How Politicians Threaten Nigeria’s Electoral Democracy – Moshood Isah

Show me a Nigerian Politician who would rather lose a credible election than win in a flawed process – Moshood Isah

Last week, Thursday 22nd February to be precise; the media was awash with revelation made by erstwhile Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Professor Attahiru Jega that, “the desperation and recklessness of politicians is the greatest threat to Nigeria’s Electoral Democracy”.  The former INEC boss made the comment at the inaugural session of ‘Watching The Vote Election Series’, an event organized by YIAGA Africa to serve as a platform in discussing the road map leading to the 2019 general elections. Professor Jega’s comment couldn’t have come at a better time and gathering as the event was graced by election stakeholders, which include major Political Party Actors, Civil Society Organizations and Youth Groups across Nigeria.

There is no questioning Professor Jega’s firsthand knowledge of the antics of Nigerian Politicians, especially seeing as he was at the helm of affairs at INEC during the 2011 and 2015 general elections. Both elections made their marks in the history of elections in Nigeria, especially the 2015 polls which for the first time saw the replacement of an incumbent President with an opposition. The memory of how a certain “Elder Statesman”, Godswill Orubebe almost truncated what has been described as a peaceful process comes to mind. It took the calmness of the erudite Professor and other electoral stakeholders present at the announcement of results to ensure the scenario ended as a momentary distraction.

It is rather unfortunate that the key players of the electoral process are the most culpable when it comes to electoral turmoil in Nigeria. While we may heap the blame on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) when it comes to irregularities during elections. However, Nigerians are not oblivious of the fact that, politicians always try to be a step ahead in a bid to manipulate the process.

Take for example, the most recent issue of alleged underage voting in Kano, which of course is a dent on the image of the electoral body. However, it should be stated that, state electoral commissions are solely responsible in conducting Local Government Elections according to Law.

Like YIAGA Africa #WatchingTheVote training manager; Mr. Paul stated during a TV program on Wazobia TV Max not too long ago, no underage person will come out on their own to vote without politicians inducing and mobilizing them. Though election officials may be culpable as regards underage voting, report has it that politicians go as far as threatening electoral officials with guns and other weapons forcing them to undermine the process.

The lack of adequate security for electoral officials during elections is an issue for future symposium, which to a large extent makes one begin to wonder why electoral officials are vulnerable during electoral duty.

As rightly noted by the former National Chairman of Labour Party; Barrister Dan Nwanyanwu during the Election Series, Nigerian politicians do not care about the credibility of the electoral process, as they are more interested in winning elections at all cost.

As a matter of fact, politicians hardly make effort in voter education during political campaigns, as all they care about is canvassing for votes. It is surprising as well as worrisome that in this age and time, elections still register thousands of invalid votes due to lack of adequate voter education.

The ongoing debate on the change of electoral sequence by the National Assembly is another issue which tends to undermine the power of the electoral body and as a result, undermine Nigeria’s electoral process. Professor Jega also waded in on the issue noting that, the decision by the National Assembly is self-serving and goes a long way in showing how far politicians can go in deviating from laid down rules and procedure for what is obviously not an altruistic motive.

Political Analysts have come out to say that, INEC within its constitutional right has been empowered to decide the dates of election. Thus, the ongoing debate may end up in court. This litigation could be a major drawback to INEC, as it should be taking its time in preparing for the Ekiti and Osun elections.

Despite all of these, its either difficult or impossible to prosecute any politician for electoral fraud in Nigeria. Electoral violence, mobilization of thugs, vote buying and attack on electoral officials are major issues masterminded by reckless politicians and has contributed immensely to voter apathy, thereby undermining the electoral process. Also, the issue of penury of internal democracy which constitutes a major bottleneck for young people contesting elections cannot be overemphasized.

There is need for security agencies to step up their game and apprehend any politician culpable of these offences. While the sensitization of young people as regards being used as electoral thugs is imperative so as for them to know they have better and equally vital roles to play in the society.

Moshood Isah is the Media Officer of YIAGA Africa

Check out the Judicial Survey Findings on Rule of Law

The Rule of the Law and Empowerment Initiative (also known as Partners West Africa – Nigeria) with support from MacArthur Foundation. To ensure effective collaboration, Partners West Africa – Nigeria worked with the state High Courts in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos & Ondo; Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee; the Nigerian Bar Association (Akure, Gwagwalada, Ikeja, Lagos Island, & Unity Branches), Nigeria Institute of Advance Legal Studies, civil society organizations & the media.

The goal of the project is to enhance integrity in the Nigerian Judicial system through court observation; promote implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act/Law in the FCT, Lagos & Ondo states; enhance citizen’s participation in judicial processes and improve access to information on judicial proceedings with regards to compliance of the ACJA. We aim to achieve this through social accountability in the judicial sector.

A total of 65 court rooms is being observed in the three states (FCT -20, Lagos- 25 and Ondo – 20)

Download Full Report Below

JUDICIAL SURVEY REPORT Statement of Release_Q1_FCT

Corruption: CJN unfolds 13 reforms as judges get travel guide

THE judiciary is not relaxing the efforts to restore its pride, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, has said.

Backlog of cases, delayed proceedings and corruption allegations agaisnt officers are some of the stains the institution has been battling to remove.

Unfolding 13 reforms designed to sanitise the judiciary and rid it of corruption, the CJN said he must henceforth approve all overseas’ trips by judges.

The CJN, who spoke yesterday at the “Dialogue of organs of government on campaign against corruption and reform of the justice sector at the Presidential Villa in, Abuja, said all travels outside Nigeria by judges will now be with his permission after an application would have been made.

The forum was organised by the Prof Itse Sagay-led Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC).

Onnoghen also directed the court at any level to award punitive cost for frivolous litigation or delays caused by counsel.

In the reforms, judges are now all to go to work and sit in their courts from Monday to Friday from 9am to at least 4pm.

He listed the reforms in an address read by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa.

Onnoghen said: “In the recent past, the judiciary has been accused of corruption along with the allegation that when complaints of corrupt practices and unprofessional conducts are brought before the National Judicial Council (NJC), the Council shields or delays investigating the allegations so levelled against judicial officers.

“Without considering the merit or otherwise of the criticisms, it goes without saying that the judiciary, like every other human institution, needs a rejigging every now and then to improve the functionality of the institution towards a speedy delivery of justice.

“I have recently authorised the issuance of a set of reforms which ultimate objective is the speedy and transparent delivery of justice.

“The delay in our justice delivery system is of great concern to me. This unacceptable situation inevitably dictates the need for a thorough and comprehensive reform of our justice sector to ensure access to justice at affordable costs and within a reasonable time

“Such a reform agenda must of necessity require the cooperation of the three arms of government, namely; the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary, as well as other relevant stakeholders

“The reforms I have introduced cover a wide range of issues; from establishing new modalities for appointment of judicial officers, to tightening judicial discipline regulations, and fashioning out a speedy way to clear backlog of cases, among others.

“Clearly, any unnecessary delay of justice is equally an act of corruption. Therefore, to enhance speedy dispensation of justice, we are ensuring that the Rules of Court Procedure must contain a provision for the award of punitive cost by the court for frivolous litigation or delays caused by counsel.

“In the same vein, I am reviving and strengthening the Inspectorate Division to go round the country and ensure that, in line with Public Service Rules, all judicial officers go to work and sit in their courts from Monday to Friday from 9am to at least 4pm.

“And, in line with the NJC’s Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers, I have directed that travels outside Nigeria should be with the permission of the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria, after an application would have been made.

“For enhanced performance, all Judges of Lower Courts in the country have been directed to submit Returns of Cases quarterly to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) for assessment as it is done by the National Judicial Council (NJC) in respect of serving Judicial Officers of Superior Courts of Record.

“The area of appointment, all judges of lower courts and other public officers such as chief registrars and secretaries, among others, are henceforth required to write examinations and be interviewed, in addition to submission of copies of their judgments to the NJC when they are to be considered for judicial appointment.

“For members of the Bar who seek judicial appointments, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) will, in addition to the requirements in the NJC Guidelines on Appointment of Judicial Officers, assist the NJC with a separate assessment report on all NBA candidates being considered for judicial appointment.

“In the area of discipline, members appointed to serve in any fact-finding committee will henceforth be expected to complete their investigation and report their reports within 21 days.

“And, considering the increasing number of petitions written against judicial officers, we will constitute more committees to investigate the allegations therein.

“We have a lot more in our agenda to strengthen and reposition the judiciary, but suffice it to say that fighting corruption is not the responsibility of any particular arm of government but that of every citizen of Nigeria.

“Corruption or any other form of injustice, for that matter, thrives in a culture of impunity. To carry out a successful campaign against corruption, we have to fight the culture of impunity which is an attitudinal phenomenon. If we allow the rule of law to reign, then there will be a dramatic reduction in corruption and injustice.

“Corruption starts with a decision by an individual or a group of individuals to do the wrong thing. It is as simple as that. Corruption is never an accidental act. The person who commits a corrupt act has an option to do the right thing.

“As a democracy, Nigeria is guided by the Rule of Law where the Constitution is the ground norm. It is pertinent to mention that there is no ambiguity concerning the role of the judiciary in our Constitution. It is an arbiter between parties. The core issue in the mind of an arbiter is for justice to be done and seen to be done.

“Corruption in the judicial arm of government happens if an arbiter, in this case a magistrate, a judge, a justice or a panel, having heard from all parties and having determined where justice lies, decides to do the wrong thing by giving judgment to favour a particular individual or party over another.

“On the part of the judiciary, the NJC under my watch has constituted the Corruption and Financial Crimes Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO) under the chairmanship of Hon. Mr. Justice Suleiman Galadima, CFR, JSC (rtd), to serve as a check on the excesses of some bad eggs in the Judiciary. I am confident that in due course of time; our efforts to rid the Judiciary of questionable persons shall yield results.

“To match words with action, we did not just set up COTRIMCO but we have devoted a 20 per cent of our already lean budget in the Judiciary to the committee to ensure their mandate is effectively executed.

“I have also issued a directive to all heads of courts to designate some courts in their jurisdictions as Special Courts to handle corruption cases. This is a step in the right direction as lingering corruption cases will be expeditiously dispensed with.”

He reminded Nigerians that their collective efforts would be required to tackle the monster called corruption.

Onnoghen said: “Every individual must resolve to do the right thing, at the right time and without compulsion if we are determined to fight the scourge of corruption to a successful finish.

“Whatever solutions the experts will proffer at the end of this dialogue, let me add this, establishing a reward system in all strata of our society to encourage the good in us, will go a long way to encourage the values of honesty, hard work and integrity.

“More importantly, we must, as a nation, humble ourselves in prayer, turn from our evil ways and find our way back to God.”

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption, Chukwuka Utazi, said: “There is too much lip service to the fight against corruption. We need to do more to strengthen our anti-corruption agencies to discharge their duties to all whether you are in the ruling or opposition party.”

On his part, Justice A.D. Yahaya of the Court of Appeal said: “If PACAC was not there, Nigeria would have been at the worst end in corruption.

“We keep talking about corruption. It is so endemic and it is alarming. The problem is the indiscipline with us. I am sorry for this country; I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel unless we face the campaign against corruption, the way it should be faced.”

The Reforms

Establishing new modalities for appointment of judicial officers
Tightening judicial discipline regulations
Fashioning out a speedy way to clear backlog of cases
Speedy and transparent delivery of justice.
Rules of Court Procedure now to contain provision for the award of punitive cost by the Court for frivolous litigation or delays
Reviving and strengthening the Inspectorate Division to ensure judicial officers go to work and sit in their courts from Monday to Friday from 9am to at least 4pm.
President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to assist the NJC with a separate assessment report on all NBA candidates being considered for judicial appointment.
All Judges of Lower Courts and other public officers such as Chief Registrars and Secretaries, among others, are henceforth required to write examinations before being appointed
To constitute more committees to investigate allegations against judges
All Heads of Courts to designate some courts in their jurisdictions as Special Courts to handle corruption cases
20% of Judiciary Budget to be devoted to Corruption and Financial Crimes Cases Trial Monitoring Committee (COTRIMCO)
All travels outside Nigeria by judges will now be with the permission of the CJN after an application would have been made.
All Judges of Lower Courts in the country have been directed to submit Returns of Cases quarterly to the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC)

Source: The Nation

2019: INEC moves to clean up voter register, partners population commission on dead persons

The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday urged the National Population Commission (NPC) to furnish it with record of dead citizens since 2015 to enable it to “sanitise’’ the voter register.

Chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, a professor, made the request when he visited the Chairman of NPC, Eze Duruiheoma, in Abuja.

He said that the records were necessary to enable the electoral umpire to expunge names of dead persons from the national voter register.

“We will like to partner NPC and ask that the population commission make available records of dead citizens since 2015 to enable us take necessary steps to remove them from the voter register.

“We are confident that you will oblige us so that we can further clean up our voter register ahead of the 2019 general elections,” Mr. Yakubu said.

According to him, the commission is determined to do whatever it takes to sanitise the voter register as a free, fair and credible election is dependent on a sanitised voter register.

The chairman said that as provided by the Constitution, both commissions were saddled with similar responsibilities.

“While INEC is saddled with the responsibility of registering eligible voters, the population commission registers births and deaths of citizens across the country,” he said.

He disclosed that a draft copy of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between both agencies had been submitted to the population commission for its consideration.

“When the MoU is signed, it will formalise and enhance collaboration between the sister agencies for the general development of the country,” Mr. Yakubu said.

Responding, Mr. Duruiheoma commended INEC for the initiative to sanitise the voter register using records of NPC.

He said the collaboration between the sister agencies in the performance of statutory duties was very pivotal to national development.

According to Mr. Duruiheoma, “if we get our elections and censuses right, our nation will be on the way to greatness.”

He said that the commission would commence the process of making the records of deaths across the country available to INEC.

He, however, said that the commission could not pretend to have the records of every birth or death that had occurred since 2015.

“We look forward to the day when every single birth or death case will be efficiently documented by the commission,” Mr. Duruijeoma said.

He said that copies of the MoU had been circulated among relevant officers within the commission and that necessary inputs were already being made.

He assured the INEC chairman of his readiness to sign the MoU once it was finalised.

(NAN)

Source : Premium Times

‘Corruption getting worse in Nigeria’ — Transparency International releases 2017 index

Corruption is getting worse in Nigeria, according to the latest corruption perception index (CPI) released by Transparency International (TI) on Wednesday.

While the country scored 27/100 and was ranked 136th in 2016, the latest CPI scores Nigeria 28/100 but with a rank of No. 148 out of 180 countries surveyed — a significant 12 places below where it was the previous year.

This will come as a blow to the President Muhammadu Buhari administration who came into office on the strength of his anti-corruption credential.

Although the administration has put many suspects on trial and seized assets of politicians and government officials, it has also been accused of condoning corrupt practices by top government officials.

The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption in the opinion of experts and business people, uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean, according to TI.

NIGERIA NOW MORE CORRUPT THAN KENYA

An analysis by TheCable shows that Kenya, which was rated more corrupt than Nigeria in 2016, has now overtaken the west African country, climbing to 143 from 145.

Other sub Saharan African countries ranked higher than Nigeria are Botswana — whose joint 34 rank is the best in Africa — as well as Rwanda (joint 48) and Nambia (joint 53).

Nigeria is ranked 148 along with Guinea and Comoros.

In 2015, Nigeria scored 26/100 and was ranked 136 — although only 168 countries and territories were surveyed then.

New Zealand maintains the No. 1 rank with a score of 89/100, Denmark No. 2 with 88, while Finland, Norway and Switzerland are joint No. 3 with 85.

‘CORRUPTION FIGHT IN NIGERIA STALLED’

Meanwhile, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), the national contact of TI, says it is “seriously worried” about the new but unfavorable trend in the fight against corruption in the country, as buttressed in the newly published CPI.

“On the African continent, Nigeria ranks 32nd position in Africa out of 52 assessed countries in 2017. While Botswana leads the continent with the record of competent and largely corruption-free public administration, Nigeria hopelessly falls behind with 27 points. In West Africa, Nigeria is the second worst country out of 17 countries leaving only Guinea Bissau behind,” CISLAC said in a statement released on Wednesday evening.

“This fresh setback in the fight against corruption confirms that grand-corruption, political corruption, nepotism, favoritism and bribery persist in Nigeria at all levels. It is CISLAC’s view that the negative perception is mainly a consequence of the inability to combat grand corruption and astronomical plundering of public coffers costing the Nigerian tax payers around 25% of annual GDP. Since the current administration has come to power on the anti-corruption ticket, no significant politically exposed person has been duly sentenced on anti-corruption charges,” it added.

Source: The Cable

Kano, INEC and the 2019 Elections, By Jibrin Ibrahim

Kano, it would be recalled, has been in political turmoil for over one year as former Governor Kwankwaso had been involved in a fight to finish with current Governor Ganduje and the local government election was the opportunity for the current governor to show that he is the only game in town, as such there was additional pressure to falsify the election.

The Kano local government election has been one of the main issues of controversy in the past week. The debate was over video images that circulated showing boys, definitely younger than 18-years, queuing up to vote or thumb printing multiple ballot papers. It led to genuine alarm over the implications of such behaviour for next year’s elections. Charly Boy, the famous entertainer, led a coalition of civil society activists organised under the banner of OurMumuDonDo to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to complain about the election and demand for action. The social media was full of critical comments attacking INEC for the shambolic election. INEC then engaged in a media frenzy, explaining that it had nothing to do with the election, which they argued was organised by the body constitutionally empowered to do so, the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC).

I recall that when the Uwais Electoral Reform Committee was touring Nigeria for the views of citizens on its assignment, one of the key complaints then was that the State Independent Electoral Commissions were not independent of state governors and that they deny citizens the right to elect chairpersons and councillors at the local government level, imposing lists of candidates that had been drawn up by governors on the people. I still recall the anger of so many petitioners who really wanted to vote for good people to run their local governments, the closest level of administration for citizens, but who could not do so as the so-called elections are always non-elections in reality. The Uwais Committee recommended what has been a national consensus – that there should be a constitutional alteration allowing INEC to takeover the conduct of local government elections. That is yet to happen.

If everyone knows that local government elections in the country have never been elections, why was the Kano show so controversial? The first issue was the optics. The videos that I saw showed that most of the people involved appeared to be children; it was as if there are no adults in Kano State. Kano, as is well known, is an issue because of its huge electoral base. Local government elections are supposed to be conducted using the INEC voters’ register but none of the images I saw showed the use of the register. The problem, apparently, is that there is no mechanism compelling the SIEC to stick to the legal provision of using the INEC register, and INEC has no supervisory role in the conduct of the elections.

The general situation in the country, with violence spreading and preparations going on for next year’s elections, has focused attention on the voters’ register. For the first time since the return of democracy in 1999, INEC is adhering to the provisions of the Electoral Act by conducting Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).

Kano, it would be recalled, has been in political turmoil for over one year as former Governor Kwankwaso had been involved in a fight to finish with current Governor Ganduje and the local government election was the opportunity for the current governor to show that he is the only game in town, as such there was additional pressure to falsify the election. People knew that and did not bother to turn up for the election. The opposition to Ganduje had a stake in proving that there was no election and some of the images circulated may have been photoshopped by them to make that point. However, I believe that some of the images are real and confirm the popular belief that elections did not take place in Kano State.

The general situation in the country, with violence spreading and preparations going on for next year’s elections, has focused attention on the voters’ register. For the first time since the return of democracy in 1999, INEC is adhering to the provisions of the Electoral Act by conducting Continuous Voter Registration (CVR). With the introduction of the Biometric Voter Register in 2011, INEC no longer undertakes fresh voters’ registration with every election. In 2015, there was a CVR at the ward level for one week to update the 2011 voters’ register, in preparation for the 2015 General Elections. In April 2017, INEC took the next step by commencing voters’ registration on a continuous, all-year round basis, as provided for by law. Initially, turn out for the registration was low, until religious organisations started urging their members to register. One WhatsApp message is indicative of the mood in the land – “prayer points won’t give you the vote, you need your permanent voters’ card”. This for me is a good indication that Nigerians are beginning to accept that both the voters’ list and our elections have improved integrity and credibility. The optics of the Kano videos raised an alarm because people started posing questions.

One fallout of the proposed new schedule is that organising three elections, instead of the customary two, would be a huge financial burden on national resources in a period when the country is just emerging from economic recession. There would be enormous logistics and cost implications for INEC, in terms of the mobilisation and demobilisation…

According to INEC, so far, four million Nigerians have been registered between April and December 2017. As the pressure mounts on citizens to get on the register, my fear is that people who are already registered would go out to register again. Continuous registration is uniquely for people who have turned 18, and not for those already on the register. Double registration is a crime. People who have changed locations or lost their cards are allowed to apply for new cards, but they must not pretend they are not on the register. The response to the Kano images should be to protect the integrity and credibility of the voters’ roll. That should be our focus.

On Wednesday, the National Assembly concluded the process of rescheduling the elections. The changes they have introduced to the sequence of the elections are disturbing because it has implications for the independence of INEC. According to Paragraph 15 (1) of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, INEC has the power “to organise, undertake and supervise all elections to the offices of the President and Vice President, the Governor and Deputy Governor of a State, and to the membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the House of Assembly of each State of the Federation.” The Constitution is clear that election to the offices listed above “shall be held on a date to be appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission.” Based on this provision, State and National Assembly elections were held before governorship and presidential elections previously, and the dates and sequence of the 2019 elections have already been determined by INEC. It is hard to see the purpose of isolating the National Assembly elections and putting these ahead of the governorship and presidential election. It would have been more logical to group federal elections on one day and state level elections on another, or to group legislative elections on one day and election into executive positions on another. It appears that the only purpose might be that National Assembly members think they would enhance their personal chances in the elections if they go first. They forget that the evidence from previous elections is that their governors would deny most of them nomination and usually only 20 percent of them usually return to the chambers. Their thinking then might be that if they are thrown out of their parties and join new ones, the rescheduling might enhance their chances. This, to say the least is self-serving.

One fallout of the proposed new schedule is that organising three elections, instead of the customary two, would be a huge financial burden on national resources in a period when the country is just emerging from economic recession. There would be enormous logistics and cost implications for INEC, in terms of the mobilisation and demobilisation of upwards of over one million regular and Ad-hoc INEC staff, transportation, feeding and security personnel. The capacity and resources of the security agencies will be severely tasked in providing election security for three elections over a six-week period, given the dire national security situation in the country. The same would be true for local and international election observers. Laws are serious instruments and should not be made for selfish interest without consideration for the national interest.

Source: Premium Times

EXCLUSIVE: Real reasons Senators, Reps amended 2019 election sequence

Details have emerged on the reasons the National Assembly changed the sequence of elections ahead of the 2019 polls.

Some lawmakers who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES in confidence said negotiations that preceded the passage ended in majority favouring the change based on past experiences and calculations about the 2019 elections.

According to the timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), presidential and National Assembly elections were slated for the same day on February 16, 2019.

However, with amendment to section 25 of the Electoral Act, election into seats in the National Assembly will hold on the first day before those of the state lawmakers and state governors on the second day, with the presidential election holding last on a separate date.

According to the section, the elections shall be held in the following order: (a) National Assembly election (b) States House of Assembly and Governorship elections (c) Presidential election.

The House of Representatives was first to amend the Electoral Act some weeks after INEC’s timetable was announced. However, the passage at the senate was not without drama and dissent.

The senate chamber was thrown into a rowdy session on Wednesday, February 14, following the adoption of the conference committee report on amendment to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Act.

The senate in its justification of the amendment said members of the conference committee followed rules guiding legislative procedures in the Senate and the House of Representatives in making the recommendation.

“Our rule says whatever position we have taken and there is a similar one in the house, we harmonise, but where the house has taken a position that we have not taken, we are bound compulsorily to adopt that of the house,” Senate spokesperson, Sabi Abdullahi, said on Wednesday.
While the plenary was still on, 10 senators left the chamber to address the press on their disapproval of the amendment to section 25 of the Act. They alleged that the change in sequence was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari.

However, two influential senators who supported the amendments, and who have deep insights of the political schemings that culminated in their passage, have now confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the changes were indeed targeted at President Buhari, with sights trained on the next elections.

Both senators asked not to be named so they are not victimised by the presidency and the national leadership of the ruling party.

The first lawmaker traced the decision to amend the sequence of elections to the crisis rocking the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).

“The change in sequence is as a result of APC crisis where it was predicted that senators and members of House of Reps will not be given ticket because the governors want to replace them with their own candidates,” he said.

“Almost 70 to 80 percent of APC senators and Reps members are working on moving to other parties. So, in order for them to move to other parties, the understanding is that if they will move to other parties, under the old order, it will be difficult for people to win elections. The idea is that if you move to a new party, people can be voted based on their own merit.

“The new arrangement favours three categories of people. One, the APC members who are aggrieved, second, it favours smaller political parties. Third, it favours the PDP.”

The lawmaker added that rather than fighting the President as the dissenting senators claimed, they are actually fighting for their political interests.

“Those who came up against it, outwardly, they are saying that it was targeted at Buhari but inwardly, what they were saying was that if they separate presidential election from National Assembly election, the APC will not release money for polling agents. That APC will not release money for the National Assembly elections. But it is only when they tie National Assembly election with presidential election that the APC will have no option than to fund it.”

The second lawmaker said the need to erase the notion that lawmakers won their elections in 2015 due to the bandwagon effect of Mr. Buhari’s election informed the new order.

After the 2015 elections, analysts posited that majority of APC lawmakers rode on the popularity of Mr. Buhari to win their elections. This, some of the lawmakers consider offensive.

The lawmaker said the need to test the water, with or without the President, informed the decision to alter the election sequence.

Also, the new order was imperative due to alleged electoral attitude of President Buhari and the APC.

If the sequence was left the way it was, the lawmakers are of the opinion that Mr. Buhari will not be interested in other elections once he wins his.

Besides, according to our source, the APC will be forced to release money for other elections bearing in mind that the president’s election is at stake.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives, unlike the Senate, adopted the harmonised version of the amended Electoral Act on Wednesday.

The amendments, if eventually signed by the president, will effectively re-organise the sequence of elections in Nigeria.

However, if the president withholds assent, the lawmakers are empowered by the constitution to veto the amendment with the votes of two-thirds of their members.

The lawmakers told PREMIUM TIMES that they (senators) are ready to veto the decision should the president reject the bill.

Source: Premium Times

2019: INEC partners NIGCOMSAT on e-collation, transmission

Ahead of the 2019 general elections, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has met with the management of the Nigeria Communications Satellite, NIGCOMSAT, to enhance the former’s bid to ensure electronic collation and transmission of election results. Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) A statement by Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, recalled that the INEC boss had only last week had a very useful meeting with the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, as the regulator of the telecommunications sector in Nigeria.

The statement read: “In continuation of consultations with national agencies in the telecommunications sector, INEC considers this interactive meeting critical to the success of our commitment to deepening of the application of technology to elections. “We ,therefore, appreciate the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer and management staff of Nigerian Communications Satellite, NIGCOMSAT, Abimbola Alale, for the kind acceptance of our request for this visit. “Through the NCC, we are reaching out to the telecommunications operators for the necessary connectivity to ensure that results of elections from each of the 119,973 (or approximately 120,000) polling units nationwide are electronically transmitted, including scanned images of result sheets. “While we appreciate the tremendous reach of the telecommunications operators, we are equally aware that some of our Polling Units are located in places where 3G and 4G networks are not available for real time electronic transmission of results.

“It is for this reason that we wish to leverage on the capacity of NIGCOMSAT to provide a wide range of telecommunication services. “In particular, your broadband service offers a tremendous flexible bandwidth capacity that can be deployed almost anywhere and in a short period of time, including hard-to-reach and temporary locations. “These are invaluable to the work of INEC. Working with you and in partnership with the NCC as well as the telecommunications operators, we believe the challenges to the seamless transmission of results are not insurmountable.

Source: Vanguard

EFCC claims Suswam witness committed perjury

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), at the Federal High Court in Abuja said a key witness in the ongoing trial of former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam is hostile and has committed perjury under the law.

The witness for the defense team, Abubakar Umar, a Bureau De Change operator, narrated before trial Judge Ahmed Mohammed, that he helped former governor to convert the sum of three billion (N3.111 billion) into dollars between August and October 2014.

Umar, who is the fourth principal witness, PW-4, said he converted the money which he said amounted to $15.8 million, and took same to Suswam at the government house in Benue. In an Evidence-In-Chief, he gave through a Hausa interpreter, the PW-4, told the court that Suswam requested for the account number of his company -Fanffash Resources- through which he wired funds from the Benue state treasury on six separate occasions.

During a cross examination by Rotimi Jacobs SAN, the prosecution counsel, the witness, told the court that the report he gave at the EFCC’s office was not written by him and that it is possible for the writer (his in-law) to have written the wrong narration he gave.

To counter what Mr. Abubakar, Jacobs reminded him about another report he wrote at the EFCC’s office, the report was read out to him by a Hausa interpreter.

According to him ‘’ the report I gave at the EFCC’s office is the truth, I gave another report because Suswam met me after the last court hearing. He asked me why I had to say all that, he then told me to go see his lawyer that he will tell me what to say at the next court hearing.

After that day I received a call from one of Suswam’s people, he said if I can change my story that they are going to pay me huge about of money, when I got to the lawyer’s office he told me what to say at the next court proceeding.

But now I have made up my mind to stand by the truth and the truth only’’

Jacobs also expressed his surprise when Mr. Abubakar, the witness said he could not communicate in English Language.

He went further by telling the court that the witness only told him he could not write in English that Mr. Abubakar’s conversation with him as always been in English.

Ahmad Raji, defense counsel gave two premises why the report submitted by Jacobs can’t be accepted. He said until he can produce the Hausa version of the report and a signed English version by the witness, and the video of the witness’s report at the EFCC’S office.

Adding that there is an irregularity in the signatures.

Jacobs SAN gave a counter-argument, saying the signature on the report was for the witness and that they have the full video coverage of the witness at the EFCC’s office.

Justice AR Mohammed, the presiding judge adjourned for further cross-examination till March.

Why INEC needs a Youth Strategy

Inclusive participation in the electoral process is essential for measuring the quality of elections. An inclusive electoral process is an indicator of a country’s democratic development.

Election management bodies must ensure the principles of inclusion and representation are guaranteed in their operations. If youth participation must be enhanced, then youth engagement must be seen to be interesting and meaningful.

Historically, youth between the ages of 18-35 years in Nigeria (estimated to constitute about 60% of the population of the country) have been playing active roles in deepening democratization in Nigeria. The huge milestones Nigeria and the Independent National Electoral Commission recorded with the successful conduct of the 2015 elections would have been impossible without the contributions of the youth demographic.

Therefore, it is imperative to have avenues in which the youth are able to be a part of electoral processes rather than against it, having an inclusive system by encouraging participation via voting, contesting, election management among others. Strategic and intentional youth engagement throughout the electoral process also reduces the risks related to political exclusion. A youth strategy deliberately aimed at young people especially from a young age will help in building appreciation for the democratic practices and electoral process. Ultimately, a youth strategy will strengthen INEC’s sustained efforts for conducting free, fair and credible elections.

The Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) recommends that electoral management bodies (EMBs) should begin to integrate the youth into their organizational structures, and make use of their largely untapped skills, especially in the use of technology.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in partnership with YIAGA as part of efforts to strengthen youth voices for advocacy and increase youth participation in the electoral process with hold strategy development meetings, regional consultations, campus tours, online engagements and validation meetings towards the development of a strategy to guide INECs youth engagement throughout the electoral process.

“We all benefit by having young people exposed to the ‘way things are done’ in a democratic society. Isn’t it time… to ‘tap the power of youth?’” — Hans Bernard