The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it is working to make permanent voters card (PVC) available in November to all voters who registered this year.
The Chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, stated this while addressing journalists after the opening of a validation workshop on the study cost of elections in the ECOWAS region.
“The update is that we have printed the PVCs for those who registered in the first quarter of 2018 and we are simultaneously printing for those who registered in the second and third quarters. So we looking at the end of November for all the PVCs to be printed.”
Mr Yakubu assured everyone who registered and applied for transfer or replacement of their cards of getting their PVCs ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Asked if there was still room for those who want to request for transfer, he said the request of transfer was suspended alongside voter registration on August 31.
“No, we have closed simultaneously as we suspended the registration until after the general election. But what we are doing is processing the applications we received before the August 31st deadline for the suspension of voter registration.”
The workshop was based on a study carried out on Benin Republic, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau. Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal, to review and validate findings on the increasing cost of conducting elections.
Mr Yakubu, who is also the president of ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), said the study which is part of ECONECs two-year Work Plan (2016-2018) is borne out of the serious concern by all electoral commissions in the sub-region about the spiraling cost of conducting elections.
“The task of meeting such extensive expenditure has increasingly challenged the national resources of many countries in our region. It is against this background that Governing Board of ECONEC inaugurated this study to explore what we can do as election managers, working together with national stakeholders and development partners, to find ways to reduce the cost of elections without jettisoning new innovations or compromising the quality, transparency and credibility of elections.”
He said ECONEC had undertaken needs assessment, solidarity and mid-term review missions to several member states for Election Management Bodies (EMBs) in the sub-region to share experience, expertise and even pool resources.
This, he said, was “not only with a view to ensuring best practice through peer review, but also in order to reduce the cost of conducting elections among our member states.”
He noted that it was in this light that member countries began to support each other to conduct their elections.
“Burkina Faso assisted neighbouring Niger Republic with ballot boxes and the printing of the voters register for the February 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections. Similarly, Ghana provided support to the Republic of Liberia with the printing of the voters register for the October 2017 presidential and parliamentary elections.
“Indeed, INEC Nigeria assisted the Republic of Liberia with the deployment of ICT experts to clean up the disputed voters register in order to break the logjam to the conduct of the December 2017 presidential run-off.
“At a bilateral level, countries within the region have also provided material and technical assistance to one another to support the conduct of credible elections. The latest example is Nigeria’s support for the ongoing voter registration exercise in Guinea-Bissau.”
He said election is a sovereign national responsibility, but in the past multi-lateral agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union (EU), working together with other development partners, had, in some cases, provided support through the donor basket to fund certain electoral expenditure.
Mr Yakubu said although this was commendable, electoral commissions in the ECOWAS region need to rethink the way elections are funded in such a manner as to make the electoral process more cost-effective yet free, fair and credible.
“This is because of the contending expenditure of government on other aspects of national development. An expensive election that ushers in a Government that lacks the resources to fulfill its campaign promises to citizens may, in the long run, erode public confidence in elections in particular and the democratic process in general.
“The obvious first step is to conduct a study on why elections cost so much. From such a study, we can then determine what can be done to reduce the cost.
“Mindful of the different jurisdictions within the ECOWAS region, we selected six countries for the study, consisting of two countries from each of the three official linguistic blocs: Nigeria and Liberia (Anglophone), Benin Republic and Senegal (Francophone) and Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau (Lusophone).
“The three experts that anchored the study were drawn from Nigeria (Prof. Adele Jinadu), Benin Republic (Francis Laleye) and Cape Verde (Jose Cabral Sanches). On behalf of ECONEC, I would like to thank them for deploying their experience and expertise in undertaking the study in spite of the short period of time available and limited resources.”
The INEC chairman said the idea of pooling resources (ballot boxes, vehicles for electoral logistics etc.) together to be deployed in support of elections in countries within the region on the basis of need is now more urgent than ever before and assured of ECONEC’s full support.
“ECONEC is in full support of the establishment of an election materials depot in Lungi, Sierra Leone, where some facilities such as trucks for electoral logistics already exist. We support this initiative and would cooperate with ECOWAS for its actualisation in line with the organisation’s mandate on electoral assistance to member states.”
He appreciated ECOWAS and ECONEC for championing the idea of pooling electoral resources together in support of the electoral process in the region.
He also expressed gratitude to the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) for helping to equip and sustain the permanent secretariat in Abuja as well as the grant to undertake this study, the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) for sponsoring this validation workshop, in addition to the mid-term review of elections in the region, and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Development in Africa (EISA).
Alleged Gang rape: Court denies Babcock University student bail
A Babcock University student, James Aguedo has been denied bail by Justice Abiola Soladoye of an Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court.
The student of Babcock University, James Aguedo, accused of involvement in gang-rape of a student of the University of Lagos (Unilag) was reportedly denied bail when bail applications were made.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Soladoye in a ruling on Thursday said Mr Aguedo, 20, did not provide compelling circumstances as to why the court should grant him bail.
“The essence of bail is to ensure the defendant’s attendance at trial. In deciding an application for bail, certain factors must be taken into consideration such as the nature of the charge and the evidence adduced.
“Grant of bail of a defendant in a criminal offence is not automatic, it is at the discretion of the court.
“I am, therefore, of the view that the application before the court has not shown any compelling or exceptional circumstances to warrant the court exercising its discretion in favour of the applicant.
“The application for bail is hereby refused, and the court shall give this case accelerated trial; I so hold,” the judge said.
NAN reports that Mr Aguedo’s counsel, Lawal Pedro, had on March 25 prayed the court to grant him bail to enable him to write an examination at the Babcock University in April.
He also submitted that the undergraduate suffered from ill-health and needed constant medical attention.
“He has a recurring back ailment. We brought not just a medical report but the history because he has been attending an orthopaedic hospital.
“The prison facility is not conducive for him,” the SAN said.
Mr Pedro had attached Mr Aguedo’s school identity card and admission letter to the bail application dated March 13.
Also attached were a National Orthopedic Hospital, Igbobi, Yaba, Lagos, appointment card, history of medical examination and a St Dominic’s Catholic Church’s letter of recommendation.
NAN reports that the student is standing trial alongside Moboluwaji Omowole, 19, Chuka Chukwu, 19, Peace Nwankama, 19 and Osemeka Josephine, 20.
The defendants were charged with serial gang-rape of a Unilag student (name withheld).
According to prosecution counsel, Fehinti Ogbemudia, the defendants committed the gang rape sometime in 2017 within the premises of Unilag.
The alleged victim had on February 26 testified that she was lured by Nwankama who was her roommate to High Rise, a staff quarters hostel, in Unilag.
She said she was gang-raped at High Rise by eight students, and that the sexual assault was video-taped.
According to the alleged victim, she was also blackmailed with the video and further gang-raped on other occasions by the defendants and their accomplices who are now at large.
The five defendants have been remanded in the Kirikiri Prisons since February 26, when they were arraigned.
The case has been adjourned until May 2 for continuation of trial.
Sterling Bank Staff, Olanrewaju Yusuf remanded in prison for N36m fraud
Justice Bello Duwale of the Sokoto State High Court has remanded a Sterling Bank Plc worker, Olanrewaju Yusuf, in prison custody for cheating to the tune of N36 million and issuing of dud cheques.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arraigned Yusuf, who is the Chief Executive Officer, Viclibo Ventures, on five counts bordering on the issuance of dud cheque, criminal breach of trust and cheating.
A complainant, Tunde Akinola, had alleged that sometime in January 2018, Yusuf, who worked with the Sokoto branch of the bank requested a N30 million loan for the establishment of a biscuit and juice production factory with a pledge to pay back the money with 10 per cent interest.
Akinola stated that he rallied round friends and colleagues to raise the money, which he gave to the accused via his United Bank for Africa account on condition that the loan should be paid back by March 2018.
Pursuant to the agreement, Yusuf allegedly issued three post-dated Diamond Bank cheques of N10m each and another for N6m, all of which were dishonoured by the bank on presentation.
Yusuf pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges.
Counsel for EFCC, S.H. Sa’ad, urged the court to fix a date for commencement of trial and asked that the defendant be remanded in prison custody, but the defence counsel, Ferdinard Okotete, prayed the court to grant his client bail.
Justice Bello, however, ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison custody and fixed April 25, 2019 for hearing of bail application.
The trial judge further granted an interim forfeiture order in respect of the defendant’s property, pursuant to a motion ex parte filed by the EFCC.
Kenyan family sues Boeing over Ethiopia crash over Ethiopian Airline Plane crash
A family of a Kenyan man, who died in last month’s Ethiopia Airlines crash said it is taking the plane manufacturer Boeing to court in the US.
In all, 157 people died when the Boeing 737-Max 8 went down six minutes after take off on a flight from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.
The 29-year-old engineer George Kabau was one of more than 30 Kenyans on board.
At a press conference in Nairobi his siblings said they wanted the company to release emails relating to the plane, which has now been grounded, Reuters news agency reports.
“We cannot replace him, and he cannot and shall not be replaced. But we pray that by what is happening, my parents especially and us as his siblings and all other loved ones, can use his demise to ensure safe travel for all,” said Mr Kabau’s sister.
Boeing is facing three other law suits relating to the Ethiopia crash, including from members of the family of a Rwandan victim.
The Ethiopian Airlines plane nose dived several times before it hit the ground, a preliminary report released a fortnight ago said.
Pilots “repeatedly” followed procedures recommended by Boeing before the crash, according to the first official report into the disaster.
Boeing’s boss has admitted for the first time a failure in the jet’s anti-stall system was a factor in the crash.
But the company has not commented on the legal cases.
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