By Adedapo Adesanya
The United Kingdom (UK) has urged Nigeria to ensure quick passage and enactment of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill currently pending before the National Assembly.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the UK’s Minister for Africa, Mr James Duddridge, said that passing the amendment bill would build more confidence in the country’s electoral process.
According to him, confidence in election results plays a very important role in democratic governance.
“It is very important. I will meet the senate and I will be asking when the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is going to be passed.
“You know, democracy is not a static thing. It has to evolve; you have to make elections increasingly secure.
“So, I think it is really important to make an Act that will give the Nigerian people and the international community greater confidence that the elections are free, fair, and a reflection of what the people voted.
“If you have not got that in actuality or perception, democracy starts to crumble and we see where that leads.
“Democracy is the main pillar alongside a capitalist free market that drives social progress and allows us to function,” he said.
According to him, one of the components that build confidence in the electoral process is the electronic transmission of results such that the final results declared correspond with each of the local results.
He said that though the UK was interested in seeing Nigeria’s democracy become stronger, it could only play an advisory role and not dictate to Nigeria what it should do.
“We can offer practical advice on election processes working with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and youth groups to make sure that young people are not only more likely to be registered for elections but also that their voices are heard.
“In the UK parliament, we have got members of parliament in their 20s and it is the richer for it.
“We wouldn’t want a parliament full of 20-year-olds.
“Equally, we do not want a parliament full of 70 and 80-year-olds.
“We need a balance to reflect society and everyone brings different experiences,” he said.
Rising Electoral Violence Cases Frighten CNPP
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has expressed concerns over the spate of attacks on facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and campaign rallies across the country.
Nigerian heads to the polls in February 2023 to elect a new President, governors and lawmakers.
Ahead of the general elections, there have been pockets of violence at political rallies, with attacks on politicians and their followers becoming rampant, in a few cases, leading to death.
In a statement issued on Monday, CNPP feared that the exercise is under threat despite assurances by relevant stakeholders, including INEC, that the poll would not be shifted.
The group, in the statement signed by its Secretary General, Mr Willy Ezugwu, warned that “unless political thugs were treated as enemies of the state, the ongoing attacks on political opponents would gravely endanger the credibility of the 2023 elections.”
“Despite the recent matching orders to the security agencies by President Muhammadu Buhari, which was reiterated by the National Security Adviser (NSA) to the President, Mr Babagana Monguno, to the effect that the President has given the go-ahead to all security agencies to deal decisively with individuals or groups trying to prevent peaceful conduct of the 2023 general election, the hope of a violent free electioneering campaign may be dashed.
“Our major fear is that from the records of the federal government, as revealed by the NSA that Nigeria recorded 52 acts of political violence across 22 states in one month, between October 8 and November 9, 2022, there seems to be gross inaction on the part of security agencies, particularly the Nigeria Police Force to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of this violence.
“Worse still, after the recent emergency meeting of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja, Nigerians have seen nothing but inactions by security agencies in preventing or arresting and diligently prosecuting perpetrators of the ongoing electoral violence and their sponsors.
“Every lover of Nigeria and her future knows that, as far as violent attacks on political opponents and opposing political parties in states is concerned, the situation is becoming alarming as one of the elementary security measures is crime prevention.
“For instance, last week, there was a suspected politically motivated assassination of Victoria Chintex, the Labour Party women leader in Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna State, who was reportedly killed last Monday after gunmen invaded her residence and shot her.
“At the weekend, there were reports that the Labour Party’s rally in the Lakowe town area of Lekki, Lagos State, was visited with violence by suspected political thugs allegedly sponsored by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the area.
“In November, suspected APC supporters attacked supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubarkar, in Maiduguri, Borno State, just as on October 17, suspected thugs also disrupted the campaign train of the PDP in Kaduna State.
“In the same month of October, some supporters of the APC in Oyo State were reportedly injured in Ibadan during a campaign rally when some hoodlums in some vehicles allegedly launched an attack on the crowd.
“In Ebonyi State, a State Government sponsored security outfit, Ebubeagu, has been severally reported to have been unleashing against political opponents of the APC leadership in the state, among other several incidents of political violence in other states across the country”, the CNPP recalled.
“If truly President Muhammadu Buhari has given his directive through the NSA to all the operational intelligence and law enforcement agencies to ensure that the 2023 elections are held in an atmosphere devoid of any rancour, as the NSA has disclosed recently, why are we not seeing security agencies discouraging political thuggery in the country?
“We, therefore, call on all political party leaders at all levels to restrain their supporters both online and offline from carrying out violent activities against oppositions.
“This has become imperative as retaliations and counter-attacks by victims of the ongoing violence could degenerate the issues and worsen the current security situation in the country.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari, who was said to be extremely pleased with the outcome of the results of elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states to ensure a repeat of such performance in 2023, both by INEC and all security agencies, including the anti-graft bodies because an election is not war”, the CNPP stated.
Greater Lagos Vanguard Endorses Sanwo-Olu for 2nd Term
By Adedapo Adesanya
A grassroots political organisation, Greater Lagos Vanguard (GLV), has commended all adherents of democracy and good governance for trooping out in their thousands in solidarity with Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, who flagged off his re-election bid for a second term in office in Lagos on Saturday, December 3.
The group has also lauded the Governor for “a successful first term tenure which has witnessed monumental development strides in various facet of governance and has endeared Mr Governor to the hearts of appreciative Lagosians who trooped out today in solidarity with him, which is an endorsement for his second term in office.”
In a statement jointly signed by its convener, Mr Nelson Ekujumi and its General Secretary, Mr Uche Nnadozie, the organisation stated that, “We feel proud and excited to proclaim that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has performed excellently well in his first time in office which is still ongoing, in line with the tradition of the excellent performance of good governance like his predecessors and the Lagos master plan of economic growth and development.”
According to GLV, Mr Sanwo-Olu has distinguished himself excellently well in the areas of governance, such as his outstanding role as the incident commander in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, which earned him local and international accolades.
“The way and manner Governor Sanwo-Olu mobilised men and resources to confront the pandemic was a turning point and testament of his quality as a servant leader, who leads from the front, and it contributed in no small measure to the success recorded by Lagos State in particular and Nigeria in general and became a global reference point,” the statement read.
The group also mentioned the infrastructural development projects of the Governor like construction, reconstruction and renovation of health institutions, roads, 21st-century model schools, ICT, agricultural tools and implements for farmers, first and last-mile buses, empowerment of transportation and traffic agencies, emergency responders fire fighting trucks and equipment, vehicles, motorbikes, APC, walkie talkie, etc for the security agencies among several others.
While commending Mr Sanwo-Olu for a job well done in his first time, it promised to mobilise Lagosians to support, canvass and vote for him on election day based on the testimonials of what he has done.
SERAP Sues FG over Missing Ecological Funds
By Adedapo Adesanya
Following the expiry of an ultimatum given to President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to probe the missing ecological funds at all levels, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the federal government.
Joined in the suit as respondents are the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha.
In a statement on Sunday, SERAP Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, specifically said the decision to file a lawsuit followed “the failure to probe the spending of trillions of ecological funds by governments at all levels—federal, state and local governments from 2001 to date, and to ensure the prosecution of suspected perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement of public funds.”
According to him, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently said that no fewer than 600 persons died, and 1.3 million were rendered homeless as a result of the floods that ravaged most states across the country, with the destruction of properties worth billions.
In the suit number FHC/L/CS/2283/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP is asking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari to promptly and thoroughly investigate the spending of Ecological Fund by governments at the Federal, state and local government levels from 2001 to date.”
The rights group also wants the court to “direct and compel President Buhari to ensure that suspected perpetrators of corruption and mismanagement of trillions of ecological funds are promptly brought to justice, and any missing public funds fully recovered.”
“The failure to probe the alleged missing trillions, prosecute suspected perpetrators and recover any missing public funds is a fundamental breach of constitutional and international legal obligations,” the statement partly read.
“Impunity for corruption in the management of Ecological Fund will continue as long as high-ranking public officials go largely unpunished for their alleged crimes.
“It is in the public interest to direct and compel President Buhari to probe these allegations so that evidence can be taken before the court and the truth about the spending of ecological funds revealed, and justice served,” it added.
The group alleged further that the federal government had violated the obligations to protect and uphold the human rights of those affected and to provide them with access to justice and effective remedies.
It argued that the government has the legal obligation to address the calamitous consequences of flooding for the human rights of millions of people and to prevent and address the consequences that climate change may reap on human rights.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
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