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Shifting Edo, Ondo elections, recipe for constitutional crisis – INEC

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Independent National Electoral Commission

Amidst calls for a shift in the dates for elections for the Edo and Ondo States’ governorship elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday insisted that to shift the two elections would be an open invitation to a constitutional crisis.

Rather, the commission said it would ensure strict observation of the COVID-19 guidelines and protocols as there would be no voting without face masks.

The commission said it would be using August 8, 2020, Nasarawa State House of Assembly election to perfect the conditions for the two governorship elections in Edo State and Ondo State scheduled for September 19 and October, respectively.

INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of Voter Education and Information, Mr Festus Okoye, said in an interview with newsmen yesterday that any attempt to move the two governorship elections outside the stipulated dates would amount to inviting a constitutional crisis.

Okoye, who described the two states’ elections as “the Rock of Gibraltar,” said it would be legally difficult to shift the polls.
He said the two elections were guaranteed by sections 178 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), stating, that “the two elections must be conducted between 150 and 30 days to the end of the tenure of the sitting governors.

“The provisions of these two elections are cast in stones and are, therefore, unmovable. These elections will just have to go on as planned.”

According to him, constitutionally, there are only two instances that elections can be shifted, but both instances do not apply in the Edo and Ondo States.

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For instance, he said elections can be moved forward if, in line with Section 180 of the 1999 Constitution, Nigeria is invaded or in a state of war.

He added that an election can be shifted as stated in Section 305 of the same constitution, where there is a state of emergency, stating that in both cases, they are out of control of the commission.

He explained that as stated in Section 178(2) of the constitution “these days are unmovable and like the Rock of Gibraltar.”
Okoye said INEC was strictly following the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 guidelines and protocols, adding that in line with security guidelines for elections during the pandemic there shall be a strict observation of ‘no face mask no voting procedures.’

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He said the commission had mapped out plans to test-run its preparedness for the two governorship elections with the Nasarawa State House of Assembly election on August 8.

“This is going to be a stimulus election to the Edo and Ondo States’ governorship elections.

“Everything about the election, from media accreditation, security, voters and all that concern the election would be a trial, test-run for what we will do in the two governorship elections,” he stated.

He said the commission would deploy members of the National Youth Service (NYSC) as ad hoc staff for the two elections, while the assistant presiding officers 1, 2 and 3 would also come from students of tertiary institutions.

“Basically, the NYSC would provide the bulk of the ad hoc staff,” he said, adding that there is already a data basis of the NYSC in both states.

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On the voting processes and procedures during the elections, Okoye said there would be level of queues, consisting of the inner queue and the outer queue and that the voters must wear their face masks.

He reiterated that at the collation centres that usually witness a huge crowd, that there would be only an agent of political parties and expressed optimism that there would be full compliance.

For the Edo State governorship election, there will be 15 political parties on the ballot papers although only 14 political parties fielded candidates in line with the guidelines.

On Ondo State, Okoye said 17 political parties would participate in the governorship election.

Okoye said, all things being equal, the Anambra State governorship election in 2021 might be conducted electronically.

According to him, almost all processes of the Edo and Ondo States governorship elections were conducted electronically, starting from nominations of candidates, media accreditation and meetings with security and civil society groups.

He advised political parties to conduct issue-based campaigns, stressing that “election is not war.”

Politics

Delta Govt. to partner private sector in fight against COVID-19 pandemic — Okowa

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Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta says his administration will strengthen partnership with the private sector and individuals in the fight against the debilitating effects of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the state.

The governor stated this at the launch of the National Food Distribution Programme of the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CA-COVID) on Wednesday in Asaba.

He lauded CA-COVID for deeming it necessary to pull resources together to make the donation which was aimed at ameliorating the plight of the downtrodden in the society.

He noted the importance of the programme at a critical time that hunger tended to abound in society.

Okowa said the donation was apt and timely as the coronavirus pandemic had negatively affected small and medium scale businesses.

He said that the kind gesture from the private sector would go a long way in addressing the problem of hunger among the economically weak in the state.

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“We use this opportunity to thank our sons and daughters in the private sector who have thought it necessary to keep their hands in their pockets to provide food items for the less-privileged in the society.

“There is no doubt that with the sudden coming of COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of businesses have been negatively affected, particularly the small and medium scale businesses.

“A lot of families are struggling to put food on their tables.

“My administration will continue to take steps that would alleviate the plights of residents of the state,” Okowa said.

The governor urged the committee set up to distribute the food items at the local government levels to ensure that the items got to the downtrodden spread across the state.

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He, however, warned that the distribution of the food items should not be based on party lines but to genuine residents of the state that were really less privileged.

He charged the committee to focus on the 270 wards in the state while distributing the food items to the less privileged.

The governor reminded the people that COVID-19 was not a death sentence adding that those with the virus-related symptoms should quickly go for testing to ascertain their status before treatment.

He disclosed that more isolation and treatment centres were established in all parts of the state.

Earlier, Mr Lucky Ighade, representative of CA-COVID in the state, said that the donation was part of measures to assist states and the Federal Government in handling the challenges of hunger and starvation among poor families.

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Ighade said that CA-COVID had donated medical facilities and food items to the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

He also urged Nigerians to stick to all the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), prescribed protocols so as to flatten the curve of the infection.

He commended Okowa for the steps his administration had taken to curtail the spread of the virus in the state,

The governor and the CA-COVID team later inspected the food warehouse which was ready for distribution of items to benefiting households in the state.

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Woman dies after tricycle rammed into stationary truck in Abia

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justice UI student

A yet-to-be-identified woman has reportedly died after a commercial tricycle she boarded in Aba, the commercial nerve of Abia State rammed into a stationary truck along the busy Aba-Owerri Road.

Reports have it that the woman who was sitting in front of the commercial tricycle died on the spot even before help could come her way.

Some respondents who claimed to have witnessed the incident attributed the cause of the accident to over speeding and recklessness of the tricycle operator who was trying to meander through the gridlock caused by the truck.

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Other occupants of the tricycle including the driver were alive and without any injury sustained.

It was learnt that it took the efforts of a police team from Abayi Police Division to save the driver from the wrath of the mob as the environment became charged.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, SP Geoffrey Ogbonna could not be reached for comments, but a senior police source in the Aba Area Command that pleaded for anonymity confirmed the incident.

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The Police source who stated that efforts were ongoing to reach the family of the deceased, disclosed that the body of the woman has been deposited in a morgue in Aba.

“The man is police custody as investigation into the matter is ongoing as we speak.

“The keke operator was carrying three persons at the back and one in the front against the orders of the state government.

“The woman was the one sitting in front of the keke. It was the side she was sitting that hit the stationary truck.

“It was a case of over speeding and reckless driving on the part of the keke driver. An investigation into the matter is ongoing. What I can tell you is that the woman died on the spot. The truck, keke and the driver are in police custody, while the body of the woman has been deposited at the mortuary,” said the police source.

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New INEC Admin Sec. assumes duty in Ilorin

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A new Administrative Secretary for Kwara office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr. Waheed Onijo, assumed duty on Wednesday in Ilorin.

A release signed by the news HOD, Voter Education and Publicity, Malam Musa Adamu, said the Acting Admin Secretary, Mr. Friday Patrick, has formally handed over to the new administrative secretary.

Speaking at the short handover ceremony, the new Admin Sec promised to make the welfare of staff members as his main priority and improve on the good work of his predecessor.

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Onijo has over the years served the commission meritoriously in various capacities.

His most recent appointments were as HOD, Electoral Operations and Logistics (EOPs), in Ondo State in 2017, and Acting Administrative Secretary in Ondo State from 2017 until December 2019.

He also served as HOD EOPs in Osun State before his appointment as INEC Kwara Administrative Secretary.
The new admin secretary is known for honesty, hard work, and dedication to duty.

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Onijo holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc), a degree in Political Science.

Also, the release stated that the head of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Jacob Ayanda, was transferred to Kogi as HOD, General Administration and Procurement (GAP).

Ayanda has also formally handed over to the new Head of VEP, Malam Musa Adamu, who was transferred from Kebbi State.

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