Kaduna Residents Decry Poor PVC Distribution

pvcKaduna State Residents have decried their inability to collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) despite the extension for the distribution exercise by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to March 8.

Residents in the state had called on INEC to consider the option of using the Temporary Voter Cards in the state to enable them cast their votes during the general elections slated for March 28 and April 11, if they are unable to meet up with the PVC distribution before the deadline.

While expressing their willingness to participate fully in next month’s election, the residents expressed fears that denying them the right to vote as a result of not having PVCs, could trigger election violence as witnessed in 2011.

They therefore, called on the INEC to live up to its responsibility by ensuring that all registered voters are given their PVCs before the elections, in order to discharge their civic responsibilities.

Reacting to the development, the Head of Voter Education and Publicity, Kaduna State, Abdullahi Gujungu, told Channels Television, that the commission had so far distributed over 2.8 million permanent voter cards out of the 3.1 million registered voters.

This figure, according to the him, represents about 95 per cent of the total registered voters.

Going by this success, the commission says it is fully prepared for the forthcoming election.

PVC Distribution In Ogun State.

Meanwhile, the Ogun State chapter of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights passed a vote of no confidence on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and its leadership against the backdrop of the various challenges facing the distribution of the Permanent Voter Cards in the state.

At a peaceful match held in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, to the state headquarters of the electoral body, the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Folarin Olayinka, seized the occasion to demand PVC be distributed to residents without further delay.

Meanwhile, the electoral body in the state has denounced the presence of alien PVCs in Ogun State as alleged by the state Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, during his visit to the commission’s office in Abeokuta, last week.

While passing a vote of no confidence on the leadership of the electoral body, the CDHR however, demanded explanation on the alleged fabrication of figures for some state in the north-east under Boko Haram insurgency.

In his response to most of the issues raised, the administrative Secretary of the Commission in the state said 795,962 PVC had been distributed so far, representing 56.7% of registered voters in the state but denied any alien voter card in the state as alleged.

He however, assured residents of the state that the commission is doing the needful to ensure residents have access to the cards before the general elections.

Egypt Court Frees Al Jazeera Journalists

Al jazeera JournalistsAn Egyptian court on Thursday, released two detained Al Jazeera journalists, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed on bail.

The judge ordered the release of all defendants at the retrial’s opening Thursday.

Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed who appeared in a court in Cairo for a retrial due to lack of evidence over alleged links to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, according to a source, had been unjustly jailed since December 29, 2013.

Their retrial was ordered by the Court of Cessation January 2015, overturning a lower court’s verdict which found them guilty of aiding the outlawed group.

A third Al Jazeera journalist, Peter Greste, who was also to be retried, was deported on February 1 under a presidential decree after spending 400 days in jail. He had since returned to his home in Australia.

“Fahmy and Mohamed have now spent 411 days in prison,” a source said.

Obasanjo Endorses Buhari For President

Obasanjo Endorses Buhari

A former President of Nigeria,  Olusegun Obasanjo, appears to have finally taken a stand on his choice of a presidential candidate by endorsing the flag-bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.).

Chief Obasanjo, who is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), made the declaration during an interview with the Financial Times at the launch of his autobiography titled, ‘My Watch’, in Nairobi, Kenya.

“The circumstances he (Buhari) would be working under if he wins the election is different from the ones he worked under before, where he was both the Executive and the Legislature, He knows that.

“He is smart enough, he is educated enough. He’s experienced enough. Why shouldn’t I support him?” the former President said.

Chief Obasanjo believed that Buhari, who ruled Nigeria between December 1983 and August 1985 as a military Head of State, is aware of Nigeria’s challenges today, and has the qualification to guide the nation out of them.

It was the first time the former president would publicly speak of his support for Muhammadu Buhari. He recently said that he would only speak out after the election had been conducted.

Obasanjo, also condemned the postponement of the election while criticising the continuous decline of the country’s resources.


Owerri: Journalist Injured In Widows’ Protest

Protesting Widows
Protesting Widows In Owerri

The existing peace enjoyed in Imo State, since the commencement of campaigns by different political parties was truncated when party supporters from the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party, clashed at the Government House gate in Owerri, the Imo State capital, south east Nigeria.

Eyewitness said that the clash occurred at about 8:00am on Tuesday, when some aggrieved widows, all dressed in black attires from different Local Government Areas of the state, alleged to be supporters of PDP stalwart and the Minister of State for Education, Professor Viola Onwuliri, marched towards the government house with coffin, to protest against the purported and incessant media attack on the minister by the State Government.

However supporters of Governor Rochas Okorocha, who were not pleased with the whole scenario attempted to prevent the widows’ entrance into the government house, which eventually led into a free for all fight.

In the course of the whole pandemonium, an innocent journalist, Eric Etuk, who was on assignment, sustained several injuries during the protest.

Meanwhile, on arrival from Abuja, the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, while suing for peace, condemned the act by Professor Onwuliri, for instigating such action against the State Government.

He called on President President Goodluck Jonathan to call his ministers and PDP leaders in the state to order, so as to prevent any further chaos and political violence in the state.

However, while speaking to Channels Television, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations in Imo State, Mohammad Kura, expressed disappointment over the incident which he said is capable of destabilizing the existing peace in the state.

He said hence, any protest or rally by any political party or group should get the permission of the police. he warned all politicians to play by the rules in this delicate period.

With the present acrimony existing among the two major political parties following the postponement of the elections, it is hoped that politicians and their supporters in the state conduct themselves in an orderly and peaceful manner, to avoid any further breakdown of law and order in the state.

Nigeria, US Judges Exchange Ideas On Quick Resolution of Election Cases

inec-2 Nigeria and United States Judges have been exchanging ideas on how to ensure prompt resolution of cases arising from the general elections.

The forum attracted Judges and prominent lawyers from Nigeria and the United States.

Members of the Nigerian Bar and the Bench who attended the event promised that frivolous applications that delayed proceedings at the election tribunals would no longer be entertained.

Coming at a time when there were frayed nerves in the run up to the elections, as a result of the recent postponement of the process, the meeting served as a reminder and preparation for the Judges on how best to deal with post-election petitions in a timely, transparent and credible manner.

One of the criticisms of these Judges was the attacks by members of the judiciary. They said public confidence was consistently being eroded because legal practitioners disparage judgement and decisions made by the Bench.

Police Nabs Men with Illegal Ammunition

Kwara-police-3The Kwara State Police Command has paraded two suspects in possession of over one hundred thousand rounds of ammunition en-route Oyo State State.

Speaking with journalists in Ilorin on the arms-laden truck, the Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Salihu Garba, disclosed that two suspects, Abdulazeez Isiaka, a Nigerian and Amusail Amodu, a Ghanaian were arrested with the truck, adding that the ammunition was hidden in a compartment inside the truck.

Garba said a Mercedes Benz truck laden with 108,260 rounds of live cartridges was arrested at Kosubosu in Baruten Local Government Area of the state.

The Commissioner added that another middle-aged graduate of Industrial Engineering, from Samuel Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Oyo State, was arrested for possessing some highly sophisticated arms and ammunition.

The suspect, identified as Momoh Ogirimah, who said that the cache of arms and ammunition belonged to his late father, an Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, Mr. Mohammed Momoh, who died while leading an operation with police team, as they were ambushed by Ombatse cults in Nassarawa State about two years ago.

The ammunition includes 133 pieces of 7.62mm ammunition, 28 pieces of 0.9mm ammunition, 22 pieces of 7.6mm ammunition, three bullet proof vests, one respirator, one complete set of body protector, three blasts, one hand grenade.

Others include 11 smoke cartridges, 86 life cartridges, 42 pieces of 5.56mm ammunition, two pieces of .36mm ammunition, 27 live rubber cartridges, 9 0.9mm rubber bullet and one anti-riot helmet.

The Commissioner  warned the youths and other residents in the state against illegal possession and use of firearms, adding that the police would strictly enforce ‘stop and search’ operations for motorcyclists, as he stated that several ferocious crimes in the state were perpetuated with the help of motorcycles.

Court Of Appeal Adopts Fast Track Practice Direction

Court of AppealThe Court of Appeal has launched a fast track practice direction for the prosecution of cases before it.

The new practice direction, according to the President of the court, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, is a set of directions with the fundamental objective of enabling the Court of Appeal to deal with appeals quickly and efficiently through the introduction of active case management.

She explained that the direction would kick against frivolous applications and allows parties to change lawyers at any time during the hearing of the case without delaying proceedings as its the case before now.

The new practice direction also gives the Court of Appeal powers to decide the management technique to apply to cases.

The direction received approval from the bar and members of the public with the hope that its adoption would yield the desired results.

Fast track appeals include, debt appeals, appeals bordering on corruption, human trafficking, kidnapping, financial crimes and rape.

Others include terrorism and appeals against security agencies in the country and may be applied to any other case before the court.

It is expected that the new practice direction would have positive effects on justice delivery in Nigeria.

Legal practitioners drawn from the bench and the bar were at the formal presentation of the fast-track practice direction.

Boko Haram: Nigeria, Cameroun To Partner On Trans-border Security

Following the declaration of a state of emergency in the north-eastern states which share borders with Cameroun, President Goodluck Jonathan, on Thursday met with the Camerounian Vice Prime Minister, Mr. Ahmadou Ali, with a view to strengthening collaboration on trans-border security.

The hot-bed of Boko Haram’s insurgency, Borno State, as well as Adamawa State, share border with Cameroun.

The Camerounian Vice Prime Minister also came with an invitation from President Paul Biya to President Jonathan to attend the summit on security and maritime safety in the Gulf of Guinea to be hosted by Cameroun.

President Jonathan accepted the invitation, saying the current global security challenges make it imperative for countries to cooperate in order to protect their citizens.

“As criminality and terrorism have risen globally, it is important for countries to cooperate maximally, in order to protect citizens,” he stated.

President Jonathan briefed the Camerounian leader about the state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, and gave the assurance that Nigeria would work with her neighbours to ensure security in the sub-region.

He requested Mr. Ali to convey Nigeria’s appreciation to President Biya for the cooperation he has extended and the warm relations between the two countries.

Earlier, the Cameroonian Vice Prime Minister, told President Jonathan that his country was already identifying members that will form part of the committee on trans-border security.


NJC orders swearing in of Justice Jombo-Ofo

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has ordered that Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo be sworn-in as the Justice of the Court of Appeal, ending the controversy over her state of origin and marriage.

The NJC in a press statement released on Wednesday, and signed by the council’s Deputy Director of Information, Mr. Soji Oye, stated that the council “unanimously decided that Justice Ifeoma Jombo-Ofo, be sworn-in.”

A petition had allowed the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Mukthar, to suspend the swearing in of Justice Jombo-Ofo with other 11 newly appointed Justices for the Court of Appeal because the petition claimed she was getting the appointment for a state which was not her state of origin but that of her spouse.

The petition alleged that Justice Jombo-Ofo was falsely representing Abia State, having hailed from Anambra but married to a citizen of Abia State.

But in announcing its decision, the NJC observed that the binding principles and formulae for the distribution of all Cadres of Posts (S.I.23 of 1997) provides in Part II, Section 2 as follows ʺA married woman shall continue to lay claim to her State of origin for the purpose of implementation of the Federal Character formulae at the National level.”

The NJC further noted that the Federal Judicial Service Commission and the NJC, being federal executive bodies established in pursuance of Section 153 (1I) of the 1999 Constitution are bound and obliged to observe and obey the provisions of the constitutional law of the federal republic of Nigeria, including the Federal Character Commission Act.

It therefore directed that “the legislative, executive bodies and government agencies involved in her appointment to obey the stipulations of the law and the provisions in the Nigerian constitution relating to such matters.”

The council commended the CJN for “exercising sufficient caution, diligence and maturity in the matter, especially in the light of the documents, materials and other information available to her, and for taking the decision to put on hold the swearing-in of Justice Jombo-Ofo as a Justice of the Court of Appeal.”

The CJN had on the 5th November, written President Goodluck Jonathan to inform him that the matter of the non-swearing in of Justice Jombo-ofo, would be tabled before the NJC.

Federal government approves $11m for condoms to aid family planning

The federal government has approved the sum of $11.5million for the procurement of family planning commodities such as condoms and contraceptives.

The Director of Family Health in the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Bridget Okoeguale, stated this  during the 47th National Council Meeting of the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria, where Mr. Oladele Olaniyi succeeded Mrs. Lami Buba as President.

According to her, “last year, in order to reduce maternal mortality rate, the government proclaimed that reproductive health commodities and family planning commodities like condoms and implants to be made free.”

“So the government along with the partners made a forecast as to what we need in the country and contributed $3million in 2011 through a Memorandum of Understanding which we implemented.”

On July 11 in London, there was a family planning summit organized by DFID and other partners to increase the commitment of governments all over the world to family planning.

“Nigeria came in a big way and Mr. President, through the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Muhammad Pate, announced the government’s commitment to the world with additional $8.3m reproductive health commodities.”

Dr Bridget added that maternal mortality has reduced in Nigeria, right now I can’t really say the rate until we do the National Demographic Health Survey next year”, adding that “the Federal Government is also committed to reducing maternal mortality rate in the country.”

545 deaths per 100,000 births

Decrying the current mortality rate in the country, Dr Okoeguale stated that,“for now, our maternal mortality rate is 545 per 100,000 live births and you will agree with me that it is very high and nothing to be proud of.”

She further explained that the federal government is collaborating with international agencies such as UNFPA, DFID, USIS, USAID and “we are appealing to states for support because health is on the concurrent list.”

“The Federal Government has a plan and policy but we cannot force states to key in. We can only advocate for them; they make requests to us as regards what they need but it is for them to ensure that these commodities reach the grass roots.”

She also revealed that “some states do not have budget line for family planning because of other priorities. I don’t have the statistics but I do know that some states have not been able to create a budget line for family planning and we are calling on them to do.”