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Group urges political parties to strengthen internal democracy

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By Gabriel Atumeyi, Abuja

A civil society group, Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) has advised political parties to pay more attention to strengthening their internal party democracy.

The group, which made this known at a stakeholders roundtable in Abuja, presented copies of its final report on the 2019 general elections with focus on key high points of the just concluded elections and came up with recommendations for the upcoming elections, especially those of Kogi and Bayelsa which will happen on the 16th of November this year.

Acting Executive Director of the CTA, Faith Nwadishi said: “We engaged political parties and encouraged them to look at their internal democracies, and be able to set for themselves rules that they can abide by.

“Post elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has returned over 80 Certificate of Return and more than 90% of those certificates were returned because of the shoddy party primaries that were held.

“We need political parties to continue to have conversations, maybe have an institute where they could be trained on how to select who their flag bearers would be.

“It is also important that they clean up their data base. We want to know who belongs where. Streamline your members and know who they are. What we observed on elections day is that we see somebody wearing a particular party tag (supposedly a party agent), but working against that same party.

“In India for instance, they have over 3,000 political parties. Not every political party should field a candidate at the national level; if your stronghold is in a particular ward or local government, then you should be seen in that local government. Parties should be seen in their areas of strength, ideologies, and programmes.”

“For us at CTA we issued our report in April and we commended the

Electoral Umpire in areas where they have done very well.

“For instance, looking at the entire electoral cycle starting from Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) till the day of the election, we saw that there were challenges that INEC itself had to overcome and still delivered the election in the way they delivered the election.

“We had issues with the interference by the security. We also had very serious concerns about the political class and the role that they play in the election. In our opinion, we feel that the political class being the overall beneficiary of an electoral process, should actually be the one at the forefront of making our elections better.

The chairman of INEC’s Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye said: “There are lessons that we have already learnt from the 2019 general elections. Those lessons have been warehoused and we also going to key in those

lessons with the Kogi and Bayelsa elections. We also going to begin the distribution of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) the moment we are through with the review of the 2019 general elections.

“You know that Kogi and Bayelsa have had history of electoral violence; based on that we are going to begin to talk to the key stakeholders in the electoral process in these two states.

“We are also going to speak with religious leaders, traditional rulers, members of labour movements, students’ movements, and all key stakeholders to make sure that at the end of the day we have a good election.

“We’ve had very good interactions with the security agencies, and they have assured us that we are going to have a new framework and engagement process that will ensure that every person who has been registered to vote goes to the polling unit to vote in an atmosphere of tranquility without any violence whatsoever.

“We are looking at all the recommendations; and those ones with administrative flavours, we are going to implement them and have a good election in Kogi and Bayelsa states.”

Security agencies like the Nigerian Army, Navy, Police, NSCDC, FRSC, and the US Embassy pledged their commitment and continuous support to enhancing the electoral process with all it is tasked to do within the ambit of the law. Issues deliberated on at the event includes – security, internal political party democracy, citizen’s participation and vote trading, electoral violence, the role of judiciary, and the role of INEC.

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Rivers Assembly Screens, Confirms Eight Commissioner Designates

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The Victor Oko-Jumbo-led faction of the Rivers State House of Assembly, on Tuesday screened and confirmed eight nominees for possible appointment as commissioners in the state.

Reports says that the screening took place at the temporary legislative chambers located within the state Government House.

The Oko-Jumbo-led three-member legislature is loyal to the state Governor, Siminalayi Fubara.

The commissioner designates are to fill some of the vacancies created by the recent resignation of nine commissioners loyal to the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Chief Nyesom Wike.

During the sitting, Oko-Jumbo read the correspondence from the governor, requesting the screening and confirmation of the nominees.

He expressed the assembly’s commitment towards supporting the governor to provide democracy dividends to Rivers people.

The factional speaker said that the screening was part of the assembly’s responsibility in the governance of the state

Responding, the House Leader, Mr Sokari Good-boy and Deputy Speaker, Adolphus Timothy, unanimously adopted the request.

They said that most of the nominees had previously served the state at various capacities without blemish.

The commissioner designates include, Mr Charles Bakee, Mr Collins Onunwo, Dr Peter Medee and Mr Elloka Amadi,

Others are, Mr Basoene Benibo, Mr Sydney Gbara, Dr Ovy Chukwuma and Mr Solomon Eke.(NAN)

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Police Arrest Suspect for Allegedly Defrauding Thai Citizen of $216,000, N30m

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Police in Lagos State have arrested a suspect, Chimereze Chinedu, for allegedly defrauding a citizen of Thailand of $216,000 (₦317,725,271) and N30 million.

Police spokesman in the state, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the arrest in a post he shared on his X (formerly Twitter) handle @benHundeyin on Tuesday.

He said that the suspect was arrested by detectives of the State Criminal Investigative Department (SCID).

“Chinedu defrauded his victim under the pretense of selling 37 tricycles to her.

“He further expanded his fraudulent activity by forging letters of SCID, Lagos, showing that the tricycles were seized by the police and further extorted N30 million from the victim to purportedly secure the release of the tricycles,” he said.

The image maker said that the suspect was arrested on May 10 in Enugu State following weeks of diligent investigation and technical support from the International Criminal Police Organization, (INTERPOL)

The spokesman said that the suspect was currently in detention, as investigations continued to uncover details towards identifying and apprehending his accomplices.

According to Hundeyin, the Lagos State Command remains steadfast in its commitment to combating internet fraud and ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice. (NAN)

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Death Penalty for Drug Traffickers not Proven Effective, Says UNODC

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The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has said that the move by the Nigerian Senate to impose death penalty for drug trafficking offenders would not yield the desired result.

UNODC Country Representative, Oliver Stolpe, said this at a two-day Media Personnel Training organised in collaboration with NDLEA and other partners on Tuesday in Abuja.

Reports says that the training is centered on Anti -Corruption, Police Accountability, Wildlife Crime and Sensitisation on Drugs Prevention, Treatment and Care, (DPTC).

“Our stance as UN is clear on the death penalty we are principally and categorically against it. And from a very practical viewpoint, I have to say, it doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Stolpe maintained that the UN had always advocated for clear distinction between crimes of drug trafficking as opposed to the issue of drug use.

He said that it was always considered primarily to be a health issue saying that it should be dealt with as such.

According to him, addiction is a health condition, it is not a choice.”

On the need for an updated drug data for Nigerians, Stolpe observed that the current national drug survey for Nigeria was last done six years ago, (2018), and therefore does not reflect the current situation for Nigeria.

He said “the drug use survey of 2018 remains as far as I can tell the most cited study in the media.

“This data is outdated and I think a very critical question that media could ask at that point is really well, how can we still refer to 2018 data to describe today’s levels of drug use?

Stolpe enjoined the media to keep the good work while ensuring that information were disseminated efficiently and effectively. NAN)

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