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Nigeria Elections: Peter Obi Group Sues INEC Over Voter Registration Halt

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The Peter Obi Support Network (POSN) has sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over its “failure to comply with the constitutional provisions that require the Commission to continue voter registration until at least 90 days” before elections.

In Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/1342/2022 filed by Ikechukwu Ezechukwu, SAN & Co., the Plaintiffs argue that INEC’s abrupt termination of the voter registration exercise would disenfranchise millions of eligible voters during the 2023 presidential election.

The suit before the Federal High Court Abuja seeks an order compelling INEC to reverse its earlier directive halting the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise across the country on July 31, 2022, and declaring as ultra vires, the decision to put a timeline on the CVR exercise outside the timeline provided by the 2022 Electoral Act, as amended.

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The Plaintiffs raised the following issues for Determination:

“Whether having regards to the combined provisions of Sections 76(2), 77(2), 116(2), 117(2), 132(2) & (5) and 178 (2) & (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended) as well as Sections 9(1), 9 (6), 10(1) and 12(1) of the Electoral Acts, 2022, the Defendant can or has the right or latitude to stop the continuous voter’s registration on 31st July, 2022, about over Seven and Half (71/2) months (208 days), or any other day not until ninety (90) days before the General Elections when there are millions of prospective voters including the Plaintiffs who have not Registered and are willing to do so.”

The Plaintiffs prayed the court for the following reliefs:

“A DECLARATION that the Defendant is expected pursuant to the provisions of Sections 76(2), 77(2), 116(2), 117(2), 132(2) & (5) and 178 (2) & (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended) as well as Sections 9(1), 9 (6), 10(1) and 12(1) of the Electoral Acts, 2022, to continue voters Registration, update and Revision of voters register till 90 days before the General Election billed to take place on 25th February 2023 and 11th March 2023.

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READ ALSO: Peter Obi Reveals What He’ll Do If War Breaks Out In Nigeria

“A DECLARATION that it is the Constitutional responsibility of the Defendant to make sure that every prospective Nigeria voter who has shown a desire to Register to vote are not derived their Civil right to Register and participate in the forthcoming General Elections Scheduled to take place on 25th February 2023 and 11th March 2023.

“AN ORDER OF COURT directing the Defendant to Resume immediately the Registration of new voters, updating and Revision of the Register of voters until at least 90 days to the General Election slated to hold on 25th February 2023 and 11th March 2023.”

Lead Counsel, Ifeanyi Nrialike said over three hundred POSN members across the 36 states and Abuja expressed frustration over their inability to register because of the stoppage of the Voters Registration exercise by INEC.

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One of the Plaintiffs, Ernest N. Stanley narrated how, on several occasions, he could not register at a CVR centre in Lugbe due to the mammoth crowd of prospective voters.

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FULL LIST: 20 States With Local Government Caretaker Committees

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Photo credit: Nation

Most states have resorted to governing the local governments through caretaker committees set up by the State Government.

This is contrary to Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which guarantees the system of local government by democratically elected officials.

Caretaker committees have become a prevalent practice in different states across the federation, and are fast replacing local government councils.

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Factors fingered for the inability of many States to conduct council polls include insecurity, paucity of funds as well as political and legal battles.

Thursday’s ruling by the Supreme Court declaring that it is unconstitutional for Governors to hold funds allocated for local government administrations further raised the question of how LG helmsmen are routinely sacked from office and replaced with Caretaker Committees.

These are the states running local governments with caretaker committees as complied by The Nation:

READ ALSO: BREAKING States Lose As Supreme Court Rules On LG Financial Autonomy

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1. Rivers – Rivers Governor Siminalayi Fubara appointed caretaker committees for the 23 local government areas as he continues his battle with his predecessor, Nyesom Wike, for the control of the political structure in the oil-rich state.

2. Jigawa – On June 28, 2024, the government of Jigawa State dissolved the elected council chairmen of the 27 local governments.

3. Anambra – On June 20, 2024, Governor Charles Soludo, through the House of Assembly, confirmed the appointment of transition committee chairmen and councillors for the 21 local government areas.

4. Zamfara – In Zamfara, the last grassroots poll was held on April 27, 2019, and the State returned to appointees after the chairmen’s tenures expired. In May 2024, the Assembly approved a six-month extension for the caretaker committee.

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5. In Benue, however, elections are scheduled to be held on July 6, 2024, for LG council chairmen.

6. Bauchi – Last year, Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, sworn in 20 appointed local government area caretaker committee chairmen with their deputies.

READ ALSO: BREAKING: Supreme Court Bars Govs From Sacking LG Chairmen

7. Plateau – June 2023, Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau inaugurated the Interim Transition Committee chairpersons for its 17 local government areas at Government House Jos.

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8. Abia – In December 2023, Abia Governor Alex Otti, inaugurated the 17 local government transition council chairpersons.

9. Enugu – In March 2024, Enugu State Government ordered local government chairmen in the 17 councils to hand over administration to heads of personnel management after the expiration of their tenures.

10. Katsina

11. Kano – In March 2024, Gov. Abba Kabir Yusuf of Kano State recommended names of Interim Management Committee members for Local Government Areas of the state to its House of Assembly for screening and confirmation.

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12. Sokoto

13. Yobe – In April 2024, Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, approved the dissolution of all the 17 local government councils of the state, and also directed all local government chairmen to handover the affairs of their respective local governments to Directors of Personnel Management.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: Supreme Court Bars FG From Paying Allocations To LGs With Unelected Officials

14. Ondo – Ondo State Government also constituted Caretaker Committees for the 18 Local Councils and 33 Local Council Development Areas, (LCDA).

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15. Osun – In February 2024, Osun Assembly extended the tenure of office and re-appointed caretaker committees of 30 Local Government Areas and 39 others running Modakeke Area Office and Local Council Development Areas in the state.

The extension was subsequently secured for the caretaker chairmen, vice chairmen, scribes and their members’ fresh six months tenure, beginning in February and ending in August 2024.

16. Delta

17. Akwa-Ibom – Governor Umo Eno last year through a letter with reference number GHU/AKS/S/104/VOL.1/607, addressed to the Speaker, Hon. Udeme Otong, informed the House of Assembly that there was no provision in the 2023 budget for the conduct of local government elections.

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He urged the Assembly to pass a resolution authorising him to set up interim administration at the 31 local government areas at the expiration of the tenure of the elected council officials.

19. In Imo State, the last council poll was conducted on August 25, 2018, which was the first in seven years.

20. In Kwara State, the last council election was in November 2017 with caretaker committees in charge since 2020.

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Edo Guber: Trouble Looms As APC Gives SSG, Ogie, Ultimatum To Resign Or…

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The Edo State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) has issued an ultimatum to Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Osarodion Ogie to resign his position.

INFO DAILY reports that Ogie was nominated as running mate to Asue Ighodalo, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in the September 21st some months ago yet has remained in office.

A statement issued by the state Chairman of the party, Jarrett Tenebe, though did not mention days of the ultimatum, however argued that “his stay in office is also a violation of the public service rules which prohibit a public servant from using public resources to fund private purpose.”

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Tenebe, who frowned at the continued stay of Ogie in office, described the action as “unacceptable and an affront to the good people of Edo State.”

As an unelected public officer, Mr Ogie is hereby given an ultimatum to resign forthwith as his continuing stay in office is a clear violation of all known rules of decency and ethics,” he said.

Tenebe, while threatening to take “serious civil and criminal actions against Ogie,” added: “By remaining in office, while posing as running mate in the gubernatorial election, Mr. Ogie is also in violation of the public service rules which prohibit a public servant from using public resources to fund private purpose. “

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READ ALSO: BREAKING: Supreme Court Bars Govs From Sacking LG Chairmen

He alleged that, “Ogie is currently earning salary and other official benefits as Secretary to the State Government, even while pursuing a private ambition to become deputy governor.

“He’s using official vehicles and other government logistics to service his electioneering campaign. This is totally unacceptable and a waste of taxpayers’ money. This is the very definition of corruption.

“No unelected public servant should be allowed to do this. It’s patently wrong and a de-service to the state and the long suffering people of Edo State.”

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Reps, Woman Affairs Minister Trade Words Over N1.5 Billion Diverted Funds

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The House of Representatives Committee on Women Affairs and Social Development engaged in a face-off with the Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy over an alleged diversion of 1.5 billion naira meant for payment of contractors by officials of the ministry.

The face-off which occurred during an investigative hearing by the Committee started when the Minister was asked to give an account of how monies meant for contractors paid by the Accountant General office were expended by the ministry.

In her account, the Minister said that 30 per cent of the total sum meant for contractors where paid to her ministry but can not give an account of how it was spent because the first Lady, Oluremi Tinubu had advised her to mind her business.

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In response to the Minister’s reply, the committee members questioned the rationale behind her claim of not being aware of money that was paid to her ministry.

The Minister however said that the total sum was not released which was part of why the contractors are been owed.

“If not that the money for this year has been delayed, I’m sure we wouldn’t be here today. Because we could have paid out some of these liabilities. But since this year, no project money has been released to any ministry. And that was a constraint.”

A member of the Commitee, Marie Nenemete Ebikake, however, questioned the minister on the African First Lady Peace Mission project of about 500 million naira, asking the minster to tell the Commitee how the money was utilized, where the project was located and those involved.

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“Honorable Minister and Permanent Secretary with Director Finance and Admin, last time when you came, that was on Thursday, we did raise an issue of African First Lady Peace Mission projects. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any concrete answer to the issue.

“It was carried over to today. So now that we are here, Honorable Minister, could you please educate the committee on the functions of African First Lady Peace Mission projects, taking into cognizance of funds allocated for the project in the past? Year 2020, 500 million,2021, 225 million.2022, 500 million. 2023, 150 million. Where is the office situated and the organogram?

In her response, the Minister, however, explained that the 150 million naira that was appropriated in 2023 was eventually given to the former first lady, Aisha Buhari who eventually told her it was meant for the purchase of a generator.

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“About the First Lady’s funds. The 500 million you were talking about, I wasn’t there when it happened. When I came in, I saw it on the Appropriation Act. And I went to my First Lady. We discussed. She said that particular money was not meant for her.

“That it was meant for the former First Lady because that was when that money was allocated. And the former First Lady later called me and said they wanted to use it and buy a generator. And in the process, she was out of the country.

“It took her a while. She came back, called me, and she brought the person who was going to come and organize how they would get the generator. And I introduced that person to the procurement officer then, who is now retired.

READ ALSO: Police Arrest 80-year-old Man Over Alleged Defilement Of Minor In Bayelsa

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“So that they could work it out according to the rules and regulations of procurement. And they’ve been on it. Once in a while, I talk with the First Lady to find out what’s going on. And that’s the last I heard of that.

At this point, members of the committee were surprised that the Minister could not identify the contractors or addresses of the Contractors who executed the African First Lady Peace Mission project.

In her response, the Minister said “Let me explain. This is the First Lady’s… My First Lady will tell you, to focus on your work. And she focuses on her work.

“She just advises me. And when they came there, I am not a First Lady and I can’t overstep my bounds. All I went to tell her was that there was some amount of money on the appropriation act. for her office and I went there to tell her. I have no business much to do with the First Lady’s buildings. Because I have to only take directives when given.

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Reacting another member of the Committee told the Minister “Well, you disburse public funds on First Lady’s issues. Is it not so? The office space was not paid for with public funds of the Nigerian people. Let the director who is in charge speak, ma’am. Please.

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“I won’t answer what is not within my purview, the Minister responded.

The committee members at this point insisted on knowing if it was the first Lady Oluremi Tinubu that directed the Minister to hand over the money to the former first lady Aisha Buhari.

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The Chairman of the Committee Kafilat Ogbara in her question said, “When you resumed, you met the money in the account of your ministry. Because you said this money is for the former First Lady, and are you saying it was the former First Lady that requested that the money is going to be used for the generator or is it the current First Lady?

Responding the Minister said “Like I said, I’m not the accountant. I don’t usually know what you have.”

The Minister further insisted on explaining herself “No, but I’m trying to explain myself, Like I said, I’m not an accountant to know how much cash they have in their bank statements. All I can see is the appropriation paper and the budget. And it was right there in the budget of last year. It was there.

READ ALSO: Court Orders Buhari’s Minister To Account For N729bn Payment To Poor Nigerians

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“My question is, was the money budgeted for the last First Lady? And I’ll ask you, is it the former First Lady who contacted you that the money is going to be used for the generator or not? The chairman asked the minister.”

In her response, the Minister said “No, it was budgeted by the ministry.

“I can’t answer that, because I don’t know who requested it was supposed to go to procurement.No First Lady called me. I called. I called. I never said a First Lady called, I called to say this is what I saw on the appropriation paper. That was what I said.

“Let me not be misquoted. Let me not be misquoted. I never said it was meant for the First Lady.

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” I said when I saw for First Lady’s mission, that was the name of the corporation. I don’t know whether it has been used or not. We directed them, that anything that will be done is supposed to go through procurement, the normal process.”

READ ALSO: FULL LIST: State-Owned Higher Institutions Cleared For Student Loan

At this point, the Chairman of the Committee asked the procurement officer to explain to the committee how the money was spent.

According to him, “The project was awarded. But I don’t know anything about it, it is ongoing.”

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The chairman of the Committee asked the procurement officer if the Minister was aware of the project.

While he was about to respond, the Minister interjected by saying “I am not getting very comfortable anymore. Because I don’t even understand this question.

“The procurement do their job. I don’t get myself involved. If anything has been going through on that, it’s supposed to go through the normal process. I don’t get myself involved. Procurement officer.”

The Commitee Chairman at this point said due to the confrontation between the Minister to the Commitee, the meeting was adjourned sine die.

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