A Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled out a suit filed by a group, Society for Advancement and Protection of Public Rights, seeking an order to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from exclusively using the Permanent Voter Cards for the conduct of the forthcoming general elections.
Justice Abdulkadir Abdul-Kafarati, struck out the suit following the application of discontinuance filed by the group .
The counsel to the group, Mr Olatunji Salawu, said the suit withdrawn had been overtaken by events because of the latest developments of wider distribution of PVC, pointing that there was no need to continue with the suit .
Meanwhile, the group had since filed another suit before Justice Gabriel Kolawole, opposing the use of card reader machine in the forthcoming polls scheduled to hold on March 28 and April 11, 2015.
The group hinged its prayers on the grounds that the use of the card readers was likely to lead to the disenfranchisement of eligible voters and prayed that the court, should among others things, direct INEC to revert to the use of temporary voter cards, which it said, had been tested during previous elections
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) National Commissioner in charge of Oyo, Ekiti and Ogun States, Prof Lai Olurode, has expressed concern over the failure of residents in Ogun State to collect about 589,377 Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) across the 20 Local Government Areas of the state.
Mr Olurode shared his concerns during a press briefing held at the State Headquarters of the Commission located along the Presidential Boulevard in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital.
While admitting some of the challenges trailing the distribution of the PVCs in the state, the National Commissioner said that about 153,185 PVCs are being awaited from Abuja, while the commission has achieved about 59% collection rate so far.
The commissioner also gave an assurance that the commission was poised to achieve 70% to 75% distribution rate before the commencement of the general elections.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Ogun State, Mr Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, has criticised INEC over the distribution of PVCs.
The governorship aspirant asked the electoral commission to expedite action towards ensuring that numerous eligible voters who have not collected their PVCs get them before the deadline of March 22.
The governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State, Mr Gboyega Nasir Isiaka has criticised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the distribution of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
There have been various challenges facing the process, with some eligible voters in the State not being able to find their cards.
Mr Isiaka was speaking in Abeokuta, the State capital during a press briefing held at the PDP secretariat located along the Presidential Boulevard in the State capital.
Mr Isiaka also added that the current 51% PVC distribution in the State is unacceptable.
The governorship candidate, however, asked the electoral commission to expedite action towards ensuring that numerous eligible voters who have not collected their PVCs get them before the deadline of March 22.
Mr Isiaka in an interview on Sunrise Daily on Friday, stressed the need for the INEC to ensure that ‘nobody is denied the opportunity to vote’.
He also gave a list of his plans for the State if elected governor of the state. The Governorship election will hold on April 11.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State has accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of planning to unleash terror in the state.
Addressing reporters on Monday, the APC said the PDP was ‘fanning embers of crisis’ in the state, after it set up a War Committee.
The claims by the APC is the latest in the recent war of words between both parties in the state.
The Chairman of the APC, Balogun Fulani Ishola, told reporters that the leadership of the PDP in the state had set up a 21-Man War Committee to unleash terror in the state.
Mr Balogun said that with the setting up of the committee, the PDP had declared war. According to him, the state has been witnessing political crisis since the committee was established.
However, in response to the APC’s claims, the state Chairman of the PDP, Iyiola Oyedepo, denied the accusation.
Mr Oyedepo said that the usage of the War Committee was symbolic to enable the party monitor the activities of another strategic committee set up for the elections and to make them see the importance of the task ahead.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Kogi state, Hussain Pai has said that the Commission has recorded about 71 percent PVC distribution rate in the state, noting that before the deadline date they would have achieved over 80 percent distribution.
He made this known during an interview with Channels TV’s correspondent in Lokoja, following the presentation of books containing electoral processes designed in a braille to the Joint Association of Persons Living with Disability.
The REC assured the group, during a courtesy visit, that those living with disabilities, especially visually impaired persons, will be given adequate care during the forthcoming general elections.
The executive members of the group led by Solomon Ojonugba had paid a courtesy visit to the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner to state their concerns as well as know what preparations were being put in place for them.
Mr Pai who said there visit to his office was timely, disclosed that the commission had already made a provision for those living with disability ahead of the election.
In his speech, he said INEC was working to ensure that electioneering process is improved upon so as to carry all stakeholders along.
While assuring the members of credible elections, he noted that the commission would ensure that the disabled are not disadvantaged as the books will also be distributed at local and ward levels throughout the state.
While presenting them with the braille books containing procedures of election, he noted that the books were designed for those who can not see so as to be educated on the electoral process ahead of the election.
Following the postponement of the general elections and the extension of voter card collection deadline by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the daily turn out of residents at the various Permanent Voter Card (PVC) collection centres is still low in Edo State.
INEC recently disclosed it is recording daily success in the distribution of PVCs in the state, having distributed over 1.1 million cards.
However, some residents who spoke to Channels Television at some of the PVC collection centres want INEC to urgently address the challenges they are facing in order to enable them get their cards and vote in the rescheduled elections.
So far, INEC has recorded a 76 per cent distribution of PVCs across the country. The umpire body has also guaranteed that there would be free, fair and credible elections, come May 28 and April 11.
INEC had extended the deadline of the collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) following the postponement of the 2015 general elections.
The commission in a statement signed by its Secretary, Mrs. Augusta Ogakwu, said following the rescheduling of the 2015 general elections, collection of the cards would continue for four more weeks until March 8th, 2015.
“The Commission hopes that this extension will finally avail every registered person yet to collect his/her PVC the opportunity to do so in readiness for the general elections,” Ogakwu said.
The electoral body had announced a shift in the general elections dates to March 28 and April 11.
The Independent National Electoral Commission in Nigeria has recorded 80 per cent distribution of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) in Yobe State, one of the volatile states in the north-eastern part of the oil rich nation.
The spokesman for the commission, in Yobe State, Bagudu Nma, said, “so far 80 per cent of registered voters have collected their voter cards, as centres have been open for collection across the 17 Local Government Areas of the state”.
On the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) as a result of the prevailing Boko Haram insurgency in the state, Mr Nma said two camps had been opened for the two affected Local Government Councils of Gujba and Gulani.
He said Gujba voters would cast their votes in Damaturu, the state capital while electorates in Gulani would exercise their franchise in neighbouring Fika.
In the state capital, registered voters queued in their numbers to collect their voter cards, with the complain that the commission was grossly under staff as they hardly distribute the cards effectively.
They called for employment of more staff if the deadline of February 8 must be met.
The staff responsible for the PVC distribution in Damaturu are grossly inadequate, as sourcing and issuing of cards to the rightful owners take too much time.
A staff ought to be charged with the responsibility of attending to a ward. But as it is at the venue, the limited number will hardly beat the deadline.
“We have spent over three hours here and we are yet to be attended to. They are too slow in the distribution because they are few. A staff supposed to attend to a ward but that is not the case,” one of the electorates waiting to get his card said.
Meanwhile, trainings for electoral supervisors and officers have commenced across the state.
A visit to the venue of the training revealed that participants are being tutored on electoral proceedings, as they relate to modern times.
Similarly, a one-day voter awareness campaign on voter education had also been organised in the state.
Mr Hassan Garba, who is a resource person at the training, said the turnouts had been generally impressive. He said that the participants would be equipped with the required knowledge of electoral innovations.
A participant at the training, Mr Salisu Garba, said the training would avail them the opportunity to know more about the new innovations concerning the card readers which would tackle the issue of multiple voting recorded in the past.
Criticisms, lamentations and anger have continued to trail the distribution of the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) which commenced in Kaduna on Monday.
Several residents, who faulted the entire process, complained of late arrival of materials and absence of adhoc officials in almost all the distribution centres.
Residents said they had a herculean task in tracing their names on the register displaced on the wall.
Many did not see their names even though the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Haliru Tambuwal, told journalists before the exercise commenced that about 3 million cards had been printed and were ready for collection.
While the exercise could not start smoothly on its first day due to non availability of INEC officials and materials, our correspondent who monitored the distribution reported that D 2 of the exercise also witnessed late availability of materials at most of the distribution centres in the state capital and other surrounding local government areas.
In most areas visited, like Jaba, Kachia, Kubau, Zaria, Sanga, Soba and Makarfi local government areas, residents who had collected their PVCs commended INEC for a job well done, while those who were yet to receive theirs in Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Igabi, and Chikun local government areas faulted the process.
There were also complaints of missing names on the register as well as non availability of the permanent voter’s cards of those whose names appeared on the voters register.
The residents who trooped out for the exercise were disappointed by the absence of INEC officials at the polling units and designated collation centres as at 12 O’clock in the afternoon.
At the Kabala polling unit, which is the unit of Nigeria’s Vice President, Namadi Sambo, there was no sign of any distribution of voters cards going on. Those who trooped out for the exercise waited in vain and later dispersed in anger.
It was the same situation at some polling units in Ungwar Television and Magajingari polling units in Chikun and Kaduna North local government areas.
Prospective voters expressed fears that they may not vote in the next year’s election if they failed to obtain their permanent voters cards.
However, INEC National Commissioner in charge of Kaduna, Niger and Federal Capital Territory, Chris Iyamoga attributed the delay in the distribution of materials in some places to some logistics problems which he said was being sorted out by the commission.
Since 2011, the agency had planned to replace the temporary cards with the new cards. Despite the money committed so far for the project, stakeholders have expressed disappointment that the commission has not lived up to expectation.
Their fear is that the commission may not be able to complete the exercise before the February 2015 elections.
And as the commission continues with the exercise, stakeholders in Kaduna State are urging its officials to avoid the mistakes and shortcomings that nearly marred the process in some states.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos, Adekunle Ogunmola, on Thursday said the agency was working towards having a 90 percent collection rate of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) in Lagos by Monday, November 17.
“We are very hopeful that by Monday we should have close to 90 percent collection”, Ogunmola said, while addressing issues surrounding the collection of the cards ahead of the 2015 general elections.
The PVC distribution was to take place in Adamawa, Borno, Edo, Imo, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Plateau and Rivers states, four days after which the agency would hold the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise between November 13 and 17.
However, the exercise did not go smoothly as there were several reported cases of cards being burnt and in other cases, they were not distributed.
According to Ogunmola, the hiccups experienced in Lagos were not peculiar to the 170 million strong commercial city, as the PVC distribution exercise had to be postponed in some other states but “because Lagos state was able to get the cards for 11 local governments, we were asked to complete the first set, so that the second set will join those other four states between the 28th and 30th of this month.”
He however expressed regret about the agency’s performance, which had been widely criticised, but also thanked God for the response level, adding that “people are coming out to collect the cards”.
He noted that another problem was on the misunderstanding concerning the schedule of the distribution as “people thought that we were going to distribute for three days and put a curtain on the distribution”.
He however explained that INECs plan was to take the cards as close to the people as possible, after which distribution will be done at the local government offices “where people can now come and collect the Permanent Voters Card till the end of January”, he said.
He announced that the agency had decided to carry out distribution at the various wards in the local governments in Lagos State.
The Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, and his deputy, Eze Madumere, have collected their Permanent Voters Cards at their different polling centres.
The State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, upon the collection of his Permanent Voters Card at Ogboko Ward 2 in Ideato South Local Government Area of the state, urged all Nigerians and Imo citizens particularly to ensure that they collect their own card which he said was a determinant to voting good governance and reliable leadership.
He said that even though there had been hiccups in some Local Government Areas across the state on the collection of the permanent voters card, INEC must keep to their promise of solving the problems encountered during this period before proper elections.
On his part, at Ezihinitte ward in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State where the Deputy Governor collected his PVC, he asked that INEC should extend the date so that many citizens who have not been able to collect theirs could do that.
He noted that this had become necessary since the commencement of the exercise had been shaky due to the logistic problem encountered.
He urged all Imo citizens to take advantage of the opportunities they have to collect their PVCs to enable them play their roles in ensuring the dividends of democracy.
The second phase of the distribution of permanent voter’s cards has ended in 12 states of the federation.
The exercise is to enable voters who have been duly registered to exchange a temporary voter card for a permanent one.
The process is designed to allow voters to exercise their civic rights in the coming elections as their names have been confirmed in INEC’s updated voters register, planned to be used for the 2015 general elections.
Isolated distribution of the cards have taken place in states where staggered elections have taken place in the past few months including the just concluded Osun election.
Voters in Lagos and in about ten other states are expected to take part in the third phase.
The first phase of the PVC distribution exercise took place in May in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and nine other states, but the second phase ended on Sunday, August 17, in Cross River State and 11 others.
Lagos Politician, Jimi Agbaje, has revealed that he joined the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, because of his belief in the party’s ability to provide better governance for the people.
The new People’s Democratic Party member admitted that his decision generated some “noise” from those who feel uncomfortable with it, and it was expected in politics for people to complain but added that what mattered more to him was having more people in support of the decision than those against it.
Mr Agbaje, during a conversation on Channels Television’s Politics Today, refused to categorically state if his movement into the PDP was an indication that he would be contesting for the governorship seat of Lagos State in the 2015 election but did not rule out the possibility.
He said, “I believe that the law does not allow you to campaign publicly until some time. I think we’ll keep that within the family.”
Speaking on the politics of the South-West region of Nigeria in recent months as displayed in the Osun and Ekiti state governorship election outcomes, Agbaje was of the belief that the citizens were beginning to have a strong say in who their leaders are.
He cited several elements and qualities that should make an ideal politician and stated that how well the politicians can blend these elements would determine what they would get from the people at the end of each election.
“You’ve got to get your politics right, you’ve got to get your policies right, you’ve got to get your propaganda right, and you’ve got to get your polity right.”
He expressed joy that the elections in both states, above all things, had large turn-out of voters and still did not result in violence, contrary to expectations especially in Osun State.
He noted that the security presence did not discourage the voters from coming out to vote and this meant that it would be hard to debunk the need for the security presence deployed in the states for the elections.
INEC and 2015
“I think INEC has given us hope from Osun and Ekiti” he also said, but added that these were “stand alone” elections.
He noted that the general election happening simultaneously across the country would pose a bigger challenge for the electoral commission and expressed hope that they would be able to handle the challenge when it comes.
The former Lagos governorship candidate warned that the quantity of security personnel deployed in each state for the “stand alone” elections would not be available during the general election and this would reduce the level of help INEC got which helped in the avoidance of violence.
He, however, added that this also meant that the pressure on the electoral commission would reduce, as all the party bigwigs who were moving into the election states to pull their weight would not be there as they would also be busy facing their own constituencies.
The distribution of the Permanent Voter’s Cards, according to Agbaje, has also been “so far so good” considering the level of complaints which he said has not been as bad as expected. While admitting that there were challenges that needed to be addressed, he believed the INEC had done well enough.
The South-West Battle
With the PDP and APC having won a state each in the recent elections, Mr Jimi Agbaje expressed confidence that the PDP would eventually win the battle for the South-West, reminding Nigerian politicians that how well they are able to make impact on the lives of the people would be the determining factor come 2015.
“I have every confidence that the PDP is going to win this game for the South-West”, he said, sticking to his earlier stance that the electorates were more aware.
“In the South-West, people are asking, how much has the Government done for me? What is the benefit of Government? If you cannot quantify in any quantum that Government has done well for you, it means that you are willing to look elsewhere.”
Agbaje also believes that the direction in which the South-West battle swings would affect the outcome of the presidential election in 2015. He added that the chances of President Goodluck Jonathan of being re-elected, if he contests, would also depend on the perception of the people about his leadership.
He noted that it would be important to let Nigerians know that many of the things they complain about are not problems of the Federal Government but that of the states.
“If you’re having problems with education it is not necessarily the fault of Abuja and if you’re having problems with your roads, it is not the problem of Abuja. The Federal Government’s role is very different, so the presidential role is different”, he said.
He cited the resuscitation of the railway system, industrial growth especially as regards foreign investment and job creation, power sector development as some of the achievements that the PDP would need to properly articulate to the Nigerian people.
He added that he would also be expecting President Jonathan to ask Nigerians, “Can you truly say that your power has not improved?”
Speaking about Lagos State in 2015, Jimi Agbaje said; “People are going to be asking themselves, how well has the Government provided an enabling environment for me to aspire to whatever it is (I want).
“The market women are gong to be asking; ‘are we comfortable with the way the ruling party has treated us?’ The students are going to have a say; ‘has this government been nice to us?’
“The private sector are going to be saying ‘how heavy-handed has this government been?’ If they feel comfortable, fine; and if they don’t feel comfortable, then they are not likely to go that way.”