TOP 10 NEWS MAKING THE ROUNDS IN NIGERIA TODAY, SATURDAY
INEC’s Voter Register And The Unacceptable Discrepancies
In the course of the week, Nigerians got a glimpse into what makes politicians highly confident of winning the 2023 election regardless of the reality on the ground and the survey of pollsters. Emergent from the development is what fuels the myth that certain parts of the country have the deciding voting block and for which reason the age-long religious balancing expected of the presidential ticket was sacrificed by the party in power. As it were, desperate politicians in cohort with wheeler-dealers in the system have infected and corrupted an apparent iron-clad preparation to give the country her best general election yet by next year. This, they have done by making a mess of the voter registration exercise.
Reacting to the discovery of fraudulent discrepancies in data across the voter register published by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), erstwhile Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mike Igini, accused some INEC staffers of glaringly registering underage voters. He spoke against the backdrop of public outcry over invalid registration cases which trended on Twitter under such hashtags as #INECVotersScam and #INECIsCorrupt. Instances of underage registrants were rampant even though the 1999 Constitution and Electoral Act of 2022 provides that a person must be 18 years and above to be registered as a voter and eligible to vote.
It all started after the electoral commission in a well-intentioned move published the preliminary national register of voters in the 8,809 Registration Areas (Wards) nationwide as well as on its website on Saturday. The commission invited Nigerians to verify the database containing 93,522,272 registrants, to cross-check and report errors they find therein. Members of the public were also enjoined to report ineligible voters who might have been captured. Some Nigerians, who heeded this call, noticed discrepancies and widely shared the same on social media.
2023 Election: Tinubu, Atiku, Peter Obi, Others To ‘Share’ 187 Million Ballot Papers
Supporters of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Omoyele Sowore, and other presidential candidates will compete with 187 million ballot papers come February 25, 2023, to ensure victory for their preferred candidate.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) confirmed this on Friday.
Speaking on Friday (today) ahead of the much-anticipated exercise, the National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the commission will print a total of 187million ballot papers for the 2023 presidential election.
Okoye, during his address at a Roundtable with Bureau Chiefs/ Editors in Abuja today, said 93.5 million ballot papers would be used on February 25 for the presidential election.
He revealed that the remaining 93.5million ballot papers would be spared for run-off of the presidential election in case there is no clear winner.
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Rivers Lawmaker Dares Wike, Declares Support For Atiku
The lawmaker representing Degema/Bonny Federal Constituency of Rivers State in the House of Representatives, Farah Dagogo has declared support for the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar.
Dagogo in a statement on Friday described Atiku as the candidate that Nigeria needs to take the country to greater heights.
The lawmaker promised that Atiku will get a landslide victory in Rivers State and will also win the majority of votes in the south-south and other regions of the county.
He said the commitment of the PDP candidate and his running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa to the restructuring of Nigeria including the issues of resource control makes them the best fit to take over the presidency in 2023.
The endorsement is contrary to the stand of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike who has declared that Atiku won’t get his support and that of Rivers people for the 2023 presidency except Iyorchia Ayu steps down as the PDP National Chairman and is replaced by a southerner.
However, Dagogo in a statement on Friday made available to newsmen by his special adviser, media, and publicity, Ibrahim Lawal, said Atiku has all the leadership qualities and integrity needed to be the next President of Nigeria.
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EFCC Loses As Court Clears Ex-SGF Lawal, Others Of N544m Scam
A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday discharged and acquitted a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and five others from the N544 million contract fraud offences levelled against them.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had dragged Babachir Lawal, alongside his younger brother, Hamidu Lawal; Suleiman Abubakar; Apeh Monday and two companies, Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Limited, before Justice Charles Agbaza.
The anti-graft agency had slammed 10 charges on them bordering on fraud, relating to the removal of evasive plant species to the tune of N544 million, for which they pleaded not guilty.
The EFCC had on November 30, 2020 re-arraigned Lawal before Justice Agbaza.
Delivering judgement on Friday, the judge held that the anti-graft agency failed to establish a prima facie case against the Ex-SGF and the co-defendants.
Ruling on a no case submission made by Lawal and others, Justice Agbaza held that no ingredient of any offence was made out by the 11 witnesses who testified for the EFCC.
‘How I Stopped Saraki, Others From Impeaching Buhari’
The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, has revealed how he stopped the 8th Senate led by Bukola Saraki from impeaching President Muhammadu Buhari, saying he does not regret his actions.
Omo-Agege, who is now the Deputy Senate President, stated this on Thursday during his campaign in Asaba, Delta State.
Recall that the 8th Senate had in 2018 unsuccessfully tried to impeach President Buhari.
On April 18, 2018, armed thugs stormed the Senate to allegedly reinstate the then-suspended senator, Ovie Omo-Agege. They overpowered the security men and forcibly took away the mace around 11:30 a.m.
The mace is the symbol of authority of the legislature, without which the Senate cannot commence a legislative session.
The invaders, numbering 12, came in three Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), which were parked in front of the National Assembly building that houses the two chambers.
On Thursday, Omo-Agege, the All Progressives Congress Delta State governorship candidate, said he never regretted thwarting the plan of Saraki and others.
FG Deploys Troops, DSS, Others To Guard INEC Offices Nationwide
The Federal Government has deployed soldiers, operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), and Civil Defence Corps officers to guard offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) nationwide.
The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, made this known during a meeting with the chairmen of political parties at the Force headquarters in Abuja, on Thursday.
The Police boss also stated that police officers and personnel of the Federal Fire Service have been sent to protect INEC assets across the country.
Baba asserted that the deployment was as a result of the attacks on the Ogun and Osun State offices of the electoral agency last week and a series of political violence in Borno, Kaduna, and Zamfara states.
He said security agencies have been directed to enhance intelligence gathering, sharing, and utilisation of the information to stem acts of political violence in the country.
Baba added that security operatives will take decisive lawful action against purveyors of hate speech, incitement to violence, mobilization of thugs, and other violations.
2023: Soludo Speaks On Regretting Anti-Peter Obi Comments
Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo of Anambra State has denied regretting his comments on the chances of a former governor of the state and the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
Soludo had in an article titled, ‘History beckons and I will not be silent,’ dismissed the chances of the Labour Party flagbearer in the coming presidential poll and criticised the style of Ndigbo in its quest for the country’s number one seat.
He also slammed Peter Obi for dumping the All Progressives Grand Alliance to the Peoples Democratic Party and later, Labour Party.
However, his article drew mixed reactions across the country, with many Nigerians on social media strongly criticising him.
But speaking to The PUNCH on Thursday, the Press Secretary to the Anambra State Governor, Christian Aburime said Soludo does not regret his comments.
He stated that Anambra State Governor had the right to his opinion on the 2023 general election.
“The governor is not feeling any way threatened even as the article has triggered series of backlashes, threats and criticisms,” Soludo’s aide said.
President Buhari Orders Immediate Implementation Of Enhanced Salary, Welfare Scheme For Judicial Officers
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has approved and directed that measures be taken to implement the enhanced salary and welfare scheme for judicial officers.
President Buhari made this known on Friday, 18th November 2022, at the official commissioning and handing over ceremony of Nabo Graham-Douglass Campus of the Nigerian Law School, Port Harcourt to the Council of Legal Education.
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami,SAN represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the occasion, according to a statement issued to newsmen on Friday by Dr. Umar J|ibrilu Gwandu, Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
According to the statement, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Chairman Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission and the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice to promptly commence measures towards the realization and implementation of enhanced salary and welfare scheme for the judicial officers in the country.
The President said this and many other initiatives were targeted at significantly strengthening the capacity and independence of the judiciary, which he said remained a pillar of strength and stability for the nation’s democracy.
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2023: We Won’t Accept Any Questionable Harvest Of Votes For APC – Ayu
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to keep to his promise of a free, fair and transparent election at the polls next.
The PDP warned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that it won’t accept any questionable harvest of votes for the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 election.
The PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, who warned INEC in Abuja at the commissioning of the party’s Peoples Democratic Institute (PDI) also cautioned the Presidency and the APC not to intimidate INEC or any of its functionaries in any way.
Ayu continued that the institution would serve as a think tank for the party for rigorous intellectual work of research, socio-economic analysis, policy development, training and capacity building of political actors, and the strengthening of the nation’s democratic institutions and culture.
He argued that, unlike the APC, PDP was not hurriedly conceived as a propaganda machine just to access power, saying “it came to power with a mission.”
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2023: Ohanaeze Worldwide Backs Peter Obi’s Presidential Bid
Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbio Worldwide has supported the presidential ambition of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi.
The Chairman of the Ohanaeze Council of Elders, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, made this known at the end of the council’s Finance and Development Committee meeting on Thursday.
Iwuanyanwu said the forum believes it is the turn of the South East to produce the next President in 2023, adding that the elders believe supporting Obi is the right thing to do.
According to Iwuanyanwu, the choice to support the LP presidential candidate is anchored on the need for equity, justice, and fairness.
He added that a coalition involving leaders from the South East, South-South, and Middle Belt have affirmed their support for the former Governor of Anambra State.