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CSOs Push For Quick Passage Of Electoral Bill Before Annual Recess

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A group of nine civil society organisations (CSOs) has called on the National Assembly to quickly pass the Electoral Act (Amendment) 2021 Bill before it embarks on its long annual recess.

The CSO made the appeal, yesterday, while addressing newsmen outside the gate of the National Assembly complex in Abuja, after submitting a letter to the leadership of the National Assembly.

The Co-Convener of the Centre For Liberty, Mr Ariyo-Dare Atoye, who spoke on behalf of the nine organisations, said Nigerians were eager for an inclusive electoral reform.

”We are waiting for new electoral act that will improve the country’s electoral system, and tested in off-cycle elections ahead of the 2023 general election,” he said.

Atoye said the undersigned CSOs were highly concerned that the 9th National Assembly has failed to pass the Electoral Act (Amendment) 2021 Bill in spite of various appeals, rallies and protests from the Nigerian people in support of the piece of legislation.

“The National Assembly must agree that elections remain the most critical aspect of democracy the world over.

“It has become inevitable that we must address the deficits in the electoral system to entrench enduring electoral reforms and strengthen the capacity of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free, fair, credible and transparent elections, and guarantee electoral integrity.

“Electoral reforms now represent a major Citizens Charter of Demand to the National Assembly for good governance and charismatic leadership.

“Eleven years after the Electoral Act 2010 was passed with subsequent amendments, Nigerians are eager to have Electoral Act 2021 (Repeal and Re-enactment) that will be tested and perfected in off-cycle elections before 2023.”

Atoye said that citizens’ participation in the electoral process was necessary for democratic sustenance.

“While INEC succeeded in increasing the number of registered voters to 84million in 2019, only about 29million voted, signifying a mere 35 per cent of the registered voters voted in the past election!

“Thus, this statistics should be a source of concern to representatives of the people and direct beneficiaries of the electoral system like your humble self.

“More importantly, at this time, the unity of the Nigerian state is seriously challenged by separatists and secessionists’ drive due to injustice, poor governance, and made worse by bad leadership. Nigeria cannot afford another flawed general election.

“That is why the countdown to 2023 and other off-cycle polls, has required a greater certainty about the electoral legal framework for achieving a more credible and improved electoral process.”

Atoye said that there was no better legacy for the 9th NASS than to give Nigerians a new Act before it embarks on its annual long recess.

“With the modest effort already made by the 8th Assembly on Electoral Reforms, in which the current principal officers were major actors, the people believe that Electoral Act 2021 ought to be a ‘walk in the park’ for the 9th National Assembly.

“In this vein, it is our hope that the 9th National Assembly, under your joint-watch, will write its name in gold by passing the Electoral Act (Amendment) 2021 Bill and transmitting same to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent as the president while receiving the leadership of INEC recently, expressed his willingness to sign the bill when it is passed by the National Assembly.”

Atoye said that an early passage of the bill by the National Assembly would prevent any excuse from the Executive, and also ensure that INEC prepares adequately before future elections, especially the 2023 polls.

“In conclusion, the passage of the said bill will further reawaken the hope of Nigerians who have already given up on the system and put Nigeria on the map of countries committed to a transparent electoral system.”

The CSOs includes, the Electoral Hub, Speak Out Africa Initiative, To Build a Nation; and Centre for Development Alternatives Research and Studies.

Others are Raising New Voices, Ready To Lead Africa, Centre for Impact Advocacy, Aspilos Foundation.

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NDLEA Arrests 774 Suspects, Seizes 3,874.3kgs Of Drugs In Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau

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NDLEA arrested 774 suspects and seized 3,874.3kgs of various narcotics and psychotropic substances in Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau State in the first half of 2022.
The three states make the Zone D of the narcotics agency.
Zonal Commander in the zone Umoru Ambrose, said this in Lafia yesterday while marking the 2022 UN International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
He said 134 drug suspects were prosecuted during the period, while 378 drug users were counselled and rehabilitated.
He added that states in the zone had intensified their operations in the War against Drug Abuse and sensitisation.
Ambrose called on all stakeholders to get involved in curbing drugs menace in the zone.
In his remarks, NDLEA Commander in Nasarawa State, Peter Odaudu, said the celebrations underscored the need for access to proper treatment for people with drug disorders.
He stressed that the war against drugs must be intensified in Nasarawa State especially given its position as the second highest drug prevalence state in the North Central after Kwara.
“Statistics from the 2018 drug survey showed a very alarming trend, the involvement of females in drug issues.
“We have at least one female out of every four drug users; this development is worrisome and must be reversed,’’ he said.
Odaudu thanked Nasarawa State’s Governor Abdullahi Sule for his support for the NDLEA and solicited urgent intervention in the provision of operational vehicles and the construction of a rehabilitation centre.
Guest speaker, Mr Nwora Okpalaeke, who is coordinator of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria in Nasarawa State, said 494,000 users died of drug abuse in 2019.
He spoke on “Illicit Drugs in Health and Humanitarian Crises.’’
He said drug abusers suffered liver cirrhosis, stroke, hepatitis, kidney and heart failure, noting that 14.3 million Nigerians are drug addicts, while three million are suffering from drug-related disorders.
“Government should strengthen the system to prevent proliferation of drugs and pay attention to agencies charged with reversing the situation.
“Drug abuse affects economic growth; the higher the abuse the higher the level of insecurity and poverty,’’ he said.
Senior Special Assistant on Primary Healthcare to Governor Sule, Margaret Elayo, commended the NDLEA in the state and assured of partnership to curb drug abuse in Nasarawa State.
The theme for this year’s celebration of the Day is: “Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crises.’

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NDLEA Arrests 218 Suspects, Seizes 1,471.314kg Of Drugs In Imo

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The Imo State Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arrested 218 drug suspects made up of 171 males and 47 females.
The agency has also seized 1,471.314kg of drugs between July 2021 and June 2022.
The state commandant, NDLEA, Mr. Reuben Apeh, disclosed this while speaking to The Tide ahead of this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drugs Trafficking.
He said that 1,458.49kg of Cannabis Sativa, 1,0513kg of cocaine, 0.2077kg of Heroine, 3.896kg of Methamphetamine and 3.184kg of Tramadol were exhibits seized within the period under review.
Apeh disclosed further that cannabis farm in hectares was also destroyed in Imo State while 0.5278kg of Rohypnol and 2.5135kg of diazepam were among the seized exhibits.
He stated that some of the arrested suspects had been arraigned and convicted for drug related offences at the Federal High Court.
According to him, “Within the period covered, 51 were convicted and 145 were charged and their cases are still on going”.
Apeh described the drug situation in Imo State as worrisome, saying women have joined the illicit trade for financial gains.
He lamented that drug peddling was alarming among the younger generation in the state.
He, therefore, called on the stakeholders to partner with NDLEA to sensitize the society on the dangers of drug abuse.

By: Joe Nwachukwu, Owerri

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NDE Trains 750 Youths On Apprenticeship Skills In Imo

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The National Directorate for Employment (NDE) has commenced the training of 750 youths on various apprenticeship skills in Imo State.
Director-General of the NDE, Mallam Abubakar Nuhu-Fikpo, made this known while flagging off the training programme in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
The Tide reports that the training is captured under the Advanced National Open Apprenticeship Scheme (A-NOAS) and Basic National Apprenticeship Scheme (B-NOAS) of the Directorate’s Department of Vocational Skills Development (VSD).
The training skills include barbing, basic tailoring, hairdressing, welding, event planning, make- up, confectionery and auto mechanic, among others.
Nuhu-Fikpo, represented by the State Coordinator of the NDE in Imo State, Mrs Ngozi Ihenacho, explained that the trainees include youths and women drawn from the 27 local government areas of the state.
According to him, the intensive training programme will take place in the Directorate’s training centres, one in each senatorial district of the state, and last for three months.
He urged the trainees to utilise the opportunity provided by the training programme to acquire viable skills that would enable them become self-reliant, and thereby decongest the labour market, and reduce poverty and hunger.
“In today’s world, opportunities such as these are rare and hardly come on a platter and I  urge you, my dear beneficiaries, to take this opportunity serious, be punctual at the training venue with the aim of liberating yourselves from the chains of poverty and unemployment”, he advised.
Also speaking at the programme, Director of the VSD, Mallam Isa Abdu, explained that the training scheme would run simultaneously, with the beneficiaries receiving transport allowances for the duration of training.
Abdu, represented by a senior staff in VSD, Mr Onyekwelu Igwesi, said that expert trainers had been hired to conduct the training and urged the trainees to justify the opportunity given them to become employers of labour.
“All over the world, as the value of money depreciates, entrepreneurs are adjusting with the times, hence the need for viable skills that can drive the economy. Learn the skills and be your own boss”, he said.
One of the trainees, Miss Oluchi Uchenna, who responded on behalf of his colleagues, thanked the NDE for creating the opportunity for them to thrive in their quest to become economically independent.

By: Joe Nwachukwu, Owerri

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