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INEC Engages EFCC, FIU In Tracking Campaign Funding

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It is no longer business as usual for political parties and their candidates as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has kept a tab on their campaign funds. INEC specifically engaged the services of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Financial Investigation Unit (FIU) to track the campaign funds of all the parties and their candidates featuring in the 2019 general elections. The electoral umpire has also drafted the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and four other organisations to collaborate with the anti-graft agencies to do a thorough job. These revelations were made yesterday in Abuja during the inauguration of the Inter-agency Campaign Finance Monitoring Group by INEC national commissioner, Prof. Anthonia Okosi-Simbina. She said that the report of the 2019 campaign finances would be released immediately after the upcoming general elections. According to Okosi-Simbina,”we will check newspapers advert, TV, radio, billboards and we must see to the conclusion. Those who spent beyond what the legal framework provides for or spent outrageously will have themselves to blame.” The INEC chief declared that “vote-buying must be monitored too. And those reports must be published after the election. Unlike what happened in the past, six months will be too late for the report to be released. We will ensure compliance with the Electoral Act.” She said all the 10 groups engaged for the tracking of the campaign finances will be working with the electoral finance and party monitoring department of INEC. Similarly, INEC assistant director, Campaign Finance Tracking Unit, Ishaq Garba Aliyu, said that they recorded a milestone in the 2015 campaign finance tracking, adding that the commission would not leave anything to chances in 2019. “We have built the capacity of the staff members. They reviewed the tracking forms to include separate forms for candidates and political parties. The tracking ends on the day of the election,” Aliyu stated. No Politician Teleguiding Our Operations – INEC Meanwhile, INEC has dismissed the insinuations that its management led by Prof. Mahmood Yakubu was being teleguided by some politicians. INEC administrative secretary in Ekiti State, Dr. Muslim Omoleke, stated this yesterday in Ado Ekiti. He said that the commission under Yakubu is truly independent. Omoleke maintained that “no one controls INEC because we are empowered by laws to enjoy financial and administrative autonomy. It is no longer easy for them to control us.” He disclosed that 14 political parties in Ekiti State would participate in the National Assembly elections holding across the country on Saturday. Overall, 73 political parties are featuring in this year’s general elections. The INEC official assured the voters that the smart card readers would record zero failure during the polls, unlike what obtained in past elections, where commission’s personnel had to resort to incident forms for persons who fell victims of the malfunctioning machines. Omoleke added that politicians would be disappointed on Saturday if they rely on the strategy of vote-buying to win elections, saying the polling booths would be arranged in such a way that would counter such electoral heist. “We want to assure Nigerians that we will be fair to all parties. To us in INEC, no party is big or small, they are the same and it is with that spirit we are going to deal with them on the day of elections,” he said. On the issue of vote-buying, Omoleke said, “politicians won’t find it easy this time. We have mapped out our strategies and we are working closely with the security agencies to make perfect arrangements in our polling booths in such a way that no one can know where and who you actually voted for. “Apart from vote-buying, politicians also resort to ballot box snatching to win elections. This can no longer work because anywhere such an incident is recorded, the poll will be cancelled and repeated the second day. “Perpetrators of such have nothing to gain because they will automatically lose such votes to cancellation and if they are caught during ballot snatching or identified by security agencies, they will be prosecuted”, he warned. Votes Will Count, INEC Insists Also yesterday, INEC insisted that votes cast in the 2019 general elections would count. While receiving the Commonwealth Election Observer Team, INEC chairman (Yakubu) said that the off-season elections conducted by the commission were adjudged free and fair, adding that the commission would ensure that the conduct of the polls conforms with the international best practices. Yakubu said: “The elections on the 16th February and 2nd March, 2019, will be free, fair and credible. The votes will count,” stressing that INEC invited the Commonwealth to observe the election and not to monitor. He said: “I learn that the Commonwealth has deployed people to many states of the federation. The 32 recommendations the Commonwealth made after the 2015 general elections are being implemented administratively.” The INEC boss explained that recommendations which require the amendment of the constitution and the Electoral Act would be implemented when the laws are repealed. “The last recommendation of the Commonwealth Mission was accreditation and voting at the same time. The 2019 general elections will witness accreditation and voting simultaneously,” he said. Former President of Tanzania, Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, who led the delegation, said that they were in the country to observe and not to monitor the election. He said: “We want to know INEC preparedness on the election because we will be visiting many places. After the election, we will prepare a comprehensive report. We have already prepared a preliminary report on the election,” Kikwete said. DSS Warns Against Hate Speech, Fake News In another development, the Department of State Services (DSS) has warned Nigerians, especially politicians to desist from hate speech, fake news and other activities capable of causing trouble before, during and after the 2019 elections. The DSS, in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Peter Afunanya, said that “the Service will not condone fake news, incendiary or hate speeches designed to whip up dangerous ethnic, religious and/or political sentiments capable of stoking the embers of violence. “Consequently, prospective lawbreakers are forewarned to steer clear of acts capable of undermining national security and stability. The Service will, however, not stand idly and watch miscreants and mischief makers bring avoidable chaos and disorder upon the nation,” Afunanya said. He said that “politicians and the youths are expected to shun all acts of violence the same way observers are urged to keep to the fundamentals and principles of election monitoring as allowed by law and global best practices. “Without doubt the Electoral Act is clear on the roles of stakeholders. The common aim of all and sundry should be for Nigeria to hold successful elections that will be adjudged free, fair, transparent and credible and accepted nationally and internationally. Everyone is urged to conduct his or herself properly before, during and after the elections and avoid actions that may cause the breakdown of law and order.” According to him, “the DSS will professionally discharge its statutory mandate which, among others, is to detect and prevent threats and crimes against the internal security of Nigeria. Also, it will appropriately engage stakeholders. This is for the protection and success of the elections. Therefore, ensuring security that will make the electoral process noble and acceptable to participants and their supporters is uppermost to the Service. In this regard, the Service is determined to identify and arrest criminals and their collaborators whose activities are counter to the national objective of achieving peaceful and orderly elections.” Court Asked To Disqualify Atiku From Presidential Poll And five days to the presidential election, a group, the Incorporated Trustees of Egalitarian Mission for Africa, has sued the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, over his claim of Nigerian citizenship. The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/177/2019 and dated February 11, 2019, was filed on behalf of the group by Mr. Kayode Ajulo. In the suit, the plaintiff wants an interpretation of section 25(1) and (2) and 131(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended). Other defendants in the suit are the PDP, INEC, and the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice. The group wants the court to determine, “whether section 25 of the 199 Constitution (as amended) is the sole authority that spells out ways by which a person can become a Nigerian citizen by birth? “Whether by the provisions of section 131(a) of the same constitution, only a Nigerian citizen by birth can contest for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? “Whether by the combined interpretation of sections 25(1) and (2) and 131(a) of the same constitution and giving the circumstances surrounding the birth of the 1st defendant, he can be cleared by the 2nd and 3rd defendants to contest for the office of the president of Nigeria?” If the answers to the aforesaid questions are resolved in favour of the plaintiff, consequently, the group prayed for the following reliefs: “A declaration that by the provisions of Section 131(a) of the Nigerian constitution, only a Nigerian citizen by birth can contest for the office of the president of the country. “A declaration that by the combined interpretation of sections 25(l) and (2) and 131(a) of the constitution and giving the circumstances surrounding the birth of the 1st defendant, he cannot be cleared by the 2nd and 3rd defendants to contest for the office of the president of Nigeria. In an affidavit deposed to by one Michael Okejimi, a legal practitioner in the law firm of Kayode Ajulo, he averred that Atiku was born on the 25th November, I946. “That from the 1st defendant’s own testimony that is gazetted and published in most national dailies in circulation, he is from Jada town in Adamawa State and Jada used to be in Ganye local government area in Adamawa State. “That Ganye is regarded as the mother of the whole Chamba tribe. “That Ganye, however, was never part of Nigeria legally as at the date of birth of the 1st defendant. “That the area had been entrusted to Britain by a League of Nations mandate in l919 and later as Trust Territory by the United Nations in l946. “That with the defeat of Germany in World War I, Cameroon became a League of Nations mandate territory and was split into French Cameroons and British Cameroons in 1919. “That while France integrated the economy of their part of Cameroon with that of France, the British administered theirs from neighbouring Nigeria, making 1st defendant’s Jada, a British franchise. “That a plebiscite was held in British Cameroons to determine whether the people preferred to stay in Cameroon or align with Nigeria. “That while Northern Cameroon preferred a union with Nigeria, Southern Cameroon chose alignment with the mother country. “That on June 1, I961, Northern Cameroon became part of Nigeria, and on October 1, 1961, the Southern territory dissolved into Cameroon. “That Ganye, which incorporates the 1st defendant’s birthplace of Jada was the headquarters of British Cameroons, but it joined Nigeria following the plebiscite. “That when the lst defendant was on November 25, I946 born to a Fulani trader and farmer Garba Abubakar, Jada village and other parts of Chamba land in the then Northern Cameroon were still known as British Cameroons. “That none of the lst defendant’s parents or grandparents was born in Nigeria. “That the Ist defendant’s father died a citizen of Northern Cameroon in I957 prior to the referendum of June 1, 1961, that made Northern Cameroon became part of Nigeria.”

 

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Delta Reviews Ayakoromo Bridge Contract to N10.5bn

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DAN DENT (ASABA)

SPONSORED BY: H&H

Delta Government said it had approved an upward review of contract cost of Ayakoromo Bridge project from N6 billion to N10.5 billion.

The Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, told journalists in Asaba that the review was part of decisions reached at the first State Executive Council meeting in 2022, which was presided over by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on Thursday.

Aniagwu explained that the contract for the construction of the bridge which was awarded in 2013 had to be reviewed as a result of present economic realities in the country.

He said that the project was priority to the present administration in the state, adding that it was expected to be completed and inaugurated within the next 15 months.

“The Ayakoromo bridge also came up today and the Exco has approved an upward review of that contract which was awarded in 2013 at the initial cost of about N6 billion.

On the Independent Power Plant (IPP) in Oghara, Aniagwu said that the council gave approval for a programme that would enable the IPP come on stream by bringing in Independent Power Generating Companies under lease to own it.

“We have some turbines and equipment that they (the power generating companies) need to buy. We will bring them in and they will pay us some money from the beginning to some time and they will own the plant thereafter,” he said.

According to him, the state government took the measure because it does not want to engage in outright sale of the power facility where the state may be short-changed.

The commissioner further stated that Exco approved the upgrade of Delta Broadcasting Service (DBS) to enable it to beam its signals across the state and to the entire South-South region. 

To this end, he said, transmitters and other tools would be provided for the Asaba station and Ubulu-Uku sub-station to enhance the strength of the signal.

“The good one for me is that Exco approved the upgrade of Delta Broadcasting Service. So, in the next six months, we will, as much as possible, provide them with transmitters that would be able to cover the entire state,” Aniagwu stated.

On road infrastructure, he said that approval was given for the construction of Idheze internal roads in Isoko axis, rehabilitation of 5.6km Idere-Ase road in Isoko South, construction of Umuchime-Ogbele road, Ogume in Ndokwa West and construction of Ovie Whiskey Palace Road, Jesse, in Ethiope West.

While saying that the Okpe- Ekuku-Agbor road in Ika South was also approved for construction, the Commissioner disclosed that the Exco approved the rehabilitation and expansion of the Ugbolu – Asaba road as well as the Flood Control measures of Sakpoba Water Board, Oghara and the Ajagbodudu Market road. 

“We also approved the rehabilitation of Ugbolu-Asaba road, to enable people easily access the film village coming to fruition soon. The road will also be expanded,” he added.

Aniagwu said that Exco also approved the repudiation of the Udu Harbour Market due to non-performance of the contractor, and that the contract would be re-awarded to a more competent company.

He disclosed that the council approved the appointment of Michael Imoh as the Ovie of Aviara in Isoko South, adding that Solomon Usoro Onyesom was endorsed as the Okpala-Uku of Ashaka Kingdom in Ndokwa East.

The Commissioner also announced that the government gave approval for the amendment of the declaration to the throne of Uvwie Kingdom regarding succession to the throne, even as he said that a 500-seater auditorium was approved for construction at the Delta State University, Abraka.

On his part, the Commissioner for Urban Renewal, Chief Arthur Akpovwowo, said approval was given for the transfer of the Department of Town Planning and Urban Development Board from Ministry of Lands to the Ministry of Urban Renewal.

Akpovwowo disclosed that approval had been given for the ministry to work at Ekuku-Agbor in Ika South,  Ovu in Ethiope East and Akugbene in Bomadi Local Government Areas, and assured that the ministry would ensure that illegal activities in town planning and development were put to a halt. 

He sued for the support of all in correcting the ills bedevilling town planning and development in the state.

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2023: Obasa Hints on Type of Leader Nigeria Deserves

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…Says Tinubu laid foundation that makes Lagos a successful state

AJAGBE ADEYEMI TESLIM

SPONSORED BY: H&H

The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, on Thursday said Nigeria desires a leader with an experience of success in previous assignments.

Dr. Obasa said this at the Anchor University’s first Distinguished Public Lecture of the faculty of Humanities in Lagos stressing that leaders can only succeed when they have the requisite capacities to meet the desires of their followers.

Noting that Nigerians currently yearn for more from their leaders in the face of daunting challenges, Obasa expressed hope that the country would meet the collective dream of the citizens soon.

“If you place our country side by side some countries and compare developments in the last 50 years, you would agree that we have challenges.

“However, we are all leaders in our various spheres. Leadership has to do with the roles you play in your various communities.

“Today, people choose to go to Dubai instead of some other countries. Look at their development in the last 50 years. We heard stories of how their leaders visited Ibadan for medical checkups.

“Now, what do we have? Nigerians visiting the country and others for medical reasons.

“Today, China is a super power because of its growth and development.

“That is why we have to talk about leadership and the most important thing for us now is to have a leader who understands and can handle our situation such that a man living in a corner in Ipaja, who does not have interest in who the leader is, enjoys what should be simple amenities of life,” he said.

The Speaker argued that fixing Nigeria requires good governance and that the country currently has an opportunity to get it right ahead of 2023.

“And as you are aware, if anyone applies for a job, the first things that are asked for are the person’s credentials and experience.

“So in chosing who would be our leader in 2023, we need to ask questions about who is competent enough and had done something similar to what we desire.

“We can still remember that not long ago, we had someone in Lagos State who laid a solid foundation, particularly in relation to revenue. We know that without revenue, there is hardly anything we can do.

“We had that person who used his intelligence to move the revenue from just N600 million to billions of naira and today, the State gets multi-billion naira revenue for development.

“See the infrastructural development in Lagos State now and you will agree that we need people who are experienced and highly exposed for leadership positions.

“Leadership is not about who is old or young. We have had some young governors who have no positive thing to show about the development of their states,” he stressed.

Obasa, who was honoured by the institution, promised a robust relationship between the university and the government. He also urged the management to assist the government by making suggestions that would help the State.

The guest lecturer at the event, Prof. Ayodeji Olukoju, corroborated the Speaker’s position emphasising that the right leadership is what Nigeria needs.

The Professor of History and Strategic Studies at the University of Lagos, also commended the Lagos State government for the giant strides recorded so far.

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Delta Govt Donates 5 Amoured Carriers to Army, Police

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DAN DENT (ASABA)

SPONSORE BY: H&H

Delta Government on Wednesday handed over 5 armoured personnel carriers to the 63 Brigade, Nigerian Army and the state police command to strengthen their operations.

Presenting the armoured vehicles shortly after the State Security Council Meeting held at Government House, Asaba, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa said three of the security vehicles were for the Army while two were for the Police.

He expressed appreciation to the various security commands in the state for the work that they have been doing to consolidate on the peace and security in the state.

According to him, the various security commands have been doing so well to keep Delta State peaceful, pointing out that it was his hope that the state government’s gesture would add up to the vehicular needs that will enable them carry out their operations.  

“We have just risen from a Security Council Meeting where we discussed a lot of issues concerning the security of the state.

“And we also expressed our appreciations to the various commands for the work that they have been doing to consolidate on the peace that we have in our state.

“In furtherance of the various logistics provisions for the Army and the Police, this afternoon, we are handing over two Armoured Personnel Carriers specially built for the Army.

“One had also been previously delivered to the Army making it three for the 63 Brigade and two had earlier been delivered to the Police, making it a total of five Amoured Personnel Carriers.

“So, we are glad that at this point in time in this early part of the year, that the remaining two to the 63 Brigade have been delivered.

“We do hope that in the course of the year, we will be in a position to also provide other logistic needs for the various commands.

“They have been doing so well to keep Delta State peaceful and we are very grateful and we hope that this will add up to the vehicular needs that will enable them carry out their operations,” the governor said. 

Highlight of the ceremony was the handing of keys of the Amoured Personnel Carriers for the Army to the 63 Brigade Commander, Brig. General Abdulraman Idris and State Commissioner of Police, Mr Mohammed Ari.

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