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Appeal Court Adjourns Hearing on Election Sequence

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By Abdullahi Mohammed

 

As a custodian of the law, the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division has adjourned hearing in a suit challenging the ruling of a Federal High Court which set aside the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act.

A three-man panel of the court led by Justice Abubakar Yahaya told the parties in the case on Thursday that a full court would be constituted to hear the suit, as their panel cannot hear the appeal.

The counsel to the National Assembly, Mr Joseph Daudu, said the issue before the court was very urgent.

He told the court that suit torched on matters of the coming general elections and as such, time was important.

Daudu stressed that urgency was much more intense, as not having a pronouncement could make anyone want to challenge the bill.

In his submission, counsel to the Accord Party Wole Olanipekun told the court that there was nothing urgent about the appeal to warrant parties to return to the court when the Appeal Court was headed for its annual vacation.

He, therefore, urged the court to adjourn the case till the next legal year.

In a short ruling, Justice Yahaha adjourned the case till a date to be communicated to the parties, for a full panel to be constituted.

The Federal High Court had ruled in favour of the Accord Party which urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to sign into law the amended Electoral Act Bill 2018.

The court held that the National Assembly lacked the powers to decide on the sequence of the election on behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Since Nigeria returned to democracy, presidential and National Assembly elections have been conducted on the same day before other polls, while the governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections follow.

Lawmakers at the National Assembly had in February amended the election sequence such that the National Assembly polls would be conducted first, followed by the state lawmakers and the governors while the presidential election should take place last.

This led to a heated debate in the Senate after which President Buhari wrote the lawmakers in March, informing them that he had withheld assent to the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act.

The President had stated that the amendment to election sequence in section 25 of the Principal Act might infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of INEC to organise, undertake and supervise all elections provided in section 16(a) of the constitution.

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Kano supplementary elections: CISLAC berates deliberate sabotage, unchecked intimidations, inefficiency of police

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The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) condemned in totality the open display of lawlessness and rascality involving indiscriminately massive deployment of hoodlums in the conduct of supplementary gubernatorial elections with resultant sabotage of electoral process and loss of lives in Kano state.

In a statement signed by the Executive Director, CISLAC Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) on Sunday said that while an election constitutes a formal citizenry decision-making process by which a population chooses a credible individual to hold public office, we find it disturbing that citizens’ choices and decisions were largely influenced and determined by high incidences of vote-buying facilitated by hoodlums and party agents, vote rigging and intimidations from various political parties in several Local Government Areas, including Gaya, Dala, Nasarawa and Karaye.

Rafsanjani said that we are not unaware of the arrogant and unchecked display of badges by the party agents and supervisors in many polling centres as an indication of their preferred political party—APC or PDP and outright prevention of photographic evidence which raise suspicious motives for rigging as extensively reported and narrated by independent observers.

The Executive Director said that ,they find it worrisome that without an iota of respect to the rule of law and democratic values, a larger population of hoodlums was unlawfully deployed to disrupt electoral process and deprive voters the right to exercise their electoral freedom through free, fair and credible process.

According to Rafsanjani, we are concerned that the deployment of violence and cruelty in electoral process as demonstrated in several polling centres without appropriate justice would without doubt widen the existing distrust by citizens in electoral body and security agents and amplify unwanted electoral apathy.

“We find the unprincipled decisions of relevant political parties to result in deployment of illegalities and destructive mechanisms in influencing voters’ decisions, instead of constructive proposal and realistic ideology, as despotic, undemocratic and unacceptable in our democratic system.

“We are seriously perturbed by the unwary decisions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agents to continue with the election despite reported outcries and anticipated threat to peaceful electoral process as evident in some polling centres, constituting a total breach of Section 26 (1) of the Electoral Act which calls for immediate postponement of elections in such circumstance” he said.

Rafsanjani stated : We are surprised that even with the deployment of highly placed police personnel, the situation could not be managed and down-playing by the police of the obvious problems that arose is a source concern. The inability of the police to manage the situation leading to widespread violence and unchecked intimidation of voters is highly disappointing.

He was also surprised at a clear case of double standard reportedly maintained by both Kano REC and the State Returning Officer who had agreed and called for cancellation of the earlier result from Gama as thugs disrupted the collation process; and their present reluctant to cancel the latest results given despite widespread violence across all the 62 polling units.

Rafsanjani bemoaned a dishonest move by four presiding officers from Nasarawa Local Government Area of the state, who made away with the result of election to an undisclosed location. This hampers credibility and further justifies our call for discountenance of the supplementary elections

And therefore called on INEC to discountenance the supplementary elections and return to status quo prior to the 23rd March 2019. Anything of short will be setting a very dangerous precedent where the use of force to capture electoral gain will become the rule rather than the exception.

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NGOs advocate stronger protections against overuse, misuse of nation’s water supplies

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Two Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), WaterAid Nigeria and the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) have called for stronger protections against overuse and misuse of water supply in the country.

Dr ChiChi Aniagolu-Okoye, Country Director, WaterAid Nigeria and Dr Dara Akala, Executive Director, PIND, made the call in a statement to commemorate this year’s World Water Day on March 22.

The statement issued on Friday was signed by Mrs Oluseyi Abdulmalik, the Communications and Media Manager, WaterAid Nigeria.

“As the world commemorates this year’s World Water Day under the umbrella theme set by UN-Water: “Leaving No-one Behind’’, WaterAid Nigeria and the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) are calling for stronger protections against overuse and misuse of water supply.

“We are also calling for acceleration in the provision of sustainable WASH services for all, so as to reach everyone and ensure no one is left behind.

“Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in and should be normal for everyone, everywhere. Regrettably, the progress made since 2000 in delivering clean water to 1.5 billion people globally is now under threat,” the WaterAid Nigeria chief said.

He said that clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene are three things that should be a normal part of everyone’s daily lives but sadly, are not.

“WaterAid is determined to ensure everyone; everywhere has access to these essential human rights by 2030. Watch our SDG animation to find out why Goal 6 is key to ending extreme poverty and creating real change.

“This year’s World Water Day theme: “Leaving No-one Behind’’ could not have been more apt in recognising the reality that marginalised groups such as women, children, refugees, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities and the elderly are often overlooked.

“Sometimes, these marginalised groups face discrimination in their quest to access and manage the clean water they need to live daily.

“Even more sad is that most of the people affected live in hard-to-reach communities – riverine, uphill and interior areas that account for a significant percentage of the country’s total population,’’ Aniagolu-Okoye said.

He noted that poor access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene simply meant lost education, lost opportunities and hundreds of lost lives each year.

“We cannot let this happen as a country. We must act now and ensure that we protect our precious water supplies for the future, and that we reach everyone with these basic needs, leaving no one behind.

“We are more determined than ever to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone everywhere by 2030.”

On his part, the PIND executive director explained that the severity of water, sanitation and hygiene needs in Nigeria’s Niger Delta cuts across communities and institutions in urban, peri-urban and rural settings.

Akala said that these communities and institutions had largely dysfunctional and non-existent WASH facilities, and polluted water sources.

“This contributes very highly to WASH-related disease burden with consequent health, economic and education impacts.

“Unequal access to water fuelled by a growing demand on water resources and the impact of climate and population changes traps people in poverty and limits potential,” Akala said.

Our correspondent reports that the collaboration between PIND and WaterAid Nigeria in bringing together key stakeholders further re-enforces the need for actors in WASH and related sectors to work together to improve access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene services in Nigeria.

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Bauchi Governor’s wife encourage women of reproductive age to access FP services

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The Wife Bauchi state Governor Hajiya Hadiza Abubakar has encourage women of Productive age to access Family Planning (FP) Services in their Health Facilities.

It’s reported that Five additional health facilities have undergone a 72 hour makeover renovation in Katagum Local Government area of Bauchi State
which was carried out by Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency (BSPHCDA) with support from The Challenge Initiative (TCI).

The Health Facilities renovated include the FP units of General Hospital Azare, Town Maternity, Makara Huta, Tàtari Ali and Bulkachuwa PHCs.

Mrs Abubakar made the called at the commissioning of 5 renovated health facilities in Azare on Wednesday, she called on women of reproductive age to access services provided by these FP clinics.

She said Family planning is arguably one of the most important public health advancements in the last century, and it is defined as a woman’s ability to decide if and when to have children.

Represented by the State Commissioner of Health, Dr Zuwaira Hassan, said the state government’s health agenda which include promoting Primary Health Care, maternal, child and reproductive health has trained health workers on long active reversible contraceptives.

Mrs Abubakar said the makeover is a good innovation towards promoting the uptake of family planning services.

Earlier, the Executive Chairman, State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Mr Adamu Gamawa said the makeover has provided quality and privacy to clients who come to seek FP services.

He said the facilities had their FP units renovated and provided with equipment and consumables, so also the maternity unit was equipped.

On her part the State project Coordinator TCI Mrs Rabi Ekele said the 72 hour makeover is not limited to the FP unit only, but covers the maternity section to provide qualitative services to women and encourage them to come back for child birth spacing after delivery.

Ekele added that TCI also provides technical support to the state to create demand for FP services by community members.

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