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70 CSOs, INEC differ on storing of sensitive materials with CBN

By Terhemba Daka, Adamu Abuh, Sodiq Omolaoye, Matthew Ogune (Abuja) and Kehinde Olatunji (Lagos)
01 July 2022   |   4:26 am
A Coalition of over 70 civil society organisations, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, yesterday, expressed concern that the current leadership of the Central Bank of Nigeria ...

CBN

• Commission clarifies on indefinite extension of voter registration
• Reps moves to establish electoral offences tribunal
• Buhari restates commitment to credible elections
• WPO partners National Peace Committee on 2023 polls
• Lagos Speaker laments poor PVC collection, voter apathy

A Coalition of over 70 civil society organisations, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, yesterday, expressed concern that the current leadership of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) can no longer guarantee the safety of sensitive electoral materials.

Convener, Ene Obi, made the observation in Abuja during the Situation Room/Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Dialogue on the Osun State Governorship Election.

She wondered why sensitive materials would be placed under the watch of CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who, she said, is a card-carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

She said: “We call on the Federal Government to ask the CBN Governor to resign with immediate effect. We are calling on President Buhari to inform him that our CBN is no longer safe to keep materials.”

But in his presentation, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Osun, Olayinka Raji, replied: “In Ekiti, sensitive materials were not taken to the CBN. Similarly, in Osun, they will not be taken there because we have a very good and safe place where sensitive materials were kept, and similar place will be used in Osun.”

THIS came as INEC has officially announced indefinite extension of the ongoing continuous voter registration (CVR) expected to end yesterday.

National Electoral Commissioner (Information and Voter Education), Festus Okoye, made the announcement in a statement in Abuja.

Okoye said the CVR would continue nationwide and that all Resident Electoral Commissioners and electoral officers have been directed to continue with the exercise, pending further directives from the commission.

Giving reasons for the extension, Okoye said INEC has consistently reiterated its resolve to continue to provide electoral services to Nigerians by registering all eligible and interested citizens. He disclosed also a case at the Federal High Court in Abuja relating to the terminal date of the CVR.

The court had granted an order of interim injunction stopping INEC from ending the registration on June 30, 2022. He said: “The matter came up on Wednesday, June 29, 2022, and based on the request of the commission, the court granted accelerated hearing and adjourned the matter till Monday, July 4, 2022 for hearing of the substantive matter. The commission will give an update after court hearing next week.”

ALSO, a bill seeking the establishment of a national electoral offences tribunal made inroads, yesterday, on the floor of the House of Representatives.

The bill, jointly sponsored by Aishatu Dukku, Francis Uduyok, Kingsley Chinda and John Dyegh, was referred to the House committee on electoral matters for further legislative scrutiny during a plenary presided by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.

While leading debate on the proposed legislation, Dukku, who also chairs the committee, argued that it would enhance the electoral process in the country.

He said: “Electoral crimes lead to low quality, corrupt and violent political leadership. They help election riggers and offenders take control of government against the democratic will of the electorate. Decisive deterrence, through efficient criminal prosecution, is the most effective strategy for defeating electoral offenders.

“INEC, clearly, does not have the needed human capacity to prosecute electoral offences committed across Nigeria’s 119,973 polling units, 8809 wards, 360 federal constituencies, 109 senatorial districts and 774 local government areas.

“By this statistics, it is unrealistic to expect INEC to conduct free, fair and credible elections, and simultaneously prosecute offences arising from the same elections. Indeed, INEC has admitted that it lacks the wherewithal to cleanse the system.”

“Its failure to prosecute even one per cent of the 870,000 alleged electoral offences in 2011 is affirmation of the necessity of a paradigm shift on how we deal with electoral offences.”

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has again assured he would give a free hand to INEC towards a free and credible conduct of next year’s general elections.

He stated this Wednesday night in Lisbon, Portugal, during a meeting with representatives of Nigerians living in the European country. He noted that with the conclusion of political parties’ primaries, all eyes are now on the 2023 elections in Nigeria.

‘’We look forward to a smooth transition to the next government. And as I have said before, our administration will not compromise on doing the right things on the welfare of Nigerians, home and abroad,’’ the President added.

Citing the last gubernatorial elections in Anambra and Ekiti States, the President said the administration has consistently proven its zero tolerance for interference in elections and insistence that Nigerians should be allowed to vote for the party and candidate of their choice.

Nigerian Ambassador to Portugal, Alex Enan Kefas, told Buhari there are some 3,000 Nigerians in the country, who are well behaved and living peacefully.

AHEAD of the general elections, the World Peace Organisation (WPO) in Nigeria has partnered with the leadership of the National Peace Committee (NPC) with a view to enhancing a peaceful exercise.

This followed a meeting with NPC National Secretary, Atta Barkindo, at the Committee’s national secretariat in Abuja.
The WPO delegation, led by the President, Prof. Muyiwa Babalola, said it was at the NPC headquarters to express intent to collaborate for a peaceful conduct of the elections.

Muyiwa, who was accompanied by the Africa Publication Director of WPO, Robinson Akpua, and other members, said: “We have reached out through series of publications to all the presidential and governorship candidates, INEC, government and civil society organisations.

MEANWHILE, Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, has appealed to residents of the state to ensure they register and vote in next year’s elections.

He gave the advice, yesterday, at the 8th Annual Constituency Stakeholders’ Meeting held simultaneously by lawmakers across the state.

This was as Mr. Felix Daramola, INEC’s Head of Electoral Operations, lamented poor outings by voters in the state during elections.

Addressing stakeholders in his Agege Constituency 1, Obasa described the theme of the meeting, ‘2023 General Elections: The Imperatives of Permanent Voter Cards’, as timely.

Commending constituents for being responsive to matters affecting their communities and the state, the Speaker added: “It is, however, quite worrisome that over 20 million Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) still remain uncollected across the nation according to a recent INEC report. And out of this huge figure, one million are from Lagos State.

“This situation does not augur well for our progress, our democracy and the development of the state as it could create an opportunity for incompetent persons to be elected as our leaders and representatives, and thus overturn our achievements.”

Stressing the need for mass participation in the elections, Daramola said Lagos now has 13,325 polling units. Of this figure, he said Agege has 696 units, thus bringing voting centres closer to the electorate.

Warning against multiple voting, Daramola noted that in Lagos State, “a total of 640,774 eligible voters had done online registration before it ended on May 30, 2022. But as of Monday, June 27, only 371,760 had completed their online registration.”

Analysing online registration across states, he said: “Osun has 708,968, Delta, 641,174 while Lagos has 640,774. This is not acceptable with the population and megacity status of Lagos State.

“For completed registration, Delta leads again with 396,900. This is followed by Kano with 380,582. Bayelsa, with few local governments, has 379,538. Rivers has 372,406. Lagos is in fifth place with 371,760.

“You can see that we all have a lot of work to do to make sure our people get registered.”