Why we fixed date for 2019 elections early – INEC

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Thursday said the commission fixed dates for the 2019 general elections early in order to encourage all stakeholders in the political process to prepare ahead of the poll.

Yakubu said besides the presidential election slated February 16, 2019, INEC will conduct elections throughout the year, including 68 elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The INEC chief spoke at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room organized by the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, (PLAC) in partnership with the Department for International Development (DFID) on Thursday in Abuja.

He said by his calculation, there will be one presidential election, 29 governorship polls, 109 senatorial constituencies, 360 federal constituencies and 991 state constituencies

Yakubu said: “The date engenders certainty in the election calendar. You know when the election will hold. So, it enables you to plan. We are particularly interested in this because 2019 will be a year full of elections. We will have the national election and in addition, the tenure of chairmen and councilors of the six area councils will come to an end. So we will conduct 68 elections in FCT.

“Also the tenures of the Governors of Kogi and Bayelsa will also come to an end towards end of 2019. So we start the year with election and end it with election. So there are so many elections to hold and there is wisdom in planning well in advance. The nation must move away from the culture of last minute rush. There must be certainty in the calendar of our elections.”

He said the commission had only fixed a date for the general election but yet to release the calendar and time table.

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El-Rufa’i goes to school for PhD in Governance

The Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai is not ill and flown abroad for medical attention as being peddled in some quarters.

Rather, it was learnt that el-Rufai had commenced receiving lectures as a part-time student of Philosophy of Doctorate degree, PhD, in Governance and Policy Analysis at United Nations University-Merit, Netherlands.

UNU-MERIT, a research and training institute of United Nations University and Maastricht University, based in the South of the Netherlands has been closely involved in research for a variety of UN agencies, including the International Labour Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and the World Bank.

The UNU-MERIT is ranked 6th among the world best universities.

There has been wide speculation especial in the social media platform that the governor was flown for medical attention.

As at the time of filing this report, effort to reach the Special Assistant to Governor El-Rufai on Media and Publicity, Mr Samuel Aruwan proved abortive as a call to his cell phone indicated that he could not be reached.

But an online post by the United Nations University-Merit dated March 7th, 2017 at 8:23 pm noted that the university had received new intakes among them, Governor El-Rufai.

It said, “United Nations University-Merit. Yesterday a new batch of students started our Dual Career Training Programme to obtain a PhD in governance and Policy Analysis(GPAC2). Good luck to all!

Also, a tweet by one of the lecturers of the university, read, “I’m looking forward to teaching H.E.@elrufai in November, student at UNU Merit/Maastricht University”

Also, a top government official, who would not want his names in print because he was not permitted to speak on the matter, said: “the governor is not sick but he is attending a program abroad.”

He added, “That is why the Deputy Governor, Mr Barnabas Yusuf-Bala, is presently Acting Governor pending the return of the governor after the program.”

El-Rufai, a first class Quantity Surveyor graduate of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

The governor is also an alumni of Harvard University.

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WAEC plans to release results 60 days after exam

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) says it plans to reduce the waiting days for the release of its West African Senior School Certificates Examination (WASSCE) results to 60 days.

The Head of National Office (HNO), WAEC in Nigeria, Mr. Olu Adenipekun, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the waiting days will now be 60 days as against 90 days previously.

Adenipekun spoke with NAN on the side-line of the council’s 65th anniversary celebration which began on Thursday in Lagos.

According to him, the development is one of such steps being taken by the council to meet its mandates of delivering quality service to all stakeholders.

“All hands must be on deck to ensure that the innovation, tagged: `Project 60’, is effective from this year.

“For sometimes now, we normally use about 90 days, from the day of the last paper of the examination to release the result.

“For the past 15 months, when I assumed office as the HNO in Nigeria, we have been working to reduce that ‘waiting period’ by 50 per cent.

“This is what initially brought about what we had also called `Project 45’ but we want to take it gradually,’’ Adenipekun said.

He told NAN that for the 2017 May/June WASSCE, which is about to start, the intention of the board was to release the result within 60 to 65 days.

“So, this is how we came about ‘Project 60’; and in the coming years, the council will talk about ‘Project 45’, he said.

He added that council was hoping that in the next two years, it would be able to release results of its examinations within 45 days after the last paper is taken.

On whether the development was tied to the JAMB’s insistence that candidates should make their WASSCE results available as prerequisite for admissions, the HNO said that it was not meant to address any issue.

Adenipekun noted that one of the major objectives for introducing project 60 was to reposition the council and portray it as an organisation that was delivering its mandate.

According to him, WAEC should also be seen as being always ready to review its operations and delivery time.

“This may also come as good news for our current SSS 3 students, who are about to write the 2017 WASSCE.

“Basically there is need for our SSS 3 students to be happy because they are our principal stakeholders.

“I am sure reducing the waiting period will even make them happier,’’ he said.

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Defection: PDP asks court to sack Senator Effiong for joining APC

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Thursday, asked the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to sack the lawmaker representing Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Chief Nelson Asuquo Effiong, following his defection to the All Progressive Congress, APC.

Asuquo Effiong In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/05/61/2017, PDP, alongside 15 chieftains of the party in Akwa Ibom state, asked the court to declare that Effiong has lost his membership with effect from January 19, 2017, pursuant to section 68(1)(g) of the Constitution, having now become a member of APC before the expiration of the period for which he was elected into the Senate on the platform of PDP.

In the Originating Summons, the plaintiffs cited the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki as the 2nd defendant in the matter.

They want the court to declare that the seat for Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District in the National Assembly is vacant pursuant to section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 constitution, same having been vacated by the operation of law by the 1st defendant by reason of his becoming member of APC before the expiration of the period for which he was elected into the Senate on the platform of PDP.

They further want an order directing the Senate President to declare the seat of Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District in the National Assembly vacant pursuant to Section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution same having been vacated by the operation of law by the 1st defendant by reason of his becoming member of APC before the expiration of the period for which he was elected into the Senate on the platform of PDP‎.

 An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the first defendant from parading himself as the Senator representing Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District in the National Assembly. As well as an interlocutory injunction restraining the 2nd defendant from further recognising the 1st defendant as the Senator representing Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District in the National Assembly.

More so, the plaintiffs asked the court to determine whether the 1st defendant has not lost his membership with effect from January 19, 2017 as the Senator representing Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District in the National Assembly pursuant pursuant to Section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution same having been vacated by the operation of law by the 1st defendant by reason of his becoming member of APC before the expiration of the period for which he was elected into the Senate on the platform of PDP‎”.

Meantime, Justice Tsoho Tsoho has fixed May 11 to begin hearing on the suit.

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EFCC arrests “Sheikh” over N11m internet fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested one Saheed Omoniyi over alleged N11 million fraud perpetrated through the Internet.

Mr Ayo Oyewole, the Head of Public Affairs, EFCC Ibadan Zonal Office, told newsmen in Ibadan on Thursday that Omoniyi, 24, lured his victims to defraud them by posing as a renowned Islamic cleric.
He said that the suspect had impersonated a popular Lagos-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Sulaiman Onikijipa on the internet seeking donations from his unsuspecting followers.

Oyewole said that the suspect had lured the unsuspecting followers of the popular cleric to pay donations into an account purportedly opened by the Sheikh. He stated that the commission got wind of Omoniyi’s fraudulent activities through a petition sent to the anti-graft agency by the Islamic cleric.

Oyewole stated that the commission’s investigations revealed that the suspect had obtained over N11 million before his arrest on Monday, March 13. He said that the suspect was arrested on his way to the bank to withdraw the latest donations of one million naira into the fraudulent account.

Oyewole stated that Omoniyi, who hails from Offa in Kwara State, had made confessional statement to operatives of the commission.

He said that the suspect would be charged to court as soon as the investigation was concluded.

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