The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has identified vote-buying and insecurity as some of the major concerns as the Commission prepares to conduct the July 16 governorship election in Osun State.
The governorship election is one of the eight off-cycle governorship elections in Nigeria.
Addressing a high-level security and other stakeholders meeting on INEC’s preparedness for the election, the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Saturday, in Abuja also said that the commission had plans to ensure the success of the election.
The meeting, which was tagged inter-agency consultative committee, was attended by heads of various security agencies as well as the resident electoral commissioner (REC) and the commissioner of Police, Osun State.
Yakubu said that the synergy between the commission and the security agencies on the one hand, and among the security agencies on the other, ensured seamless coordination of efforts resulting in the widely acclaimed success of the June 18 governorship election in Ekiti State.
He noted that while the Ekiti State election did not spill over to the second day as happened with past elections in Nigeria and ballot box snatching and destruction of voting exercises were not recorded, vote buying was rife thus the need to address this challenge.
He also promised to build on the success of the Ekiti experience to ensure improved performance in subsequent elections, including the 2023 general election.
Yakubu said the next two weeks will be devoted to the Osun election as one of the series of off-season elections.
He said that the commission will observe the mock accreditation of voters in some Polling Units (PUs) across the three Senatorial Districts of the state to test the functionality of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
While noting that the atmosphere was generally calm at the moment, the INEC boss said the commission was nevertheless concerned about reports of clashes in some places.
He said, “In one recent example, the collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) was disrupted in Erin Oke and Erin Ijesha Wards of Oriade Local Government Area resulting in the loss of 46 PVCs.
“While the matter is being investigated by the police, the collection of PVCs for the affected Wards is now taking place in the INEC office in Ijebu-Jesha.”
He said that the state office has compiled the Voter Identification Numbers (VINs) of the cards and the Commission had already reprinted the PVCs for the affected voters.
He assured all valid registrants in Osun State that no one will be disenfranchised on account of such an incident.
He said, “It is futile for anyone to attempt to vote using another person’s PVC. The BVAS biometric accreditation will expose such fraud and persons apprehended will be prosecuted under the law.
“Recent experience had shown that vote buying remains a major area of concern. We appreciate the role played by the anti-corruption and security agencies in apprehending some of the perpetrators of this brazen assault on our democracy.
“In particular, we are working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ensure the prosecution of persons arrested in the recent Ekiti governorship election. Action will commence as soon as the EFCC completes its investigation. I appeal to all security agencies to continue to join hands with the Commission to tackle this menace.”
He also reassured all Nigerians who applied for Certified True Copies (CTCs) of documents arising from the recent party congresses, primaries and nomination of candidates that all requests are being attended to expeditiously despite the huge quantities of documents involved.
He also said Nigerian elections, especially the conduct of primaries for the nomination of candidates by political parties, is one of the most litigated in the world.
“As at yesterday evening (Friday 1st July 2022), 216 requests have so far been processed involving the certification of over 1,650,000 pages of documents.
“Indeed, there are now far more cases challenging the breach of internal democracy within political parties than those involving the conduct of the main elections by INEC.
“We would work round the clock, including the weekends, to ensure that we attend to all applications received at the headquarters of the Commission promptly,” Yakubu said.
On his part, the National Security Adviser (NSA) Maj-Gen Babagana Monguno (retd), represented by Alhaji Sanusi Galadima, commended INEC and other security agencies for the success achieved in the Ekiti election.
He, however, tasked the commission to improve voters’ awareness to address poor voter turnout as witnessed in the Ekiti State governorship election.
“Records from the conduct of the last Ekiti State Governorship election indicated an impressive performance by the INEC as well the ICCES member agencies as there was no major incident of security concern recorded during and after the election.
“However, more needs to be done in terms of enlightenment campaigns to encourage voters to come out and cast their votes on the day of the election.
“This is because of the low turnout recorded during the election compared to the total number of registered voters in the state.
“Consequent upon the above, the NSA enjoined INEC, through the Department of Voter education/publicity, to redouble efforts ahead of the Osun State guber election and the forthcoming general elections in 2023,” he said.
Ahead 2027: Pro-Tinubu Group Sets Up Structures In APC
The Mandate Movement (TMM), a pro-President Bola Tinubu group in the All Progressives Congress (APC), has set up 37 structures in a bid to enlarge its membership base across the country.
The structures consist of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
The national leader of the movement, Cardinal James Odunmbaku, made this known in a statement, explaining that the move became necessary for the ease of administration.
Cardinal Odunmbaku, in the statement, noted that this move was a precursor to the preparations for the 2027 general election.
He stressed that the move aims at ensuring that the APC has strong dominance across communities and towns in every part of the country.
He advised those to be appointed as state coordinators to be more effective in mobilising new people into the ruling APC.
The APC chieftain also used the opportunity to appeal to Nigerians to be patient with the President Bola Tinubu’s administration, assuring that the government was taking steps to address the harsh economic challenges.
Benue APC Crisis: Court Sacks Acting State Chairman
The recently suspended Benue State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Austin Agada, has been reinstated by a Makurdi High Court presided over by the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Maurice Ikpambese.
Recall that Mr Agada was earlier in the month suspended from office by another Benue High Court in Aliade presided over by Justice Lilian Tsumba following an ex parte motion filed by Mr Moses Agaba against him and the APC after his Ihaje Ward I Executive in Ogbadibo Local Government Area had passed a no-confidence vote on him and also suspended him for alleged anti-party activity.
The suspension was immediately followed by the inauguration of Mr. Benjamin Omakolo from Igoro Ward, Apa LGA as the acting State Chairman during a State Executive Committee meeting of the party presided over by Governor Hyacinth Alia.
However the crisis in the party took a dramatic turn Monday when Justice Ikpambese reinstated Mr. Agada while ruling on a motion by the embattled chairman seeking to set aside the interim order restraining him from parading himself as Chairman.
After listening to the arguments of counsel to Moses Agaba, Mr. Johnson Usman, and that of Innocent Daagba, who appeared alongside Richard Ayilla, George Ushongo, Daniel Sorkaa and John Ifer who appeared for Mr. Agada, Justice Maurice Ikpambese vacated the order restraining him from parading self, function and acting as the Chairman of the APC in the State.
Justice Ikpambese ruled that “under Order 39, rule 3 of the Benue State High Court Procedure Rules, 2023, the lifespan of an interim order is seven days, and since the order was issued on February 2, 2024, it has elapsed by law.”
Justice Ikpambese nullified the appointment of Benjamin Omakolo as acting Chairman and any other appointment made from February 2, 2024.
He accordingly struck out the motion seeking to set aside the interim order of February 2, 2024, as “it has been overtaken by events.”
The matter would be assigned to another Judge by the Chief Judge who would hear it on its merit.
Reacting, the APC State acting Chairman, Mr. Omakolo dismissed the reinstatement of Mr. Agada saying “whether the order restraining him (Agada) from parading himself as the Chairman is vacated or not, the fact that he has been suspended by his Ward still places a ban on him to be able to function as APC Chairman in Benue State. “And it will interest you to know that in the court ruling today, no matter concerning my person or role as the acting Chairman was mentioned.
“So, I still remain the valid acting State chairman of the APC in Benue State. I remain the one who pilots the affairs of the APC in Benue State and the APC family takes instructions and directives from my office as the acting Chairman of APC in the State.
“And even that wrong vacation that was done in the High Court has already been appealed. The person that took him to court has appealed the judgement because it is not correct in law for a High Court to restrain another High Court, a court of coordinate jurisdiction. I have long assumed office as the acting Chairman of APC in Benue State.”
There’s No Changing Bayelsa Gov’ship Result – Diri
Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has said that the November 11, 2023, governorship election in the State has been won and lost and cannot be changed through subterranean moves of his main rival in the poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the incumbent governor winner of the election and presented certificates of return to him and the deputy governor-elect, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, on November 17, 2023.
Diri, who spoke on Monday during the first year memorial service of his late father, Pa Abraham Diri, at the St Peter’s Anglican Church, Sampou, Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area, said the subpoena to the police to testify as witness at the election petition tribunal by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva, was diversionary, a waste of time and an exercise in futility.
He said the acceptable standard was the election result declared by INEC and not that of the police.
His words, “they are bringing a police report. They are bringing a police commissioner to come and testify in the election tribunal. We have crossed that bridge long ago. Just as we stopped them from rigging, we will stop them again.
“If you want to subpoena anybody, let it be INEC, which conducted the election and declared the results. The police are in charge of security.
“Let us be steadfast. Our second tenure will be better than the first.”
The governor eulogised his father for laying a solid foundation for him and his siblings.
According to him, his father was being celebrated a year after his death because he left good legacies that were speaking through him and his siblings.
He said: “His impact upon our lives, his children and relatives, is unspeakable. That is why I believe in giving the best education to children, so that whether you are alive or not, they can stand anywhere. I urge fellow Bayelsans to give their children good education.
“What we are doing today is to appreciate God and celebrate the life of our father for what he has done in our lives. Our father guided us very well. All his life was how to discipline and give what he had to society.
“Those of us in leadership as president, governors, Speakers and other positions, let us know that there is a legacy we should leave, which will speak for us when we leave this world.”
Speaking on the topic: “What will you be remembered for?” Rev. Funkuro Amgbare, Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Izon of the Anglican Communion, noted that Pa Diri was being remembered a year after his death because he impacted positively on his children and the society.
He admonished all to live a life worth remembering by maintaining their integrity.
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