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INEC Ready For  Presidential Run-Off Election In 2023 – Okoye

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is already making plans to conduct a run-off presidential election, where no candidate meets the conditional requirements for declaring a winner from votes cast on February 25, 2023.
Eighteen candidates will be on the ballot for next year’s polls though three; Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and surprise challenger, Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) are considered frontrunners in the election.
Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, on Friday in Abuja, gave the hint at a meeting with Bureau Chiefs/Editors of media organisations,  clarifying that such a plan had been the tradition of INEC for all elections conducted by the commission since the return of democracy in 1999.
He said that INEC was already planning to print double of the total number of ballot papers required for the first ballot, should there be a need for a rerun election.
The spokesman explained that the preparations were always made because the commission has just 21 days to conduct the rerun or run-off election.
Mr Okoye said that before a candidate could be declared winner of the presidential election, he or she must have the highest number of votes cast and secure a quarter of the votes cast in two-thirds of the states of the federation and the FCT.
He said where the threshold is not met by any candidate, the constitution stated that a second election should be conducted for two of the candidates with highest and majority votes in line with the provisions of the law.
According to Section 134 subsection 2 of the Nigerian Constitution, a candidate must secure the highest number of votes cast at the election, in addition to securing a quarter of the votes cast in two-thirds of all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
Mr Okoye also explained that: “If no candidate emerges on the first ballot, only two candidates are going to be on the second ballot or only two candidates are going to contest the second election.
“Who are those candidates that will be on the ballot for the second election?
“The Constitution has made it very clear that two candidates that will be on the ballot are; the one that scored the highest number of votes at the election.
“The second candidate that will be on the ballot will be one amongst the remaining candidates who have the majority of votes in the highest number of states.”
He emphasised that: “The Constitution did not say that the person who came second will be the person who will be on the ballot. That’s not what Constitution says.”
Mr Okoye said that due to the number of ballot papers, over 90 million required for the election and the number of days to conduct the second election, INEC would always print the paper along with those for the first poll.
“If 93 million ballot papers are required for the presidential election, INEC will print 186 million ballot papers just to be ready for a possible second presidential election.
“This is because the law gives the commission just 21 days within which to engage in reverse logistics and conduct a run-off election in case there’s no winner.”
On how INEC would determine the two candidates to be on the second ballot since it was printing the ballot papers along the first, Mr Okoye said that in order to meet up with the timeline, the commission would still print for all the political parties that participate in the first ballot.
He said it was the responsibility of the political parties to sensitise the voters on who they should vote for between the two candidates that meet the requirements for second election.
He said any vote cast for all other candidates expected not to be on the second ballot would be counted as void votes.
Mr Okoye also said that all sensitive materials for the 2023 general elections would be kept with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), except the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
“We have classified the BVAS as a sensitive material and we have engaged with different security agencies to provide security for the BVAS because the BVAS will be in the custody of the commission.
“So, we have adopted a hybrid approach as the BVAS will remain with the commission while the ballot papers will be in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“This was the agreement we had with political parties, security agencies, Civil Society Organisations and media.”
In her presentation, the INEC Director of Legal Drafting Department, Oluwatoyin Babalola, said INEC would continue to evolve and improve on the electoral process vis-à-vis international best practices and electoral legal framework in its quest for credible elections.
Mrs Babalola described the Electoral Act 2022 as a laudable effort to bring the Nigerian electoral process up to standard with countries all over the world, and meet the aspirations of Nigerians.
“It is believed that the provisions of the Act will guarantee the delivery of free, fair, transparent and credible elections which will in turn increase the acceptance of the electoral processes and outcomes in the 2023 general election and beyond.”

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Senate Sacks Ndume As Chief Whip  … Resign From Our Party – APC

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The Senate, last Wednesday, announced the removal of Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South) as Chief Whip.
When put to voice vote by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, members of the APC Senate Caucus endorsed Ndume’s removal as Senate Chief Whip during plenary.
Senator Ndume was replaced by Senator Tahir Mungono (Borno North).
This comes amid his recent criticisms of President Bola Tinubu’s government.
In a letter addressed to the Senate Caucus by the national leadership of the ruling party, the APC asked Senator Ndume to resign his membership of the APC and join any opposition party of his choice.
The letter was signed by the party’s national chairman, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, and Secretary, Barrister Ajibola Bashiru.
The Tide’s source had reported how some loyalists of President Tinubu plotted to get Senator Ndume suspended.
Sources at the National Assembly told The Tide’s source that the pro-Tinubu Senators were planning to not just strip Senator Ndume of his position but equally suspend him like Senator Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central).
Senator Ningi, also a ranking senator from the North, was suspended for three months in March this year, for granting an interview to the BBC Hausa service in which he alleged that N3.7 trillion in the national budget for the 2024 fiscal year was not tied to any projects or locations.
Senator Ndume had in an interview with newsmen at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja last week said, “Mr. President is not in the picture of what is happening outside the Villa. He has been fenced off and caged. So many of us won’t go through the backdoor to engage him.
“Now they have stopped him from talking and he doesn’t have public affairs managers, except his spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, who writes press statements. Nigerians are getting very angry.
“The government is not doing anything about the food scarcity and it needs to do something urgently. We don’t have food reserve. There is unavailability of food. Food crisis is the worst crisis that any nation can encounter. If we add that to security crisis, it will be severe.”
But his submissions triggered series of reactions from the pro-Tinubu camp as Senator Sunday Karimi (Kogi West) and the ruling APC both knocked the Borno lawmaker, describing his statement as derogatory.
It was learnt that Senator Akpabio is in a fix, considering that Senator Ndume was the Director-General of the Stability Group which worked hard to make him President of the Senate in June 2023.
It was, however, hinted that some Northern senators were waiting for the cat to be let out of the bag during plenary before they would take a position.
A source said, “But of course, you know the Northern Senators will rise against another plan to destabilise their caucus, barely a few months after Ningi was suspended.”
However, some stakeholders from the North under the aegis of Concerned Northern Forum (CNF), in a statement on Tuesday signed by Mallam Abdulkadir Kura, said, “It is on record that Ndume is a critical stakeholder of the ruling APC, and a close ally of President Tinubu. Therefore, if he can take such a bold step in saying the truth about the economic and social reality on the ground, then the Southern Borno Senator need to be celebrated by all and sundry. So we stand by him.
“Ndume has spoken the minds of the average Nigerians who have been under serious economic hardship since the removal of the fuel subsidy and other anti-people policies of the present administration.
“This is not the first time Senator Ndume has criticised or challenged policies of the federal government. He consistently did so during the past administrations of Presidents Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari. Such criticisms led to positive changes by the listening governments at that time.”

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Court Reinstates Shuaibu As Edo Dep Gov

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A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has nullified the impeachment of Philip Shuaibu as Edo State Deputy Governor.
Justice James Omotosho, in a judgment on Wednesday, ordered his reinstatement to office on the ground that the Edo State House of Assembly did not follow due process in the purported impeachment.
Justice Omotosho held that the allegation on which the parliament based the impeachment proceedings was untenable in law and did not constitute gross misconduct.
The judge, therefore, ordered the Inspector General of Police to provide him with the security needed to enable him to resume office and perform the functions of the office until the end of his tenure.
Justice Omotosho equally set aside the appointment of another deputy governor in the place of Mr Shaibu.
Mr Shaibu, who was in court, broke down in tears following the judge’s pronouncements.
On April 8, the parliament impeached Mr Shaibu.
Mr Shaibu’s impeachment followed the adoption of the report of a seven-man committee set up by the Chief Judge of Edo State, Justice Daniel Okungbowa, to investigate allegations of misconduct against the deputy governor.
During plenary, the Majority Leader of the Assembly, Charity Aiguobarueghian, said the report of the seven-man judicial panel of inquiry presented to the parliament had two findings and one recommendation.
Mr Aiguobarueghian said that while the panel report could not establish the case of perjury levelled against the deputy governor, the panel found him guilty of disclosing government secrets.
According to the report, the seven-member judicial panel of inquiry recommended that the deputy governor be impeached for disclosure of government secrets.
The Clerk of the House, Yahaya Omogbai, conducted a head count of the lawmakers who voted for and against the impeachment of Mr Shaibu.
Eighteen out of 19 members at plenary voted for the deputy governor’s impeachment, while one abstained from the headcount and voting process.

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Alleged Fraud: Yahaya Bello Seeks Court’s Indefinite Adjournment

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Former Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has asked the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court to adjourn the ongoing case instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) indefinitely.
Mr Bello also asked the court to vacate its arrest order on him, pending the determination of an appeal he filed at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division.
Mr Bello’s demands were stated in a letter by his counsel, Musa Yakubu. The letter was dated July 12 and addressed to the trial Judge, Justice Emeka Nwite, ahead of Mr Bello’s arraignment scheduled for Wednesday, July 17.
The erstwhile Kogi governor is being tried for laundering N80 billion. But, in his appeal against his trial, Mr Bello has expressed fears over his fate if the case proceeds.
In the Appellate case with file number CA/ABJ/CR/535/2024, Mr Bello is seeking to set aside the warrant of arrest he considers illegally issued against him on April 17, 2024. He also wants a return of the case file to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment to another judge.
The appeal was filed against the decisions of the trial Federal High Court, Abuja Division, in case number FHC/ABJ/CR/98/2024. The former governor is also seeking an order of the appellate court to set aside the service of the EFCC charge on him by substituted means, including the entire proceedings already conducted in the case.
In the letter, Mr Bello requested that further proceedings in the case be adjourned sine die, pending the determination of the appeal currently pending at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division.
A copy of the letter was also sent to the National Judicial Council in response to a letter to Justice Nwite by the EFCC, dated July 8, 2024 and filed on July 10, 2024.
In the said letter, the EFCC requested a variation of the earlier warrant of arrest issued against Mr Bello, additionally requesting that the various security agencies be specifically directed to carry out the earlier order of arrest.
Responding to the EFCC’s application, Mr Bello’s counsel urged the court to decline the request and await the outcome of the appeal pending at the appellate court over the said warrant of arrest and other related pronouncements of the trial court.
Mr Bello’s counsel made reference to the position of the law as contained in Order 4 Rule 11(1) of the Court of Appeal Rules, 2021 and the pronouncement of the Supreme Court in the case of Vab Petroleum INC V. Momah (Supra), and a litany of other cases.

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