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



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.”


Italian Bags 24 Years Jail Term For Beating Physically Challenged Nigerian To Death



Filippo Ferlazzo, the Italian who beat Italy-based Nigerian man Alika Ogorchukwu to death in July 2022, has been sentenced to 24 years in prison.

The 39-year-old Nigerian who was beaten to death in the Italian city of Civitanova Marche in the Marche Region in the Province of Macerata has finally received justice.

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), made the announcement in a statement signed by NIDCOM spokesperson Gabriel Odu on Thursday.

Dabiri-Erewa who expressed satisfaction over the justice meted out to Ferlazzo commended the Nigerian Mission in Rome for following through with the case and other cases involving Nigerians.

“I am glad that this case finally got justice. Like I always say, there has to be consequences for actions”.

The NIDCOM boss also urged Nigerians in the diaspora to remain law-abiding, excel in what they do, and never forget home by giving back to their homeland.

She also exhorted Nigerians living abroad to uphold the law, be the best at what they do, and never forget their roots by supporting their home country.

According to the Italian police, Ogorchukwu was assaulted while strolling in broad daylight, after the Nigerian asked Ferlazzo’s fiancée to buy him a handkerchief.

With the use of Ogorchukwu’s crutches, the attacker battered the victim to death in front of multiple witnesses, some of whom made videos on their smartphones.

On July 30, 2022, Ferlazzo was detained and arrested on charges of having murdered Ogorchukwu and having stolen Ogorchukwu’s phone.

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Lagos Government Implements Total Ban On Street Trading, Hawking To Improve Safety And Sanitation



In a bid to create a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment, the Lagos State government, under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, has implemented a comprehensive ban on street trading, hawking, and related illegal activities.

This landmark decision aims to address the rising concerns over public safety, traffic congestion, and the preservation of vital infrastructure.

Led by the dynamic Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Tokunbo Wahab, the state government has assigned the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps (commonly known as KAI) with the responsibility of ensuring strict compliance with the newly enforced environmental sanitation laws.

One of the primary reasons driving this ban is the need to curb the nefarious activities of hawkers who have increasingly resorted to disguising themselves as vendors while preying on unsuspecting motorists. These incidents of theft and robbery have not only threatened the safety of commuters but have also contributed to the disruption of traffic flow on major highways and streets.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration, with its T.H.E.M.E Plus Agenda, is exhibiting a zero-tolerance approach towards street trading, hawking, and other illicit practices. By intensifying efforts to enforce these regulations, the government aims to foster a more conducive and orderly business environment while addressing the concerns of the general public.

The ban extends to the construction of illegal structures on drainage systems, as they pose significant risks to the local water management infrastructure. Additionally, the prohibition encompasses the display of wares on walkways, a practice that not only obstructs pedestrian movement but also contributes to unsightly and cluttered public spaces.

Citizens and traders are urged to cooperate fully with the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps, adhering to the newly implemented regulations in order to promote a more organized and hygienic society. The government’s commitment to ensuring the health and safety of its residents remains resolute, and these measures signify a significant step towards achieving that goal.

As the Lagos State government takes proactive steps towards creating a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable urban environment, the hope is that this ban will not only elevate the quality of life for all residents but also serve as a model for other regions to follow suit.

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Marketers Urge Federal Government To Address Rising Gas Prices



The Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM) has urged the Federal Government to develop measures to keep gas prices stable and make it available to ordinary Nigerians.

The NALPGAM National President, Abideen Olatunbosun, made this plea during the association’s 36th annual general meeting/conference on Tuesday in Ibadan, Oyo State, with the theme “Expanding gas utilisation beyond imagination.”

He added that if nothing was done to stop the price growth, petrol will soon become a commodity for the few wealthy.

Olatunbosun said, “It is very vital for me to say that the galloping hike in the price of gas in recent times stands as a big challenge to LPG marketers. The government need to find ways to ensure the stability of gas price as well as make gas available to the common Nigerians. If nothing is done to the increase in price, gas will soon be a commodity for the few rich in our society.”

“As a country, we need to improve on our gas utilisation level. If we adopt gas, it will save our forest, improve quality of our lifestyle and the economy will grow. The hike in price of gas is a concern to all.”

In his lecture, the Guest Speaker, Prof Sunday Isehunwa of the Department of Petroluem Engineering, Faculty of Technology, University of Ibadan, identified changes in demand, changes in supply, natural gas production and consumption, changes in price and electricity pricing as some challenges facing LPG market in the country.

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