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Edo Election: Your Votes Will Count, INEC Assures Edo Electorates

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Ahead of the September 19 governorship election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured the electorates that their votes will count.

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu gave the assurance on Monday during a stakeholders’ meeting in Benin City, the state capital.

To Yakubu, it is only the choice made by the voters that will determine who the next governor of the state will be for another four years.

“I wish to reassure you that votes will count and only the choice made by the people of Edo State will determine the outcome of the election,” he said. “The Commission shall not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate. Our focus is on our processes and procedures, nothing more.”

 

SEE FULL SPEECH HERE:

ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE CHAIRMAN, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION, PROFESSOR MAHMOOD YAKUBU, AT THE EDO GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION STAKEHOLDERS’ MEETING HELD AT THE OBA AKENZUA II CULTURAL CENTRE, BENIN CITY, MONDAY 14TH SEPTEMBER 2020

1.​ Let me join our Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Edo State to once again welcome you all to this meeting. As many of you are aware, the Governorship election in Edo State will hold this Saturday after several months of preparations since the Commission released the timetable and schedule of activities on 6th February 2020. This is also the first Governorship election that the Commission will be conducting in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The global health emergency has necessitated a review of our policies, processes and procedures to protect the health of all those involved in elections in line with the guidelines issued by health authorities.

2.​ The Commission has dutifully carried out 12 out of 14 scheduled tasks contained in the timetable and schedule of activities for the election. We held many meetings with political parties and their candidates. We had several engagements with the security agencies at national and state levels. We consulted with stakeholders. We sought for and received, the blessings of Royal Fathers and religious leaders. We have recruited, trained and carefully screened all categories of ad hoc staff to be deployed to the field. We have delivered all non-sensitive materials for the election. Voter education and sensitisation are ongoing. We have made arrangements for the movement of personnel and materials to all polling units on Election Day. The Commission has taken every step and made every arrangement for the election holding this weekend.

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3.​ Our ultimate objective is to ensure that the choice of who becomes the next Governor of Edo State is entirely in the hands of the voters. I wish to reassure you that votes will count and only the choice made by the people of Edo State will determine the outcome of the election. The Commission shall not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate. Our focus is on our processes and procedures. Nothing more.

4.​ In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, polling units will now open at 8.30 am (instead of 8.00 am) and close at 2.30 pm (instead of 2.00 pm). This has become necessary in order to accommodate the additional measures to protect public health necessitated by the global health emergency. However, all eligible voters who are on the queue by 2.30 pm will be allowed to vote in line with the Commission’s regulations. Other procedures for the election are clearly outlined in the Voters’ Code of Conduct (VCC) which has since been disseminated. Similarly, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge polling agents, election observers and the media to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Commission’s policy, copies of which have been widely circulated and more will be shared at this meeting.

5.​ As in previous elections, the Commission is deploying magnifying glasses and braille ballot guides to assist Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to vote unaided. Earlier, the Commission translated and published its policy of conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the Voters’ Code of Conduct into braille in order to ensure greater awareness and effective participation of all citizens in the electoral process irrespective of disability.

6.​ To underscore our commitment to a credible and transparent electoral process in Nigeria, the Commission is determined to deepen the deployment of technology in elections. It is for this reason that the Commission recently built portals for the nomination of candidates by political parties as well as the accreditation of election observers and the media. We have used the portals seamlessly in preparing for the Edo Governorship election. The same applies to the Ondo Governorship election. We will deploy the same platforms for all subsequent elections, including the forthcoming bye-elections in 15 constituencies across 11 States of the Federation scheduled for 31st October 2020. We are working to ensure that in future elections, even the accreditation of polling agents nominated by political parties will also be done online.

7.​ Perhaps the most critical of the recent innovations introduced by the Commission is the use of a tablet now popularly called the z-pad. It is a new innovation introduced to serve as a secondary means of achieving full biometric accreditation using the facial image of the voter in support of the fingerprint authentication by the Smart Card Reader. Secondly, the camera on the tablet will be used to take a picture of the polling unit result (EC8A) and to upload the same on a dedicated portal (INEC RESULT VIEWING – IReV). This will enable all those interested in viewing the results to do so in real-time. The Commission deployed the z-pad in the Nasarawa Central State Constituency bye-election in Nasarawa State on 8th August 2020. It was a test-run intended to assess the functionality of the technology before its deployment in major elections. While the capture and upload of polling unit level result went on smoothly, the facial authentication did not. Without going into the technical details, let me say that the Commission encountered hardware and software issues which needed to be fixed.

8.​ Our ICT Department worked on the new device and made a presentation to the Commission which decided that the system needs to be robust enough before it can be deployed in a major election. Unlike the 44 polling units of the Nasarawa Central State Constituency, the Edo Governorship election involves 2,627 polling units. The Commission decided that since this technology is work in progress, we should carry out a further test-run in some of the smaller constituencies during the bye-elections scheduled for 31st October 2020 and thereafter engage with stakeholders before it can be deployed in major elections. The atmosphere in Edo State ahead of the election this weekend is already charged. We cannot afford to complicate it further by introducing a new technology we are not yet fully satisfied with.

9.​ However, the uploading of polling unit level results in the election on Saturday will proceed as planned. The z-pads have already been delivered, configured and ad hoc staff trained on its deployment on Election Day. Enough chargers have been provided to address the power problem identified during the Nasarawa test-run. We envisage that there will be high traffic of persons interested in viewing the results in real-time. Consequently, the Commission has dynamically expanded the result viewing portal to accommodate almost two million viewers at the same time without clogging. To view the uploaded results, please visit our website (www.inecelectionresults.com) to register and create an account.

10.​ I must quickly add that the Smart Card Readers will be used for voter verification and authentication. This is a mandatory requirement and where it is deliberately avoided to undermine the integrity of the electoral process, the result for the affected polling unit will be declared void in line with the Commission’s regulations and guidelines.

11.​ The Commission is also aware of the concern expressed in some quarters about the neutrality of our staff, in particular, the ad hoc staff engaged for election duty. We have heard allegations that some ad hoc staff were recruited in such a manner as to compromise the election. In response, the Commission deployed two National Commissioners who reviewed the process for strict compliance with the guidelines for such recruitment. I want to assure you that all categories of ad hoc staff have been vetted. The integrity of the process will not be compromised and there will be no partisan infiltration.

12.​ As the eligible voters in Edo State go to the polls on Saturday, I wish to renew my appeal to all political parties, candidates and their supporters for peaceful conduct. Your votes will count. Polling unit-level results will be uploaded for public view. However, this will not happen where the process is disrupted by violence or malpractices. The Commission is determined that no one will benefit from impunity or rewarded for bad behaviour such as vote-buying, ballot box snatching and stuffing, multiple voting, hijacking and diversion of election materials, disruption of collation, falsification of results, attack on INEC officials or compelling them to declare unofficial results. The people of Edo State must be allowed to freely vote for their preferred candidate without inducement or harassment. We have been assured by the security agencies that thugs and their sponsors will not have the freedom to move around freely to disrupt the election or collation of results. The Inspector-General of Police who is here personally will speak more about their plans to safeguard the process.

13.​ On Election Day, the national headquarters of INEC will monitor the election throughout Edo State. Our Zoom Situation Room will receive live reports from the field. Accredited observers and the media will also be invited to join at intervals. By doing so, the Commission will receive first-hand information as the election is going on. At the same time, citizens can contact us on our various platforms such as the toll-free INEC Citizens Contact Centre (ICCC) telephone line in addition to our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.

14.​ On this note, let me once again welcome you all to this meeting and to assure the people of Edo State that the Commission has taken every step to ensure that the election this weekend is free, fair, credible, inclusive and safe.

15.​ I thank you all for your presence and God bless.

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Senator Elisha Abbo Defects To APC , Says He’s Joining Buhari ‘To Build Nigeria Of Our Dream’

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The Senator who is representing Adamawa North in the Senate announced his defection in a letter addressed to the House.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan read the letter during Wednesday’s plenary session.

In the letter, Senator Abbo explained that his decision to defect to the APC is because of the mismanagement of the PDP in Adamawa state by Governor Umaru Fintiri. Abbo also said He’s Joining Buhari ‘To Build Nigeria Of Our Dream’

Senator Abbo has been in the news for assaulting a woman in an adult toy shop in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Maitama, earlier in September, awarded N50 million damages against Senator Abbo, to be paid as compensation to Osimibibra Warmate, a female attendant at a sex-toy shop, whom he assaulted.

Justice Samira Bature gave the order in her judgment on the fundamental rights enforcement suit instituted by Warmate against the senator.

Earlier on July 3, 2019, the lawmaker was caught on camera physically assaulting a woman in Abuja, two months after he allegedly committed the act.

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CCTV Footage Has Vindicated Nigerian Army Of Complicity In Alleged Lekki Massacre – Human Rights Lawyer

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A human rights lawyer, Werigbelegha Zinaka has stated that the Nigerian Army has been vindicated of any wrong doing at the Lekki Tollgate incidence. He said this in an interaction with journalists on the sides at the ongoing hearing of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution in Lagos.

The human rights lawyer who serves as an attorney for the International Human Rights Association at the panel also stated that from the CCTV footage that was analyzed, it indeed vindicates the Nigerian Army of any wrongdoing.

“The Judicial Panel of Inquiry has been very engaging with quite some revelations that indeed put issues in proper perspective. Worthy of mention is the revelation from the CCTV footage at the Lekki Tollgate that indeed explained the level of involvement of the Nigerian Army at the Lekki Tollgate.”

“All concerned parties viewed the CCTV footage, and I wish to state that it was clear that the consensus is that the Nigerian Army did not commit massacre as wildly alleged in some certain quarters in the country.”

He further stated that with the various presentations at the panel, there had not been any evidence to substantiate the fact that any life was lost at the Lekki Tollgate.

“This panel has been very meticulous in its analysis, and I can tell you that serious business is going on here. I can also say from all the submissions and reviews; there has not been any evidence to back the claims the lives were lost at the Lekki Tollgate incidence and most especially from the CCTV footage that was reviewed.”

“So it remains an illusion that the Nigerian Army committed massacre at the Lekki Tollgate. This is understandable given the role of fake news in the whole scenario. And ironically, those that were spreading all sorts from their comfort zones have refused to come to the panel to substantiate their claims.”

He further faulted the recently released report by the Cable News Network (CNN) stating that it was done in bad faith and not a reflection of the issues on the ground.

“The CNN report was highly misleading and with an ulterior motive in my candid opinion. It was obvious that the target of the report was the Nigerian Army, and it was very poor in its execution. It was more of a judgmental pronouncement than a news report, and I am not aware that CNN is an arbiter of the law. This much they must be aware of and the need for some level circumspection in analysis of issues of this nature.”

“We must call a spade a spade and understand that what the CNN attempted to do in its report was to influence the outcome of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution with regards to the involvement of the Nigerian Army. The backlash the report has received indeed says it all. And I believe that CNN must have learnt its lessons.”

It would be recalled that in the aftermath of the escalation of violence at the EndSARS protests, the Lagos State Government inaugurated a 7-member Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS Related Abuses in the State.

Retired Justice Doris Okuwobi chairs the panel; other members are Mr Ebun Adegboruwa, SAN (representing the Civil Society); Taiwo Lakanu, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ms Patience Udoh, representing the Civil Society; Mr Segun Awosanya, Human Rights Activist, Mrs Olutoyin, Odusanya, Director, Citizens Mediation Center, as well as a representative of the youth-led protest and a representative of the Human Rights Commission.

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Discard CNN Report On Lekki Shootings Targeted At Demonising Nigeria’s Military – Group

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The March4Nigeria movement has urged Nigerians and the international community to disregard CNN’s report on the Lekki shooting in Lagos, noting that it is targeted at demonising the Nigerian military.

The group said after a careful scrutiny of the report, it concluded that CNN has joined campaign of calumny against the Nigerian government as well as the military.

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, Director of Publicity, Deborah Ndace said CNN was irresponsible with its report, following an already existing narrative that was in the public domain.

The March4Nigeria movement, however, demanded an unreserved apology from the American news channel to the federal government, the Nigerian Army as well as the Nigerian people.

While calling on Nigerians to ignore CNN, the group urged the international community to question its credibility as an organisation for engaging in acts that are divisive and promote violence.

Read full statement below:

You are all welcome to this press conference meant to put issues in proper perspectives with regards to the recently released report by the Cable News Network (CNN) with regards to the involvement of the Nigerian Army in the EndSARS protest at the Lekki Tollgate in Lagos Nigeria.

We wish to state that after careful scrutiny of the report, it was identified that it was indeed an attempt to demonize the Nigerian Army whose only offence was standing on the side of democracy by averting what was clearly a coup attempt at our nascent democracy.

The CNN in its report was tactically evasive in addressing the issues, but instead, it elected to tow the dishonorable path of making wild goose allegations against the Nigerian Army without the necessary facts to back their claims.

The March4Nigeria is not only alarmed that an organization that has built a reputation of responsible journalism over decades would throw caution into the wind in furtherance of the agenda of a select few at the detriment of millions of people that rely on it for news reportage across the globe.

The focus of the CNN on Nigeria is not a coincidence, but rather a well-orchestrated plot by some very powerful interest hell-bent on truncating the democratic experience in Nigeria and to give international credence to their nefarious plot, the likes of the CNN was coopted to lead this campaign of calumny against the government of Nigeria, as well as the Nigerian Military.

This is nothing short of irresponsible journalism that can only be perpetuated by a leading proponent of Fake News in the United States of America attempting to expand its antics to the African continent.

It was expected that CNN would stay true to the tenets of journalism by undertaking a thorough investigation. Instead, it relied on an already existing narrative that has already been in the public domain and gotten stale.

It is also despicable that a news medium such as the CNN would put out such half-truths with the ultimate aim of escalating issues that have received the required response from the government and other critical stakeholders in the country.

In the light of the above, the March4Nigeria is stating in unequivocal terms that the report by the CNN is indeed malicious and a great disservice to the journalism profession in all ramifications.

We are consequently aligning with the position of the federal government in demanding an unreserved apology from the CNN to the federal government, the Nigerian Army as well as the Nigerian people whose sensibilities have been insulted by the highly lopsided report.

We also wish to remind the proprietors of the CNN that Nigeria is not by any stretch of the imagination the United States of America where it has consistently attacked the administration of President Donald Trump.

The importance of the CNN tendering an unreserved apology is to correct the wrong its report has had on the psyche of members of the unsuspecting general public in Nigeria and outside the shores of Nigeria.

We are also using this medium to call on the international community to question the credibility of the CNN as an organization for engaging in acts that are divisive and promote violence as exemplified in its report on the EndSARS protest in Nigeria.

Nigerians must also be aware that the CNN is indeed acting the script of some vested interest that have been targeting our nascent democracy without success. Nigerians must, as a matter of necessity, come in one accord to condemn the CNN report in its totality.

The implication of allowing the CNN to get away with this treatise on Nigeria is that more ferocious attacks would be launched against our democracy and critical institutions such as the Nigerian Army, which would be our greatest undoing.

The exigency of time requires all hands to be on the deck in the interest of peace and sustainable development.  We must not sit and watch while the likes of the CNN demonize and rubbish the efforts of the government and the Nigerian Army in the restoration of law and order in Nigeria.

Thank you all.

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