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INEC Plans E-balloting From 2021

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has indicated that electronic balloting will be used for future elections in the country beginning from the November 2021 Anambra State governorship election.

The commission, however, emphasised that full deployment of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), which will include e-transmission of results would only be implemented when the electoral act is amended.

The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at the joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

“We have been using technology to deepen democracy, for the accreditation of observers, media and even the submission of candidates by the parties in Edo and Ondo elections.

“This commission is committed to introducing at least electronic balloting using machines to ballot and we are determined to implement this using the Anambra governorship election in November next year.

“Thereafter when the law is amended, we can talk about e-transmission of results because the law at present does not allow for e-transmission of results but it allows electronic balloting hoping that when the law is amended, we can go full blast to transmit results electronically,” Yakubu said.

The INEC boss clarified that the recently introduced tablet (Z-pad) would not be deployed for the Edo and Ondo governorship elections because it is still undergoing testing.

According to him, the Z-pad is an innovation introduced by the present commission in order to optimise the use of smart card reader, particularly to achieve full biometric accreditation.

He, however, noted that the result viewing portal as piloted by the commission during the Nasarawa state constituency bye-election will be fully deployed for the governorship elections.

He said: “The second technology is what we piloted in the Nasarawa state constituency bye-election by taking a picture of the EC8A which is the result from the polling units and uploading it on a portal for public view. Nigerians can see results from polling units real time as elections are going on.

“We couldn’t use the card reader to do so because it has no camera. In Nasarawa, after testing running the uploading of result, we are satisfied and I invite all Nigerians to register and use the portal. We are committed to deploying same technology in all subsequent elections including Edo next week.”

“The second dimension of the deployment of the Z-pad is what we are still working on. It is work in progress. We deployed it in 44 polling units and 36 voting points in Nasarawa central which is half of a local government. We need to do a lot more before we deploy the new technology in a major election such as Edo governorship poll.

“The staff of the commission are still working on improvement until we are satisfied that the system is robust and until we have also consulted with stakeholders on the deployment of this new technology, we wouldn’t like to gamble with it in a major election.”

Warning that violence during the Edo and Ondo states governorship may complicate the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Yakubu insisted that voters without face masks will not be allowed to vote.

He added: “We have identified 8 protective measures ranging from the mandatory use of facemask, hand sanitizers, use of methylated spirit and cotton wool to clean the card readers, the rules of physical distancing, the use of infrared thermometers and procedure for handling voters and officials showing COVID-19 symptoms.

“It is mandatory to wear face mask or face covering without which the voter will not be allowed vote. Face covering will be sufficient for the voter to be accredited and to vote.

“Voters are required to maintain physical distancing. The commission introduced two-queues, one outside the polling area and the other inside the polling area. Within the inner queues, voters must maintain the mandatory two-meter distance from each other and we clearly marked this in the last bye-elections.

“Voters showing symptoms must also obey all directions by officials to stop other voters from been infected”

Yakubu explained that INEC has produced its policy in Braille for virtually impaired voters they may not be able to read it’s flyers and posters.

“All these steps are in the realm of planning but the true test of the plan is its actual implementation. We are going into Edo next week assured that we have test run our preparations for voting under the COVID 19,” Yakubu said.

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Bagudu , Stakeholders, Meet Over Flood, Insecurity, in Kebbi

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Kebbi State Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu says formidable efforts are on top gear, to assist flood victims across the state.

Similarly, Bagudu disclosed that, plausible arrangements were on going to commence dry season farming, to augment the colossal losses caused by the devastating flood disasters.

The governor announced a rubost dry season farming scheme which would involve all the local government areas in order to speedily regain the losses incurred as a result of the flood.

The governor spoke in Birnin Kebbi , Saturday, during a Stakeholders Meeting on the menace of flood and insecurity in some parts of Zuru emirate .

Bagudu also decried that, the 2020 flood and rainfall had greatly surpassed the earlier predictions by NIMET and other related weather prediction agencies .

According to the governor, the unprecedented flood disasters had regretably resulted in the massive losses of farmlands, houses and other infrastructure across the entire state.

Bagudu further noted that, the rapid responses by the State and federal governments , as well as their agencies had remarkably mitigated the negative impact of the rampaging flood disasters.

The Kebbi Governor further extolled the spirit of comradeship shown by the people of the state, to the victims .

He also expressed gratitude with the assistance to the victims from well meaning individuals like the Wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari and business mogul, Abdussamad Isyaku Rabiu, among others .

On insecueity , Bagudu regretted that, Kebbi State which was still one of the most peaceful states in the country, was now witnessing some pockets of threats against lives and properties of innocent citizens, especially in Zuru Emirate .

He said that, indigenes of the state who were hitherto engaged in farming activities in parts of Dansadau area, Zamfara State , had returned to the state, mostly in Zuru Emirate.

Bagudu lamented :” They came back with tales of woes and this ugly situation led to the springing up of self help security groups , ‘ Yan Sakai’, apparently for self defense or revenge.

” This obnoxious situation aggravated the security situation. For instance recently, the District Head of Bajida was brutally murderered .

” Also, just yesterday when a meeting was going on to select his replacement, a group of Yan Sakai stormed the meeting, uninvited and threatened to kill everybody if their nominee was not selected .”

The governor categorically warned communities in the state against taking the laws into their hands, as well as creating militias.

Bagudu vowed to sustain the feat achieved by the state of being the hub of food production in Nigeria, just as it is one of the most peaceful states in Nigeria.

The governor further warned that , the state government would not fold its arms and allow miscreants and enemies of peace, as well a progress to rob the state of its hard earned status.

He extolled the contibutions of all the security agencies, traditional and religious groups and other critical Stakeholders in facilitating peace and unity .

In his closing remarks, governor Bagudu thanked all the stakeholders especially, the emirs, religious, community leaders, politicians , government officials youth and women groups, NGOs, security and the media for taking part in the meeting.

According to him also the town hall meeting had afforded an opportunity for both the government to cross fertilise ideas and suggestions on the way forward.

Bagudu opined that everybody including non governmental organizations have a collective responsibility to monitor and formidably partake to ensure relief assistance reached the affected flood victims and not diverted.

He also regretted that flooding has devastated over 600 kilometers of farmlands destroying crops, fishing grounds, livestock, houses as well as government infrastructure such as roads, bridges and buildings across the state.

He assured all the stakeholders that Kebbi would by the Grace of God surmount its challenges and become great again.

Stakeholders at the meeting including the Emirs, religious leaders ,politicians, women and youth groups as well as NGOs and Civil Society Organizations gave formidable contribution and suggestions on the way forward with regards to flood situation and the security challenges facing Zuru emirate.

The town hall stakeholders meeting was attended among others the Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Samaila Muhammadu Mera, the Wazirin Gwandu, Alhaji Abdullahi Umar who represented the emir of Gwandu, representatives of Emirs of Yauri and Zuru, District Heads and religious leaders.

Others were the Chief of Staff Government House, Alhaji Suleiman Muhammed Argungu (Jarman Kabi) , SSG, Babale Umar Yauri, Justice Suleiman Muhammad Ambursa, the State Chief Judge and Attorney General, Commissioners, Special Advisers, NGOs, CSOs, Youth and Women groups among others.

 

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BREAKING: Trouble Looms for Ordinary Ahmed Isah as Stakeholders Condemn Unguided Utterances Against Nigerian Army, Draw NBC’s Attention

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Stakeholders made up of Civil Society Organisations, Journalists and Security experts have expressed their displeasure over what they termed inciting utterances by radio broadcaster and Chairman of Human Right Radio, Ahmed Isah, popularly called Ordinary Ahmed Isah against the Nigerian Army’s discipline on Lance Corporal Martins Idakpini who was allegedly detained by the Nigerian Army for making a viral video criticising the Nigerian Army and President Muhammadu Buhari in the fight against insecurity in Nigeria. They said the “Ordinary President” as he is fondly called should have known better, that as a broadcaster who is billed to explore the “freedom of information act” should have have been professional and avoid setting the tone for loss of confidence on the Nigerian Army, who on their part are sacrificing all to ensure peace, stability and security in the country.

The Executive Director, Coalition of Civil Society Group for Good Governance (CSGG), Comrade Dominic Ogakwu made this known in a telephone interview with journalists in Abuja on Saturday.

In trying to make case for Lance Corporal Martins, the Ordinary Ahmed alleged that some persons in the Nigerian Army are making a fortune out of the the current insecurity situation of Nigeria.

“….Ahmed Isah is well respected by Nigerians and I will expect that given the fact that he knows a lot on the value of security, and what the Nigerian Army represent, he should rather make an attempt to reach necessary authorities to gain more knowledge to avoid making unguided statement that can trigger issues of insecurity the more…yes we agree that there are issues but the Army are doing very well to solve them and I think that the Onus is on Ahmed Isah as a lover of Nigeria and as a populist, to ensure that his utterances did not instigate some miscreants against the most revered and respected and sustaining institution like the Nigerian Army….” Ogakwu said.

“….So I will advice that he should as a matter of urgency readdress that matter by getting the necessary clarifications and verifying all the necessary facts to avoid making statements in error…yes a lot of rumours are being peddled against the Nigerian army, but it behoves on the media especially the one that is very close to the people to ensure that it did not rise on the waves of the moment on emotions, they should not “emotionalise” reportage….” He added.

He said “…reports must be balanced in perspectives and they must see to all sides, before actually drawing to conclusions, so as a matter of urgency I think the most respected Ahmed Isah should have known better that Nigerians are listening to him and as a man who is patriotic, who loves this country he should not be too emotional when it come to issues of security because he understands that in his programs, he explores all sort of emotions and that to me even though the people love it but then issues of national security, sensitive issues, issues that can set this country ablaze should be very guided….”

Undisclosed sources from the Nigerian Army who also frowned at the inciting utterances by Ahmed Isah threatened that the country’s Army will be forced to take legal action against the broadcaster if he continues in that unpatriotic line.

“….the drive by the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to obliterate hate speech should be exercised on this issue, this is outright incitement, Ahmed Isah must put himself together and desist from sabotaging the Army’s efforts…” the source said.

For investigative journalist and “Accountapreneur”, Emmanuel Bagudu, “…the Nigerian Army is a family and any attempt to come in between a family amounts to incursion….” “….The “Ordinary President” is duty bound to be diplomatic. He must know that as a relevant stakeholder in this country that patriotism is key in his business. He must join in the quest for boosting the morale of the troops as well as advocating for trust and support for the Nigerian Military as a whole….” Bagudu said.

Youth Ambassador for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Austin Peacemaker shares the same thought “…. Ahmed Isah should not forget that the Nigerian Army is playing a very significant role in sustaining our beautiful democracy and strengthening our national security, even at the ECOWAS regional level, as such deserves our honour, respect and fairness, especially when reporting issues around National security. They deserve balanced reportage from Journalists including Ordinary Ahmed Isah, who is well respected by many of his listeners….” Peacemaker said.

“…He shouldn’t lose that respect by misleading or misinforming his listeners and Nigerians, in a bid to make his programme entertaining and exciting. Lance Corporal Martins Idakpini broke the very code and ethics of a regimented institution he swore and took oath to abide by, and also defend. There are measures to channel your grievances in any organisation, and not by doing a video and uploading on social media. That is the highest form of indiscipline for any soldier. No father, CEO, Boss or Employer will condone that in any revered establishment.”

“…Let’s be fair in our judgment. No matter what he has to say for me he has discredited himself first by insulting all his superiors, even down to the President. My investigation reveals that Lance Corporal Martins is a ceremonious soldier in the music band of the Army who has never been to any battlefront, so doing a video to discourage and dampening the morale of his brave colleagues in the battlefront equals treachery, sabotage, and lack of patriotism for his country. We should not forget that Nigerian Security Forces are respected across Africa and the world at large, if we downplay their efforts, successes and sacrifice to our motherland then we are unknowingly running down ourselves and Nigeria as a country….” Amb. Austin Peacemaker said.

Recall that Lance Corporal Martins Idakpini was reportedly arrested in June 2020 shortly after he made a viral video where he allegedly said that the Nigerian Army and other security services are not doing enough to end the Boko Haram war. He also insulted the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari.

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Ondo Election: INEC Moves 6,000 Smart Card Readers From Oyo

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says it has ordered for a transfer of over 6,000 smart card readers from its Oyo state office to Ondo for the smooth conduct of Oct. 10, governorship election in Ondo state.

INEC’s National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education, Mr Festus Okoye, said this when he appeared on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), forum in Abuja on Thursday.

Okoye was responding to questions on alternative plans the commission was putting in place for the Ondo election, given the destruction by fire of 5,141 smart cards readers in its Ondo office.

He said it was sad that the commission lost the 5,141 smart cards, readers, in the inferno.

He, however, noted that Ondo election was a stand-alone election, noting that the commission would move smart card readers from other states to conduct the election.

“As at today, we have given an order that all the smart card readers in Oyo state office should be moved to Ondo.

“And they have over 6,000 smart card readers in Oyo and so we are not going to have any problems reconfiguring them and using them for the elections.“

Okoye said the commission decided to move the smart card readers from other states to conduct the Ondo elections because of the long duration required to purchase a smart card.

According to him, the process of ordering one smart card reader takes at least six months, hence the decision to move smart card readers from other states.

He, however, said the commission was also looking at a more secured way of storing its smart card readers to avert any further destruction of the cards given the expensive nature of the cards.

“Because these smart card readers were bought with Nigeria’s taxpayer’s money we have a responsibility to make sure that we don’t waste the resources of this country.

“But we have recovered quickly and we are proceeding with the Ondo State election, noting will stop the conduct of that election,“ Okoye said.

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