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Anambra Election: Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room Gives Interim Statement

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Anambra Election: Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room Gives Interim Statement
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NIGERIA CIVIL SOCIETY SITUATION ROOM GIVES INTERIM STATEMENT ON ANAMBRA STATE GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION 2021

By Mmaduabuchi Onwumelu

The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) observed the Anambra State Governorship election and will continue to closely follow the process as it unfolds until its conclusion by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Situation Room deployed observers across 21 Local Government Areas of the State.

At this time, we wish to make the following observations:

General: The election was generally peaceful. This was against the background of potential violence rhetoric leading up to the election, even though there were pockets of disturbances.

Logistics and Commencement of Poll: INEC ad hoc staff and election materials arrived late in 67% of the polling units (PU) visited by Situation Room field observers.

Polls commenced between 10:00am and 12:30pm in 53.5% of the voting locations observed. This was as a result of the late arrival of officials and materials.

These delays in the commencement of polls were observed in locations such as PU 001 and 008 in Amansea ward of Awka North LGA, PU 017 and 018 in Uga I ward of Aguata LGA and several others.

In some other places, particularly voting locations in parts of Ihiala, Idemili North and Idemili South LGAs, no INEC staff or material was deployed.

Bi-Modal Verification Accreditation System (BVAS): Although the BVAS had been used in Isoko South constituency 1 bye elections, this would be the first major election where INEC deployed the BVAS.

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Reports from field observers indicated widespread malfunction of this technology, as it failed to authenticate voters’ fingerprints and detect faces.

This was the case in 59% of the PUs observed, with a minimum of five minutes to accredit one voter in 65.8% of the PUs observed. Furthermore, some of the ad-hoc staff experienced some difficulty in operating the machines.

In some locations, the machines were working rather slowly and took as long as 10 minutes or more to accredit a single voter. This severely stalled the accreditation and voting process.

These challenges were observed in the following locations: PU 007 in Awka-Etiti II ward in Idemili South LGA, PU 013 in Nawfia II ward of Njikoka LGA, PU 017 in Uruagu I ward of Nnewi North LGA, amongst others.

Priority Voting: Situation Room notes that INEC ad hoc officials in some instances, gave priority to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), elderly persons and pregnant women in most of the polling units observed. However, some of the PUs were not accessible to some categories of PWDs.

Presence, Conduct and Welfare of Security Officials: At this time, Situation Room notes that security officials were present at most of the polling units visited.

The security agents were relatively civil in their conduct within and outside polling units. However, some of the security personnel stated that they had not received their allowances for election duty.

This is contrary to the pronouncement by the Police authorities, that security agents on election duty had been remunerated.

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Party Agents: Of the 18 political parties on the ballot, the All Progressives Congress (APC), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Young Progressives Party (YPP) had agents in at least 75% of the polling units visited while the remaining political parties respectively had agents in less than 25% of these locations.

Anambra Election: Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room Gives Interim Statement

Vote Buying: Situation Room received reports of widespread vote buying by political party agents across the State. Some of the specific instances include sale of votes for amounts ranging from N1,000 and N6,000 at various locations.

However, this was being carried out very discreetly in some PUs while in others the votes buying was done in full glare without prevention from the security personnel. Nevertheless, voters in a particular polling unit in the state rejected an inducement of N5,000 per vote.

Situation Room commends the courage of these voters. For this, we say a big well done to Ndi Anambra.

Voter Turnout: On a general note, citizens came out to vote, contrary to the initial apprehension that trailed the beginning of the electioneering process.

Even though there were not large crowds of voters, it was still a relief to see citizens come out eventually to exercise their rights. Also, the Situation Room commends the Media for following the process courageously despite the tensed political environment.

Conclusion: We call on the resilient people of Anambra to remain calm and law abiding as the election runs its course. We call on INEC to ensure the peaceful and transparent conclusion of this election.

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Situation Room also calls on security agencies to continue to maintain law and order through the remaining phases of this exercise.

——————————-
SIGNED:
Ene Obi
Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room

Asma’u Joda
Co-Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room

James Ugochukwu
Co-Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room
—————————–
The Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria numbering more than seventy.

The Steering Committee is made up of:

Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Women and Adolescent Empowerment, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), African Centre for Entrepreneurship and Information Development (ACEIDEV), Justice Development and Peace Commission (JPDC) Nnewi, ASPILOS Foundation, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Mac-Jim Foundation, Kimpact Development Initiative, Democratic Action Group (DAG), Women’s Rights to Education Programme, EDO CSOs, Young Innovators and Vocational Training Initiative (YVITI), New Initiative for Social Development (NISD).

Other groups are Centre LSD, CISLAC, WARD-C, Proactive Gender Initiative (PGI), Enough is Enough Nigeria, WANGONET, JDPC, YIAGA Africa, Development Dynamics, Partners West Africa Nigeria (PWAN), Stakeholder Democracy Network, Human Rights Monitor, Reclaim Naija, CITAD, Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR,) Nigerian Women Trust Fund, The Albino Foundation, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), Electoral Hub etc

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Anambra Election: Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Soludo’s Victory

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Anambra Election: Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Soludo’s Victory
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Anambra Election: Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Soludo’s Victory

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday dismissed a suit seeking disqualification of former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, Prof Charles Chukwuma Soludo, as the governor-elect of Anambra State.

Justice Taiwo Oladipupo Taiwo in a judgment delivered in a suit instituted by two voters in Anambra, Adindu Valentine and Chukwuebuka Egwudike, described the suit as frivolous, irritating, baseless, and lacking in merit.

He accused the two plaintiffs of seeking to use the court as a tool to scuttle democracy. He awarded a punitive cost of N2 million against them to be paid to Soludo and his deputy, Onyeka Ibezim.

The plaintiffs – Adindu Valentine and Egwudike Chukwuebuka – had in the suit contended that Soludo provided false information in the affidavit (Form EC9) that he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and should be deemed unqualified to stand for election.

In the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/711/2021, the plaintiffs claimed that Soludo indicated, in the affidavit, that he was contesting the Aguata 2 Constituency seat when in fact, he was contesting the Anambra governorship seat and his deputy claimed to be contesting Awka constituency instead of Anambra deputy governorship.

Defendants in the suit are INEC, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Soludo and Ibezim.

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In their final submission, plaintiffs’ lawyers, A. O. Ijeri and Kelvin Okoko, had argued that having indicated the wrong constituency he was contesting, Soludo supplied INEC with false information, violated extant legal provisions, and ought to be disqualified.

“The constitution has made a state a constituency in relation to the governorship election, but in this case, the third defendant (Soludo) named Aguata 2 as the constituency he is contesting,” Ijeri said.

But in his judgment, Justice Taiwo held that the two plaintiffs failed woefully to establish how the alleged wrong in the constituency affected or misled them as voters and in any other capacity.

Anambra Election: Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Soludo’s Victory

The judge said that apart from the alleged wrongful disclosure of constituency, Soludo as the third defendant made it clear in other parts of his affidavit on oath that he was contesting the Anambra governorship election while Ibezim as the fourth defendant also indicated in other parts of his affidavit that he was contesting deputy governorship.

“From the processes filed in this suit and which I have carefully perused, the two plaintiffs did not convince the court on how they were misled by the information.

“No aspects of the 1999 Constitution as amended or any part of the Electoral Act 2010 compel 3rd and 4th defendants (Soludo and Ibezim) to name constituency as a condition for qualification to stand for election.

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“Lawyers as ministers in the temple of justice should always counsel politicians against rushing to court with frivolous suits that will achieve no purpose than to waste the precious time of the court.

“As a matter of fact, I am yet to come to terms with the purpose this suit is to serve. This suit is not reasonable.

“Giving false information is a criminal offence and proof of an allegation of supplying false information must be beyond a reasonable doubt.

“It is high time Nigerians come together to deepen democracy and not to use frivolous suits to stagnate it and this is in our own interest,” he said.

Justice Taiwo, who wondered the motive behind the suit, noted with dismay that apart from the alleged wrongful disclosure of constituencies, no other aspects of the laws were alleged to have been breached by Soludo and Ibezim including their educational qualifications.

Lead counsel to APGA and Soludo, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) had argued that the suit was without merit and that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear it.

Ikpeazu contended that error in an affidavit cannot be a basis to disqualify a candidate from an election, noting that the false information contemplated in Section 31 of the Electoral Act was criminal. in nature.

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He further argued that the false information claimed by the plaintiff was not among the grounds stated in the Constitution for the disqualification of a candidate.

“False information, as envisaged in section 31 of the Electoral Act is criminal in nature. Section 31 does not deal with error, but a deliberate effort to steal a match and to misrepresent.

“The contention that the 14 days required under Section 285(9) of the Constitution, should accrue from the date the first respondent (INEC) received those affidavits, has no supporting foundation,” he said.

Ikpeazu urged the court to uphold the preliminary objection filed by his clients and dismiss the case.

Lawyer to Ibezim, C. Mbaeri argued in a similar vein and prayed the court to uphold his objection and dismiss the suit.

Lawyer to INEC, Bashir Abubakar said his client did not file any process in the case and has elected to leave the decision at the discretion of the court.

Justice Taiwo however disagreed with Ikpeazu that the suit was statute barred as at the time it was filed while he also held that the court had jurisdiction to hear the case as he did.

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Anambra Election: 11 parties, candidates challenge Soludo’s victory in the tribunal

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Anambra Election: 11 parties, candidates challenge Soludo’s victory in the tribunal
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Anambra Election: 11 parties, candidates challenge Soludo’s victory in the tribunal

A total of 11 political parties and their candidates have filed petitions at the Anambra governorship election petition tribunal.

The parties and their candidates are challenging the victory of the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo.

DAILY POST gathered that the petitioners were able to beat the deadline for the expiration of the 21 days stipulated by the Electoral Act for the filing of petitions against the outcome of the Anambra state gubernatorial elections.

The political parties, between Monday and Tuesday, made the last-minute filing of their petitions as against expectations in some quarters that it would be a walkover for the Governor-elect.

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Secretary of the tribunal, Barr Surajo Gusau disclosed to our correspondent the candidates and political parties who have filed petitions.

Among the parties are; Sen Andy Uba of the All Progressive Congress (APC) who is calling for a declaration that he won a majority of the valid votes cast in the said election.

Court dismisses suit seeking Soludo’s disqualification as Anambra governor-elect

The Action Democratic Party (ADP) and its candidate, Prince Adam Ume-Ezeoke, in their petition prayed the tribunal for the nullification of the election on the grounds that the Bi-Modal Accreditation Verification System (BVAS) is not in the Electoral Act and the malfunctioning ultimately disenfranchised over 90 percent of the registered voters.

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Also, the candidate of the Accord (A), Dr. Godwin Maduka, and his party called for the nullification of the election on the ground of irregularities.

Other parties include the United Patriots, which petitioned the tribunal on the grounds of wrongful exclusion of the party name from the ballot calling for the nullification of the election as well as the Green Party and the Action People’s Party (APP) among others.

DAILY POST gathered that the three-man panel of Tribunal Judges is expected to arrive in Anambra State soon.

Special Adviser to Gov Wille Obiano on Political Matters, Barr Ifeatu Obiokoye told journalists that APGA is not losing sleep over the petitions.

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He said: “We shall take it as it comes and we are not losing sleep over those petitions and do not lose sight of the game plan of a particular party and petitioner by sponsoring some lesser political parties to go to tribunal and later withdraw from the suits and collapse into their benefactors at the end of the day.

“Our party the All Progressives Grand Alliance won the election and we are prepared to defend our mandate at the tribunal.”

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Umahi Presents 2022 Appropriation Bill Of ₦145.4bn To Ebonyi House Of Assembly

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Umahi Presents 2022 Appropriation Bill Of ₦145.4bn To Ebonyi House Of Assembly
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Umahi Presents 2022 Appropriation Bill Of ₦145.4bn To Ebonyi House Of Assembly

Governor David Umahi today presented 2022 Appropriation Bill and Budget estimates in the sum of One Hundred and Forty Five Billion, Four Hundred and Ten Million, Five Hundred and Ninety Seven Thousand, Seven Hundred and Seventy Three Naira, Forty Nine Kobo (N145,410,597,723.49) tagged “Budget of Latter Rain” to Ebonyi State House of Assembly Chambers, Nkaliki, Ebonyi State.

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