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Electoral Violence: South-East Stakeholders Demand Adherence To Electoral Act

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Some political stakeholders in the South-East have reiterated that effective implementation of the Electoral Act would assist in check-mating electoral violence in the 2023 general elections in the country.
The stakeholders made the call while reacting to a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) survey on checkmating Electoral Violence ahead of the 2023 General Elections in the country.
Nelson Nwafor, the Executive Director of Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development (FENRAD) in Abia, said that electoral violence was a “serious threat” to the achievement of sustainable democracy in Nigeria.
According to him, the menace has become detrimental to democratic sustainability in Nigerian politics and required swift action toward addressing the issue.
Mr Nwafor said that politicians and the electorate were jointly responsible for the continued occurrence of electoral violence recorded during electioneering periods.
He commended the federal government for the Electoral Act (2022), adding that it would play a vital role in guiding the conduct of the politicians and electorate during the elections.
He charged political parties to ensure that the campaigns of their candidates were issue-based to enable them to build a work plan that would facilitate delivery of democracy dividend to the citizenry.
Mr Nwafor called on relevant agencies to conduct regular sensitisation campaigns on the need for the electorate to be law abiding during the electioneering period.
A teacher, Kingsley Kalu, said he had vowed never to participate in the country’s general elections again because of his experience in 2019.
He said that he almost lost his life while working as an adhoc staff to the Independent National Electoral Commission, as thugs invaded the venue in an attempt to snatch the ballot box.
“If not for the intervention of the police, I would have died as these boys came, descended on me and my colleagues in one of the remote communities in the state during the House of Assembly election,” he said.
He expressed hope in the new Electoral Act, saying that it would curb electoral violence because there would be no snatching of ballot boxes.
In Ebonyi, some analysts have advised politicians across states of the federation to focus on issue based campaigns that could bring development to the nation and desist from causing violence.
They decried the way thuggery had brought a lot of conflicts in the Nigeria political system including ethnicity, religion and tribalism amongst others.
Thamos Ikenna, a lawyer, noted that the issue of thuggery during campaigns and elections started as a result of bad governance.  “Failure of political leaders to do the needful in providing gainful employment for the teeming population of youths.
“The youths remained the instruments used by politicians to perpetrate these violent crimes in the country. “These violence are being caused as a result of bad governance, unemployment, poverty, bribery and corruption amongst others,” Mr Ikenna said.
Monday Nkwoagu, Bishop of Anglican Communion, Diocese of Abakaliki, condemned the incessant killings and violence so far experienced in the country ahead of the 2023 general polls.
Mr Nkwoagu tasked politicians on peaceful campaigns and added that violence was not a strategy to win elections.
Also speaking, Professor Benard Odoh, 2023 governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Ebonyi, said that a peaceful campaign could bring security of lives and property for the people.
“It is better to campaign on issues rather than concentrating on destruction of campaign materials and all sorts of violence,” he advised. Mr Odoh stressed the need to implement laws and strengthen them against thuggery and political violence in the country.
He called on youths in particular and colleagues in various political parties to steer clear of the act and focus on issues that could bring development to the state and nation at large.
“Elections should not be seen as war against persons,” Mr Odoh added.
In Anambra, politicians contesting positions during the 2023 general elections are yet to begin campaigns, apparently because only state and national elections would be conducted in the state.
A check by our source showed that most of the candidates were still doing consultations, a month after the Electoral Act as amended had okayed commencement of campaigns for the 2023 elections.
Chukwuma Agufugo, state secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said the party was yet to inaugurate its state chapter of the campaign council.
He said that political activities were still low because the state was not holding a governorship election, but only national and state assembly elections.
“For now, I can say that we are not hearing anything about thuggery and violence and we believe that such problems usually take place towards the end of campaign period,” he said.
Paul-Chuks Umenduka, an Awka-based politician, said the state might not witness incidences of violence during the ongoing political process.
According to Mr Umenduka, my feeling is that most people are enlightened and might not be tricked into political violence as before.
“I see a paradigm shift in the cases of political thuggery and violence in next year’s elections because of two reasons.
“Most Nigerians are aware that the electronic transmission of results from the polling units will make nonsense of snatching of ballot boxes.
“Again the common knowledge among most citizens now that those engaged for thuggery and other dirty political jobs by politicians are now aware of the consequences of engaging in such practices,” he said.
Mr Umenduka, who said that his position was informed by some preliminary findings made in his Aguata area, added that most youths now decline invitations for membership of pressure groups.
He said, before now, the pressure groups formed ahead of every dispensation often turned into recruiting windows for thugs.
He however, urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, the media, civil society organisations to intensify enlightenment on the danger of thuggery and violence during elections.

 

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2023: A’ Court Seals Senate President’s Return Bid

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja has affirmed Bashir Machina as the authentic candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for Yobe North Senatorial District.
The court, on Monday, upheld the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Damaturu, Yobe State, which held that Senate President, Ahmad Lawan was not the APC’s candidate for Yobe North Senatorial District in the 2023 elections.
Justice Monica Dongban-Mensen, who presided over a three-man panel, gave the affirmation in an appeal by Lawan, challenging the decision of Justice Fadimatu Aminu of the Federal High Court Damaturu, which had on September 28, 2022, declared Machina as the winner of the primary election organised by the APC in May 2022, while Lawan opted to contest the presidential primary election organised by the APC on June 9.
The Federal High Court sitting in Damaturu had in September ordered the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to recognise Machina as Yobe North senatorial candidate of the party.
The presiding judge, Justice Fadima Aminu, nullified the parallel primary election that produced Lawan on June 9, 2022.
The judge also ordered the APC to forward the name of Machina to INEC as the authentic winner of the primary held in May.
“In the final analysis, the conditions for the validity of primary elections were fulfilled in the election of May 28, 2022, which produced the plaintiff. The phantom election of June 9 2022 which produced the second defendant is hereby declared invalid in view of the outline provision of the law of the very primary election.
“Consequently, the plaintiff is hereby declared the validly elected candidate of the first defendant conducted on 28/05/2022 for the 2023 general election.
“The first defendant is hereby ordered to prepare the name and details of the plaintiff to the third defendant as its rightful candidate. This is my decision,” Aminu ruled.
The judgement come weeks after Machina distanced himself from the notice of withdrawal from the race which went viral.
The Tide source had on August 9, 2022, reported that INEC denied recognising Lawan and Senator Godswill Akpabio as senatorial candidates of the APC, respectively.
Both Lawan and Akpabio had contested the APC presidential primary. However, after losing, both of them were listed as senatorial candidates by the APC, but INEC refused to recognise them.
Recall that Lawan, Akpabio, and Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, had chosen to pick Senate tickets for Yobe North, Ebonyi South and Akwa Ibom North West senatorial districts respectively, after losing out at the presidential primary of the APC.

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Ekiti Assembly Leadership Change, Rape Of Democracy – Ajulo

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A Constitutional and Human Rights lawyer, Dr Kayode Ajulo, has described the impeachment of the Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Gboyega Aribisogan, as a glaring rape of democracy and an intentional violation of the rule of law.
Ajulo, in a statement signed by him, also, joined the league of leading legal luminaries in Nigeria to condemn the recent controversies over the leadership of the Ekiti State House of Assembly.
He said that “political players in Ekiti State should not allow selfish personal interests that brewed the sad commentary coming from Ekiti State constitute a great disservice to the State’s enviable records and indelible marks of honour to national building and development of the likes of Aare Afe Babalola, Chief Wole Olanipekun, Femi Falana, Dele Adesina, Dayo Akinlaja and other eminent citizens of the State.
Recall that the Ekiti State House of Assembly had on Tuesday, 15th November, conducted an election to choose a new Speaker following the demise of the erstwhile Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Funminiyi Afuye, on October 19, 2022.
The election had two members of the Assembly contesting and one Hon. Gboyega Aribisogan won and was duly sworn-in, having polled 15 votes as against the 10 votes of the other contestant, Hon. Olubunmi Adelugba.
However, the new Speaker was reportedly impeached and suspended with six others on the 6th day after swearing-in, even before he could start acting in his new role and the candidate who had contested against him, Olubunmi Adelugba, was announced the new Speaker.
Ajulo, who hailed Aare Afe Babalola, Wole Olanipekun, Femi Falana and other notable legal professionals from the State following their collective stance on the allegedly controversial change of leadership in the Assembly, also described the event as “a glaring rape of democracy and an intentional violation of the rule of law.”
The legal luminaries from the state, which include Aare Afe Babalola, Chief Wole Olanipekun, Dele Adesina, Olu Daramola, Femi Falana, Dayo Akinlaja, and Gboyega Oyewole, had described the event as “an act of illegality”, adding that the election that produced Hon. Olubunmi Adelugba was “unconstitutional and ridiculous”
They noted that election into the position of the Speaker of House of Assembly dictates that the present occupant of the office must be accorded fair hearing before being removed from the office, saying the alleged suspension and stoppage of the salaries of the Speaker and six other members of the House were misplaced, illegal, illegitimate, null and void.
Ajulo, in the statement, described the position of these foremost lawyers as a just fight to strengthen democracy and uphold the laws of the country, saying impunity is detrimental to the development of a nation.
“ You cannot underestimate the unmatchable contributions and services of these notable men to the development of legal profession and general growth of this country. “I have had the privilege of working with almost all the 6 of them. They do not engage in frivolities and their integrity is intact.
“They possess enviable track records in the legal profession and national development that precede their names. “ All of them had, at one time or another perfectly resolved more complex national issues. So, you do not expect them to fold their arms while this is happening at the backyard.
“It may be understandable if such a scenario had happened in some of the unsettled States of the country, but it is totally unthinkable to expect such in a peaceful, sophisticated , civilized, educated, egalitarian, land that parades Professors and notable men who have contributed to the development of this country in no small measure and don’t expect a strong reaction.
“I commend these noble jurists for their collective stance on this sheer and gory impudence on the symbol of democracy in their State, Ekiti.
“Delibrate violation of the rule of law must not stand in Ekiti State or anywhere else.”
Ajulo, therefore urged other notable figures in the legal profession to join in the call to end deliberate violation of the constitution of the country.

 

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INEC Vows To Deliver Despite Attacks On Facilities

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The Independent National INEC Vows To Deliver Despite Attacks On FacilitiesElectoral Commission (INEC) on Monday lamented the incessant attacks on its local government offices across the states.
This was as the commission said that though, it will recover losses from the attacks, it could not condone rising attacks on its facilities.
The INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, stated this during the visit of African Union Special Pre-Electoral Political Mission to the commission.
The Tide source had reported that within the space of three weeks, three attacks were carried out on local government INEC facilities in Ogun, Osun and Ebonyi states.
Yakubu however re-emphasised that the commission would not be deterred by the challenges, noting that it was ready to conduct a free and fair election.
“In the last three weeks, three of our local government offices were attacked in three different states across the country. The last attack happened yesterday. Though there are no casualties, quite a number of the materials acquired and delivered for the election have been lost.
“The good thing is that so far, we can recover from all the losses but it is a source of concern which should not be allowed to continue.
“We will continue to engage security agencies to make sure that our offices, personnel and facilities are protected ahead of the election. We may express some concern about the attack on these facilities but it will not deter the commission from conducting the election as scheduled.
“I want to assure you that yes, we may suffer little hitches here and there but overall, the commission is required to proceed with the election and in the manner that the law requires us to do using the deployment of technology for the purpose of accreditation and uploading of polling units results.”

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