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Buhari Finally Declines Assent to 2021 Electoral Act Amendment Bill




President Muhammadu Buhari has formally declined assent  to the 2021 Electoral Act Amendment Bill, passed by the National Assembly.

Buhari’s decision was communicated in a letter addressed to President of Senate, Ahmad Lawan and read at plenary on Tuesday.

“Further to the letter dated Nov. 18, forwarded for presidential assent ,the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 as passed by the National Assembly.

”I have received informed advice from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) and I have also carefully reviewed the bill in line with current realities prevalent in the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the circumstances.

“Arising from the review, the Senate President, may wish to note that the conduct of elections for the nomination of party candidates as solely via direct primaries as envisage by the electoral act amendment bill 2021 has serious adverse, legal, financial and economic and security consequences, which can not be accommodated at the moment considering our nation’s peculiarity.

”It also has implications on the lives of citizens to participate in the government as constitutionally ensured,” the president said.

Buhari added: “The Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 seeks to amend certain provisions of the extant Electoral Act 2010.

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“Part of the objective of the bill is the amendment of present section 87 of the electoral Act 2010 to delete the provision for the conduct of indirect primaries in the nomination of party candidates, so that party candidates can henceforth only emerge through direct primaries.

“Arising from the review, Mr Senate President, we wish to particularly note the pertinent issues implicated as follows to it.

“The conduct of direct primaries across the 8,809 wards across the length and breath of the country will lead to significant strife in the course of conducting primary elections by parties and increase in the cost of monitoring such elections by INEC.”

“The party is to conduct direct primary elections for the presidential, governorship and legislative posts.

” The addition of these costs is already a huge cost of conducting general election and will inevitably leave a huge financial burden on both the political parties, INEC and the economy in general at a time of dwindling revenues.

“Conducting and monitoring direct primaries in the 8,809 wards will pose huge security challenges as the security agencies will also be over stretched as direct primary will open participation to all and a sundry, as such large turnout without effective security coordination will also engender intimidation and disruption, there by raising credibility issues for outcomes of such elections.

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” The proposed amendment will also give rise to pretorial of litigations, this is based on the issues of law, including the existing constitutions of various registered political parties by INEC.

“These real possibilities will without doubt truncate the electoral programme of the nation as another electoral exercise imminent toward a change of government in 2023.

“In the premise of the above, I hereby signify to the National Assembly that I am constrained to withdrawal assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 in line with provisions of section 58 (1) and (4) of the 1999 constitution as amended.

“It is my considered position that the political parties should be allowed to freely exercise right of choice in deciding which of direct or indirect primaries to adopt in the conduct of their primary elections.
“Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration.”(NAN)


FG Establishes Family Courts to Ensure Justice for Abused Children 




 Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, has disclosed that the federal government has established family courts in 16 states across the country to ensure child-friendly justice for children, either as victims or as offenders of violence.

Tallen disclosed this while briefing newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja, ahead of the 2022 National Children’s Day celebration, which has “Strengthening Supportive Systems for the Protection of the Nigerian Child; A Wake Up Call” as its theme.

According to her, the establishment of family courts is as a result of the effective and sustained advocacy and sensitisation for effective implementation of the Child Rights Law (CRL).

She said that “as a ministry, we are sometimes overwhelmed with these issues and it wil seem as if  we are not doing enough.

“In the meantime, the ministry, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, has developed policies and carried out series of programmes to ensure the safety of children.

“The establishment of family courts in 16 states of the federation is a direct result of the effective and sustained advocacy.

“It is also for the sensitisation of effective implementation of the CRL to provide child-friendly justice for children, either as victims or as offenders.”

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Tallen added that to ensure the safety and protection of children, she also reconstituted the Technical Working Group on Ending Violence Against Children and the Technical Working Group on Case Management in Nigeria.

She said the ministry had also launched the Beta Version and upgraded the National Orphans and Vulnerable Children Management Information Systems (NOMIS) data base.

She explained that the data base was to provide robust data on the National Orphans and Vulnerable Children, generated from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The ministry had also launched the Movement for Good to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and mobilised some persons to pledge to end the practice by 2030, she added.

On the annual May 27 children’s day celebration, aimed at raising awareness on issues affecting children, the minister said the celebration had been dampened by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and insecurity.

She, however, noted that in spite of efforts by government and other stakeholders, children were still vulnerable and victims of abduction, ritual killings, rape, child marriage, domestic abuse and others.

“These are all acts that are perpetrated by close family members and caregivers that are supposed to protect these children.

“More worrisome is the recent increase of violence in schools, where children are physically and sexually abused online and off line.

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“These acts are allegedly perpetrated by their peers and teachers who are supposed to protect and shield them from violence,” she said.

The minister, therefore, urged stakeholders, particularly the entertainment industry, to use their platforms constructively toward promoting good values.

She revealed that 31 states have so far domesticated the Child Rights Act 2003, adding that advocacy was ongoing to ensure the remaining states do the same.

The Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dr Ramatu Tijani-Aliyu, represented by Hajiya Hadiza Kabir, the Secretary, Special Development, stressed the need to strengthen mechanisms that would protect children from violence.

Ms Erika Goldson, the Deputy Country Representative of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), encouraged children to choose role models that would help them to grow positively. (NAN)

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Absence of NDDC Counsel Stalls Hearing of Suit Opposing Sole Administratorship




From Tayese Mike, Yenagoa

The absence of counsel of Niger Delta Development Commision (NDDC) on Tuesday stalled hearing of a suit challenging the use of sole administrator to administer the interventionist agency.

Odighonin Nwadighi Adienbo and 10 others had filed a suit at a Federal High Court sitting in Yenagoa presided over by Justice Isa Dashen opposing the use of sole administrator to run the NDDC.

The plaintiffs contend that the concept of sole administrator was alien and contrary to the NDDC Act which provides for a board constituted of representatives of all states of the Niger Delta.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and NDDC are listed as first and second defendants in the suit marked FHC/YNG/CS/135/2021.

When the case was mentioned, Samuel Brisibe told the court that he was mandated by Counsel to NDDC in the suit, Ume Kalu (SAN) to inform the court of his absence following cancellation of his flight.

Brisibe further appealed to the court to adjourn the case to enable Kalu to personally argue the case as he was not abreast with developments and was merely drafted to inform the court of the reasons behind Kalu’s absence in court.

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Goodness Onuoha, Counsel to the plaintiffs however frowned at the reason advanced by Brisibe adding that the counsel ought to have arrived at Yenagoa on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s hearing date.

Onuoha urged the court to prevail on the defence to refrain from delaying the dispensation of justice.

Dashen adjourned the suit to June 28 for continuation of hearing.

Dashen had on April 5 granted an interim order restraining the Federal Government from using sole administrator to run the NDDC pending the determination of the pending suit.

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Woman, 40, Bags 12 Years Imprisonment for Defrauding Deeper Life Church




An Ekiti High Court yesterday sentenced a 40-year-old Sade Otenuga to 12 years imprisonment for defrauding the Deeper Life Bible Church of N620, 000.

The court heard that Sade deceived the church into paying her the money on the pretext that she owned a dilapidated structure in Ado-Ekiti which the church could buy and convert the land to better use.

The court also heard that a pastor in the church, Oso Olugbenga, transferred the money to Sade’ bank account in two electronic transfers on April 6 and April 8, 2021.

She faced a two-count charge of Advance Fee Fraud and Stealing punishable under the laws of Ekiti.

Testifying before the court earlier, Pastor Olugbenga said: “the church decided to buy the building, as it had become hideouts for criminals in the area.

“The convict also gave the church instruction to remove the building on the land, knowing full well that she was not the rightful owner.

“All efforts made to recover the money after the church discovered fraud in the transaction proved abortive.”

Led in evidence before the court, Sade confessed to have committed the offence.

To proof the case against Sade, Police prosecutor, Samson Osobu, called three witnesses and tendered three exhibits including N100, 000 cash recovered from the convict.

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Sade’s counsel, Yinka Opaleke, did not call any witness, but pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy.

Delivering judgment, Justice Lekan Ogunmoye said there was prescribed mandatory sentence for the offence and the court had no discretionary power to exercise in the matter.

“The defendant is hereby sentenced to seven years imprisonment in count one (Fraud) and five years’ imprisonment in count two (Stealing) with N20, 000 option of fine.

“The sentences are to run concurrently,” Justice Ogunmoye said. (NAN)

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