as required by the dictates of judicial fidelity and the protection of the rule of law and our nascent democracy.”
Meanwhile, the Assembly yesterday said the deputy governor, Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa, had failed to respond to the Letter of Notice served on him on September 25 over allegations of gross misconduct.
Speaker Oladiji said the Letter of Notice was received on behalf of Aiyedatiwa by his Chief Protocol Officer.
Speaking at the plenary session in Akure, yesterday, Oladiji said the House resolution that the deputy governor should be duly served a Notice of the allegations, was in line with Section 188 of the Nigerian Constitution.
“Concerted efforts were made to serve the Notice on the deputy governor, who for some time was not available for the service, prompting the House to approach the court for a substituted service on the deputy governor.
“On 25th of September, a substituted service of the Notice of allegations was made on the deputy governor duly signed by more than one-third Honourable Members of the House as required by the Constitution in Section 188 Sub-section 2,” he stated.
According to him, the Constitution stipulates that the assembly should wait for seven days for the embattled deputy governor to respond which has lapsed.
The speaker directed the Chief Judge of Ondo State, Justice Olusegun Odusola, to immediately set up a seven-man panel to investigate the deputy governor on the allegations levelled against him.
“Distinguished colleagues, Section 188 of the Constitution states further that the deputy governor has 7 days within which to reply to the allegations levelled against him.
“The Constitution states further that within seven days of the passing of a motion under the foregoing provisions of this section, the Chief Judge of the state shall at the request of the Speaker of the House of Assembly appoint a panel of seven persons.
“Distinguished colleagues, I, therefore, wish to seek your opinion to direct the Chief Judge of Ondo State, Hon. Justice Olusegun Odusola, to in line with this section of the Constitution, set up a seven-man panel to investigate the deputy governor on the allegations levelled against him,” he said.
The House, with available 23 out of 26 members at the plenary session through voice vote, gave a nod for the Chief Judge to constitute the panel.
Earlier, the Majority Leader, Mr Oluwole Ogunmolasuyi, (Owo 1-APC), moved the motion for the Notice on the Ondo State Impeachment Panel Procedure Rules that the panel be constituted by the Chief Judge of the State.
The motion was seconded by Mr Felix Afe (Akoko North West 2-PDP).
Reps Tell IGP To Secure Release Of Abducted Corps Members In Zamfara
The House of Representatives has urged the Inspector General of Police IGP Kayode Adeolu Egbetokun and other security agencies in the country to secure the safe release of the seven abducted corps members in Zanfara State still in captivity.
The House charged the security agencies to intensify efforts and deploy personnel and intelligence capabilities to secure the immediate release of the abducted corps members.
This followed a motion moved by Hon Unyime Idemm and seven other lawmakers titled “Call on the Inspector General of Police IGP, to Intensify Efforts to Secure the Immediate and safe release of the Seven Abducted Corps Members in Zamfara State” at the Plenary session presided over by the Deputy Speaker, Hon Benjamin Kalu.
Other co-sponsor of the motion are Hon. Emmanuel Ukpongudo, Hon. Okpolupm Etteh, Hon. Paul Ekpo, Hon. Ime Bassey Okon, Hon. Clement Jimbo, Hon. Martins Esin, Hon Patrick Umoh, Hon. Mark Esset and Hon. Uduak Odudoh
While moving the motion, Hon Unyime Idem said that the House “notes that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is a vital national programme aimed at fostering unity and promoting national development by deploying graduates to various States for a mandatory one year of service;
“ Also notes that on 17 August 2023, eight corps members from Akwa Ibom State were abducted by gunmen in Zamfara State, on their way to the place of primary assignment (PPA) with a current demand of two hundred million Naira;
“Aware that in May 2023, seven corps members were kidnapped in Rivers State on their way from the orientation camp in Ondo State and released after paying ransom;
“Alarmed at the incident accounts for the many other corps members who have had to go through the traumatic experience of abduction in the course of their service to the nation;
“Worried that continuous re-occurrence targeted at innocent corps members has raised significant security concerns, threatened the lives of young citizens, eroded public trust and confidence in the government’s ability to protect its citizens, and posed the potential to mar the core objective of the
National Youth Service Corps;
“Cognizant of the urgent need for drastic measures to secure the immediate release of the remaining seven abducted corps members following the release of one of them, as confirmed by the Director General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) on 20 September 2023 and restore confidence in the nation’s national security system”.
The motion was unanimously supported by other members when it was put into voice vote.
The House equally mandated the Committee on National Security and Intelligence to ensure compliance and report back within one week for further legislative action.
Sokoto Guber: PDP Loses At Tribunal
The Sokoto Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has affirmed the election of Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto as the duly elected governor of the state.
The three-man panel led by Justice Haruna Msheila in its ruling dismissed the petition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and its candidate, Saidu Umar challenging the victory of the APC and its candidate, Ahmad Aliyu in the March governorship election.
In a unanimous judgment, the Tribunal Chairman, Justice Haruna Mshelia, said the Petitioners were unable to prove the six grounds formulated in the petition.
He said the grounds bordered on alleged ineligibility for Aliyu and Gobir to contest, falsification of certificates, variation of names, election frauds and non-compliance with electoral guidelines.
Msheila said the petitioners were unable to prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubt as required by law, saying 70 per cent of exhibits were out of context because they relate to State Assembly elections conducted on the same dates.
According to him, to prove forgery two different documents of persons needed to be presented while the variation of names issues was a settled Supreme Court provision.
He said three subpoena witnesses were not tenable as they were not makers of the documents from the alleged primary school while the other 28 polling units agents testified could not identify themselves along with their roles.
The Tribunal Chairman said the alleged 138 polling units frauds were not adduced to indicate substantial non-compliance of the elections marred the election outcome.
Mshelia added that the tribunal dismissed all the preliminary objections on competency to institute the case by the respondents as the petitioners duly linked the grounds in the petition.
He dismissed the petition for lack of merit and failure to prove the allegations by the petitioner.
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