LIVE: Citizens Townhall On Voting Amidst COVID-19

 

Welcome to the Live TV and Virtual Citizens Town Hall which will focus on the theme: Voting Amidst the COVID-19, with specific reference to the 2020 Edo and Ondo Governorship Elections.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on May 21, released its policy on conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

The purpose of the policy, according to INEC, was “to enable officials and staff of the commission to understand and respond adequately to the challenges of conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its health and financial implications, as well as to provide a guide for engagement with stakeholders during the elections”.

The electoral body also noted that the policy will regulate the conduct of the upcoming governorship election in Edo and Ondo and rescheduled bye-elections and so far, INEC is consulting relevant stakeholders to harness feedback on the proposed policy.

 

 

In light of that, this townhall is conducted to complement the INEC-led consultations on the policy. Specifically, the Citizens Townhall seeks to achieve the following specific objectives;

1. To facilitate public debate on the impact of COVID-19 on elections with a view to harnessing citizens inputs into the INEC policy on election in the context of the
COVID-19 pandemic.

2. To raise public awareness on the policy especially the new processes and guidelines introduced in the electoral process due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The debate is proposed to bring together a cross-section of stakeholders including INEC, NCDC, security agencies, CSOs, political parties, citizens and the media to discuss the practicalities of conducting elections amidst COVID-19 and the overriding implications of not conducting elections within constitutional time limits.

Stay tuned to our platforms for more.

Senegal’s President Approves Repatriation Of Citizens Killed By COVID-19

This hand out photo taken and distributed by Présidence Sénégal on May 11, 2020 shows Senegalese President Macky Sall announcing a softening of state emergency measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus during an address to the nation from the Presidential Palace in Dakar. lionel MANDEIX, Lionel MANDEIX / Senegalese Presidency / AFP.

 

Senegalese President Macky Sall has agreed to allow the bodies of citizens who died of COVID-19 abroad back into the West African state, soothing distraught families who had fought the ban.

The government banned the repatriations in April to stem the spread of the coronavirus, leaving scores in limbo in countries including France, Italy and the United States.

The issue was emotionally fraught in Senegal, where family bonds are tight and many see holding a religious burial in one’s birthplace as a matter of dignity.

A group of families with dead relatives abroad sought to overturn the ban but lost a Supreme Court case earlier this month, when judges ruled that the government had followed medical precautions.

READ ALSO: New COVID-19 Cases Threaten World’s Moves Back To Work

But in a televised address on Monday night, Sall evoked the grief of the affected families and lifted the ban, while also loosening other anti-virus measures.

Nicolas Mendy, the son of a Senegalese man who died of COVID-19 in Paris last month aged 71, said he had been “waiting just for this”.

Mendy had been paying 55 euros ($59) a day to the Paris morgue holding his father’s body while the Senegalese authorities were refusing requests to repatriate it.

“The most important thing is that my father is buried according to his wishes,” Mendy said.

Mbaye Diagne, one of the lawyers for the families in the Supreme Court case, said the president’s decision was a “relief for the whole diaspora”.

Families must nonetheless obey health measures upon receiving the bodies of their loved ones, such as not opening coffins, Diagne said.

Senegalese authorities have recorded 1,995 coronavirus cases to date, including 19 fatalities.

As with other poor countries in the region, there are fears that the former French colony is ill-equipped to handle a major outbreak.

AFP

Indian Ministry Website Crashes In Repatriation ‘Panic’

Stranded migrant workers sit in a waiting hall before registering with police officials for a movement pass to be able to return to their hometowns after the government eased a nationwide lockdown imposed as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, on the outskirts of Hyderabad on May 5, 2020. NOAH SEELAM / AFP.

 

The Indian civil aviation ministry’s website crashed on Wednesday as panicked citizens abroad rushed to register for a mass repatriation of almost 15,000 nationals from 12 countries on planes and naval ships.

India banned all incoming international flights in late March as it imposed one of the world’s strictest virus lockdowns, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers and students stranded abroad.

Two ships were steaming towards the Maldives to evacuate some 1,000 Indian citizens from Friday while another was headed for the Gulf, according to the navy and the defence ministry.

The first of 64 flights over the next week were due to leave the United Arab Emirates — home to more than three million Indians — and Qatar on Thursday bound for the southern state of Kerala.

In total 26 flights will bring Indians home from the Gulf region, while others will operate from Southeast Asia, Britain and the United States, including in San Francisco and Washington.

Indian media quoted civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri as saying that 200,000 Indians abroad had registered for repatriation and that the final number could be twice that.

His ministry blamed the crashing of its website on “unprecedented traffic” and urged people to check the website of Air India, which is operating the flights, for details.

Kerala is the biggest source of Indians in the Gulf.

OV Mustafa, the director of Norka Roots, a government welfare body for non-resident Keralites, told AFP that the people were “desperate” and in a “panic”.

READ ALSO: India Embarks On ‘Massive’ COVID-19 Repatriation

“There are about 200,000 people who have registered to go to Kerala from the UAE alone,” he said.

“People are worried about the lack of clarity on the testing procedure. Especially pregnant women. They’re absolutely worried that people, even if they are asymptomatic, might be carriers. It’s a real fear.”

AFP

Japan To Evacuate Citizens From Wuhan Over Coronavirus

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a speech in Tokyo on October 9, 2018.  AFP

 

Japan will evacuate all its nationals from China’s quarantined city of Wuhan, the epicenter of a deadly virus, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday.

“We have decided to send back all (Japanese citizens in Wuhan) to Japan if they wish so, by every means including a chartered flight,” Abe told reporters.

“We are coordinating with the Chinese government at various levels, and we will accelerate the process to realise a swift implementation” of the evacuation from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in central China, Abe said.

Earlier, a foreign ministry official told AFP that 430 Japanese were in Hubei province.

The move comes as several other countries are arranging plans to evacuate their personnel and citizens.

The outbreak, which has killed 56 people and infected nearly 2,000 across China, is believed to have originated in a live animal market in Wuhan.

China is one of Tokyo’s biggest trading partners and around 160 Japan-linked companies have offices in the region’s central city of Wuhan.

Japan’s health authorities confirmed the country’s third case on Saturday — all in patients that had visited Wuhan recently.

AFP

Chinese President Xi Demands ‘Fair And Friendly’ Treatment Of Citizens Abroad

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech during a ceremony at Tsinghua University ceremony with Russian President Vladimir Putin (not in picture) at Friendship Palace in Beijing on April 26, 2019. Kenzaburo FUKUHARA / POOL / AFP

 

China’s President Xi Jinping on Friday called for a “fair and friendly” environment for Chinese companies and citizens overseas, as pushback against its tech giants rises and academics find their visas cancelled.

Beijing and Washington have been locked in a bruising trade war — which negotiators have been working to resolve — but there has also been a growing strategic rivalry between the world’s two largest economies.

“China’s measures to expand opening up are independent choices,” Xi told a gathering of 37 world leaders at a summit for his signature Belt and Road Initiative.

READ ALSO: Sri Lanka’s Police Chief Resigns Over Deadly Attacks

“We also hope that all countries in the world will create a good investment environment, treat Chinese enterprises, international students and scholars equally, and provide a fair and friendly environment,” he said.

An increasing number of Western countries have moved to block Huawei and its state-backed competitor ZTE from building next-generation 5G networks over fears Beijing could spy on communications and gain access to critical infrastructure.

The United States has also started to bar some Chinese academics from the country if they are suspected of having links to Chinese intelligence agencies, the New York Times reported.

It added that thirty Chinese scholars have had their visas cancelled or put under review in the past year.

In accounts published in the state-run Global Times, several Chinese academics said their 10-year visas to the US were cancelled, with officials citing concerns over their links to Chinese intelligence.

“Some Chinese were deliberately targeted when visiting the US and had their baggage searched, but cases of cancelling visas are not common,” wrote Jin Canrong, dean of international studies at the elite Renmin University.

Such instances were rare even during the Cold War, he added.

Beijing has apparently hit back in retaliation: China expert Michael Pillsbury, who advises US President Donald Trump on China, said his visa to enter the country for a forum earlier this year was blocked.

Tensions flared between Washington and Beijing last December over the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is wanted in the US for violating Iranian sanctions.

She was arrested in Canada on request of the US and is now fighting extradition.

AFP

Enugu Govt Provides Free Ride For Citizens Across The States

It’s two days to Christmas and to ensure hitch-free celebration, the Enugu state government is providing free transportation for its citizens returning from across the country.

The gesture which is coming barely some days after the state workers received their 13th-month salary is specifically for those living in the northern, southern and some western states who wish to return to Enugu for the yuletide but cannot afford the fare.

The citizens who were being received by the Managing Director of Enugu Transport Company limited, Mr Vob Itanyi, on Friday said the gesture is a pivotal indication of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s good governance in the state.

Mr Itanyi explained, that the beneficiaries must be those who are duly registered with the state’s Town Unions in their respective states of residence, adding the company is coordinating the exercise with the leadership of the unions in the affected states, for accountability and effective result.

He disclosed that the returnees on arrival will be formally received by the State Commissioner for Transport, Hon. Vitus Okechi, the MD of ENTRACO, and others, at the former main depot of the company, opposite the state headquarters of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Enugu.

Itanyi said, “His Excellency, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, as a God-fearing, and humanitarian leader has graciously given us the approval to convey Enugu indigenes resident in almost all other states back to the state free of charge this festive season.

“This time around, it will not be business as usual. We are going to bring back Enugu State indigenes in the body and not ghost indigenes. Nothing will be hidden during the exercise. The leaders of the Enugu State Town Union in the respective states have been mobilized to ensure that our people benefit from this welfare scheme, which the state government has extended to the people of the state.”

Gov. Ahmed Warns Judiciary Against Corrupt Practices

Abdulfatah-Ahmed, National Discovery, Governor Ahmed, RescessionThe Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, has called on members of the judiciary to stand against corruption and uphold the rule of law.

The governor who made this call at the swearing-in of a new grand Kadi of the Shariah Court, Hon. Muhammed Ola Abdulkadir, said that recent happenings on alleged corruption against some members of the judiciary, make the public question the integrity of the judiciary.

According to the governor, “Judges across the country should be bold, fearless, incorruptible, follow the principles of the constitution and promote democracy”.

He also noted that the integrity, independence and impartiality of the judiciary are essential to promoting human rights and fostering development.

“Judiciary must be inclusive and promote social justice. – Ensuring equal treatment of all before the law goes a long way in building trust in the credibility of the judicial system,” Ahmed stressed.

Consequently, he stated that all citizens must have unrestricted and equal access to justice at all times.

Also, the rights of all must be protected regardless of gender, age or status, as justice helps society create organised human relations and forms the basis of strong institutions and good governance.

Ugwuanyi Calls For Overhaul Of Electoral System, More Credibility

Ugwuanyi Calls For Overhaul Of Electoral System, More CredibilityThe Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, has advocated an overhaul of Nigeria’s electoral system to foster greater credibility and consequently ensure good governance.

Speaking at the southeast public hearing on the review of Nigeria’s electoral system, Ugwuanyi suggested that the Justice Uwais report serves as a background to the present review.

“The reform we envisage will have to include overhaul of the electoral process and the proposed reform should help entrench culture of respect for the will of the people expressed through the ballot box.

“I believe that the recommendations of justice Uwais’ electoral reform should be adopted to serve as a background in appreciation of any reform measures.

“This exercise avails us the opportunity for a robust engagement on the recommendations of the committee as it affects the strengthening and protecting the autonomy of INEC from political interference,” Ugwuanyi said.

He also noted that the issue of pre-election litigation should be considered critically.

“Another issue of concern is the area of election litigation in the country. A situation where the pre-election litigation runs through the strata of courts in the country and even sub cedes after the winner of election has been sworn in is worrisome.

“The question therefore arises as to whether it would not be necessary to set a timeline for determining issues arising from party primaries and other pre-election matters just like post-election petitions.” he noted.

The committee chairman, Ken Nnamani, who told the gathering that the single objective of the public hearing is to see how electoral systems can be reformed to strengthen democracy, urged participants to discard every fear that the outcome of the reform would not be implemented.

“For those of you who are afraid that the outcomes of this hearing will not be implemented, be rest assured that if Mr President, who has been a victim of our electoral system for more than three times is on seat, he is most likely to implement the outcome of this hearing”.

He, however called on other citizens who could not make presentations to send email to the committee before the end of two weeks.

NEMA Organises Anti-flood Campaign For Groups

Not ignoring the impact that flooding has had on Nigeriain 2012, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has embarked on an awareness campaign to prepare Nigerians for flood.

The sensitization campaign was organized for local government officials, civil society organizations, community and faith based organisations, volunteers and citizens to educate them on risk reduction and prevention.

Flooding has been known to have a damaging effect on farmlands which will always lead to increase in food prices as reckoned by resource persons at the campaign workshop.

NEMA urged Nigerians to obey warnings on the impending flood by the Nigerian Meteorological Department, noting that it will go a long way in reducing the impact of the flood.

It further advised that warnings should be strictly adhered to in order to avoid the repetition of last year’s flood disaster.

 

3,200 Iraqis Rendered Homeless By Flood

Hundreds of Iraqi citizens have been rendered homeless in Wasit and Maysay provinces after days of heavy rain culminated in heavy floods, swallowing homes in the regions which are in the southeast of the country’s capital, Baghdad.

Heavy were the floods that roads turned into rivers, while people fled their houses with some trying to salvage a few items they could carry through the floodwater.

Local officials in Wasit said around 3200 people were forced to flee their homes, seeking shelter in makeshift camps set up by the Red Crescent charity organisation.

According to Brigadier General Kadhim Bashir Saleh, an official in the Wasit province, said some 40 villages have been affected by the downpour.

“We have mobilised relief efforts of the civil defence since the first day, that is to say since the start of the rain and flash floods three days ago in Wasit province and in particular at Sheikh Saad district in addition to Ali al-Gharbi district in Maysan province. Our relief work included evacuating people from affected villages, delivering food and other relief items to them in co-ordination with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society in Wasit province,” said The Iraqi Red Crescent.

Hundreds of people were forced to seek shelter in nearby mosques and school buildings.

According to the Red Crescent, more than 300 families are homeless as a result of the severe weather.

Akpabio’s N6m Lunch Money Was To Support Party Members — Commissioner

Still on allocation, commissioner Umanah said despite the large federal allocation from the FG, the state is still in need of money to complete on-going projects in the state, which is still where the state directs its local revenues generated to after he was asked by Kayode Akintemi to highlight what the state does with its local revenues.

He went further to explain that since the inception of governor Akpabio, the salaries of the State staff has been jacked up several and it has not stopped as there are plan in the pipeline to jack it up to N3 billion soonest.

On the issue of Governor Akpabio giving PDP South-South Chairmen and their delegates up to 1,200 people were given N1m each which totalled N6m according to the commissioner for information. The commissioner said that it is not supposed to be a problem as it was the governor gesture towards being humane because the chairmen and delegates have been waiting for the governor’s arrival without breakfast and lunch.

Wedding Gift To Tuface Not Too Much – Akwa Ibom Commissioner

In a swift reaction, the issue of SUV and N3 million cheque as wedding gift to popular singer Tuface Idibia and Annie Macaulay was brought to light.

The commissioner went on to defend the gesture by Governor Akpabio saying ‘Annie Macaulay and Tuface Idibia have created something very significant for Akwa Ibom State’

They brought in a galaxy of the entertainment industry, music stars and so on likewise new ambassadors into the state’.

He said if it is to fund destination marketing of branding then he doubts if the cost of one SUV and N3m is too much.

‘If we were to fund the destination marketing of branding ,i do not think N3million and the cost of one SUV is too much, even if we were to place advert on Channels Television to attract people to the new destination Governor Akpabio is building’.

He said governor Akpabio’s gesture was to repay a daughter of the state; Annie Macaulay for contributing to the repositioning of the state and has done the state proud too.