Archive for February 18th, 2015

(Politics) Obasanjo Explains Reason He Tore His PDP Membership Card @Richard

hy I directed PDP Ward Leader to tear my membership card – Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo

The former president had Monday announced his resignation as a member of the party on whose platform he ruled the country between 1999 and 2007.

Mr. Obasanjo renounced his membership of the PDP when some leaders of the party led by Surajudeen Oladunjoye, the chairman of the ward around his former residence in Ita Eko, visited him at his Presidential Hilltop mansion in Abeokuta home.

The former president directed Mr. Oladunjoye to tear his membership card at a press conference organised during the visit.

About two hours later, the PDP leadership in Ogun State announced the expulsion of the former president from the party.

However, in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Obasanjo explained that the PDP members visited him to express their genuine concern about his refusal to be active in the party.

“They were concerned that I had only one leg in the party, and worried that since I’m their leader in the ward, they need to hear from me,” the former President said.

According to him, when the party members arrived his residence, they were singing a song in Yoruba language – “Nigeria yi ti gbobgo wa ni, Ko ma gbodo ba je. Eje ka sowopo kajo gbega (Meaning – Nigeria belongs to all of us, we must not allow it to be destroyed and we must join hands to make it great).

Mr. Obasanjo said when they settled down he sought to know why they came and that it was at that point that Mr. Oladunjoye told him that since he (Obasanjo) as their leader became angry with the PDP and remained inactive in the party, they had not only lost sense of direction but also worried about their political future.

He also said the party members informed him that the leadership in the state was planning to expel him and that they wondered what would happen to them if he was expelled because they would become rudderless.

“You are our leader and it is you we are following. You have remained a card-carrying member of the the party. But since you became angry with the party we have lost sense of direction and now we are hearing that they want to expel you. If they expel you, where do we go? What do we do?” Mr. Obasanjo quoted the ward chairman as saying.

The former president explained that it was at that point that he gave them his PDP membership card and told them that they could do whatever they want with it.

He said, “In my response, I said when you people came you were singing a song and I agreed that Nigeria is our own. If the issue is the party, I will not choose the party at the detriment of Nigeria and I will fight for Nigeria even at the detriment of the party. I will rather surrender my membership of the party so you people can move on politically,” Mr. Obasanjo explained to PREMIUM TIMES.

“If you people’s worry is that I’m a card-carrying member of the party and I’m not showing you people direction and you are worried that I’m neither here nor there, this is the card; you can keep it, you can burn it or you can tear it, do whatever you want to do with it.”

The former president said he then handed over his membership card to Mr. Oladunjoye, who immediately decided on his own to shred it.

Mr. Obasanjo said he had no regrets for his action despite the criticisms that have greeted it.

(Politics) I Can Not Guarrantee March 28 Election Date, Jega Tells Senate @Richard

INEC Chairman, Attahiru Jega

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Attahiru Jega, has said that he could not guarantee the 2015 general elections will hold on rescheduled dates in March and April.

At a meeting with Senators, Mr. Jega said he could not commit himself to the “sanctity” of March 28 and April 11 – dates for the rescheduled Nigeria’s general elections.

He said the electoral commission could not guarantee aspects of the poll that are beyond its control.

Mr. Jega met with the lawmakers to review the decision to postpone the polls.

Under the Nigerian law, a further six-week extension of the elections is possible, a prospect opposed by many Nigerians, the main opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, and the international community.

INEC had said the postponement were necessary for security reasons, as military chiefs had warned against going on with the poll to allow it focus on fighting the terror group, Boko Haram.

But the APC said the delay was instigated by President Goodluck Jonathan, to save him and the ruling party from losing the electionsi.

Since announcing the new dates about two weeks ago, the commission has declined to clearly confirm that there will be no further delay beyond March 28 and April 11, for presidential, National Assembly, governorship and state assembly polls.

Responding to a question the Senate Minority Leader, Goerge Akume on the sanctity of the new dates, Mr. Jega said it was difficult for him to respond, saying he could only give assurances over aspects within the control of INEC.

“That’s a very difficult question to answer. I have said not everything that has to do with the conduct of successful election is within the control of INEC,” Mr. Jega said.

Use of card readers

Mr. Jega also said the commission will go forward with its plan to deploy card readers for the elections.

There have been some concerns, mainly from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, about the plan as Nigerian law prohibits electronic voting.

While PDP Senators opposed the plan, their APC counterparts welcomed it.

Heineken Lokpobri, a PDP Senator from Bayelsa State and Odion Ugbesa, from Edo State, argued against the use of card readers for the elections, saying it would be illegal.

In his response, Mr. Jega said card readers would only be used for accreditation not actual voting.

He said there was no law forbidding the use of electronic devices for accreditation.

“Card reader is used for accreditation not voting. Voting is defined as dropping of ballot paper into ballot box. Accreditation is essential for integrity of the election,” he said.

“Nothing in the constitution says we should not use electronic device in the process of accreditation. Anybody that is not satisfied can go to court. We have solid ground on that,” he said.

He added that the card readers would curb electoral malpractices, as cloned cards would be detected.

Mr. Jega said INEC will perform a mock test on the card readers.

He said some tests had already been taken in the United States, and will now be tested in the six geopolitical zones.

“The card reader has passed in all the 13 test categories conducted in terms of its durability and versatility,” he said.

Mr. Jega said the postponement of the general elections will enable INEC to have a flawless, near-perfect elections.

INEC National Commissioners are to visit state offices to conduct evaluation and comprehensively determine the level of preparation in the election.

He said after the visit, the commission will meet with the heads of departments and directorates of units to conduct a comprehensive assessment, to figure out additional things to be done before March 28.

Mr Jega said a meeting with the inter-agency committee on security will hold a meeting to discuss security on the Election Day.

(Security) Bad Day For Boko Haram As the Nigerian Military Kills 300, Capture Heavy Weapons @Richard

Statement released by the Nigerian military has indicated that about 300 Boko Haram members were killed in two days of Nigerian military operation to clear 11 communities in the North East. The Defence HQ also shared photos of the militants and weapons they captured.

Press statement below…

Moping up operation of some of the communities where terrorists have been cleared in the course of ongoing air and land operations against terrorists has indicated massive casualty inflicted on them within the last two days of the counter terrorists operations. Over 300 terrorists were killed while a few were also captured. Several heavy weapons and equipments were also captured and destroyed.

It has been confirmed that 5 different types of armoured fighting vehicles, an anti-aircraft gun, about 50 cases of packed bombs and 8 different types of Machine Guns, 5 Rocket Propelled Grenade, 49 boxes of various types and calibres of ammunition as well as 300 motorcycles were destroyed in the fighting. A total of 6 Hilux vehicles including those mounted with anti-aircraft guns were also destroyed.

However, 2 soldiers lost their lives while 10 others were wounded in the course of the operation. The cordon and search operations is continuing along with aggressive patrols by troops who are now dominating the cleared communities such as Monguno, Gabchari, Abba Jabari, Zuntur, Gajigana, Gajiram, Damakar, Kumaliwa, Bosso Wanti, Jeram and Kabrisungul.

The various phases of the highly coordinated air and land operations is also ongoing in the designated theaters being handled by contingents involved in the renewed counter terrorism campaign in and outside Nigeria.

CHRIS OLUKOLADE Major General Director Defence Information

(Politics) Tinubu Orders Amaechi And Co Back To Work @Richard

National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bola Tinubu has called on members of his party to embark on aggressive campaign at the grassroots for the party to win in the general elections.

Tinubu, at an APC stakeholders meeting held at the party secretariat in Lagos said that ward meetings should now be regular following the postponement of the elections.

“We have to restrategise; all of you should go back to your various constituencies starting from tomorrow,” he said.

Tinubu urged Lagos residents to step up collect of their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and to also secure them saying that would determine their future.

He urged the party members to encourage others in their locality who had yet to obtain their PVCs to do so.

The party leader charged the party supporters not to express fears, assuring them that the party was going to do well in the elections.

“Go ahead and campaign for APC because this party has indeed worked for the people,” Tinubu said. (NAN)

(Security) DSS Set To Investigate Okirika Shooting Incident At APC Rally

Following an attack on the All Progressive Congress (APC) rally in Rivers State, the Department of State Service (DSS), Tuesday, said it had taken over the matter for a thorough investigation.

SSS spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar

The service also noted that it would not wait for people with questionable characters to disrupt the forthcoming general elections; hence, it would take them in before the polls.

This was coming, when the Federal government disclosed that the Nigerian Troops had arrested some insurgents, who were taking shelter at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the north east of the country.

The Spokesperson of the DSS, Marilyn Ogar, who stated this while briefing newsmen on the security situation in the country, in Abuja, confirmed that there had been a profiling of people with bad records, to take a preventive measure.

The governorship campaign rally of the APC, in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State was disrupted on Tuesday as several explosions rocked the Okrika National Field, venue of the event.

Fielding questions from journalists on the issue, Ogar said; “We are investigating it, that is why we are saying, if you have observed that there is a new face, unexplained movement of person or people you don’t know, sudden business concern cropping up around you, you need to alert security agencies, so, we are definitely investigating it.

“And of course far beyond that, there is profiling of those who their presence in certain areas cannot be easily and immediately explained. So, may be on the election day, one group will get up and someone supportive has been whisked away, we have profiled people with questionable character and just before election they are taken in.”

The Coordinator of the National Information Centre (NIC), Mr Mike Omeri also disclosed that some terrorists had been arrested at the IDP camps in the north east.

Omeri, who decline to speak more on the matter, citing security as excuse, said the military bombardment on Boko Haram hideouts had forced some insurgents to take shelter at the IDP camps.

According to him, “At the appropriate time, we will parades this people to journalists, but please bear with us. Let me make this explanation from the intelligent sources on those they arrested, they gathered that once they know that somebody is taken, it aggravates problem.

“So, it is better we keep quiet and safe until we see the end to this problem. Once it is done, then, the total number will be made known to you, and their faces will also be made available to media appropriately.

“Normally the Department of State Service has always made this available to Journalists, this will not be different.”

Omeri maintained that the Federal Government had made laudable improvement on the fight against terrorism, calling on the general public to be vigilant, as some insurgents were leaving their hideouts to mix with the populace.

“There has been increased regional cooperation between the countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission resulting in the recapture of territories by the Nigerian military and the multi-national forces which are, simultaneously, shielding off new attacks. The fight against Boko Haram is, therefore, gaining the regional solidarity it deserves.

“Particularly, Nigerian troops have recaptured the towns of Monguno and Marte, among others, while military operations are continuing at other locations in the area.

“However, because of the heavy bombardment of various Boko Haram hideouts, there has been massive dispersal of these elements to various locations including the numerous IDP camps from where many of them have been smoked out and arrested.

“Therefore, people living in relatively peaceful places within and near the north east region and, in fact, all Nigerians are urged to be vigilant and report strange faces and movements promptly to the security authorities,” he said.

(Sports) Wenger Pledges Support For Nigerian Football @Richard

(Sports) Wenger Pledges Support For Nigerian Football @Richard

The present board of the Nigerian Football Federation,NFF, are currently putting everything in place to reposition the game of football in the country. The President Amaju Pinnick met with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger yesterday seeking closer ties. Arsenal has agreed to work closely with NFF for better club players and country relationship. Amaju also met FIFA president Sepp Blatter in Switzerland yesterday. 

It could be recalled that the Nigerian senior national football team coached Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, the super eagles, failed to qualify for recently concluded afcon hosted by Equtoria Guinea.

 

(Politics) Jega Insist On Card Reader For Accreditation Of Voters

Prof. Attahiru Jega, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has insisted that only card readers would be used for accreditation of voters for the general elections.

Jega made this known while briefing the Senate on Wednesday in Abuja on INEC’s preparation for the elections.
He said that the use of the cards was constitutional, insisting that the commission would not revert to manual accreditation of voters during the elections.

Senate Questions Jega: INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega addressing pressmen shortly after interactive session with Senators at  Senate Chamber  at National Assembly Abuja.  Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan.

He assured that if any card reader developed problem, it would be replaced.

Jega told the senators that the commission would not use Temporary Voter Cards (TVCs) for election under any condition as being canvassed in some quarters.

He stated that the use of the card reader would not contravene any section of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended.
According to him, the use of PVCs and the card reader for the conduct of the elections, we believe, is in accord with the provisions of the Electoral

Act, 2010 as amended.

“They were introduced also, pursuant to the powers granted to the commission by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
‘’INEC is empowered by Section 16(4) of the Electoral Act, 2010 to and I quote: ‘wherever it considers it necessary, replace any voter card for the time being’.

“An election is said to be validly conducted if it meets certain basic requirements, including accreditation of voters.

“The use of the card reader for the purpose of accreditation of voters is one of the innovations introduced by the commission to improve the credibility of the electoral process.

“It is not offensive to the Electoral Act or to the Constitution. It adds value to the desires of Nigerians to have a credible election in line with international best practice,” he said.

The INEC chairman clarified that the use of the card reader would not amount to electronic voting, explaining that though Section 52 of the Electoral Act prohibits the use of electronic voting, the card reader was not a voting machine.

According to him, the card reader is only an electronic machine introduced to improve the integrity of the voting process.
He stressed that INEC didn’t see the need for an amendment of the Electoral Act to accommodate the use of card readers.

Jega said that for the purposes of ensuring that the electoral process was credible, the card reader would be used in the verification of voters.
“In the likely event that a card reader fails, we have enough spares to deploy before the end of the accreditation at 1 p.m.

“If we cannot replace before the end of accreditation, then the election in that particular point will be postponed to the following day when a new card reader will be provided.

“If you say, if a card reader fails we go back to manual voting, we are worried that everywhere we will revert to manual accreditation because there are many people who don’t want card readers to be used.

“The likelihood of card reader failing is slim; we had solid legal advice and we do not believe it violates legal provisions.
“It is not electronic voting, it is verification. There is a difference between voting and the voting process.

“Anybody can go to court on anything but we believe we have not done anything wrong,” he stated.

Jega disclosed that the commission hoped to utilize the six-week election date extension period to carry out voter education and public enlightenment.

He also pointed out that so far, the commission had tested the card readers for durability and functionality and was satisfied with the results.
While enumerating the advantages of the card reader, he said that it would increase the credibility of the election process.

“Once the card reader is configured, it can only read PVCs issued by INEC at the polling unit that it has been configured for.
“It reads the embedded chip card not the barcode; it enables authentication of the identity of the voter by matching his or her finger print with that code on the chip of the card.

“It keeps a tally of all cards read and all cards verified or authenticated with all their details, including the time when this was done,’’ he said.
“This information can be sent to a central server using an SMS; the stored information on the server will enable INEC to audit results from polling units.

“It will as well as do arrangement of statistical analysis of the demographics of voting, something INEC has never been able to do effectively.
“The ward collation officer can use this information to audit polling unit result sheets and to determine whether accreditation figures have been altered, a common feature of electoral fraud in our jurisdiction,” Jega added.

He disclosed that the PVCs were made to last for more than 10 years, and as such, could be used for the 2019 elections. (NAN)

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