#KogiBayelsa2019: Most Voters Who Were Willing To Vote Had Opportunity To Do So – INEC

INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye.

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says despite reports of violence recorded in different parts of Kogi and Bayelsa states, most voters who were willing to vote had the opportunity to do so. 

In a communique by its National Commissioner, Mr. Festus Okoye, the commission said it carefully monitored the electoral process in both states.

The Commission further stated that reports from accredited observers and electoral officials in the field indicate that those who were willing to vote did vote accordingly.

This statement is coming amid outcry over violence, thuggery, and vote-buying during the electoral exercise in Kogi and Bayelsa States.

In Kogi State, suspected thugs attempted to snatch ballot papers in the Odu Ward 4, Odu-Ogboyaga ward 1 of Dekina local government area, where the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Mr. Musa Wada cast his vote.

The thugs were confronted by youths and security officials who threw stones and objects to secure the electoral materials.

Similarly, the electoral process was disrupted in ward 2, Lokoja, as gunshots were fired into the air by suspected thugs who made away with ballot boxes.

Voters in the Ajayi Crowther Memorial School were forced to scamper for safety following the invasion of thugs.

Commencement of voting in the polling unit which is the biggest in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital had a delay due to late arrival of security officials.

However, INEC argues that the Commission delivered materials to its offices in both Bayelsa and Kogi.

INEC further noted that despite all efforts to promote peaceful elections including several engagements with stakeholders and the signing of the peace accords, there were cases of thuggery and violence, which the Commission condemns unequivocally.

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VIDEO: No Amount Of Money Can Give You Control Over Thug Attacks, Says INEC

 

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reacted to the thuggery attacks on some polling units in the ongoing governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi States.

This comes as residents of both states go out in their numbers to elect their governors for the next four years.

While the exercise was said to have gone smoothly in some parts of the states, there were reports of violence in other areas.

READ ALSO: Suspected Thugs Storm Kogi PDP Governorship Candidate’s Polling Unit

Hoodlum attacks were recorded at the polling units where the governorship and Kogi West senatorial district candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Musa Wada and Senator Dino Melaye, cast their votes.

On the other hand, the exercise went well at the polling units where those of the All Progressives Congress (APC) – Governor Yahaya Bello and Senator Smart Adeyemi – cast their votes.

 

Reacting to the attacks recorded in the elections, INEC’s National Commissioner Mr Festus Okoye insisted that the commission was in control of the entire process.

He, however, decried the rate of violent attacks which take place during elections and the inability of the electoral body to address the issue.

According to Okoye, although INEC has a duty to organise, conduct, and supervise elections, the responsibility of ensuring it is successful must be shared with the security agencies and the media among other political stakeholders.

INEC To Publish Voter Register For Kogi And Bayelsa Elections On Monday

A file photo of Mr Festus Okoye

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission says it will, on Monday, publish the register of voters for the upcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa. 

INEC disclosed this in a communique issued by Mr. Festus Okoye, the National Commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, on Wednesday in Abuja.

Okoye said that INEC would also present the register to all the political parties sponsoring candidates for the Nov. 16 polls in the two states in line with Section 20 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

READ ALSO: Bayelsa Governorship: Court Orders Substituted Service On APC Candidate

He said the events, which would take place at the commission’s offices in Yenagoa and Lokoja, would be presided over by the Supervising National Commissioners and assisted by the Resident Electoral Commissioners of the respective states.

He said that November 2 was the deadline for the submission of names of polling agents to the Electoral Officers, while Nov. 14 remained the deadline for campaigns.

The Commission appealed to all candidates to avoid comments capable of inciting violence and instilling fear during their campaigns.

INEC Clears 23 Parties For Kogi, 45 For Bayelsa Governorship Elections

A file photo of Mr Festus Okoye

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cleared 23 political parties to contest the governorship election in Kogi State and 45 parties to contest the governorship election in Bayelsa State.

In a communique on Friday, INEC said it had rejected 14 invalidly submitted nominations by political parties for the elections slated for November 16.

According to the communique signed by Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, 19 political parties willingly withdrew their nominations for the elections.

READ ALSO: Reps Divided Over Deregistration Of Political Parties

Mr Okoye said that out of the 14 rejected invalid nominations, eight were from Kogi, while six were rejected from Bayelsa.

He said that at the close of nomination, 23 political parties were cleared in Kogi with 18 parties withdrawing from the race, while one party withdrew in Bayelsa leaving 45 political parties in the race.

Elections: INEC Vows To ‘Restore Voters’ Confidence’ In Bayelsa, Kogi

Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it wants to restore the confidence of voters in the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.

Speaking during his appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Mr Festus Okoye that the Commission was working hard to conduct credible elections in both states on November 16.

“Based on what we are hearing from the stakeholders, we are going to move into Bayelsa and Kogi states early enough to build the confidence of the voters and the confidence of the stakeholders,” Okoye who is the INEC Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee said on Monday.

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He added, “So we are going to move in on time and hold meetings with the religious leaders, civil society groups and organisations, political parties, security agencies with all the critical stakeholders.

The INEC official explained that they intend to carry out ‘a robust’ voter education to ensure the people of the states understand their processes and procedures.

According to him, the electoral umpire will build the confidence of the people and make them understand that it is ready to conduct an election they will be proud of.

Okoye, who is also INEC National Commissioner, urged political parties conduct their primaries in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act.

He stressed that Sections 87 and 31 of the Act already explained how political parties should field candidates that would fly their flags in the governorship elections.

When asked if INEC has enough time to implement the report by electoral observers in the general elections, Okoye gave assurance that the Commission would consider it.

“The ones that we can do administratively, we will carry them out; the ones that need legislative intervention, if a new law comes into being before then, we will implement them,” he said.

INEC Withdraws 25 Certificate Of Return From Election Winners

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced the withdrawal of 25 Certificates of Return from some winners of the just concluded 2019 General Elections on orders from various courts across the country.

INEC, through its National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Mr Festus Okoye, at a forum on Media Coverage of the 2019 General Elections in Enugu on Monday, explained to journalists that the withdrawn certificates have been handed to the rightful winners.

“Just before we left the commission on Friday, we had returned the certificate of return of 25 candidates.”

He added that the withdrawals followed court orders after discovering that some political parties conducted ‘crooked’ primaries and ‘substitution of candidates’.

“Why were these certificates withdrawn? Some of the Political parties took their own party constitution on its head; some of the parties conducted crooked party primaries, engaged in substitution of candidates.”

According to him 20 out of the 25 certificates were withdrawn from candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and given to candidates of the same party.

READ ALSO: Magu: EFCC Is Investigating Okorocha, Others

While two were withdrawn from APC candidates and given to candidates of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Two were also exchanged between PDP members and one was withdrawn from a candidate of the APC and given to a member of Accord Party.

“20 of those certificates were withdrawn from candidates of the APC and given to other candidates of the APC. One was withdrawn from APC and given to a candidate of Accord Party.

“Two of the certificates were returned from the APC and given to the PDP candidates. Two certificates were withdrawn from the PDP and given to the PDP candidates.”

Mr Okoye also revealed that more certificates of return may be withdrawn as the court is still adjudicating on some cases.

“And the withdrawals will continue because even before I left Abuja, the Federal, State and Appeal courts were still delivering judgments relating to party primary elections and were still giving orders to the commission to withdraw certificates of return and issue to others.”

INEC To Conduct Post-Election Review In May, June 2019

Festus Okoye

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed May and June 2019 to hold a Post-Election Review and debriefing exercise.

The exercise, according to INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja, is in line with its existing practice.

Okoye noted that the evaluation would focus on the commission’s performance of key activities during the General Elections.

“The review will focus on the planning, organisation, conduct and coordination of the general elections, particularly on the following; Logistics, procurement and deployment of personnel and materials; Continuous Voter Registration and Collection of permanent voter’s cards; Legal environment of the elections, particularly the legal challenges experienced over nomination of candidates and conduct of elections.

“Processes of party registration, party primaries and nomination of candidates; Quality of ad hoc staff; Relationship between the Commission and diverse stakeholders, including political parties, security agencies, civil society organizations, the media and development partners; and Quality of inclusivity of the elections, particularly regarding persons with disability, IDPs and gender balance,” he said.

He added that the commission will have two sets of activities, “internal reviews involving National Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners, Electoral Officers, Collation and Returning Officers, as well as other key staff of the commission. And, review meetings with key stakeholders such as political parties, civil society organizations, security agencies, the media and development partners.”

READ ALSO: INEC To Hold Governorship Elections In Kogi, Bayelsa On Nov 2

Okoye noted that the commission had commenced work on a comprehensive report of the 2019 General Elections, and mandated its electoral institute to undertake detailed researches into various aspects of the elections.

He expressed optimism that the outcomes of the reviews will be relevant to electoral reforms, and prepare the electoral body for future elections.

 

Shiites Reiterate Call For Zakzaky’s Release

Ibraheem Zakzaky, court, Shiites
Sheik Ibraheem Zakzaky

Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria have reiterated the call for the release of their leader, Sheik Ibraheem Zakzaky.

The Shiites pushed for the release of their leader during a protest on Wednesday held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Some members of the group’s Academic Forum, Muhktar Awwal and Firdausi Yusuf, read out a statement which contained the demand.

The Shiites say the group and its leaders are being subjected to what they called “unwarranted and vicious attack” by the Kaduna State government and security agencies.

They held a peaceful protest through the streets of the Federal Capital Territory, which terminated at the Federal Secretariat.


The protest follows the refusal of a Federal High Court to hear the bail application filed by Mr Zakzaky.

Ruling on the application on Monday, Justice Okon Abang, said since the main suit was already ongoing before another judge of the Federal High Court, the applicant ought to obtain a ‘leave of court’ to hear the matter.

Zakzaky and his wife, Mrs Zeenah Ibrahim, were arrested after a confrontation between the Islamic group and soldiers which resulted in several deaths and destruction of property on December 12, 2015.

The leader of the Shiites, through his lawyers, Femi Falana and Festus Okoye, is demanding an order of court directing his immediate release from custody.

Court Declines Hearing Zakzaky’s Bail Application

Ibraheem Zakzaky, court, ShiitesA Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has refused to hear the bail application filed by the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheik Ibraheem Zakzaky.

Ruling on the application on Monday, Justice Okon Abang said since the main suit was already ongoing before another judge of the Federal High Court, the applicant ought to obtain a ‘leave of court’ to hear the matter.

Justice Abang noted that the applicant failed to serve the Department of State Services (DSS), the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, who were the respondents in the matter.

Mr Zakzaky and his wife, Mrs Zeenah Ibrahim, were arrested after a confrontation between the Islamic group and soldiers which resulted in several deaths and destruction of property on December 12, 2015.

The leader of the Shiites, through his lawyers, Femi Falana and Festus Okoye, is demanding an order of court directing his immediate release from custody.

He also wants the court to award the sum of two billion Naira against the Nigerian Army, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; the DSS, Mr Idris and Mr Malami.

The case which had been before Justice Gabriel Kolawole, has been adjourned till September 20.

NLC, TUC Protest Verification Policy By Kaduna Govt.

NLC, TUC Protest Verification Policy By Kaduna Govt.Civil servants in Kaduna State have shunned their offices in protest against the new verification exercise introduced by the state government mandating them to indicate if they want to be part of a labour union or not.

In their hundreds, they converged on the state NLC secretariat on Wednesday with representatives of affiliate unions and civil society organisations to hold a mini rally in Kaduna State, northwest Nigeria.

They condemned what they described as the deliberate attempt by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, to enslave them and destabilise unionism in the state public service.

The workers under the umbrella of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) alleged that most of them had not been paid salaries for about eight months.

Speaking in company of the TUC President, Bobbi Kaigama, and a rights activist, Festus Okoye; the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, explained that one of the columns in the form required workers to indicate whether they wanted to belong to a union or not.

He added that the new directive was strange to them.

“It contravenes the labour laws concerning to employees/employers condition of service,” he said.

Also at the rally was the former NLC Vice President, Issa Aremu, who said that the organised labour would use all legal means at their disposal to ensure that the new policy does not stand, maintaining that the governor had no right to meddle into labour affairs.

Reacting to the protest, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Finance, Suleiman Kwari, said that the exercise was aimed at ascertaining the true number of its workforce and not targeted to destabilise the unions.

He explained that there was nothing wrong with the government asking the workers to indicate if they wanted to belong to a union or not since it was optional to do so.

The commissioner also disclosed that those who were being owed salaries had issues with their documentation.

The Kaduna State has given the workers till Monday, March 28, to fill and return the forms and has vowed to apply sanctions against defaulters.

Zakzaky’s Lawyers Withdraw Appearance Before Commission Of Inquiry

ZakzakyThe team of lawyers representing the Islamic Movement in Nigeria before the Commission of Inquiry have withdrawn their appearance before the Commission.

Addressing reporters on Tuesday, a member of the legal team, Festus Okoye, said that their inability to have access to their client and leader of the movement, Sheik Ibraheem El- Zakzaky in detention, informed their reason to discontinue their appearance before the Commission.

He explained the frustration they had encountered in their effort to have access to El-Zakzaky, who is currently being detained by the Department of State Services (DSS) in Abuja.

Mr Okoye said that all attempts made severally to meet with their client in order to get briefing from him was frustrated by the Police and DSS in spite of the assurances given to them earlier to meet with him.

While condemning the action of the DSS and Federal Government, the lawyer pointed out that the continuous detention of El Zakzaky and his wife without charging them to court, violates their fundamental rights to fair hearing and justice.

According to Mr Okoye, the legal team representing the Movement would not participate in a pre-determined position and agenda against their client and the group and neither will they continue to represent a client, whose whereabouts are shrouded in secrecy.

On her part, one of the daughters of El-Zakzaky condemned the continuous detention of her parents and other members of the Movement.

Mrs Suhaila Ibraheem expressed dismay that the DSS could still arrest and detain her parents after soldiers unjustly shot and killed several members of the Movement at their residence in Zaria.

At another press conference, members of the Islamic Movement said that they had petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, over the continuous detention of El Zakzaky by the DSS as well as other members currently in various detention facilities across the country.

The members, through their spokesman, Ibrahim Musa, noted that by the continuous detention of their leader and other members, the Nigerian government had waged an open war on the Movement and its leadership with the intent to exterminate them.

With barely a week left for the Commission of Inquiry to conclude its assignment, the Shiites are insisting that until they have access to their leader in order to ascertain his true state of health, they will not appear before the Commission.

This is in view that he is the custodian of the property and activities of the Movement and only him can give the express permission for them to appear.

The Commission of Inquiry was set up by the Kaduna State Government to investigate the violent clash between the group and soldiers in Zaria on December 12, 2015.

INEC To Review Court Judgements On Nullified Elections

INECThe Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mamood Yakubu, says the commission will review the judgement on the over 82 nullified elections by the courts.

Professor Yakubu said that the exercise, which would cover the 2015 and 2016 election petitions and rulings, would enable the commission to make necessary adjustments before the 2019 general elections.

The commission has been meeting with its officials, political parties and civil society organizations to review elections conducted in 2015 and 2016.

A meeting with members of the civil society organization was the last in the series of consultative meetings that INEC has been holding with stakeholders to review outcomes of recent elections conducted by the electoral umpire.

Delivering his remarks, the Chairman of INEC said that he would review judgements nullifying some of the elections conducted by the commission ahead of future exercise.

He also implored members of the civil society organizations to offer suggestions on how to manage electoral violence, inconclusive elections and improve on the technologies used during the elections.

The civil society organizations advised INEC to push for stiffer penalty against politicians who break electoral laws and cause violence and other problems to the electoral process.

Others asked for a review of the logistics agreement the commission has signed with the road transport unions.

Since the conclusion of the general elections in 2015, INEC says courts have either nullified or upturned 97 elections with decisions on two still pending at the Supreme Court.