COVID-19 Forces INEC To Suspend Regular Activities

Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suspended regular activities for the time being. 

This is according to a statement by Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee.

Mr Okoye stated that the move was in view of the Coronavirus Pandemic and the preventive and containment measures put in place by the Federal and State Governments and in line with the advisory on social distancing from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The INEC spokesman noted that the Commission has taken some extra measures to protect its staff, visitors and the general public.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Nigerians Must Brace Up For Tougher Measures – Lai Mohammed

Some of the measures taken include that, “Effective from Tuesday 24th March 2020, all regular and non-essential activities will be suspended in its headquarters and offices nationwide for 14 days in the first instance.

“The regular quarterly meetings with Stakeholders, namely: Political Parties, Civil Society Organisations, the Media, Security Agencies and all other meetings, have been suspended until such a time when normalcy returns.

“In addition, the Commission will no longer monitor the conventions, congresses, conferences or meetings of political parties until further notice.”

The Commissioner reiterated the Commission’s commitment to openness, consultation and continued communication with its stakeholders and expects all to understand the emergency situation that informed the suspension of contact engagements.

He stated that the health and wellbeing of all INEC staff, officials and the general public are of paramount importance to the Commission.

Mr Okoye, however, noted that notwithstanding the measures outlined, the Commission will continue to meet via non-physical contact channels while communication between the Commission and its stakeholders will remain open.

He emphasized that the new measures taken do not affect the activities for Edo and Ondo governorship elections scheduled for 19th September and 10th October 2020 respectively.

APC Wins Jigawa State Bye-Election

File photo

 

Muhammad Musa Fagen-Gawo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has won the Jigawa bye-election after polling 48,318 votes.

He is a a son to the deceased member representing Garki/Babura Federal constituency, Fagen Gawo.

The presiding officer Professor, Ahmad Shehu Kutama, made the declaration at the Collation centre in Babura local Government on Sunday.

According to him, Muhammad Adamu defeated Nasir Garba Dantiye of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who scored 24,135 votes and Bashir Umar of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) who got 458 votes.

Earlier on, Danjuma Kasimu of the All Progressives Congress emerged the winner of the rerun election for Rijau/Magama Federal Constituency in Niger State.

Kasimu pulled a total of 23,085 votes ahead of his closest rival, Alamu Emmanuel of the People’s Democratic Party who scored 16,812 votes.

The candidate of APGA Shehu Saleh Rijau scored 8,670 votes.

Announcing the results at the collation centre in Rijau, Professor Mohammed Abdullahi said Danjuma Kasimu having won the highest votes cast and fulfilled the requirement of the law is declared winner and returned elected.

READ ALSO: Niger Rerun Election Witnesses Large Turnout, Peaceful Atmosphere

The seat of Magama/Rijau Federal Constituency in Niger state was declared vacant by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamiala following the death of the member representing the constituency, Ja’afaru Iliyasu on December 2.

INEC Set For Jigawa Rerun, Says REC

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has concluded all preparations for the upcoming bye election to be conducted in Garki/Babura Federal constituency of Jigawa state.

Speaking to journalists in Dutse on Thursday, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Dr Mahmud Isah said the commission has achieved 95% success in preparation.

According to him, the distribution of sensitive materials is scheduled to commence by tomorrow morning.

READ ALSO: Senate Removal: Ifeanyi Ubah To Know Fate As Appeal Court Reserves Judgment

Isah said that in all the 302 polling units that the election would be carried out, police have assured of maximum security to ensure a hitch free process.

The seat of the member representing the Garki/Babura Federal constituency, Muhammad Adamu, was declared vacant following the death of the lawmaker in Dubai who was on a medical trip before his demise.

Alleged Fraud: Iwu’s Case Remains In Lagos, Court Insists

A photo combination of Professor Maurice Iwu and a logo of the EFCC.

 

A Federal High Court in Lagos has dismissed an application filed by a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Maurice Iwu, seeking the transfer of his N1.23bn fraud trial from Lagos to Abuja.

In his ruling on Friday, Justice Nicholas Oweibo dismissed the application for transfer, stressing that it lacked merit.

The judge subsequently adjourned the case till April 28 for trial.

Justice Oweibo said a look at the list of witnesses submitted by the anti-graft agency showed that most of the witnesses were in Lagos, with some retired, hence “justice will be better served for the trial to proceed in Lagos.”

At the last court proceedings, Counsel to the former INEC boss, Ahmed Raji (SAN) told Justice Oweibo that the transfer is necessary so as not to subject the defendant to great hardship.

READ ALSO: Two Out Of Three Suspected Coronavirus Cases Are Negative, Says Health Minister

He said that Iwu resides in Abuja but always travels to Lagos whenever the case is coming up.

“My Lord, this defendant is over 70 years of age, and he always travels down to Lagos whenever the case is coming up.

“Then he books a hotel. It will amount to great agony for him to continue with this trial in Lagos,” he said.

The senior lawyer also submitted that since the transaction which led to this charge was done in Abuja, the case should be heard in the nation’s capital.

On his part, EFCC Counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo asked the court to refuse the application because all the witnesses listed in the proof of evidence including the bank officials reside in Lagos and Ibadan. He also argued that it was the Lagos Zonal office of the anti-graft agency that investigated the case.

Oyedepo submitted that the offence for which the defendant was charged touched on the economic well-being of Nigeria, such offences can be tried anywhere in Nigeria.

The EFCC prosecution then cited the provision of Section 98 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which states that only the Chief Judge of the Court  has the power to transfer any matter.

INEC Publishes Credentials Of By-Election Candidates In Four States

A file photo of an INEC ad-hoc staff setting up a polling booth at a school.

 

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released the credentials of the candidates participating in the forthcoming by-elections in four states.

INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, announced this in a statement on Saturday.

This comes two weeks ahead of the March 14 by-elections to be conducted in Niger, Kwara, Sokoto, and Jigawa States.

The by-elections are for Magama/Rijau (Niger) and Babura/Garki (Jigawa) federal constituencies, as well as Patigi (Kwara) and Kebbe (Sokoto) state constituencies.

A total of 10 political parties are expected to participate in the election.

The parties, according to INEC, are Accord, African Democratic Congress (ADC), Action Democratic Party (ADP), All Progressives Congress (APC), All People’s Party (APP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), African Action Congress (AAC), Allied Peoples Movement (APM), and New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

With the publication of the credentials INEC is urging any individual or group that has reasons to challenge the credibility of the submitted documents to do so.

“The commission wishes to draw attention to the provision of Section 31(5) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which entitles “any person who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information given by a candidate in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate is false to file a suit at the Federal High Court, High Court of a state or FCT against such person seeking a declaration that the information contained I the affidavit is false,” said Okoye.

According to him, the commission is determined to conduct free and fair elections in accordance with extant laws while working with critical stakeholders to ensure the peaceful conduct of the exercise.

The national commissioner also appealed to all eligible voters in the respective constituencies to go out and exercise their franchise on the day of the elections.

Read the full statement below:

Ex-INEC Chairman Iwu Seeks Transfer Of Money Laundering Case

A photo combination of Professor Maurice Iwu and a logo of the EFCC.

 

 

A former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Maurice Iwu, has made an application for the transfer of his trial on allegations of fraud.

Iwu, who was arraigned before Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court in Lagos on four counts of concealment, fraud and money laundering to the tune of N1.2 billion, is seeking the transfer of the case to the Abuja division of the court.

The money is said to be part of the N23.29 billion slush fund allegedly shared by former petroleum minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke, to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential elections.

 

A Great Agony

At Thursday’s proceedings, counsel to the former INEC boss, Ahmed Raji, told Justice Oweibo that the transfer was necessary so as not to subject the defendant to great hardship.

He explained that Professor Iwu resides in Abuja but always travels to Lagos whenever the case was coming up.

“My Lord, this defendant is over 70 years of age and he always travels down to Lagos whenever the case is coming up; then he books a hotel. It will amount to great agony for him to continue with this trial in Lagos,” said Raji who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

He also submitted that since the transaction which led to the charge was done in Abuja, the case should be heard in the nation’s capital.

But counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes commission (EFCC), Rotimi Oyedepo, asked the court to refuse the application.

Oyedepo based his argument on the fact that all the witnesses listed in the proof of evidence, including the bank officials reside in Lagos and Ibadan.

He also argued that it was the Lagos Zonal office of the EFCC that investigated the case.

The EFCC counsel submitted that the offence for which the defendant was charged touched on the economic well-being of Nigeria, and such offences can be tried anywhere in the country.

He cited the provision of Section 98 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which states that only the Chief Judge of the Court has the power to transfer any matter.

After listening to both parties, Justice Nicholas Oweibo adjourned the case until March 6 for ruling.

Professor Iwu is facing three counts of fraud and money laundering brought against him by the anti-graft agency.

The EFCC accused him of committing the offences from December 2014 to March 27, 2015.

Following his arraignment, the former INEC boss pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail in the sum of N1 billion.

Don’t Let Courts Determine Future Elections Outcome, Yakubu Tells Parties

A file photo of INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu. Photo: Channels Television/Sodiq Adelakun

 

 

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has advised political parties ahead of future elections in the country.

He urged them to shun acts that could lead to situations where the courts would be the ones to determine the outcomes of the forthcoming elections.

Professor Yakubu gave the advice when he met with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) at the INEC headquarters in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Ahead of the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States scheduled for September 19 and October 10 respectively, he decried the recent litigations which resulted in the Supreme Court determining the winners of the polls in some states.

“The end of tenure governorship elections in Edo and Ondo are holding later in the year.

“Given recent experience with some governorship elections, political parties need to do more to avoid the conduct of acrimonious primaries or failure to observe due diligence in the screening of their candidates, resulting in protracted litigations and eventual determination of the outcome of elections by orders of the court,” the INEC boss said.

He warned that the court might have to decide the outcomes of the polls should political parties continue to conduct inappropriate party primaries and poor screening of their nominated candidates that could lead to protracted litigations.

Professor Yakubu, therefore, asked the political parties to be mindful of the “two critical dates” in the timetable released by INEC recently.

He said, “Party primaries for the democratic election and nomination of candidates for the Governorship election in Edo State must be held from June 2-27,” adding, “The date for Ondo State is July 2-25.”

The INEC boss warned that the commission would not extend the dates.

“We will also rigorously monitor the primaries and where necessary, apply sanctions as provided by law,” he stressed.

Court Stops INEC From Deregistering 35 Political Parties

FILE PHOTO: INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, addressing a press conference in Abuja on February 14, 2020. Photos: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

A Federal High Court in Abuja has restrained Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from deregistering 35 political parties in the country.

Justice Anwuli Chikere gave the interlocutory order on Monday at the hearing of a suit by some of the parties recently deregistered by the electoral body.

The Judge said the electoral commission failed to oppose the application by the applicants whose rights of association must be protected.

The court while ruling on the interlocutory motion between Advanced Congress of Democratic (ACD) and two others against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and INEC, therefore, restrained the electoral umpire from deregistering any political party.

READ ALSO: Protesters Storm APC Headquarters, Demand Oshiomhole’s Sack

INEC had earlier on February 6 deregistered 74 political parties from participating in fresh elections.

According to INEC, the deregistered parties breached their requirements for registration because they failed to win at least 2596 of votes cast in one state of the federation during the presidential election.

Chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu had disclosed that the action was carried out after a review of the performance of political parties after the 2019 general elections to see which parties qualify to exists.

In a reaction to this announcement, three political parties who were later joined by thirty-two others had approached the Federal High Court seeking an order restraining the electoral body from carrying out the proscription of the political parties.

 

 

Let’s Give Peace A Chance, Diri Tells Opposition

 

Governor of Bayelsa State, Douye Diri, has urged opposition parties to give peace a chance and join hands with him in his bid to rebuild the state.

Mr Diri was declared the winner of November 16, 2019, Bayelsa election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), a day after the Supreme Court sacked Mr David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and ordered the electoral body to withdraw the Certificate of Return earlier issued to him.

Speaking during a thanksgiving service on Sunday, Mr Diri said that he would run an all-inclusive government, hence the need for the cooperation and support of all leaders in the state.

READ ALSO: SERAP Gives FG Seven-Day Ultimatum To Disclose Details Of Recovered Abacha Loot

 


He urged people not to be vindictive, stating that the recent declaration is a lesson for Nigeria.

“Let us not be vindictive, this lesson is not only for Bayelsa, it is for Nigeria, and that no man has the power more than the almighty creator.

“I use this opportunity to call on all Bayelsans home and abroad that there is a new government in place and we are inviting them to come with their skills and resources to come and invest in Bayelsa.

“Let us give peace a chance, without security, nobody will come to Bayelsa. We must ensure that Bayelsa is peaceful and secure,” he added.

Bayelsa Election: INEC Has Appropriated Judicial Powers To Interpret Laws – Oshiomhole

 

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of assuming the power of the judiciary to itself by declaring the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Duoye Diri as the duly elected governor of Bayelsa State.

Senator Diri was sworn in as the fifth civilian governor of Bayelsa state on Friday, after a judgement by a five-man panel of the Supreme Court sacking elected candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), David Lyon, and his Deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo, hours before the inauguration.

READ ALSO: Douye Diri Sworn In As Bayelsa Governor

Addressing a news conference on Friday, the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole said that INEC acted illegally and the party is rejecting the declaration.

“I believe the fact that the Supreme Court insisted on the constitutional spread is in consideration of the fact that the constitution does not want a situation In which anyone; governor or president, preside over the affairs of their state without at least, enjoying two-third support of the state’s electorate.

“The votes scored by PDP and their candidate in that election, only met the requirement in five local government and you need six LG to meet the requirements of two-third; and the PDP candidate did not satisfy this requirement.

“INEC has now chosen to appropriate judicial powers to interpret laws that its neither competent to do; rather than allow the court to clarify the issue, INEC sought to appropriate judicial powers and chose to proceed without any express order from the Supreme Court,” he stated.

He stated that the party will seek legal redress to reclaim its mandate in the state.

“As a party, we have consulted and we have resolved that we do not accept and we reject the decision of INEC to illegally declare the PDP candidate as the winner of the election and purporting to waste votes cast in favour of David Lyon.

“We still believe that there are viable legal windows we can explore; we still affirm our confidence in the judiciary even with the pains in our heart,” he said.

INEC Releases New Bayelsa Governorship Election Result, Excludes APC

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, addressing a press conference in Abuja on February 14, 2020. Photos: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released the reviewed result of the Bayelsa State governorship election.

This comes about three months after the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), David Lyon, was returned elected as the winner of the November 16, 2019 poll.

In the new result released at the INEC headquarters in Abuja on Friday, the electoral umpire, however, excluded the APC from the result sheet.

INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, told a news conference that the commission took the decision after the Supreme Court sack Lyon as the governor-elect of the state.

He said, “The commission has received the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the judgement of the apex court which disqualified the deputy governorship candidate and vitiated the joint ticket of the party earlier declared winner in the election.

 

“The court also ordered the commission to “…declare as winner of the governorship election in Bayelsa State the candidate with the highest number of lawful votes cast with the requisite constitutional (or geographical spread)”.

In compliance with the orders of the court, Yakubu revealed that INEC convened a meeting to review the result of the election in which 45 political parties contested.

Without the votes scored by the APC, he put the total number of lawful and valid votes cast in the election at 146,999.

Out of this figure, the INEC chairman stated that the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Douye Diri, scored the highest number of lawful votes with 143,172.

He added that the party scored more than 25 per cent of the lawful votes cast in all the eight Local Government Areas of the state.

According to the INEC boss, the total number of registered voters in places where the election was not held or cancelled as a result of sundry violations is 90,822 while the candidate of the Accord party has the next highest score with 1,339 votes.

“The margin of lead between the candidates of the PDP and the Accord party is 141,833 votes. With this outcome, the election is conclusive at first ballot.

“Consequently, Senator Douye Diri and Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo of the PDP are hereby declared winners and returned elected as governor and deputy governor of Bayelsa State respectively,” he declared.

Yakubu noted that the tenure of the incumbent governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, would end at midnight on February 14, 2020.

Thereafter, the governor and deputy governor-elect were presented with the Certificates of Return, in line with Section 75 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

See the full list of the result as released by INEC below:

INEC Presents Certificate Of Return To PDP’s Douye Diri

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has presented the Certificate of Return to Senator Douye Diri.

Diri’s deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo was also presented his certificate of return.

The electoral commission in a briefing at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja declared the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the November 16 Bayelsa governorship election.

READ ALSO: INEC Declares PDP’s Douye Diri Winner Of Bayelsa Election

INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu told journalists that Diri was declared the winner after top officials met on Friday morning to review the results of the election, without the votes of the APC which have been voided by the court.

“The total votes cast after excluding those of the APC now stand at 146,999. PDP polled 143,172 and scored 25 percent as required by the law,” Yakubu said during the briefing.

Diri’s victory follows Supreme Court verdict which sacked David Lyon, and his Deputy, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo.

Justice Ejembi Ekwo, who read the lead judgment on Thursday made the orders after disqualifying the APC’s deputy governorship candidate, Degi-Eremienyo, as a candidate in the election for submitting forged certificates to INEC.

The court ruled that Degi-Eremienyo’s disqualification had infected the joint ticket with which he and the governorship candidate, Lyon, ran for and won November 16, 2019.

A five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili then ordered the INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to the APC candidate.

 

See below photos of Diri and his deputy receiving their certificates of return at the INEC Headquarters in Abuja…