Shiite Members Shun Judicial Commission Of Inquiry’s Sitting

kaduna-ShiiteMembers of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria on Monday shunned the inaugural sitting of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the December 12, 2015, violent clash between the group and the Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State.

At the commencement of the public sitting at the General Hassan Usman Katsina House in the State capital, venue of the public hearing, as early as 9 O’clock in the morning and waited for about an hour without seeing members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. They did not send any representative or apology.

Members of the commission arrived at the General Hassan Usman Katsina House, venue of the public hearing as early as 9 O’clock in the morning and waited for about an hour without seeing members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria or their lawyers.

Their absence may be unconnected with their demand for the release of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and over 700 of their members, who were taken into custody by security operatives days after the incident.

But the Nigerian Army was represented at the sitting by the General Officer Commanding One division, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade.

The absence of the Shiite members compelled the commission to adjourn till Wednesday, February 4 in expectation that counsel to the commission, Yusuf Ali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, would ascertain the whereabouts of Sheik El-Zakzaky and report back to the commission by the next sitting.

Some lawyers representing various interests at the panel asked the commission to ensure that all parties involved in the matter were adequately represented in order to give each of them a fair hearing, but the commission’s chairman, Justice Mohammed Garba, insisted that they had notified all parties involved about the sitting and therefore, does not have the powers to give an open invitation to any individual or group.

The commission’s chairman also announced that a total of 105 memoranda had been received from members of the public.

He reassured the sitting that the commission would conduct an unbiased investigation and recommend necessary action that would be fair to all parties involved.

Mr Garba also asked the Nigerian Army to ensure it was represented during all the sittings of the commission.

The commission, which has 13 terms of reference, will inquire into the immediate and remote causes of the clashes, and thereafter make recommendations to the state government.

Election 2015: INEC Insists No Permanent Voters’ Card Collection By Proxy

INEC bannerAhead of the 2015 general elections across the country, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has warned that no one would be permitted to collect the Permanent Voters’ Registration Card (PVC) by proxy.

The Commission’s Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, represented by the Cross River State Electoral Commissioner, Mike Igini, gave the warning at a 2-day workshop for administrative secretaries and electoral officers cutting across 12 states in the Federation, held in Calabar, Cross River State.

They gathered to be tutored on the process of issuing the Permanent Voters Card, as well as the CVR in a view to achieving successful registration and distribution.

The Cross River State INEC boss averred that, the training aims at strengthening the democratic character of the Nigeria political processes which is the vision of the commission. 

While insisting that all eligible voters would be required to be present at the point of collection and their thumb prints registered to ensure a credible and reliable register of voters, he explained that electorates must provide evidence of personal collection, while participants must ensure that the names of all who collected are written on the Distribution Register (D.R), a control measure that section 16 of the Electoral Act empowers INEC to adopt in issuing of voters cards.

He noted that this was the bedrock of a sustainable democracy.

The Director of United Nations Development Project, Mourtada Deme, represented by Professor Bolade Eyinla, stated that the workshop, which was in collaboration with INEC, seeks to promote sustainable electoral process in Nigeria by engaging the commission to improve its institutional capacity, operational competency and enable her undertake the continuous voters registration and ultimately issue the permanent voters card.

Participants were also advised on the need to safeguard all sensitive materials in their possession and also see to the efficient distribution of the permanent voter’s card.

The 2015 general elections is set to witness a huge turnaround from the registration, to voting, through the announcement of results as witnessed in the Governorship election in Ekiti State, which heralded the use of the PVC while terminating the use of Temporal Voters Card (TVC).

The two day workshop is the second phase of a similar one earlier organized by INEC in collaboration with the UNDP-DGD.

2015 Elections: Jega Seeks Collaboration With United States

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has asked for more collaboration with the U.S. on electoral process in the country.

The commission’s Chairman, Prof. Attaihiru Jega, made this request on Monday during a visit to his office by the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle.

According to him, INEC is doing everything possible to improve on the electoral process to ensure that elections in the country are credible and transparent.

He said: “We are not promising a perfect election in 2015 but we are confident that we will do our best. We have taken some steps to achieve this. For instance, staff training, in collaboration with development partners, strategic plans and re-organised staff. We are planning a retreat to finalize the timetable for 2015.

“We are still on the Continuous Voters Register and have held series of meetings with security agencies, Civil Society Organizations and development partners ahead of 2015. While it is the responsibility of INEC to organise civic and other registration awareness, the commission faces challenges of funding as well.

“The resources available to discharge that responsibility are usually insufficient, given the enormity of the task of dealing with a large illiterate population and to get them really understand what to do not only during voting but the larger issues of costing good candidates and so on. So there is a lot of things the CSOs can do”, he said.

Mr. Entwistle, while pledging the Obama administration’s commitment to a transparent election in Nigeria come 2015, however, asked Nigerian politicians to ensure that their comments do not provoke tensions that would lead to violence.