LATEST ARTICLES

THE MUHAMMADU BUHARI MOTHER AND CHILD HOSPITAL IN MAKURDI, BENUE STATE

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In continuation of the fulfilment of his campaign promise of affordable healthcare for Nigerians, do you know that a 120-bed Mother and Child Hospital has been built by the Buhari administration in Makurdi the Benue State capital?

The well-furnished and equipped facility, which has been named as Muhammadu Buhari Mother and Child Hospital, will soon be commissioned by the President himself after which it will commence operations.

Very importantly, it is gratifying to know that this new hospital will not only restrict itself to Mothers and Children but will treat other adults with health issues that can be treated there. And it is also remarkable that the administration is building similar hospitals across all the states.

About yesterday…Friday August 2019

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By Malam Ibrahim sheme

Malam Nasiru El-Rufai has shown tremendous leadership values in his intervention in the traffic gridlock yesterday. I said exactly that to my friend who was travelling to Kaduna with me after the governor walked past my car window acknowledging cheers from victims of the gridlock, scores of whom followed him enthusiastically. Even if he did not help clear the jam (but he did!), his presence alone – as the leader of the state – was enough balm on the bruised psyche of the commuters. He boosted our morale, raised our hopes, and assured us about the future. At that material time, that’s all what matters. I immediately saw in him a presidential material, i.e. if they don’t hand it over to Tinubu on a platter of gold!

What amazed me most was the distance the big man (I insist he is not a diminutive person as some insinuate) covered on foot. The beginning of the gridlock and its end were very long, maybe 30km, and Malam covered them all on foot! And his walk was brisk, energetic, jaunty even though he wore a babbar riga, as if he was enjoying it. I wondered how healthy he was physically and emotionally as to do that. Even younger elements like us would have to think thrice before daring to trek that long. He must have been inspired by the passion to bring comfort and solace to us, the stranded citizens. And he did so, selflessly. Some other Excellency would have turned back from the beginning of the gridlock or ordered for a helicopter to come and pick him. Some would even pretend that their tooth was suddenly aching again. But Malam was there from evening to morning, offering sympathy, smilingly reassuring everyone. He must have melted the hearts of many, including those that disagree with him on the political scene.

But then it is his style to be there just when it matters. Malam has always virtually walked into trouble – I mean trouble spots. Any time there is a crisis somewhere in his state, more so the recurring communal type, he will quickly dash there and be physically involved with the effort to solve it. He wouldn’t stay back in his cozy, air-conditioned offices receiving updates from minders. Somehow this works; it helps douse the tension. And it actually did so last night as admirers kept hooting, “Sai Malam! Sai Malam!” I heard several people, in spite of the debilitating situation in which they were caught, saying loudly that after Buhari it should be El-Rufai’s turn to become president. I laughed at the Nigerian’s propensity to mix politics with hardship and still enjoy the admixture.

It is a style other leaders, especially President Buhari, would do well to emulate. I remember that as Zamfara burnt with all those terrorist killings by bandits, the issue of the President needing to be there on ground (or even to go for commiseration) was tops in many people’s analysis of the incident.

Call it populism or whatever. Malam Nasiru is THAT type of leader the people want. He wouldn’t be sipping green tea as his Rome burns!

Kudos to Malam. I doff my hat to him multiple times!
Sheme is a successful journalist and author. Publisher of Fim magazine, Director communication, National open university. Abuja

Press Briefing By South West Peoples Alliance: Don’t Just Probe Obasanjo On Power Sector Malfeasance, Prosecute Him Too

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Date: Friday, 9th August, 2019.

I warmly welcome everyone who has found it necessary to be here with us today. I most especially welcome the esteemed members of the press to this briefing.

Gentlemen of the press, I should start by stating that this conference has become necessary due to the conversation on probing the power sector started by the Young Nigerian Professionals who delivered a Press Conference on Sunday last week in the nation’s capital, Abuja, about the decision of the House of Representatives to probe the power sector spending in the country.

The group had called for unrelenting efforts by the House in that probe, while noting the necessity of accountability as a nation if we were to make any progress.

At their very auspicious conference, the YNP called on Nigerians to monitor the planned probe of all power contracts from 1999 to date, which the House of Representatives is about to kick-start, and ensure that the process is thorough and that all those culpable in the mismanagement of the funds earmarked for power in Nigeria are brought to justice.

Let me start by saying that we agree wholeheartedly with the body of young professionals on this issue. But we will like to take the discussion further by demanding for specific interrogation of key individuals in the whole power mismanagement saga.

It’s our belief that there are known actors that were responsible for overseeing the sleaze that took place in the power sector spending since 1999.

The most prominent, as every Nigerian possibly knows, is former President Olusegun Obasanjo – who is reported to have spent a whopping sum of about 16 Billion Dollars on power, with nothing worthy or credible to show for it.

We would like to commend the House of Representatives for its decision to again re-investigate the power sector spending. It is our belief that what the House is set to do represents justice for the people of Nigeria who have had to bear the burden and pain associated with the poor power situation in the country.

Until this investigation and other related efforts that ensure transparency and openness are undertaken, Nigeria cannot really move forward or record any significant progress.

The unearthing of the sleaze that took place in the power sector is key if we want to start a new footing that ensures proper accountability going forward.

While we are confident that the investigation by the House of Representatives would unmask the fraud that was committed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his cronies in the power sector; we demand that the House should, upon the completion of its investigation, endeavor to submit the name of the former President and his conspirators to the country’s anti-corruption agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), for full prosecution.

The ultimate goal is not to undertake a futile ‘name and shame exercise’, rather we want to see a situation where all those involved would face punishment for their crimes against the country.

While he and his co-travelers must be made to return all stolen monies, we demand that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo live up to his avowed commitment to transparency by coming forward to explain his role in the alleged mismanagement of power funds; without directing all those who seek to hold him to account to a self-serving and delusional book whose account has not exonerated him of active involvement in the sleaze.

No doubt, only a comprehensive prosecution that is in tandem with justice will send a strong message to all those who have either managed or still managing our resources that Nigerians will no longer tolerate any corrupt act by anyone, no matter how highly placed. This is the only way we can sanitize the power sector and begin to reset the country.

Thank you.

Signed:
Oseni Owolabi Ajimomuya (Chairman)
Ismael Lanre Oguntoyinbo (Secretary)

Jonathan never won any election, even in Bayelsa — Nabena

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By chibueke obigidi 9/8/2019

The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Yekini Nabena, has said former President Goodluck Jonathan never contested and won any election even in his home state of Bayelsa.

Yekini said no amount of “falsehood and rigging” of the November 16, governorship election in Bayelsa State could stop PDP’s defeat at the poll, adding that the PDP had become very unpopular and stood rejected in the state.

Addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, Nabena cautioned Jonathan to be mindful of making misguided comments so as not to ridicule his personality.

Jonathan was quoted a few days ago as saying during the PDP Elders’ Advisory Council meeting at Government House, Yenagoa, that the APC was not on ground in Bayelsa and could not win the forth coming governorship election.

Jonathan added that the large number of aspirants on PDP’s platform indicated the dominance of the party as the preferred platform for election.

But the deputy image maker of the APC said, “Former President Jonathan has never contested any election and won. Even that of 2015, he contested as a sitting President, he lost woefully. The recent 2019 senatorial election in Bayelsa State, APC defeated Jonathan’s candidate in his senatorial district.

“Jonathan is attempting to rewrite history on presidential elections conducted under his watch in Bayelsa State while he was president. He never won, as votes never counted. Aided by security agents, election results were simply announced by the election body in favour of the PDP.”

The Hard Facts! Ahmadu Bello Sardaunan Sokoto

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Complied by an unknown writer
1. Ahmadu Bello was born on June 12, 1909 in Rabbah, present day, Sokoto State.
2. He was the son of a concubine.
3. His father died when he was 6 years old.
4. He was the only surviving son of his father and mother, Mariyamu.
5. He was a great grand-son of Shehu Uthman dan Fodio, the great Fulani jihadist.
6. He got his Islamic and Arabic education as a teenager from Mallam Garba who was the Imam of Rabbah village.
7. He finished at the age of 16 top of his class.
8. He attended the Teacher’s Training College, Katsina (later Barewa College) where he was a School Prefect and Class Captain.
9. Thereafter, he graduated as a Teacher in 1931 with a credit equivalent Grade III result.
10. He was appointed by the Sultan of Sokoto to work as a teacher at the Sokoto Middle School, where he was once a student and taught from 1931-1934.
11. He was appointed a rural administrator (District Head) at the age 25 in 1934.
12. He gave birth to a daughter after his death (posthumously).
13. He became a candidate for the succession to the throne of the Sultan of Sokoto at the age of 29.
14. He made attempts to become the Sultan of Sokoto but was not successful, losing to Sir Siddiq Abubakar III who reigned for 50 years until his death in 1988.
15. The new Sultan immediately made Sir Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna (Warlord) of Sokoto, a honourary title and promoted him to the Sokoto Native Authority Council, these titles automatically made him the Chief Political Adviser to the Sultan.
16. Later, he was put in charge of the Sokoto Province to oversee 47 districts.
17. In 1943, a drama played out when he was thrown before the Sultan’s court for misappropriating jangali (cattle) tax for the Gusau region where he was the Councillor.
18. He was sentenced to 1 year in prison, but spent 3 months in jail.
19. By 1944, he was back at the Sultan’s Palace to work as the Chief Secretary of the State Native Administration.
20. In 1949, at the age of 40, he was nominated for a seat in the Regional House of Assembly.
21. He spoke impeccable English, and respected many European values.
22. Sir Ahmadu Bello keenly encouraged female education.
23. In 1954, Sir Ahmadu Bello became the first Premier of Northern Nigeria.
24. He never had material accumulation instincts, did not accumulate wealth and gave out whatever came into his possession. He was scrupulous and prudent with public finance but generous with his own money.
25. In 1955, he made his first pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
26. The ‘Work and Worship’ motto on the Northern Nigerian crest was adopted by him.
27. He chose to remain the Premier of Northern Nigeria and gave the position of Prime Minister to his hand-picked candidate, the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who was then the Deputy President of the NPC.
28. Sir Ahmadu Bello never sought the leadership of Nigeria.
29. He once stated that he would rather be the Sultan of Sokoto than to be the leader of Nigeria.
30. At various times, he made inflammatory statements about the Ibos as He once referred to them as the ‘Jews of Nigeria’ whose sole purpose is to dominate wherever they find themselves.
31. In 1959, Queen Elizabeth II (b.1926) made him a Knight of the British Empire (KBE), and that explains the ‘’Sir’’ in his title.
32. In 1962, he became Pioneer Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria.
33. He founded the Bank of the North (now Unity Bank).
34. He founded the Northern Nigerian Development Company.
35. He established the 16,000-seater Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna.
36. He established the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna (the only military university in Nigeria).
37. He established the University of Northern Nigeria, which stretched from Samaru in Kaduna State to Funtua in Katsina State, on the 4th of October, 1962 now known as Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
38. By the beginning of 1966, it was quite clear that the Sardauna was one of the most powerful figures in the country, and many believed that he was actually the most powerful, even much more powerful than the Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.
39. His party, Northern People Congress (NPC), held sway over 29 million out of 55 million Nigerians.
40. On his way to Umrah (the Muslim lesser pilgrimage), he received a letter with threats to kill him.
41. The letter was said to have stated: “We have arranged to kill you and the Prime Minister (Alhaji Tafawa Balewa).”
42. As a devout Muslim, the Sardauna believed that giving his life in the service of Northern Nigeria was worth the sacrifice and that death was a certain end.
43. He later said of the threat: “Don’t worry, continue to get useful information. I know what to do.”
44. On the evening of 14th January, 1966, armed soldiers, led by Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, arrived at his residence at Lugard House, Kaduna, with the message of death.
45. He told his family to stay away in safety but they would have none of that. They all trooped behind him as he came out of the family quarters and in a matter of seconds, he was surrounded by the soldiers led by Nzeogwu who fired at his babban riga . And immediately, blood sputtered from the point of impact through the beard on his face.
46. At that point, his first and eldest wife, Hafsatu, threw herself at him in a final embrace. They were both shot.
47. He was believed to have been killed instantly when a bullet penetrated his spinal cord.
48. Brave till the very end, he had faced the soldiers and introduced himself as the Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the Northern Region.
49. He once referred to Nigeria as the ‘mistake of 1914′ but he later worked for and gave his best for the new nation of Nigeria.
50. He died leaving £10 in his bank account. Equivalent of 5,000 naira in tod. May he soul continue to rest in perfect peace. Allahumma Amin Reply Forward

Wamakko Versus Maccido : Tribunal adjourns for Judgment as Counsels adopt final addresses

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The National Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal sitting in Sokoto on Thursday adjourned to an undisclosed date for Judgemnt in the Petitions filed by the defeated Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party  ( PDP), Senator Ahmed Mohammed Maccido,  against the winner of the February 23, 2019, Sokoto North Senatorial District Polls , Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko .

The Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Peter Akhimie Akhihiero,  said while adjourning the matter , ” the matter has been adjourned for Judgment.  The date will be communictated in due course .”

The Counsels for the Petitioners and the Respondents had earlier adopted all their final written addresses .

The Lead Counsel of the 1st Respondent,  Dr Hassan Liman, SAN, said ,” in accordance with the Rules of the Court and the Electoral Act, the 1st Respondent has filed his written addresses dated 17/7/2019 and filed on the same date .

” We have also filed a reply to the Petitioners’  written address on 1/8/2019 . We hereby adopt the said two addresses as our final argument in this Petition .

” We are urging the Court to dismiss and strike out the Petition for being Statute -Barred as it was filed out of time, as well as lacking in merit. “

Lead Counsel for the 2nd Respondent,  Chief Jacob Ochidi , also stated that , the 2nd Respondent has filed his final written address on 2/7/2019.

Ochidi explained, ” I herebey adopt the written address as the argument of the 2nd Respondent in this Petition.

” I am also urging the Tribunal to strike out the petition for being Statute – Barred , resolving all the issues of the 2nd Respondent.

” To dismiss same petition for lacking in merit and award substantial cost in favour of the 2nd Respondent, against the Petitioners. “

Similarly, Lead Counsel for the 3rd Respondent,  Barrister Henry Eni-Otu, told the Court that,his Client has filed his final written address on 18/7/2019.

He averred ,” I want to adopt it as the argument of the 3rd and urge the Court to strike out the petition for being Statute-Barred .

” I am also praying the Court to dismiss the Petition in its entirety  for being unmeritorious and speculative ..”

The Lead Counsel of the Petitioners,  Dr Ibrahim Abdullahi said the Petitioners have filed their written address on 25/7/2019.

” We respectively adopt the same written address, making particular reliance on legal arguments.

” I am also urging the Court to resolve all the issues against the Respondents, to hold that , the Petition is not Statute-Barred and to grant the reliefs of the Petitioners. “

Responding, Dr Hassan Liman , SAN, commended the Chairman and menbers of the Tribunal for being diligent and working assiduously to ensure smooth proceedings.

THE DILAPIDATED UYO ETINAN – IKOT EKPEYAK – IKONO ROAD IN AKWA IBOM STATE HAS BEEN RECONSTRUCTED

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In going forward with its efforts at fixing Nigeria’s dilapidated infrastructure, do you know that the Buhari administration has reconstructed the Uyo Etinan – Ikot Ekpeyak – Ikono road in Akwa Ibom State?

The completion of this reconstruction project in October 2022 has brought tremendous relief to towns and communities whose residents ply that road. And while it lasted, it provided several construction job opportunities for youths in the area.

Yes, Nigeria is on track!

Terrorists’ Wives, Commanders Killed In B/Haram, ISWAP Clashes

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No fewer than 55 people including wives of the fighters of Boko Haram and their rival group, Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP), have been killed in a week-long multiple clashes in Borno State, sources said.

Our correspondent gathered that clashes started last week in one of the camps at Mutakinti general area in Bama Local Government Area of the state, where about 11 fighters loyal to (JAS) Boko Haram lost their lives in the encounter.

An impeccable source, who has the knowledge of the incident, told Daily Trust that an in-fighting at Dollar land in Sambisa forests last Saturday also claimed dozens including fighters and women.

The source added that ISWAP fighters outnumbered and overpowered JAS and 11 fighters died in a gun battle at Mantari general area.

Our correspondent learnt that the clashes took place in Dollar Land, Mantari, Mutakinti general areas all in Bama LGA and Bayan Dushai in Gwoza council respectively.

While corroborating the accounts, Zagazola Makama, a Counter Insurgency Expert and Security Analyst in the Lake Chad, claimed fighters in Sambisa wanted to avenge the killing of their Commander, Malam Aboubakar (Munzir) and 15 other fighters who were neutralized in a deadly infighting.

Makama added that since December 3, a top Boko Haram leader in charge of Mandara Moutain, Ali Ngulde, had led hundreds of fighters armed with weapons from Mandara Mountain to wage war against the ISWAP in Sambisa Forest.

The attack began with a failed negotiation initiated by the Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād (Boko Haram) terrorist group, inviting its rival group the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP), that they are ready to surrender themselves (mubayi’a) to ISWAP leadership.

Makama added that unknown to ISWAP group, Ngulde and his team had staged an ambush against them in which at least 12 of the ISWAP members were killed in Yuwe while others escaped with bullets wounds.

In the aftermath of the encounters, Boko Haram members seized four Hilux trucks mounted with weapons belonging to their rivals and burnt another.

A source said that shortly after the victory, the Boko Haram fighters mobilised more fighters from Abu Ikilima’s camp at Gaizuwa, Gabchari, Mantari and Mallum Masari to attack more ISWAP positions in Ukuba, Arra and Sabil Huda and Farisu, killing about 23 more fighters.

The ISWAP group later retreated and took position at the camp of Izzah. Thereafter, they moved to Garin Abbah, located about 2 kilometers where they pinned down to wait for the Boko Haram.

But instead of going to meet the ISWAP rivals to continue the fight, the Boko-Haram elements did a detour and headed to where ISWAP wives are located and killed 33 of them.

It will be seen in the coming days how ISWAP fighters will react to the brutal killing of their wives by the Boko Haram elements.

Protect Our Facilities, INEC Begs Nigerians

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Following the spate of attacks on its offices in parts of the country, the Independent National Electoral Commission yesterday appealed to Nigerians to see its facilities as national assets and protect them ahead of the 2023 general elections.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the plea at a meeting with the West Africa Elders’ Forum held at INEC headquarters in Abuja.

 The delegation was led by a former President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, and a former Vice President of Gambia, Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang.

Yakubu said, “There are a few areas of concern, the main one being the prevailing insecurity in the country. In less than two weeks, three of our local government offices were attacked across the country, bringing the total number of such attacks to seven in the last four months.

“While we want to reassure Nigerians that we’ll recover from these attacks, and the election will proceed as scheduled, we’d like to appeal to all citizens to see the commission’s facilities as national assets. 

“It’s our collective responsibility to join hands in protecting them. The attacks must stop and the perpetrators must be swiftly apprehended and prosecuted.

 “I must add that with respected leaders of the region coming together as elders for credible elections, I’m confident that there’ll be less of mediation in conflict situations and more of election observation missions in peacetime.”

Earlier, Koroma, said they were in Nigeria on a pre-election mediation mission to address issues concerning election success in Nigeria and across the sub-region.

New Naira: CBN Limits Withdrawal From Banks To N100,000 Per Week, N20,000 Daily Through POS

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has pegged maximum over the counter (OTC) cash withdrawal per week for individuals at N100,000 and N500,000 for corporate organisations.

The apex bank also limited individual Point of Service (POS) to N20,000 per day.

This is is contained in a circular by the CBN and addressed to all Deposit Money Banks (DMBS) and Other Financial Institutions (Payment Service Banks (PSBs). Primary Mortqaqe Banks (PMBs) and Microfinance Banks (MFBs).

The circular dated 6th December, 2022 was titled Naira Redesign Policy – Revised Cash Withdrawal. It was signed by the Director, Banking Supervision Mr. Haruna Mustafa

The circular read: “Further to the launch of the redesigned Naira notes by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on Wednesday, November 23, 2022 and in line with the Cashless policy of the CBN, all deposit money banks (DMBs) and other financial institutions (OFls) are hereby directed to note and comply with the following:

“The maximum cash withdrawal over the counter (OTC) by individuals and corporate organizations per week shall henceforth be N100,000 and N500,OOO respectively. Withdrawals above these limits shall attract processing fees of 5% and 10%, respectively.
“Third party cheques above N50,OOO shall not be eligible for payment over the counter, while extant limits of N10,000,000 on clearing cheques still subsist.”

The circular further stated that, the maximum cash withdrawal per week via Automated Teller Machine (ATM) shall be N100,000 subject to a maximum of N20,000 cash withdrawal per day.”

Also “only denominations of N200 and below shall be loaded into the ATMs.”

The maximum cash withdrawal via point of sale (POS) terminal shall be N20,000 daily, the circular further stated.

The circular further stated that in “compelling circumstances, not exceeding once a month, where cash withdrawals above the prescribed limits is required for legitimate purposes, such cash withdrawals shall not exceed and for individuals and corporate organisations, respectively, and shall be subject to the referenced processing fees in (I) above, in addition to enhanced due diligence and further information requirements.”

The CBN further directed the banks to obtain the following information at the minimum and upload same on the CBN portal created for the purpose. They are:

“Valid means of identification of the payee (National ID, International Passport, Driver’s License), Bank Verification Number (BVN) of the payee, Notarized customer declaration of the purpose for the cash withdrawal, Senior management approval for the withdrawal by the Managing Director of the drawee, where applicable, and approval in writing by the MD/CEO of the bank authorising the withdrawal.

The CBN directed the banks to file monthly returns on cash withdrawal transactions above the specified limits to the Banking Supervision Department.

After the new naira notes were unveiled at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, last month, Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had said Nigerians would find it hard to withdraw huge cash at a go.

Overcoming challenges and plots ahead of 2023 elections

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There is alleged conspiracy to prevent the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from holding free, fair and credible 2023 general elections.

This scheming had provoked stakeholders, who have warned that Nigeria may be set on the path of political crisis.

The conspiracy skidded into top gear as politicians, who felt that the deployment of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), with its dual fingerprint and facial biometric accreditation process, would not allow them to perfect their fraudulent enterprise. They are scheming to suspend the technology and sack INEC chairman, Prof Yakubu Mahmood.

That the deployment of BVAS and other technology, described as vaccines to vote rigging, have shown the capacity and ability to curb or reduce election malpractices to barest minimum. Already this has been tested in previous elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states.

Stakeholders said this machination is bent on sneering the progress that the INEC has recorded, even as they have criticised the gambit, saying it’s antithetical to the development of the country’s democracy.

They also urged INEC to resist pressure, temptation, or some other negative antics by political parties and politicians, advising the electoral body to investigate the allegation that its members are being pressurised by politicians to do their bidding ahead of 2023 elections.

It was learnt that there were failed attempts by fraudulent people to hack into the INEC Results Viewing (iRev) Portal with a view to changing the polling units-level results in the previous elections in Ekiti and Osun states.

Sequel to these attacks, the Commission said it had taken steps to strengthen its digital assets to ensure foolproof security of all its web-based resources and technologies, confirming that INEC’s engineers reported several cyber attacks on the portal during the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections as far from Asia.

“I’m glad to note that all of them failed. For this reason, the Commission has introduced many innovations, supported by the deployment of appropriate technology to protect the sanctity of the choice made by Nigerians at the polls, ranging from voter registration to voter accreditation and result management,” INEC boss hinted.

A chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, in an interview with The Guardian, commended INEC’s performance in the recent elections, saying that technology has proved to be an antidote to vote rigging.

“My submission is that BVAS and the earlier smart card readers are vaccines against vote-rigging. I think that in no distant future, our electoral system will be one of the most credible, free and fair. Naturally, the credit goes to INEC. Yes, there were hitches as it’s always with the case in the early usage of any type of technology.

Okechukwu stated that technology has commenced the transformation of the psyche of politicians to be more loyal to the electorate than godfathers, saying, “It is a revolution, for if it is federal might, APC could have won Anambra and Osun squarely. This was the folly of those who continue to hope to rig elections at collation centres.”

More so, President Muhammadu Buhari had in different fora, said he wouldn’t interfere with the outcome of the 2023 elections, assuring Nigerians and international community of free and fair election, as well as peaceful transfer of power to winners in 2023.

Buhari, who said he was going to leave a legacy of free and fair election, made the pledge at a virtual summit for democracy organised by President Joe Biden of the United States, saying that necessary mechanisms would be strengthened to ensure Nigeria witnesses another peaceful transfer of power.

Besides, INEC has assured the electorate that only their votes would determine the winners among the 15, 322 candidates contesting various positions in next year’s general elections. It reiterated commitment to delivering credible, free and fair elections.

Yakubu gave the assurance in his keynote address at the yearly conference of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, held in Lagos. He said, “The 2023 general election is fast approaching. Polling units will open at 8.30am on Saturday, February 25, 2023, for national elections (presidential and national assembly), and at the same time on Saturday, March 11, 2023, for state elections (governorship and state assemblies).

“Campaign in public by political parties officially commenced on Wednesday, September 28, 2022. Therefore, the tempo of political activities has increased as parties; candidates and their supporters commenced campaigns, rallies, processions and media advertisements to canvass the support of the electorate.

“The Commission had published the final list of 15, 322 candidates contesting for 1, 491 seats (one presidential, 28 governorship, 109 senatorial, 360 house of representatives and 993 state assembly constituencies) in the general elections.”

He explained that the technological innovations would guarantee and protect the sanctity of the choice made by Nigerians at the polls.

He said: “The deployment of BVAS has ensured that only genuine voters are accredited to vote during the elections. This has curtailed the incidence of multiple voting and other sharp practices associated with voter accreditation during elections.

“The BVAS has come to stay and will be the only means by which voters will be accredited in the 2023 general election. Furthermore, the introduction of the INEC IReV Portal has made the result management procedure more transparent. Polling Unit results are now uploaded in real-time to the IReV portal for public view.”

But few weeks after these promises were made, there are fears that certain people who felt that the technologies would not allow them hatch plots against people’s will are strategising to sack INEC chairman if they did not succeed in their plans to stop deployment of BVAS.

A strategist and historian, Vincent Ezeme is scared that if situation is not properly handled, it could lead to untoward consequences.

He cautioned that the burning of the INEC offices across the country is a deliberate plot to destabilise the Commission ahead of 2023 and urged INEC to be resolute in its resolve to conduct credible elections, irrespective of threats from some politicians.

INEC has also expressed concerns about deliberate attacks on its facilities in some states where materials meant for the elections were burnt. “Within the space of three weeks, three attacks were carried out on INEC facilities in Ogun, Osun and Ebonyi states,” the electoral body said. Another one happened in Imo State last week.

The Commission lamented that incessant attacks on it facilities might cause hitches in operations, saying, 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.”

Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, warned that the 2023 election might be marred by violence, expressing fears that elections may not hold in many parts of Nigeria given the activities of criminals in some parts of the country.

Falana, while on Channels television recently, said based on security reports, criminals have taken control of about 616 local governments, expressing worries about the inability of the law enforcement agencies to prosecute electoral offenders.

Falana said: “You can’t talk of elections in those places. The members of the political class and the government will have to sit instead of jumping all over the place and deal with this situation. Can we really hold election under an atmosphere of violence and lawlessness as we are currently witnessing? If this trend continues, the credibility of the elections will be questioned because candidates, who fail would say he or she would have won in places where elections were not conducted, and that would be problematic.”

On INEC’s commitment to conducting credible election, he said: “The Electoral Act 2022 has introduced the use of technology to a great extent in the conduct of the elections. But the enemies of democracy are trying to frustrate INEC from realising the objective of the law.

“It is the duty of Nigerians to frustrate such anti-democratic forces. As you witness in Osun and Ekiti states, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was among the security agencies that arrested those who were buying and selling votes.

“Those who were involved in Osun have been charged before the court. When I asked why the criminal elements in Ekiti were not charged, I was told that a member of the ruling party accompanied by thugs invaded the temporary office of the EFCC and carted away all the materials that were seized and thereby destroyed the evidence.”

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State is one of the prominent politicians who expressed worry over Buhari and INEC’s commitment to keeping their promises of free and fair elections come 2023.

Wike, who spoke during the flag-off of a state project for construction of Igwuruta internal roads in Ikwerre Local Government Area, said, “I thank Mr. President that he wants to leave a legacy of conducting a free and fair election. Thank God for Mr. President for saying he would not interfere or intimidate anybody. My problem is the INEC, whether it would do what it said it was going to do.

“They are making promises now. I don’t know whether they will keep to it. If INEC will keep to the promises that Nigeria will get a better election, I will be so happy. Everybody will see that Abuja does not vote. It is the people here that will vote.”

Also, in a quick succession, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) raised two strident alarms over the electoral process. It alleged, and for the second time, plots to remove the Chairman of the INEC and frustrate deployment of BVAS.

CUPP said it uncovered a suit to stop the use of the BVAS machine for the 2023 general elections, saying it was filed against the INEC at the Federal High Court, Owerri, in August. Without mentioning the plaintiff, the CUPP spokesperson, Barrister Ikenga Ugochinyere said the suit was on a secret report by the Nigerian Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

To exacerbate the situation, a northern group under the auspices of Arewa Citizens’ Watch for Good Governance (ACWGG) has called for the removal of the INEC boss. It threatened to petition President Buhari, National Assembly, US Embassy, European Union, for the failure of INEC chairman to either resign or be sacked, saying that the INEC Chairman with his team were deliberately working against the interest of the north to suppress voters in the region.

The group’s Chairman, Alhaji Mohammed Adamu said INEC and the team, must go because they have been morally compromised to deliver free, fair and credible polls in 2023.

Against this background, the ACWGG’s chairman called on government agencies to arrest and prosecute Yakubu for trying to use his office to effect leadership change in the country in a satanic manner, saying that Yakubu and members of his team should humbly resign to enable an independent probe into the allegation of insertion of foreigners’ names in the voter register.

“At the instance where we feel our demands are not being treated with needed gloves, we shall be forced to come out in our numbers and occupy all INEC offices in the region, including the national headquarters.”

The Chairman, Human Right and Constitutional Rights Committee, Africa Bar Association, Sonnie Ekwowusi, argued that BVAS is recognised by the Electoral Act 2022, saying that nobody has the right to suspend it or sack the INEC chairman based on deployment of technologies to better the country’s elections.

Confirming the apprehension of politicians in deploying the technology, former INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, under whose watch the Permanent Voter Card (PVC), and the Smart Card Reader (SCR), were introduced, which improved the electoral process attested to how scared politicians could be about technology, which engenders transparency in the electoral space.

Although Prof. Jega did not elaborate on this, the introduction of the SCR, met with stiff opposition by politicians.

Learning from the shenanigans of politicians and the shortcomings of the SCR, the Commission introduced BVAS. Earlier, where the SCR correctly read fingerprints but failed to accredit a voter, such a voter was allowed to fill an Incident Form. But soon, the politicians took advantage of this loophole to perpetrate identity fraud, making voters in some cases, to vote more than once.

The Chairman, Transitioning Monitoring Group (TMG), Auwal Musa (Rafsanjani) had called on Nigerians to be vigilant and ready to defend democracy, affirming that the threat to 2023 general election is real.

He cautioned while Nigerians are preparing to exercise their civic rights in electing leaders that would solve the myriad of challenges confronting the country, some politicians are scheming to stop the election or ensure the poll is not free, fair and credible.

The civil society leader, who expressed concerns about the election, accused some politicians of creating insecurity to justify looting of the nation’s resources, saying that Nigerians are tired of monumental rigging and bastardisation of the electoral process.

“As Nigerians continue to yearn for new leadership at local, state and national levels, some people are also determined and desperate to make sure that 2023 election will not hold and because of the new threat they created, some parties cannot campaign in some states because the governors have commandeered state assets and public buildings. In some instances, they beat up people.”

Also, Vice Chair, TMG, Miriam Mentiti said that the media has a critical role to play, especially by collaborating with the civil society to drive home the message.

On how to make the 2023 election free and fair, the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) said the 2023 presidential election could only be adjudged popular, inclusive, violence free and credible if it is conducted by ensuring that citizens, of voting age, regardless of tribe, religion, class or gender, are issued with PVCs to participate in it.

The group stated that voters and candidates in the general elections must also be protected in an atmosphere devoid of fear, threats and violence, saying that with these, one could conclude that the electorate acted in their best interests and that of the country without fear of favour.

Stakeholders also warned against postponement of the election as being touted.

The Guardian learnt that the allegation and fear of postponement of election prompted the INEC’s clarification, re-assuring Nigerians that 2023 general elections would not be postponed on account of logistic challenges.

A human rights lawyer, Effiong Inihebe, said BVAS, an electronic means of reading PVCs and accreditation of voters, would guarantee free and fair elections in 2023, saying that the enemies of democracy and credible elections are unveiling themselves in the most shameful way.

He dismissed claims that the country is not ready for BVAS, disclosing that election riggers are terrified and would not want BVAS. He said. “If INEC succumbs to this evil agenda, we can kiss free and fair elections in 2023 goodbye.”

NECO declares total war on exam malpractice, rolls out measures to check menace

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The National Examinations Council (NECO) has stated that it is prepared to completely eliminate instances of exam fraud from all of its examinations.

This was announced by the Registrar and Chief Executive of NECO, Professor Ibrahim Dantani Wushishi, on Monday at a one-day sensitization workshop on examination malpractice in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. He called for coordinated efforts to address the issue.

Speaking on the theme of the workshop,’ The Role of Education Stakeholders in Tackling Examination Malpractice in Nigeria,’ Professor Wushishi said there is an urgent need to curtail the problem to ensure the all-round development of the country.

“One of the biggest challenges bedevilling the conduct of public examinations now is the issue of examination malpractice.

“This workshop is, therefore, both thoughtful and timely, and should address the ways and means that can be adopted to curb the menace and re-orient the minds of the youths concerning this cankerworm, as no nation develops when its youths indulge in sharp practices such as examination malpractice.

“No doubt, examination malpractice has the tendency to discourage hard work among serious students, lowers educational standards, discredit certificates, and lead to the production of quacks, thereby affecting the manpower needs of the nation.

” We must therefore take collective responsibility to rid them of this bad habit of wanting to cut corners,” he said.

Speaking further, the NECO boss said the Council has rolled out several measures to check the problem of malpractice in the conduct of all its examinations.

He listed the measures to include; Effective conduct of accreditation and re-accreditation exercises in schools, biometric data capturing of candidates to check impersonation of candidates registered for the examination and to help identify miracle centres where examination malpractice is perpetrated.

Others are the use of officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to provide security at examination centres to prevent miscreants/agents of examination malpractice, provision of covert operations by officers of the Department of State Service (DSS) to guide against compromising examination through the internet, daily distribution of examination question papers and other sensitive materials, monitoring of marking exercise to ensure that best practices are observed, among others.

On his part, Akwa Ibom State governor, Udom Emmanuel, said his government has also declared zero tolerance for examination malpractice.

Represented by Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Education, Idongesit Etiebet, the governor described exam malpractice as a social plaque and commended NECO for its efforts in rooting out the problem.

He, however, lamented that many young Nigerians continue to devise various measures to perpetrate fraud during the examination.

“The practice of examination practice has refused to abate. The advent of social media has compounded the menace.

” Akwa Ibom has zero tolerance for examination malpractice and various measures have been put in place to check the menace,” he said.

The governor also revealed that his administration has spent over N1 billion for various examinations under the state free and compulsory education for primary and secondary schools.

Bandits Abduct 46 In Katsina Villages Attacks

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At least 46 people were reportedly abducted by gunmen in attacks on two separate communities in Batsari and Funtua local governments of Katsina State, at the weekend.

Daily Trust gathered that one person was killed as some 28 people were abducted in Karare village of Batsari Local Government Area on Friday.

The terrorists, numbering about 40 riding on motorcycles, invaded the village in the morning hours and herded off the victims, including women and children.

Daily Trust gathered that some of the abductees were students from Kokiya village heading to Government Day Secondary School, Karare.

A resident who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the attackers came from the southern part of the village and started shooting sporadically, leading to the death of one person.

“They abducted 28 people, including students, but later released four of them. Those released include one Malam Ladan and three children. They sent them a message that they would not accept old naira notes for ransom.

“Later, one other person escaped. So as we speak, there are 23 people currently with the bandits, but they did not make any ransom demand,” he said.

Another resident who shared his ordeal said he went into a healthcare centre from where he jumped over a fence to escape abduction, adding that one person was confirmed dead.

In a related development, gunmen suspected to be bandits attacked a mosque in Maigamji village along Funtua – Dandume Road and opened fire on worshippers during evening (isha’i) prayer.

Residents of the village said the attack took place around 7:15pm on Saturday.

A former councillor of Maigamji ward, Alhaji Lawal Maigamji said when the bandits came they opened fire and shot two people in the mosque, including the Imam leading the prayers, Malam Yusha’u and one other, Hussaini Jamo who are receiving treatment at General Hospital Funtua.

“They surrounded the mosque when Isha’i congregational prayer was being conducted. After shooting Imam Yusha’u on the hand and Hussaini Jamo, they abducted 18 people and made away with them into the bush,” Lawal Maigamji disclosed.

He added that later at night, four of the abducted victims managed to escape from their captives while in transit.

When contacted, the police spokesman in Kastina, SP Gambo Isah, said the command was yet to ascertain the number of persons abducted in the Kakare incident, saying investigation was ongoing to ascertain the number.

“We received reports with conflicting figures. Some say up to 30 people were abducted and others say less than that. We are still investigating the matter as the rescue operation is ongoing.

“With regards to Yargamji, 13 were missing, two sustained gunshot injuries including the Imam leading the prayer, while four were rescued.

“Our men in collaboration with the local vigilante are working together to rescue those abducted,” he said.

Daily Trust

Gunmen: We Were Asked To Kidnap APC Senator

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The gunmen, who were arrested at the Minna, Niger State Residence of Mohammed Sani Musa, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator Representing Niger East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, have told the police that they were sent to kidnap the lawmaker.

The Niger State Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, DSP Wasiu Abiodun, said this in a statement on Monday.

Abiodun, who earlier told reporters that the motive of the suspects was unknown and that investigation was ongoing, said in their fresh confessional statement, the suspects said they were hinted that senator was traveling to Niger State for the coronation and presentation of staff of Office to the Emir of Kagara by one Sherrif now at large.

” Additional facts emerged in the course of investigation, as one of the suspects confessed further that the hoodlums led by the said Sherrif, presently at large targeted the Senator to his home in Minna.

“The hoodlums suspected that he could be at home, having attended a coronation ceremony at Kagara on the same date and to possibly kidnap him,” he said.

Abiodun said the invaders ransacked the residence under the pretext of the purported search execution, noting that effort was on to apprehend other members of the gang.

Daily Trust had reported how gunmen suspected to be assassins invaded the Minna residence of the Senator on Saturday night.

2023: Tinubu Delegates El-Rufai, Others To Answer Questions At Chatham House

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The electioneering of the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, took an intriguing twist on Monday at the Chatham House in London as he delegated some members of the party to respond to questions posed to him.

Tinubu was in Chatham House to speak to Nigerians in the Diaspora on why he should be elected in 2023.

After his presentation which was livestreamed on Arise TV, some members of the audience asked him some questions bordering on insecurity, oil theft, education and economy and how he planned to address crises in those areas if he became president.

As he was asked by the moderator to respond to the questions, Tinubu said he would assign some members of his entourage to do so.

The former Lagos State governor assigned Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State to speak on how his (Tinubu-led) government would address insecurity and asked the Director of Strategic Communication of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council, Dele Aleke, to respond to the question on oil theft.

Tinubu also delegated a former Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State, Wale Edun, to respond to a question on how he (Tinubu) would boost the economy if elected.

372.5 METRIC TONS OF GRAINS FOR VULNERABLE PEOPLE IN KADUNA STATE

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To help alleviate the sufferings of vulnerable people affected by natural disasters and insecurity in Kaduna State, do you know that the Buhari administration has recently donated 372.5 Metric Tons of various grains to them?

The grains were handed over to the Acting Governor of the State, Her Excellency, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe at the Government House by the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mallam Mustapha Ahmad on Thursday, December 1, 2022 for onward distribution to identified victims.

Again, this is a commendable gesture as it proves that the Buhari administration is living up to its obligations to Nigerian citizens who are victims of one disaster or the other. And it should be sustained in the overall interest of the country.

Yes, Nigeria is on track!