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Daniel Kanu

The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) and a host of civil society organisations have called on the Federal Government to carry out a comprehensive polling units audit in Ekiti and Osun States to ascertain their level of preparedness for upcoming elections.

At the recent Leadership of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room review meeting of the FCT Area Council Elections and a strategy discourse for the forthcoming off-cycles elections in Ekiti and Osun States held in Abuja, they described the recently held FCT Area Councils elections as a test of the new Electoral Act and new dawn even as they insisted that serious work is what will sustain the current tempo.

Convener of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Eni Obi said that lessons garnered from the FCT elections was worth reviewing to improve the elections in Ekiti and Osun States, cautioning however that the balanced electoral space that the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC was creating should rely only on facts and not fiction or insinuations.

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In her welcome speech, Agianpe Onyema of Policy and Legal Advocacy Center who also doubles as the secretariat for the situation room said no time could be more perfect than now to have a round table and honest discussion on the recently held elections and the forthcoming elections in the light of looming realities and the likely opportunities of our legislations.

She posited that before the enemies of democracy take over the electoral space, members of the situation room should have their firm and unanimous position.

Speaking on the report of the FCT elections, Eni Obi said only 14 of the 18 registered political parties fielded candidates for the elections, while seventy-four vacant positions, comprising six Chairmanship, six vice Chairmanship, sixty-two Counsellorship positions were contested by four hundred and seventy-five candidates.

She added that across the six Area Councils of Abaji, Abuja Municipal (AMAC), Bwari, Gwagwalada, Kuje, and Kwali, one million, three hundred and seventy-three thousand, four hundred and nighty two voters are registered. While decrying poor turnout and urban reluctance in the electoral space, Eni said both state and non-state actors will have to wake up and spur the interests of Nigerians to participate more in the electoral process by deepening social trust and other parameters of good governance.

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The co-convener of the Situation Room Ugochukwu James Okpe stated that there was widespread malfunctioning of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), a situation that caused the delay in voters’ accreditation in some polling units. He affirmed vote-buying and absolute disregard for priority voting and the use of assistive materials for persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups as captured and provided for in the Electoral Act.

Ogunlade Olamide Martins who represented CAPPA at the engagement noted that ‘‘the new Electoral Act provides a vista of opportunity to re-write the electoral narrative and deliver good governance to Nigeria.

According to him, Ekiti and Osun off-cycle elections is a litmus test to measure the efficacy of our laws and the preparedness of the users and beneficiaries. He mentioned the potential gains of improved public sector governance to Nigerians and called for a proactive response from our election management body INEC.

Earlier, Ogunlade called on INEC to immediately carry out an audit of polling units in the two states to ascertain the level of preparedness or otherwise.

He said such an audit will aid proper planning and lighten election day logistics. Also, he said it was important for INEC to invest more heavily in mass sensitization and make clear its procedures for allotting voters to the newly created polling units in the two states.

He acknowledged the supposed significance of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) but called for simplification in its use and sustained capacity building for its handlers ahead of the elections in the two states.

The roles of the media in shaping narratives must be leveraged according to him, even as he expressed CAPPA’s readiness to train and engage selected journalists on the Electoral Act for balanced election covering and reportage.

The highpoint of the engagement was the drafting of a Strategic Action Plans for Ekiti and Osun States by participating organisations. The draft and other critical plans are to be shared with other stakeholders in the electoral space to ensure harmonized interventions and deepened engagements. Participants were urged to remain apolitical, steadfast, and committed to electoral reforms.

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Nigeria Newspapers

JTF kills 6 IPOB suspects in Imo

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From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri

A Joint Task Force (JTF) of the Nigeria military and police yesterday averted danger at the palace of the Chairman, Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Emmanuel Okeke, when it killed six suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who attempted to attack the premises.

Spokesperson of the State police, Michael Abattam, in a statement, yesterday, said the hoodlums, who were sighted in three Hilux vans, shot sporadically while advancing at the palace of the traditional ruler, in Orlu, at about 8am.

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But before the suspects could cause any havoc, according to Abattam, the police tactical team and the military, who got a hint of their operation, engaged them in a gun duel and, in the process, six of them were killed, while others escaped with serious bullet wounds. One of the vehicles of the team was bombed by the hoodlums who threw a petrol chemical bomb at it, Abattam said.

He said: “On their way, the hoodlums, on sighting the combined team, engaged them in a gun duel, throwing petrol bombs. The gallant team responded, positioning themselves professionally. In the exchange of gun fire that ensued, the hoodlums were overwhelmed due to the superior fire-power of the combined team and, in the process, six of the hoodlums were neutralised, while others escaped with various degrees of gunshot injuries. 

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“The combined team did not relent in their effort, they chased the hoodlums, recovering one pump action gun, three blood stained cutlasses and three Hilux vehicles suspected to have been snatched from innocent citizens,” Abattam said.

He added that efforts were on top gear to arrest other fleeing hoodlums, while security in Orlu and other areas have been beefed up to forestall any further attack.

However, normalcy has been restored in the area while the corpses of the neutralised bandits have been deposited in the mortuary, the police spokesperson said.

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Arsonists burn Anambra EEDC office, 32 vehicles

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From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi

The Ogidi District of Enugu Electricity Distribution Company PLC (EEDC) was, yesterday, set ablaze by unidentified arsonists, leaving about 32 utility and operational vehicles all burnt, including other assets and equipment within the premises.

The Head, Corporate Communications, EEDC, Mr Emeka Ezeh, made the disclosure in a release made available to Daily Sun.

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Ezeh lamented that efforts made to reach the Anambra State Fire Service at the time of the incident to rescue the situation did not yield any positive result.

He said members of staff who were on ground to assist in salvaging the situation were helpless, as they watched the office building and other assets go down in flames.

Mr Eze said it later took the intervention of the Hon Commissioner for Utilities, Anambra State, Engr Julius Chukwuemeka, at about 9.05am, yesterday morning, to bring the Fire Service team down to the scene of the incident. 

“The management of EEDC expressed shock over this ugly incident which is happening at a time the company has invested so much to improve on its operations and transform the socio-economic landscape of the area.

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“This is a big loss to EEDC and a great setback to the efforts being made by the company to strengthen its network and improve the quality of services to its customers within Ogidi and Anambra State at large. We have already brought this development to the attention of the relevant authorities and it is expected that proper investigation will be carried out and the perpetrators of this dastardly act brought to book.

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“There is no way a developing economy as ours can progress if we continue to record this kind of incident,” Eze said.

It was gathered that the arsonists gained access into the office complex by pulling down part of the wall as they attacked one of the security personnel manning the office and inflicted several machete wounds on his head, leg and arm, and demanded his gun, while his other colleagues ran for their lives. The victim is currently receiving treatment at a hospital.

(Continued on www.sunnewsonline.com)

The company’s spokesman thanked God that no life was lost as he condemned the act which he noted could not be justified by the perpetrators, and prayed that it did not reoccur.

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