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Imo, Bayelsa, Kogi guber polls: INEC gets another chance to restore electoral confidence

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Just 72 hours before the governorship elections in Imo, Bayelsa, and Kogi states, many Nigerians have urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to use these upcoming off-season polls as an opportunity to address the lack of confidence in the country’s electoral process. These calls have arisen amid a divided public opinion and controversies that followed the outcome of the 2023 general elections.

DAILY POST previously reported that one of the issues raised in the challenge against the declaration of President Bola Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election was the alleged non-compliance with the 2022 electoral law by INEC. Presidential candidates Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) contended that INEC did not adhere to the provisions of the 2022 electoral act and its own regulations during the election. They argued that INEC failed to follow its rules by not using technological devices for voter accreditation, verification, continuation, and authentication as required.

Although their claims were dismissed by the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) and the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court did acknowledge that the non-functioning of INEC’s Result Viewing (IReV) portal could reduce public confidence in the electoral process.

Last month, when there were rumors that INEC planned to manually transmit the results of the upcoming November 11 Bayelsa governorship election, many Nigerians expressed concerns. However, the Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, denied these rumors and confirmed that the results would be transmitted electronically using the BVAS machine for accreditation and result upload on the INEC Election Result Viewing portal.

Yakubu also emphasized the importance of INEC staff maintaining non-partisanship during the November 11 governorship election in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states, emphasizing INEC’s commitment to credible elections.

The National Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Yabagi Sani, advised INEC to use the upcoming off-season governorship elections in Imo, Bayelsa, and Kogi as an opportunity to address the confidence deficit in the country’s electoral process and urged security agencies to remain impartial and resist financial inducements.

Additionally, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) warned that the credibility of the off-cycle elections in these states was at risk without the use of IReV and BVAS. HURIWA expressed disappointment that the National Assembly had not expedited the amendment of the electoral act to make electronic transmission of results mandatory.

In an interview, a media and communication scholar at Peaceland University, Nduka Odo, urged INEC to establish and adhere to clear voting and transmission guidelines to rebuild the trust of Nigerians. Odo emphasized the importance of INEC keeping its promises and ensuring that its technology functions without hitches to avoid a loss of trust from the public.

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PHOTO: Gov Makinde Host Nigeria Police Games

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1: Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde (left) and Inspector General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun, during the opening ceremony of the 14th Biennial Nigeria Police Games, host by Oyo State Government, held at Adamasigba Stadium, Ibadan. PHOTO: Oyo Gov’s Media Unit.

2: From left, Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Barr Bayo Lawal; Governor Seyi Makinde; Inspector General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun and his wife Elizabeth, during the opening ceremony of the 14th Biennial Nigeria Police Games, host by Oyo State Government, held at Adamasigba Stadium, Ibadan. PHOTO: Oyo Gov’s Media Unit.

3: Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde (left) take a salute from the Police Mascots, during the opening ceremony of the 14th Biennial Nigeria Police Games, host by Oyo State Government, held at Adamasigba Stadium, Ibadan. PHOTO: Oyo Gov’s Media Unit.

CREDIT: Oyo Gov Media 

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Economic crisis: Find more ways to improve your IGR – President Tinubu to universities

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The Nigerian government has called upon universities in the country to broaden their sources of funding amidst economic challenges. President Bola Ahmad Tinubu made this assertion during the 6th & 7th combined convocation ceremony of Federal University, Dutse, which took place on Saturday.

Speaking through Professor Kabir Bala, the Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, who represented him at the event, President Tinubu stressed the government’s dedication to facilitating a conducive environment for universities despite resource limitations.

He urged universities to actively explore alternative funding channels, underlining the significance of self-reliance in the prevailing economic circumstances. The President also encouraged universities to seek international funding opportunities for research, advocating for collaborations and the attraction of funds from global sources.

President Tinubu emphasized that government alone cannot shoulder the financial burden of universities, particularly amid economic challenges and competing demands from various sectors. Nonetheless, he reiterated the administration’s commitment to providing the necessary support within the available resources to ensure universities function as pillars of educational advancement and national development.

He further urged universities to pursue innovative strategies for generating revenue and to tap into international research funding opportunities. He assured that his administration remains dedicated to supporting universities in achieving their objectives as outlined in the Renewed Hope Agenda.

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Contempt threat against NLC, TUC leaders over public protest uncalled for – Femi Falana replies FG

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Human rights advocate and constitutional lawyer, Femi Falana, has clarified that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have every right to organize the nationwide public protest scheduled for February 27 and 28, asserting that it does not constitute contempt of court.

As a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Falana emphasized that Nigerian workers are entitled to freedom of assembly and expression as enshrined in the country’s Constitution. He urged the federal government, in a strongly worded letter to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, to ensure maximum security for the workers and to participate in the protest.

In response to the AGF’s threat of contempt charges against the NLC and TUC leaders, Falana’s letter dated February 24 countered the threat, arguing that it lacked legal basis.

Falana pointed out the history of negotiations between the government and the labor unions following the removal of fuel subsidy in 2023, which resulted in court orders restraining the unions from striking. Despite compliance with these orders, the unions challenged them, and the contempt proceedings initiated by the government were subsequently withdrawn.

He highlighted subsequent legal actions initiated by the government against the unions, noting that these actions were contested by the unions on grounds of abuse of court process and lack of jurisdiction. Falana emphasized that since the contempt proceedings were withdrawn, there is no basis for the government’s threat of contempt charges regarding the planned protest.

He cited legal precedents affirming citizens’ rights to protest on matters of public interest without the need for police permits, emphasizing the democratic importance of freedom of speech and assembly.

Falana urged the government to respect these fundamental rights and directed the Inspector-General of Police to provide adequate security for the protesters in accordance with the Police Establishment Act.

In conclusion, he called on the government to reconsider its stance and assured that the protests would be conducted peacefully.

The federal government had previously warned of invoking relevant laws to charge the NLC leadership with contempt if the protest proceeds, citing it as a breach of agreement and a challenge to the court’s authority. The AGF, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, conveyed this warning in a letter to Falana, urging the NLC to abandon the protest to avoid violating the court’s order.

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