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Electoral Bill: CSOs Demand Buhari’s Assent In Two Days, To Stage Protest Tuesday

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Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s delay in signing the revised Electoral Act Amendment Bill, no fewer than 26 civil society organizations have decided to stage a demonstration on Tuesday if the bill is not signed by the President within two days.

The group invited its supporters to gather at Abuja’s Unity Fountain for the protest.

Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Yiaga Africa, Partners for Electoral Reform, International Press Centre, Institute for Media and Society, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, The Albino Foundation, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, Labour Civil Society Coalition, Transition Monitoring Group, CLEEN Foundation, and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre are among the organizations that make up the coalition.

Others are Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organisations, Inclusive Friends Association, Enough is Enough, The Electoral Hub, Centre for Liberty, Take Back Nigeria Movement, International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre, 100 Women Lobby Group, Women in Politics Forum, Raising New Voices, Millennials Active Citizenship Advocacy Africa and Ready To Lead Africa.

On January 31 2022, the National Assembly transmitted the reworked bill to the President for assent.

Buhari consequently forwarded it to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), for legal advice.

Malami had hinted that he might advise the President to withhold assent if he (Malami) found the reworked bill to contain proposals hinged on personal interests.

The CSOs in a statement on Saturday by the Media Officer of Yiaga Africa, Moshood Isah, after an emergency meeting, urged citizens across the nation to “call on President Muhammadu Buhari to act on this matter of urgent national importance.”

The coalition said the bill allowed electronic transmission of results, strengthened the financial independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission and empowered the commission to reject falsified election results.

The statement read in part, “Further aware, the bill, when signed, requires INEC to issue Notice of Election not later than 360 days before the day appointed for an election. Therefore, the President has to give assent to the bill on or before February 22, 2022, if the dates announced for the 2023 elections are to be maintained.

“We are concerned that the delay in granting presidential assent to the Electoral Bill, 2022 will create legal uncertainties that threaten the integrity of the off-cycle elections in Ekiti, Osun, and the 2023 general election, which is 366 days away.

“The civil society community resolves to declare Tuesday, February 22, 2022, as the national day of protest to demand immediate assent to the bill. Civil society networks will organise peaceful public direct-action activities to further the demand to assent to the bill. We urge citizens across the nation to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to act on this matter of urgent national importance.”

The President has not shown any significant sign of signing the reworked bill 20 days after it was transmitted to him by the National Assembly.

By law, the President is expected to respond to the National Assembly’s proposal not more than 30 days after receiving it.

The bill was transmitted to him on January 31, 2022, meaning he has barely 10 days left to act on it. The President has in the last five years rejected electoral amendment bills five times.

The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had said last month that the commission would quickly release the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections based on the new law once the bill is signed by the President.

However, there are indications that INEC will go ahead with its preparations rather than allow Buhari’s failure to sign the bill to delay its activities.

The National Commissioner for Voter Education and Publicity, Festus Okoye, said on Channels Television that the commission could conduct the 2023 general elections with the current Electoral Act 2010.

Okoye added that Buhari not signing the Electoral Act amendment bill did not affect the FCT council election that took place on Saturday as the poll went smoothly.

He explained that INEC is an agency of the government that works with existing laws and it would continue to do so.

When asked if the President’s refusal to sign the electoral bill affected the conduct of the FCT poll, Okoye said, “Not in any way.”

When asked if the commission would be able to deliver a credible election in 2023 if the President doesn’t sign the electoral bill, Okoye said, “As an electoral management body, our responsibility is to utilise the existing law and conduct our elections very well.”

Also speaking with Sunday PUNCH, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, said although the commission would be happy if Buhari signs the bill, the commission which is a product of the law would go ahead with its core mandate of organising elections.

On whether INEC would be forced to shift February 18, 2023, due to the controversy surrounding the electoral bill, Oyekanmi said it would be speculative to provide a response.

He added, “When the commission decides on whether or not to postpone the elections, we will come up with a statement but it is not wise to speculate. As a commission, we would like to see the electoral amendment bill signed but let us not forget that there is existing law.

“What that means is that if perchance the bill is not signed by Mr President, INEC will have no option but to fall back on the existing law to conduct the elections because the constitution does not say that you must wait for the amendment of one law or the other before you conduct general elections. General elections must hold every four years.”

Meanwhile, a top government official told Sunday PUNCH that it was unlikely that the President would sign the electoral bill.

The official, who wished to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak with the press, said the National Assembly did not comply with the President’s letter which he issued while explaining his reason for rejecting the previous bill last December.

He said, “The National Assembly was only expected to remove the mandatory direct primary and add all options which include: direct, indirect and consensus. However, they have now inserted a clause that says that in the event that consensus is adopted, all aspirants who choose to step down must put it into writing.

“This last clause is a recipe for disaster. The President has been advised against signing this bill. I will be surprised if he appends his signature to it. But nothing is impossible in politics.”

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JUST IN: FG Bans Production Of Movies Featuring Money Rituals

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The federal government has prohibited the production and distribution of any movies or cinematography that feature money rituals and glamourising vices.

Shaibu Husseini, CEO of the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) made this known at an event in Enugu State on Wednesday.

The event was organised by the NFVCB and Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA).

Movie producers, directors, actors from different parts of the country, and leaders of various guilds and associations in the Nigerian film industry were present at the event.

Husseini said, “Today, we are facing an industry emergency requiring bold and ambitious actions from all parents, guardians, and stakeholders. When my predecessor approached the former Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, on the need to make subsidiary legislation to curtail the display of smoking in Nigerian movies, he saw the need to include money rituals.

“Others included in the regulation are ritual killings and glamorising other crimes in order to further sanitise the film industry. Today, I am delighted to announce to you that the Minister of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa, pursuant to section 65 of the NFVCB Act 2004, has approved the regulation.”

He added, “The minister has approved the ‘prohibition of money ritual, ritual killing, tobacco, tobacco products, nicotine product promotion and glamorisation display in movies, musical videos and skits regulations 2024’. We have also forwarded the approved copy to the Federal Ministry of Justice for Gazette.”

Mr Husseini said the sensitisation programme was to educate stakeholders on the danger inherent in smoking in Nigerian movies.

According to him, besides the health implications, glamorising smoking in films poses a negative influence on teens and young adults, who constitute the largest segment of Nigerian movie viewers.

He said the film board was set to undertake detailed enlightenment programmes in secondary schools, tertiary institutions, local communities, faith groups and other institutions.

The NFVCB boss said, “As you all know, the film industry occupies a central position in the entertainment and creative sector, and it is imperative that we continue to place the highest premium on the progress of the film industry.

“The NFVCB supports smoke-free movies and supports smoke-free Nollywood, and we therefore seek your collaboration to develop creative content that discourages smoking and promotes positive health messages.”

He noted that after a series of engagements, the NFVCB, in collaboration with the CAPPA, decided to make “subsidiary regulations” to address smoking in movies since this aspect was not expressly spelt out in the extant law.

(c) News Agency of Nigeria.

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President Tinubu Appoints Shehu Mohammed As FRSC Corps Marshal

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Nigeria’s President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has appointed Shehu Mohammed as the corps marshal and the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).

Segun Imohiosen, director of information in the office of the secretary to the government of the federation (AGF), announced the appointment in a statement on Wednesday.

Imohiosen said the appointment is for an initial period of four years with effect from May 20.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, has approved the appointment of Assistant Corps Marshal Mohammed Shehu as the Corps Marshal/Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC),” the statement reads.

“President Tinubu tasks the appointee to bring his wealth of experience to bear in his new assignment.”

Mohammed will succeed Dauda Biu as the FRSC corps marshal.

In December 2022, former President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Biu as the substantive corps marshal of the FRSC.

Before the appointment, Biu was the acting corps marshal of the commission.

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JUST IN: Verydarkman Remanded In Police Custody For Cyberbullying, Hearing To Hold Next Wednesday

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The controversial social media critic Martin Otse, also known as VeryDarkMan, has been placed under arrest till his next hearing, which is scheduled for this Wednesday of next week.

Otse reportedly entered a not guilty plea to five counts of cyberstalking involving the Nigerian police, Nollywood actresses Iyabo Ojo and Tonto Dike, when he was arraigned at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday.

The police prosecuting team told Judge Mobolaji Olajuwon that they needed more time to react to his lawyer Deji Adeyanju’s bail plea, thus the court postponed the bail hearing to May 29.

The prosecution sought to have the blogger remanded in prison custody, but his lawyers successfully argued for his remand in police custody instead.

The court granted this request, and Verydarkman was subsequently taken to the National Cybercrime Centre.

The charges against him read, “1. Posting a video on October 29, 2023, on his Instagram handle ‘verydarkblackman’ that contained offensive, pornographic, or menacing information, falsely alleging that Iyabo Ojo had an indecent sexual relationship with her daughter, violating Section 24 (1)(a) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act, 2015.

“That you Martins Vincent Otse (A.K.A. VERYDARKBLACKMAN) ‘M’, 29 YRS of Supreme Court Estate Karu, Abuja on or about 29th October 2023, in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court knowingly and intentionally posted videos, by means of a computer system on your Instagram handles ‘verydarkblackman’, which video contained information that is grossly offensive, pornographic or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character wherein you stated that one Iyabo Ojo is having an indecent sexual relationship with her daughter knowing or having reasons to believe that the information in the video you posted on your Instagram handle is false and you thereby committed the offence of Cyberstalking contrary to and punishable under section 24 (1)(a) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) ACT, 2015.

2. Posting a video on January 19, 2024, on Instagram, falsely accusing King Tonto Dikeh of criminal conversion of crowdfunding proceeds and being behind the Gistlover blog, intending to cause annoyance, inconvenience, and other harm, in violation of Section 24 (1)(b) of the Cybercrime Act.

“COUNT 3 That you Martins Vincent Otse (A.K.A. VERYDARKBLACKMAN) ‘M’, 29 YRS of Supreme Court Estate Karu, Abuja on or about 19th January 2024, in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court knowingly and intentionally posted videos, by means of a computer system on your Instagram handles ‘verydarkblackman’ containing the information you know or had reasons believe to be false, wherein in the video you falsely published that King Tonto Dikeh is accused of criminal conversion of the proceeds of crowdfunding for Justice for Mohbad Movement, and being the person behind the gistlover blog, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will or needless anxiety to the person of the said King Tonto Dike and you thereby committed the offence of Cyberstalking contrary to and punishable under section 24 (1)(b) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) ACT, 2015

3. Posting a video on March 19, 2024, alleging that senior police officers and lawmakers were involved in sexual activities with Bobrisky, intending to cause annoyance, inconvenience, and other harm, in violation of Section 24 (1)(b) of the Cybercrime Act.

“COUNT 4 That you, Martins Vincent Otse (A.K.A. VERYDARKBLACKMAN) ‘M’, 29 YRS of Supreme Court Estate Karu, Abuja, on or about 19th March 2024, in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court knowingly and intentionally posted videos, by means of computer system on your Instagram handle ‘verydarkblackman’, containing information which you know or had reasons to believe to be false, wherein you stated the following, ‘I put it to you say the DIGs of the Police dem dey knack Bobrisky. The senators for senate house dey knack Bobrisky…I dare the Nigeria Police, I said what I said, the DIGs are knacking him, the Lawmakers, the Senate are knacking him in the National Assembly’ which statement you made for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will or needless anxiety to the persons of the DIGs of the Nigeria Police Force and members of the National Assembly and you thereby committed the offence of Cyberstalking contrary to and punishable under section 24 (1)(b) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) ACT, 2015.

4. Posting another video on March 19, 2024, claiming that Bobrisky was pimping young boys to senators and senior police officers, intending to cause annoyance, inconvenience, and other harm, in violation of Section 24 (1)(b) of the Cybercrime Act.

“COUNT 5 That you Martins Vincent Otse (A.K.A. VERYDARKBLACKMAN) ‘M’, 29 YRS of Supreme Court Estate Karu, Abuja on or about 19th March, 2024, in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court knowingly and intentionally posted videos, by means of computer system on your Instagram handles ‘verydarkblackman’ containing information you know or had reasons to believe to be false, wherein you stated that Bobrisky is pimping young boys for Senators and Senior Police Officers to sleep with, which statement you made for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, insult, injury.”

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