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INEC Plans To Start Electronic Voting In 2021

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday said it would engage with the National Assembly and other stakeholders to explore ways of responding to the rising cost of conducting frequent bye-elections in Nigeria.

The commission premised its decision on the Supreme Court judgment which states that votes belong primarily to political parties, as well as its records, which show that only in 10 percent of all bye-elections since 2015 did the party that won originally lose the election.

INEC also said it would “pilot the use of Electronic Voting Machines at the earliest possible time (not Edo and Ondo), but work towards the full introduction of electronic voting in major elections starting from 2021.”

The commission gave these details in its 17-paged policy document on conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, signed by its chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made available to journalists in Abuja.

According to the document, the commission would ensure the use of electronic and non-contact means to recruit ad hoc staff beginning with the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states scheduled for September 19 and October 10, 2020 respectively.

The commission also said it would reduce to a minimum interstate movement of staff, including ad hoc staff, for off-season and bye-elections to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus.

The document reads, “The commission will engage with the legislature and other stakeholders to explore ways of responding to the rising cost of conducting frequent bye-elections, especially in consideration of the Supreme Court position that votes belong primarily to political parties, as well as the Commission’s records, which show that only in 10 percent of all bye-elections since 2015 did the party that won originally lose the election.

“The commission will engage relevant authorities, including the legislature, to designate election as an essential service to enable the commission function effectively in times of national emergency.

“The commission shall revamp its election planning and implementation-monitoring processes in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, the commission in planning elections shall respond to the growing demand for deepening the use of technology in the electoral processes, including the introduction of electronic voting.”

Apart from developing a new election budget template to reflect the likely impact of the COVID –19 pandemic on the funding profile of electoral activities, INEC said it would constantly re-evaluate planned electoral activities in the light of COVID – 19 and the health risks it poses for voters, stakeholders and staff during elections.

For pre-election activities, the commission said it would “develop a Voter Code of Conduct document detailing how voters are expected to act and conduct themselves at the polling units in the light of the COVID – 19 pandemic.”

The document reads further, “The commission will ensure the use of electronic and non-contact means to recruit ad hoc staff by deploying its INECPres portal, as well as in notifying ad hoc staff of invitations and postings (for example, use of SMS) to prevent large gatherings at INEC offices during staff deployment.

“The Electoral Operations and Logistics Department will harvest all past ad hoc staff from its databases and send to each State preparing for elections.

“All ad hoc staff databases in the commission will be harmonized for better management. To reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, the commission shall reduce, to a minimum interstate movement of staff, including ad hoc staff, for off-season and by-elections.

“The rule shall be that only shortfalls requested by the States are filled from outside the state. As much as possible, all election staff will be sourced in-state.

“In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission shall encourage political parties to develop appropriate guidelines and regulations for the conduct of party primaries that take into account the COVID-19 prevention protocols.”

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BREAKING: Lagos Orders Closure Of Schools Over #EndSARS Protests

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The Lagos State Government has directed all pupils/students in public and private schools to stay at home following the tension generated by the anti-SARS protests.

Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo, who issued the directive, said the safety of the pupils/students, parents, and all staff working in schools was paramount “at this critical period.”

She, however, advised parents to keep an eye on their wards and not allow them to be used as willing tools in the hands of those who might want to hijack the protests to unleash mayhem on the society.

The Commissioner also encouraged schools to utilize other means of distance teaching and learning such as radio, television, and online media as they have been doing during and post COVID-19 lockdown.

According to Adefisayo, a new date of resumption for all classes will be announced as soon as possible.

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‘They Forced Me To Take Off My Bra’ —- #EndSARS Protester Dragged And Beaten By Police Narrates Experience In Ojuelegba Station [VIDEO]

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Treasure Nduka, one of the #EndSARS protesters arrested in Lagos, says she was beaten by more than 10 police officers and forced to take off her bra in their presence.

Speaking with TheCable, she said the police officers at the Ojuelegba station where she was arrested and detained, shot at protesters, and labelled her a criminal.

As the #EndSARS protests spread across the country, there have been reports of security operatives clamping down on youths expressing their displeasure over the growing rate of police brutality in the country.

“At first, it was empowering seeing that a couple of youths were able to make that much impact and at a point, those that were stuck in traffic joined us in the protest. They came down to sympathize with us. It was really peaceful at the beginning. We didn’t know it was going to the extent of police shooting at us,” Nduka said.

“When the shooting started, I refused to believe that they were shooting. It sounded like a knockout. We heard the first one from afar and we saw people running, but I insisted that we should take our stand. I was not doing anything wrong, so I didn’t feel the need to run. All of a sudden, I saw a bunch of policemen come out and then I realized that this is actually for real.

“I did not know who to reach out. The only people who were aware were brothers who had told me not to come out. I saw a policeman running towards me. He dragged me and I was calling out for people to do something. A bunch of other policemen assisted him in dragging me. I was helpless. It was me against 10 0f them. They kept hitting me. I only tried to cover my face so that I don’t get hit on the face. I could not place an identity on any of them because it was all of them present at that point.

“They said I should pull off my bra. Then, I took off my bra. Everything they did was so unconstitutional.”

Nduka and her colleagues were released after the intervention of Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house of representatives.

Watch the full interview below:

 

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BREAKING: Leave The Roads, Embrace Dialogue, Sanwo-Olu Urges #EndSARS Protesters

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Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has appealed to #EndSARS protesters demonstrating against police brutality and extrajudicial killings to leave the roads and embrace dialogue.

This was contained in a statement titled, ‘Leave The Road And Let’s Dialogue, Sanwo-Olu Appeals To Protesters’, on Monday, by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile.

The #EndSARS protests rocking the country have continued for almost two weeks with youths calling for a lasting reform of the Nigeria Police Force.

Major highways have been blocked by the youths, thereby grounding economic activities.

Speaking on Monday while swearing-in members of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution at the State House in Marina, Sanwo-Olu said the pain expressed and concerns raised by the protesters were genuine and legitimate.

The governor was quoted as saying, “We have shown an unprecedented commitment to the complete overhaul of the Nigerian Police. The inauguration of this Judicial Panel of Inquiry is only the first step in a long line of reformative actions that will lead to a thorough revamp and reorientation of the Nigeria Police. I believe that some of the actions we have taken should, to a large extent, show our sincerity and willingness to address all your concerns.

“Let me reiterate that I am on the side of the young people out there. I understand your pain and I know your concerns are genuine and legitimate. While we are able to immediately acquiesce to some of your demands, some others will require time. We ask you to bear with us as we dutifully work on your demands.

“I will, therefore, like to renew my appeal to you to suspend the protests and create an atmosphere for the resolution of all pending demands. I encourage everyone brutalized by the disbanded SARS, including the families of those who died, to present their case before this tribunal.”

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