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Stakeholders Advocate Severe Sanctions For Electoral Violence

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Stakeholders have called for severe punishment for sponsors of thuggery and electoral violence, ahead of the 2023 General Elections.
A cross section of those interviewed by The Tide’s source on Monday in Abuja, said decisive action must be taken against electoral violence to ensure hitch-free general elections.
National Chairman of Action Alliance (AA), Chief Kenneth Udeze, said perpetrators of electoral violence must be sanctioned according to law, to serve as deterrent to others.
“Our approach is to keep advising the youth and all the citizens on the negative impacts of violence.
“However, they will have to go further on this issue of peace accord that was signed most recently by all the political parties with presidential candidates.
“We have to go beyond the accord. We have to find a way of legal sanctions possibly, if people are proven to have been involved in orchestrating issues that have to do or led to violence,” he said.
Udeze advised political actors in the 2023 General Elections to strive hard to prevent violence in whatever form.
“You can only know the beginning of a war, no one can predict when it will end or the consequences.
“Violence cannot do anyone good. When you start from one state, you think it is an easy thing, but by the time it starts developing, by the time other interests are building, it spreads all over the country, and that is what leads to civil disorder or war.
“So, we have to do everything possible to make sure that violence does not thrive in this election.
“Nobody knows who is going to die tomorrow. If are orchestrating it you don’t know if the bullet will hit your wife somewhere, or your sister, or your brother,” he said.
According to Udeze therefore, Nigerians should work diligently and in unity as a people to ensure that the 2023 General Elections become the driving force that will bring citizens to the new Nigeria of everybody’s dream.
He said his party, the AA, was committed to ensuring peaceful conduct of the poll and would continue to appeal to its members and supporters, even up to the grassroots, to be law abiding, shun violence and play by the rules.
“In AA, we consider ourselves as a silent majority and underdog. People may not know what we are doing, but the candidate we are giving Nigerians, Dr Hamza Al Mustapha, knows this country very well, we know what we are doing.
“We are embarking on our campaign very diligently without name calling. So we call on people to always find a way to engage on issue-based campaigns.
“With that, our supporters all over Nigeria are doing the job which we have actually asked them to do. And we are doing it as a silent majority,” he said.

Mr Yabagi Sani, the National Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), was also of the same view, and urged all political actors, especially politicians, to shun violence for smooth conduct of the poll.

“The fact of the matter is that the biggest and immediate losers when democracy fails are the politicians, not the public really.

“It is later the public suffers for it, but the immediate casualties when democracy fails is the politician.

“So for that reason, we have to shun anything that will affect the smooth conduct of elections because it matters to us,” Sani said.

The IPAC chairman expressed concern over what he described as the emerging negative signals against a peaceful and credible 2023 election.

He listed the signals to include the use of money with impunity, during the last off-season governorship election in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun, in breach of the provisions of the Electoral Act and other extant laws.

“Also, IPAC leadership has noted the spikes in the use of divisive languages and hate speeches by several chieftains and spokespersons of some of the political parties in the mass media, and at political rallies,” he said.

He said that efforts were ongoing by IPAC to address irresponsible and reckless utterances capable of heating up the polity, with the potential of igniting mutual hate, animosity and violence in the country.

“To deepen the roots of democracy and good governance, violence in all its ramifications must be uprooted from the political space.

“We are in this regard, calling on the nation’s security agencies and other relevant bodies to gear up in the performance of their statutory responsibilities professionally and objectively,” he added.

The National Chairman, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr Victor Okoye, on his part, expressed optimism that the 2023 poll would not witness violence in any form.

“I believe 2023 election is going to be peaceful. Every act of man is within the confines of God’s providential authority. No man can change what God has written,” Okoye said.

He advised Nigerians to remain firm and play politics without bitterness.

“Let us remain firm, avoid violence and money bags during elections. Vote according to your conscience. Vote for sustainable democracy. Vote for a good a good government you will get a good result,” he said.

Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the National Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), cautioned political parties and their supporters against violence, saying it could further complicate the security situation in the country.

“Parties, candidates and their supporters should not by acts of commission or omission, further complicate the prevailing security situation in the country,” Yakubu said.

The INEC helmsman expressed sadness over the recent clashes among party supporters in some states, describing it as worrisome.

“Even as the commission is working hard to ensure a credible process in the forthcoming elections, reports of clashes among parties and their supporters in some states of the country during the ongoing electioneering campaign are worrisome.

“So too is the reported denial of access to public facilities for parties and candidates in some states of the federation.

“Let me caution parties and their supporters to focus on issues and steer clear of attacks on each other.

“These are not only violations of the Electoral Act, 2022, but also negate the voluntary commitment by all political parties and candidates to the letter and spirit of the peace accord signed about three weeks ago under the auspices of the National Peace Committee (NPC),” he said.

The INEC chairman therefore reiterated that a peaceful electioneering campaign was critical to the conduct of peaceful and credible elections.

“At our consultative meeting few days ago, leaders of political parties in Nigeria also complained about the denial of access to public facilities and exorbitant charges in some states for the use of such facilities for the dissemination of their campaign materials, messages and rallies.

“These attacks and denials are a violation of the Electoral Act 2022 and ominous signs of what will follow as the campaigns enter critical stages.

“They may also be a prelude to violence on Election Day and beyond. We should tackle the smoke before it snowballs into a major inferno.

Yakubu urged security agencies on effective enforcement of law to curb the issue of vote buying, violence and other menace that could affect the peaceful conduct of the 2023 General Elections.

“The effective enforcement of our electoral law is the best way to deal with the menace. We should work together to ensure the arrest and prosecution of violators of the provisions of especially Sections 92 – 93 of the Electoral Act 2022.”

Yakubu said that ahead of the 2023 general election, INEC would continue to appraise the security situation in the country and its possible impact on the conduct of the election.

“We are right now working to harmonise our Election Risk Management (ERM) and Election Violence Mitigation and Advocacy Tool (EVMAT), for a more effective risk assessment and mitigation measures ahead of the general election.

“We will continue to share information with the security agencies and most importantly, work together to ensure that elections hold peacefully nationwide as scheduled,” he said.

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Sanwo-Olu Approves Grant For 100 Traders

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In continuation of his on going political consultation with stakeholders, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has met with market leaders across the state with an approval of a grant  to aid them in their businesses.
He met the traders under the aegis of the Association of Commodity Market Women and Men of Nigeria at the Alausa residence of their President-General, Mrs Folasade Tinubu-Ojo, in Lagos.
The Governor noted that the traders were important stakeholders in the governance of the state, adding that the visit was part of his wide consultation ahead of the general elections.
According to him, the interaction with traders in the informal sector is strategic in reaching out to the grassroots, saying that his administration was committed to the well-being of the traders, while asking for their full support for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the coming elections.
“Market leaders and their members are important stakeholders in the governance of Lagos. We interact with them from time to time and consult them on issues concerning growth of our markets.
“Today, we have come here to thank them for the support they have continued to give our government and to encourage them to continue to be loyal citizens of the state,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu said the government had hastened ongoing work to complete all the markets currently being constructed.
He announced continuation of credit grants to 100 micro and small businesses in each market across the state, as the intervention had empowered many women and low-income households to meet their needs.
Sanwo-Olu continued that his administration’s programmes were aimed at improving the lives of residents, regardless of their incomes and status.
“We are in the season of politics and we consider it necessary to meet with our people in the market and solicit for your support in the forthcoming general elections, especially for our presidential candidate, governorship candidate and other positions our party is vying.
“This is an important step, you are part of the crop of people that diligently wait at the polling booths to cast votes for our party. We cannot take you for granted, despite having new people in the electoral register.
“We need to engage and talk to you about our plans. In this case, we are seeking your support for all our candidates in general,” he said.

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Kogi Oil Community Demands 13% Derivatives

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Indigenes of Ibaji Community in Kogi State recently named oil producing area by the Federal Government, have called for a share of their host community fund and 13 per cent derivative.
Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja, on Wednesday,  the President, Ibaji Unity Forum (IUF), Stephen Ochola, said Ibaji has become an oil-producing area after over 70 years of exploration yet, has been denied of its accruables.
Stephen Decried poor roads among other infrastructural decay as well as the devastating effects of the recent flooding that it said destroyed about 200 houses and killed 33 persons.
He expressed regret that the proceeds of the oil will be shared with Kogi and neighbouring Anambra State.
Ochola noted that Ibaji needs to benefit significantly from the host community development fund as both states have been proclaimed as oil-producing states.
“Both states are to partake in the 13 per cent derivation fund. Also, the states are to share the proceeds on a 50-50 basis from the oil wells namely Anambra River 1, 2 and 3, which are clearly on Kogi soil,” he noted.
Ochola said the Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi State has been neglected for so long as its over 129,000 population lack social amenities.
“The 2022 flood and its effects have downgraded that of 2012 to a child’s play. According to reports, over 33 persons have lost their lives and 200 houses were destroyed leading to the displacement of our people to relocate to Idah, Igalamela, Enugu, Anambra and Edo states.”
He also said the flood water though unfit for bathing and drinking, remained the only available water for the people, according to a test result from the Federal Capital Territory Waterboard.
“Our people are in serious poverty due to the flood and its post effect. Even those who died of natural causes have no place to be buried because of the flood,” noting that Ibaji was the most devastated of the nine affected LGAs in Kogi State.

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Group Seeks Media Support To Combat Human Trafficking

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A Civil Society Group, “Action Against Trafficking in Persons Cluster”, has called for media synergy to combat trafficking in persons.
The group’s Programmes Director, Timothy Ejeh, made the call when he led a delegation to an advocacy engagement with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Council Chairman, Mr Emmanuel Ogbeche in Abuja, recently.
Ejeh said the initiative was anchored by the Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) of the Archdiocese of Abuja, with the aim of implementing the Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) component 4 projects titled “Galvanising Action for Effective countering of Trafficking in Persons Regime in Nigeria” .
According to him, its major aim is to seek increased funding for the focal agency – NAPTIP,  reactivation of victims of Trafficking Trust Fund and improved prosecution of traffickers.
He explained that the initiative comprised of six CSOs, the  JDPC, Earth Spring Intl, Children Against Child Abuse (CACA), Health/Justice Development and Peace Initiative (H/JDPI), Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN) and CEDARSEED Foundation.
The Programmes Director said the meeting would help to get the union’s buy-in into the SCALE Project currently being implemented
“We have discovered that the focus of the local government agency that is saddled with the responsibility of tackling trafficking of persons have some gaps in doing their jobs.
“We feel that we can come and support them to be able to deliver on their mandate because there is a whole lot they have been saddled with which is NAPTIP.
“We have discovered that they are severally underfunded and when you do not have funding, you do not have manpower and won’t be able to achieve any results.
“One of our advocacy acts is to push for reforms to see how NAPTIP can be properly funded to be able to carry out the mandate given to them by the government.
“We have also discovered that there is this weak political drive towards the prosecution of traffickers,” he said.
Ejeh added that a whole lot of traffickers were out there and nobody was pushing to ensure arrest and confiscating the process of trafficking.

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