Lagos East: Tribunal Strikes Out APM’s Petition Against Senator Abiru

 

 

The National Assembly and State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ikeja, has struck out a suit filed by the Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM) challenging the victory of Senator Adetokunbo Abiru in the December 2020 Lagos East senatorial district poll.

In a ruling delivered on Tuesday, Justice Bassey Ikpeme who chaired the three-man panel struck out the petition after an application by the APM and its candidate, Olusola Babatope, to withdraw their petition.

The other two members of the panel were Justice Mohammed Abubakar and Justice M.M. Odanya.

Both petitioners had approached the Tribunal to nullify Abiru’s victory which was declared by the Independent National Election Commission (INEC).

Apart from third defendant Abiru, his party – the All Progressives Congress (APC) – and INEC, were listed as the first and second respondents in the petition.

The Tribunal had fixed February 23 to hear the APC and INEC’s objections to the petition by APM and Babatope.

However, the petitioners did not file any response to the respondent’s objections.

Rather, having appraised the respondents’ defence to their petition, they filed an application seeking to withdraw it.

Abiru’s counsel and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Kemi Pinheiro, confirmed receipt of the petitioners’ application to withdraw the suit.

He also informed the Tribunal that under Paragraph 30 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2010 (as Amended), Abiru had filed the affidavit required and would not be opposed to the application.

The APC’s counsel, Abiodun Owonikoko, who is also a SAN, and INEC confirmed receipt of the petitioner’s application to withdraw.

The Tribunal heard and granted the APM and Babatope’s application to withdraw their petition and subsequently struck out the petition.

INEC To Create New Polling Units Ahead Of Anambra, Ekiti, Osun Elections

A file photo of former INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu.

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is proposing to create new additional polling units across the country ahead of the governorship elections in Anambra this year and the Ekiti and Osun elections in 2022 as well as the 2023 general election.

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu who made the announcement during a meeting with the National leadership of the Arewa Consultative Forum(ACF) in Kaduna state, says that the creation of more polling units has become very important due to the increasing number of prospective eligible voters in the country.

Professor Yakubu while stressing the need to depoliticize the creation of polling units by political parties, warned that disenfranchising millions of eligible voters due to the absence of enough polling units is capable of damaging the credibility of elections in the country.

READ ALSO: PDP Leaders Meet With Goodluck Jonathan In Abuja

According to INEC, there are 119,973 polling units in the country established a quarter of a century ago in 1996 by the defunct National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON), during the period, the voter population was projected at 50 million.

After three unsuccessful attempts to create new polling Units for elections, INEC is now adopting a new approach to the disturbing issue of polling units expansion especially now that the number of voters in its register has increased to over 84 million.

This time, the commission is holding consultations with election stakeholders, unlike the previous attempts that failed because the commission handled them administratively.

2023 Polls: INEC Meets Political Parties, Proposes Creation Of More Polling Units

A section of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Abuja was gutted by fire on April 17, 2020.
A section of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Abuja was gutted by fire on April 17, 2020.

 

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, on Friday met with the chairmen and secretaries of political parties in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

While the electoral body proposes the creation of more polling units, Professor Yakubu, said that the last time polling units were created was 25 years ago.

According to the INEC Chairman, the meeting which held at the INEC headquarters is the first engagement with party leaders aimed at enhancing voters’ access to polling units.

He is of the opinion that the inadequate number of polling units in the last 25 years have contributed to voter apathy and a dwindling voter turnout.

Nigeria has continued to maintain 119,973 polling units since 1996, when the country had about fifty million registered voters. The figure has remained the same even when the numbers of registered voters have risen to over 88 million.

“Unfortunately, the last time polling units were established was 25 years ago in 1996 by the defunct National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON). There were 120,000 polling units to serve a projected population of about 50 million voters,” he said.

READ ALSO: APC Failure Will Force Nigerians To Vote PDP In 2023 – Wike

“Today, the number of registered voters is 84,004,084 and is set to rise after we resume Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) ahead of the 2023 General Election. Yet, the number of polling units remains static. In fact, the biggest category of registered voters on our data base (aged 18 to 25 years) were not even born when the current polling units were established a quarter of a century ago.

“Certainly, the Commission tried unsuccessfully to expand voter access to polling units in 2007, 2014 and before the 2019 General Election. However, these attempts were handled administratively. They also came too close to General Elections. Consequently, the Commission’s intention was not properly communicated and therefore misunderstood and politicised.

“Learning from previous experience, the Commission has now decided to engage with Nigerians by consulting widely. We have worked hard in the last two months and produced a Discussion Paper entitled “The State of Voter Access to Polling Units in Nigeria”, prepared satellite imageries of the location of polling units across the country as well as pictures and videos to demonstrate the difficulties faced by voters on Election Day.

“The hard and soft copies of the Discussion Paper is being widely shared and will be uploaded on the Commission’s website and social media platforms latest by Monday 8th February 2021.”

The INEC boss explained that efforts to have more units created in 2007, 2011 and 2019 were misunderstood.

He stated that the number of voters have grown, thus making it imperative for the commission to create more polling units.

On his part, the chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), Leonard Nzenwa, who responded on behalf of the parties commended INEC for the proposal.

He however wished that the process had commenced earlier than now.

 

READ INEC CHAIRMAN’S FULL SPEECH BELOW:

REMARKS BY THE HONOURABLE CHAIRMAN, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC), PROF. MAHMOOD YAKUBU, AT THE FIRST CONSULTATIVE MEETING WITH POLITICAL PARTIES FOR THE YEAR 2021 HELD AT THE CONFERENCE ROOM, INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC) HEADQUARTERS, ABUJA, FRIDAY 5TH FEBRUARY 2021.

Chairmen of Political Parties

Honourable National Commissioners

Resident Electoral Commissioners

Senior Officials of INEC

Members of the INEC Press Corps

Ladies and Gentlemen

1.​ It is my pleasure to welcome party leaders to our first meeting for the year 2021. On behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I wish the Chairmen and leaders of political parties a happy New Year. At the same time, but on a sad note, we lost the Chairman of the Labour Party (LP), Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, a trade unionist, a democrat, a frontline politician, and an active promoter of multi-party democracy in Nigeria. He never missed the Commission’s meetings with political parties, including the last one held about three months ago on Tuesday 10th November 2020. May God grant him paradise.

2.​ You may recall that at the last meeting, many party leaders expressed concern about low voter turnout in elections in Nigeria. After reviewing the situation, it was agreed that political parties, INEC, and all stakeholders need to do more in the areas of voter and civic education, voter mobilisation and inclusivity. After the meeting, the Commission critically appraised the situation. In addition to other factors highlighted by political parties and other stakeholders, the Commission is of the firm belief that expanding voter access to polling units in Nigeria is crucial to voter turnout in elections. Experience has shown that enhanced voter access to polling units increases turnout in elections. Not surprisingly, many countries expand access to polling units with every fresh registration of voters while others do so routinely or before every general election. Increase in voter population, emergence of new settlements, urbanisation, distance to existing polling units, difficult terrain and other factors require constant review to give the voter a pleasant experience on Election Day. Above all, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is necessary to decongest polling units to minimise overcrowding and reduce the long distances voters travel often in overcrowded means of transport to vote during elections.

3.​ Unfortunately, the last time polling units were established was 25 years ago in 1996 by the defunct National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON). There were 120,000 polling units to serve a projected population of about 50 million voters. Today, the number of registered voters is 84,004,084 and is set to rise after we resume Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) ahead of the 2023 General Election. Yet, the number of polling units remains static. In fact, the biggest category of registered voters on our data base (aged 18 to 25 years) were not even born when the current polling units were established a quarter of a century ago.

4.​ Certainly, the Commission tried unsuccessfully to expand voter access to polling units in 2007, 2014 and before the 2019 General Election. However, these attempts were handled administratively. They also came too close to General Elections. Consequently, the Commission’s intention was not properly communicated and therefore misunderstood and politicised.

5.​ Learning from previous experience, the Commission has now decided to engage with Nigerians by consulting widely. We have worked hard in the last two months and produced a Discussion Paper entitled “The State of Voter Access to Polling Units in Nigeria”, prepared satellite imageries of the location of polling units across the country as well as pictures and videos to demonstrate the difficulties faced by voters on Election Day. The hard and soft copies of the Discussion Paper is being widely shared and will be uploaded on the Commission’s website and social media platforms latest by Monday 8th February 2021.

6.​ It is significant that we are commencing the series of engagements today with leaders of political parties. At each engagement, there will be a presentation followed by discussion. We hope that by doing so, we will communicate the Commission’s intention to Nigerians and invite input from citizens across the board on how we can tackle the problem of voter access to polling units in our country and hopefully establish the framework for subsequent seamless adjustments as the need arises. This is how it is done in virtually all democracies around the world. I am confident that by working together we will make history by finally solving this 25-year-old problem of enhancing access to polling units in Nigeria. The Nigerian voter and our democracy in general will be the biggest beneficiaries of increased access to polling units.

7.​ Once again, I welcome party leaders to this meeting and look forward to your contributions.

Youth Party Submits Letter Of Intent To Participate In 2023 Poll

NYDP National Chairman Barry Johnson displays the letter of intent.

 

The Nigeria Youths Democratic Party (NYPD) on Tuesday submitted its letter of intent to register as a political party and participate in the 2023 elections.

National Chairman of the party, Barry Johnson after submitting the letter of intent at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Abuja urged youths to participate in the electioneering process that will enthrone a new leadership in the country.

Johnson urged Nigerian youths to join the NYPD noting that there is a need for Nigerian youths to break the monopoly of leaders who cling to power at the expense of the nation.

READ ALSO: Umahi Flags Off APC Membership Registration In Ebonyi

“We will like to call on Nigerian youths both home and abroad. They are already automatic members of the Nigeria Youths Democratic Party.

“We have our own political party now so it will be fraudulent for any Nigerian youth to join a failed and a sinking ship.

“We want the world to know that we are a political party that is under registration process with INEC and we are not holding ourselves back from what we can provide for the Nigerian people,” he said.

Johnson stressed the need for INEC to do the needful by registering the NYPD as the party is determined to save the nation’s democracy.

Amended Electoral Act To Allow For Electronic Transmission Of Results, Says Ekweremadu

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu made an appearance on Channels Television's Politics Today on January 29, 2020.
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu made an appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today on January 29, 2020.

 

Former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu on Friday said lawmakers are attempting to amend the electoral act to allow for electronic transmission of election results.

Senator Ekweremadu is a member of the Senate Committee on INEC.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Ekweremadu said the electronic transmission of results will improve the integrity of elections in Nigeria.

“What we are working on now, we want to take a step further by saying that you don’t just conduct the elections through electronic means, but importantly you also need to transmit it through electronic means,” Ekweremadu said.

READ ALSO: Senate Opens Two-Day Public Hearing On Petroleum Industry Bill

“Because most of the trouble we have with our elections happen between the polling booth and where they do the collation.

“So this can be bypassed by using the elctronic means of transmission. I was in Edo eelction and it worked. They simply uploaded the results from the polling booth straight to the INEC website and people can have access to it and can monitor the election as the results are coming in.

“But it wasn’t in any part of the electoral act or the constitution; so we intend to bring it into the electoral act and hoping that our colleagues will also accept it.”

The Joint Technical Committee on Repeal of Electoral Act 2010, on Tuesday, had submitted its report to the National Assembly Joint Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Electoral Matters.

Ekweremadu said the lawmakers are also attempting to pass a bill that improves the timelines of elections.

INEC Fixes November 6 For Anambra Governorship Election

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed November 6 for the conduct of the governorship election in Anambra State.

INEC Chairman of Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, disclosed this in a statement issued on Tuesday.

He said the date followed a meeting by the commission to deliberate on the activities for the conduct of the poll, adding that the tenure of Governor Willie Obiano would expire by March 17, 2022.

“By virtue of Section (178)(1) and (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Section 25(7) and (8) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), election into the office of the State Governor shall hold not earlier than 150 and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of the office,” the statement partly read.

READ ALSO: PDP Akwa Ibom Chairman Dies Of COVID-19

“Constitutionally and statutorily, the tenure of the Governor of Anambra State will expire on 17th of March 2022 and the earliest date for the election into the office of Governor, Anambra State, shall be 18th October 2021 and the latest date for the election shall be 15th February 2022.

“In the exercise of the powers conferred on it by the Constitution, the Electoral Act and all other powers enabling it in that regard, the Commission has fixed 6th November 2021 as the date for the conduct of the Anambra State Governorship election.”

According to the electoral umpire, a statutory notice on the timetable and schedule of electoral activities would be issued on June 9.

While the collection of forms would commence on June 10, INEC said the deadline for the conduct of primaries and resolution of conflicts arising from the exercise is July 1.

KANSIEC Distributes Electoral Materials In Kano Ahead Of LG Polls

Electoral materials (File Photo) Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

The Kano State Independent Electoral Commission (KANSIEC) says it has concluded the distribution of sensitive and non-sensitive election materials to its offices in the 44 LGAs.

Chairman of the Commission, Professor Garba Ibrahim Sheka, confirmed this to Channels Television on Friday in Kano, ahead of the local government elections on Saturday.

He said this would facilitate the commencement of the voting process on time and enable them to deal with any shortage of election materials on time.

“We engaged political parties, Civil Society Organisations, elections observer groups and other stakeholders in the distribution exercise to ensure close monitoring and to guard against diversion of materials.

“We have also distributed facemasks and sanitisers to the polling units in compliance with the COVID-19 protocols.

“Voting will commence by 8:00 a.m. and close by 3:00 p.m,” Professor Sheka said.

According to him, the Commission is working in collaboration with the police and security agencies to ensure peaceful conduct of the election.

To further facilitate this, he noted that the Commission has recruited 48,000 ad-hoc staff for the council poll in the state.

Garba-Sheka said the Commission had deployed its staff to the 11,500 polling points in the 484 wards across 44 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state for the election.

He explained that four members of staff were deployed to each of the 11,500 polling units, to facilitate smooth conduct of the poll.

“We have trained electoral officers and ad hoc staff to enable them to discharge their duties effectively,” he said.

Commenting further, the Chairman said 12 political parties were vying for the 44 chairmanship and 384 councillorship positions in the election.

Garba-Sheka maintained that no political party has so far indicated an interest in boycotting the election.

While reiterating commitment to a free, fair and credible election, the Chairman urged the voters to cooperate with election workers, observe social distancing and conduct themselves in an orderly manner during the election.

Alleged Electoral Fraud: Court Grants Prof Ignatius Uduk Bail

File photo of Professor Ignatius Uduk

 

A professor who is standing trial for alleged electoral offences during the 2019 general elections in Akwa Ibom State has been granted bail by the State High Court sitting in Uyo.

The presiding judge, Archibong Archibong granted the accused bail in the sum of N500,000, one surety with landed property in Uyo with a certificate of ownership, and a letter of recognition from a prominent indigene of the state.

Professor Ignatius Uduk was a collation/Returning Officer in charge of Essien Udim constituency in the State Constituency election of March 21, 2019.

The case has been adjourned to January 11 to 14, 2021 for an accelerated hearing.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on December 9 arraigned Professor Uduk on a three-count charge bordering on electoral fraud and perjury.

READ ALSO: Alleged Electoral Fraud: INEC Finally Arraigns Professor Uduk After ‘Going Into Hiding’

Professor Uduk was accused of trying to rig the 2019 Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District election. Several attempts by INEC to arraign him were not successful as he went into hiding.

A High Court sitting in Akwa Ibom State in November issued a Bench Warrant for his arrest.

Uduk was charged with three counts of abandoning his assigned duties as the collation and returning officer in the State House of Assembly Election and unlawfully generating scores and entering same in form EC 8e (ii).

He was also accused of announcing and circulating false and fake election results and lying on oath.

INEC Presents Certificate Of Return To Obudu Constituency Winner

INEC REC Dr. Emmanuel Alex Hart Presents Certificate of Return Mrs. Maria Godwin Akwaji

 

The Resident Electoral Commissioner, of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Cross River State, Dr. Emmanuel Alex Hart has presented a Certificate of Return to the member-elect Obudu State Constituency, Mrs. Maria Godwin Akwaji.

Mrs. Akwaji is the winner of last Saturday, December 5th bye-election held in the state.

 

The INEC commissioner advised the member-elect to be responsible and accountable to the Obudu people that elected her and urged other contestants to display the spirit of sportsmanship and support the winner to continue the development of Obudu and its people.

Mrs. Maria Godwin Akwaji is grateful to God for her victory and thanked the state Governor Professor Ben Ayade and the people of Obudu State Constituency.

Alleged Electoral Fraud: INEC Finally Arraigns Professor Uduk After ‘Going Into Hiding’

Professor Ignatius Uduk

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has finally arraigned Professor Ignatius Uduk of the University Of Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State on a three-count charge bordering on electoral fraud and perjury.

Professor Uduk is accused of trying to rig the 2019 Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District election. Several attempts by INEC to arraign him were not successful as he went into hiding.

A High Court sitting in Akwa Ibom State in November issued a Bench Warrant for his arrest.

The university don was then arraigned on Wednesday at High Court 4 in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.

He served as a collation/returning officer in charge of Essien Udim State Constituency during the March 21, 2019 poll and is facing trial over his role in the 2019 general elections in the state.

READ ALSO: 2019 Elections: Court Orders Arrest Of Professor Over Electoral Fraud

Uduk is charged with three counts of abandoning his assigned duties as the collation and returning officer in the State House of Assembly Election and unlawfully generating scores and entering same in form EC 8e (ii).

He also accused of announcing and circulating false and fake election results and lying on oath.

When the matter came up before Justice Archibong Archibong, on Wednesday, the accused pleaded not guilty while his counsel Samuel Ndah applied for bail for his client but was opposed by Kpoobari Sigalo the prosecution counsel.

Justice Archibong, thereafter, adjourned the matter to December 14th, 2020 for ruling on the bail application.

Professor Uduk is the second lecturer to be arranged in court by INEC in Akwa Ibom State for electoral fraud in the 2019 general elections.

PHOTOS: Mahmood Yakubu Sworn In As INEC Chairman

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu

 

Professor Mahmood Yakubu was on Wednesday sworn in for a second term as the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and believes elections in the country are getting better.

“We have clearly demonstrated in recent elections that elections are getting better and better and elections will continue to get better and better,” he said after the swearing-in ceremony which took place at the Council Chambers, State House in Abuja.

See Photos Below:

 

 

 

Mahmood Yakubu Sworn In As INEC Chairman, Says Elections Are Getting Better

Mahmood Yakubu is the first person to serve two terms as INEC Chairman. Photo: State House.

 

Professor Mahmood Yakubu was on Wednesday sworn in for a second term as the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and believes elections in the country are getting better. 

“We have clearly demonstrated in recent elections that elections are getting better and better and elections will continue to get better and better,” he said after the swearing-in ceremony by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chambers, State House in Abuja.

 

Buhari had in October written to the Senate to confirm Yakubu’s appointment. Photo: State House.

 

On Tuesday last week, the Senate confirmed his appointment as chairman of the electoral body, a development the former Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) described as a “privilege.”

READ ALSO: Senate Confirms Professor Mahmood Yakubu As INEC Chairman

“It is a big responsibility. It is history. No Nigerian has been so privileged to serve as chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission twice,” the professor of Political History and International Studies, added.

“And it is a responsibility I am going to discharge consistent with the oath of office I took.”

READ ALSO: Buhari Reappoints INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu For Another Term

The swearing-in took place just before the start of the 27th virtual Federal Executive Council meeting where a one minute silence was observed in honour of military officer, late Gen. Domkat Bali who served as a Minister of Defence and member of the Supreme Military Council of 1984–1985.

 

A file photo of President Buhari and INEC boss, Yakubu.

 

On October 27th, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari reappointed Yakubu as Chairman of INEC for another five-year term, making him the first person to be handed a second tenure as head of the commission.

“I am pleased to present for confirmation by the Senate, the nomination of Professor Mahmood Yakubu for appointment as Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for a second and final term,” Buhari was quoted as saying in a letter addressed to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.