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INEC Awaits Buhari’s Nod On E-Transmission Of Results

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The Senate bowed to pressure from the public on Tuesday when it passed a bill that gave the Independent National Electoral Commission the sole power to determine the procedure for the transmission of election results.

The red chamber also approved direct primaries as the method to be adopted by all political parties to elect candidates for all elective positions.

The amendments were made on Tuesday by the Senate to some clauses of the Electoral Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2021, passed on July 15, 2021.

In its reaction, INEC told The PUNCH that although it had the capacity to transmit elections results electronically, it said it could only adopt the method after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had signed amendments to Electoral Act.

Also on Tuesday, the Peoples Democratic Party and civil rights groups faulted the approval of direct primaries by the Senate.

Justifying its U-turn on electronic transmission of results, the Senate explained that its decision to subject the amended clauses of the bill to re-committal was reached after a critical examination by the Senate Committee on INEC.

The chamber added that some fundamental issues which required fresh legislative actions were observed by the Senator Kabiru Gaya-led INEC Committee in the bill.

Accordingly, the chamber in a bill for re-committal, re-amended certain aspects of the bill contained in clauses 43, 52, 63 and 8.

The upper chamber in Clause 52 of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill passed almost three months ago, had approved that “the Commission (INEC) may consider the electronic transmission of results, provided the national coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by the National Communications Commission and approved by the National Assembly.”

The Senate’s position contradicted that of the House of Representatives, which gave INEC the go-ahead to adopt electronic transmission of results.

The upper chamber was heavily criticized by INEC and other stakeholders over its decision in July

However, the Senate, on Tuesday amended the clause when the bill was subjected to re-committal to provide that, “subject to section 63 of this bill, voting at an election and transmission of results under this bill shall be in accordance with the procedure determined by the Commission (INEC).”

The Senate in approving direct primaries for political parties amended clause 87 which earlier allowed for either direct or indirect primaries.

Clause 87 has to do with the nomination of candidates by parties.

It now reads, “Clause 87. (1) “A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this bill shall hold direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions, which shall be monitored by the commission.”

In indirect primaries, party members elect delegates who in turn elect the party’s candidates on their behalf.

But in direct primaries, registered members of the party vote for who they want to be their candidates. Delegates are not involved.

Members of the Conference Committee on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021, are expected to meet with their counterparts in the House of Representatives to harmonize the two versions passed by both chambers

The Senate decisions on electronic transfer of results and direct primaries attracted different reactions on Tuesday.

While the lawmakers were commended over the electronic transfer of results, they were criticized on the adoption of direct primaries.

A former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, commended the Senate for reversing itself on electronic transmission of results, saying it was a huge victory for the nation’s democracy.

Ekweremadu said the Senate’s action justified his assurances to Nigerians in July that all hope was not lost for the electronic transmission of 2023 election results despite the initial setback.

The Enugu West Senatorial District Senator stated this in a statement by his media aide, Uche Anichukwu.

BIG STORY

It’s Idiocy To Claim Buhari Is Dead and Replaced With Jubril From Sudan —- Femi Adesina

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The Presidency has rubbished claims by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), that President Muhammadu Buhari is Jubril of Sudan.

Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity said it is “idiocy” to claim that the president is dead and was replaced with Jubril from Sudan.

Adesina disclosed this in his latest article titled, ‘The Essential Buhari: VP Osinbajo got it!.’

He recalls how Buhari, upon return from his medical trip abroad in 2017, recognized him.

The article reads partly: “I remember that day in August 2017, when the President returned to the country finally from his medical vacation. From January of that year, he had been in and out a couple of times, but spending weeks and months outside, attending to his health. And finally, on August 19, he returned home, triumphantly.

“We were at the airport to receive him. I have told the story a number of times, to dispel the idiocy that it was a certain Jibril of Sudan that came back and not Buhari. The daughter of the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Gabriel Olonisakin, was getting married. And I had attended both the church service and reception, decked in full Yoruba traditional attire of Agbada and a cap to match. Straight from the ceremony, I went to the airport to join the welcome party for the President.

“We the principal aides were on a line to receive the President as he descended from the aircraft. And he shook hands with each person, having one wisecrack or the other to say, as is typical of him. When he got to me, he said, “Adesina, this is the best I’ve seen you dressed.” And we both laughed.

“Jibril of Sudan? How did he know I was Adesina? How would he know how I normally dressed? Idiocy, I say again. But that is just a digression, not the story I really want to tell to support the topic at hand.”

Kanu had rumoured Buhari’s death in 2017, following the president’s medical trip to London.

He had claimed that Buhari was cloned and replaced with Jubril Al-Sudan after his death.

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Take Vaccine or Present Negative COVID-19 Result, FG Tells Civil Servants

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The Federal Government has informed federal civil servants that they either get the COVID-19 vaccine or present a negative test result.

Recall that the FG had mandated all civil servants to get the vaccine or else they would not be allowed to enter offices.

The Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, at a press conference, on Thursday, in Abuja, made clear that federal civil servants were not under obligation to take the vaccine, however, they must show negative COVID-19 PCR test.

He said, “The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC), on Wednesday, announced interventions to, not only protect the most vulnerable people in our society but to also ensure that the workplace is safe for all citizens. Clearly, there is a loss of productivity and its impact on socio-economic development when workers are unable to come to work on a regular, and consistent basis due to outbreaks of an infectious disease such as COVID-19.

“Following advice by public health experts, the PSC announced that all Federal Government employees should make a choice as to how they can contribute towards making the work environment COVID-19-free. The logical choice is between taking the vaccine and showing the evidence or presenting proof that one is COVID-19-free by showing a negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior.

“This provision is applicable to all Federal Government institutions. The decision to release the advisory was not taken lightly. It is part of the PSC and Federal Ministry of Health’s mantra to always use scientific evidence to make decisions for the benefit of all Nigerians.”

Shuaib also confirmed that there are enough vaccines to cover the population of employees of the Federal Government and more, stating that the PSC had already done a comprehensive analysis and forecast on the availability of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Based on delivery forecasts from the COVAX facility and African Union, Nigeria will have adequate vaccines to cover more than 50 percent of eligible populations by the end of the first quarter of 2022. In order words, please do not worry about the availability of vaccines because we have the supply chain figured out already,” he added.

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N4.9bn Fraud: Judge Angry, Slams N200K Fine On Fani-Kayode For Shunning Trial For Fifth Time

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Justice Daniel Osaigor of a Federal High Court in Lagos, on Wednesday, ordered a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, to pay N200,000 for not making himself available for re-arraignment for alleged money laundering.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Osaigor said he had gone through the court’s file and noted five different letters by Fani-Kayode, seeking adjournment on the same medical grounds.

The court, consequently ordered that he should pay the sum or risk revocation of his bail.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had charged Fani-Kayode alongside a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenandi Usman.

Also charged was Yusuf Danjuma, a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, and a company, Jointrust Dimensions Nigeria Limited.

The EFCC preferred 17 counts bordering on N4.6bn money laundering against them before Justice Mohammed Aikawa.

They had all pleaded not guilty and were granted bail.

The trial had begun before Aikawa and witnesses being led in evidence before the judge was transferred out of the Lagos jurisdiction of the court.

The case was consequently assigned to Justice Osaigor and the defendants scheduled for re-arraignment on Wednesday.

When the case was called on Wednesday, Mrs Bilikisu Buhari, announced an appearance for prosecution.

Mr I. J. Ogechukwu appeared for the first defendant (Usman), Mr B. F. Ajudua appeared for the second defendant (Fani-Kayode) and Y. Olabode appeared for the third and fourth defendants.

Buhari then informed the court that on July 15, the prosecution asked the court to adjourn the matter for re-arraignment of the defendants.

She told the court that on October 11, the prosecution received a letter from the second defendant informing them that he had been given bed rest.

“Whenever he doesn’t want to attend court, this is the type of letter we get,” Buhari said.

However, Ajudua told the court that although his Fani-Kayode’s illness was recurring, he had attended court regularly.

After the judge went through the court’s file, he asked his counsel to take one of two options: revocation of Fani-Kayode’s bail or imposition of N200,000 fine to be paid before the next adjourned date.

The counsel chose the fine option.

Justice Osaigor adjourned the case till November 30.

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