By Jude Opara, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has tackled the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Adamawa State, Aishatu ‘Binani’ Dahiru over claims that electoral officials colluded with the incumbent Governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmadu Fintiri.
In a statement yesterday, INEC National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, said the insinuations by Binani are fabrications and mischievous.
Binani, who has since approached the court to challenge the victory of Fintiri, had in a statement on Tuesday, claimed that some INEC national officers from Abuja held a night meeting in the Adamawa State Government House.
“To set the record straight, no such visit or meeting took place let alone the compilation of any purported list of collation and returning officers. Such a meeting would have been contrary to the oath of neutrality that we all swore to.
“Moreover, every conscientious observer would have noticed that the Commission appointed and retained only one Returning Officer for the Governorship election who also doubled as the State Collation Officer for the Presidential Election (SCOPE).
“Like all Returning Officers nationwide, he was issued with a letter of appointment by the Commission and the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Adamawa State was duly informed. The list of Collation Officers was also forwarded to the State with every page of the list personally endorsed by the Chairman of the Commission well ahead of the arrival of the National Commissioners,” INEC said.
Okoye further stated that Adamawa was not in any way targeted in the deployment of national commissioners and other officials.
“In the case of Adamawa State where supplementary governorship election was held in 69 polling units, two National Commissioners were deployed while for Kebbi State involving 142 polling units, three National Commissioners were deployed.
“Similarly, one National Commissioner each was deployed to Sokoto, Zamfara, Imo, Rivers, Ekiti and Ogun States. This has been the standard practice of the Commission of which all RECS are informed in advance. Therefore, Adamawa State was not specifically targetted. In all other States, the RECS worked cooperatively with the National Commissioners except in Adamawa State for reasons that are now obvious to all,” the statement read.
INEC advised the public to “discountenance these insinuations as nothing more than a claptrap”.
“We also advise those behind the mischief to desist forthwith as such fabrications have endangered the lives of our officials (both ad hoc and regular) engaged in legitimate election duties. We expect well-meaning citizens to act within the bounds of propriety and decency,” the statement concluded.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Adamawa, Hudu Yunusa, Ari had on Sunday usurped the powers of the Returning Officer in the state, Mohammed Mele and announced Binani as the winner of the dramatic poll. INEC subsequently nullified the declaration, suspended collation of results and barred Ari from office.
INEC resumed collation on Tuesday and at the end of the entire exercise, said Fintiri polled 430,861 votes, defeating Binani who got 398,738 votes. INEC also declared Fintiri as the winner of the keenly contested poll.
Meanwhile, a video had emerged online showing that a beaten Ari allegedly said he received N2bn bribe to announce Binani as winner of the poll.
However, Binani, in her statement, said never offered any money to influence the process.
Probe Binani over N2bn Bribe Allegation, Falana Urges EFCC, ICPC
Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana has demanded that adequate scrutiny be carried out on the alleged 2 billion naira inducement trailing the controversial declaration of winner of Adamawa State supplementary elections on Sunday.
The candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the election, Aishatu ‘Binani’ Dahiru, who was earlier declared winner by the embattled Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state, Hudu Yunusa Ari had denied bribery allegations leveled against her.
However, speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily yesterday, Falana said Binani’s denial is not enough.
“There are allegations that the sum of 2billion naira is fetching hands, so it is not enough for Binani to deny, there must be an investigation,” Falana said.
The senior advocate stated that those who were involved in the declaration of Binani as the winner should be questioned and brought to book, adding that Binani’s acceptance speech confirmed that she was party to the disarray.
“Was there inducement? That has to be investigated. The officers who were at the high table with Mr Yunusa Ari, the commissioner of Police, the Director of the State Security Service, and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
“All those involved in the criminality that occurred, they all have to be tried under the law. It is not enough for the IGP to simply redeploy the commissioner of police involved or for the director of state security to be withdrawn from the state.
“This is not the first time that it has happened, there have been false declarations of results before now,” he said.
Falana commended INEC for the swift action taken to ensure that proper response was implemented, adding that except actions are taken holistically, the impunity and aberrations would be repeatedly committed.
According to him, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practice Commission (ICPC) have to be involved to ensure that all those who breached the law be prosecuted.
“The EFCC and the ICPC will have to be brought in to investigate the allegations of inducement of the sum of 2 billion naira. It is also in the interest of the APC candidate to ensure this matter is fully investigated.
“The IGP would have to speed up the investigation. By now, we expect him (Adamawa REC) to have been arrested and if he cannot be found, they have to get a court order to declare him wanted.
“All the security officers involved will have to be investigated and prosecuted. INEC has done the right thing by suspending him so that he does not further taint the democratic process.”
The SAN stated that the law recommended strict sanction for any form of electoral conspiracy, malfeasance and financial inducement.
“The law is very clear on this matter, under section 120 subsection 4 of the electoral act. For any false declaration of the results of the election, anybody involved is liable to be prosecuted and the penalty is three years imprisonment which for me is not stringent enough.
“There is also section 121 of the Electoral Act which prescribes 12 months imprisonment for financial inducement with regards to elections.”
He also demanded that the legal practitioner disciplinary committee of the Nigerian Bar Association in collaboration with INEC take disciplinary actions against the Adamawa REC.
“The Nigerian Bar Association has to come in, the NBA has to write a petition, to the legal practitioner disciplinary committee for immediate sanction to serve as a lesson because he has brought the legal profession into disrepute.”
UNGA 78: Nigeria, 192 UN Members Adopt Plan Against Pandemics
Nigeria and other UN Member States have pledged to prevent a repeat of the devastating health and socio-economic crises caused by COVID-19 and shore up the world’s ability to head off another pandemic.
All 193 UN Member States adopted a political declaration at a high-level meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response at the ongoing 78th session.
Adopting a milestone political declaration at the first-ever summit on pandemic prevention and response, nations also committed to get back on track to reach the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
“[This] is a historic milestone in the urgent drive to make all people of the world safer, and better protected from the devastating impacts of pandemics,” Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the UN World Health Organisation (WHO), said.
“I welcome this commitment by world leaders to provide the political support and direction needed so that WHO, governments and all involved can protect people’s health and take concrete steps towards investing in local capacities, ensuring equity and supporting the global emergency health architecture that the world needs.”
The declaration was the result of months of intense negotiations to refine and agree on actions at the national, regional and global levels. It will be submitted to the General Assembly in due course for formal endorsement.
The political declaration asserts the need for Member States to conclude negotiations on a formal agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, known also as the Pandemic Accord – and make targeted amendments to International Health Regulations – by May next year.
It also calls on States to address the negative, physical and mental health impacts of health-related misinformation, disinformation, hate speech and stigmatization, especially on social media platforms.
Instead, it calls for public information campaigns based on science and the facts.
Member States also committed to strengthening health work forces and rapid response capacities, surveillance, and local manufacturing abilities, so countries can meet their own needs to prevent, prepare for and respond to pandemics.
Speaking at the summit, UN Secretary- General, Antonio Guterres, recalled that the global response to COVID-19 showcased both human ingenuity and exposed society’s shortcomings.
While rapid test and vaccine development were notable achievements, there were also a lack of preparedness, disproportionate impacts on the world’s poorest and vaccine hoarding by wealthy nations.
“We must not repeat the mistakes of the past when the next pandemic strikes – as we know it will – and other health threats emerge,” he said.
Reiterating the importance of the declaration, the UN chief urged countries to support the WHO, including increasing their financial contributions.
Tinubu Attends NASDAQ, Rings Closing Bell
President Bola Tinubu on Thursday, rang the bell at the National Association of Securities Dealers Automatic Quotation System (NASDAQ), becoming the first African Head of Government to do so.
The president rang the bell at the world’s financial capital, New York and became the first African President to perform such task.
NASDAQ is world’s second largest stock exchange.
Tinubu, while performing the task, was in company of some Nigerian business leaders and officials of the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. (NGX).
The President also used the opportunity, presented by the historic moment, to advance his foreign investment push in front of financial markets at the famous stock exchange.
“It’s a great honour for me to be here. I am happy to bring Nigeria to your doorsteps and I am honoured that we are here, today, with a bubbling Nigerian stock market that will evolve in the West African sub-region.
‘’The greatest economy in Africa is Nigeria. There is an immense opportunity in Nigeria, where you can invest your money without fear,” the President said.
He said that his government would address longstanding problems and impediments, such as the recent economic policies taken since assumption of office in May.
He said these include restoration and unification of the foreign exchange rate market to a stable and trustworthy level.
According to him, this will allow new investors to bring their money and be free of worries about whether they can take it out at any point in time.
“You’re free to take in your money and bring out your money. I count on you to invest in Nigeria,” the President said.
Tinubu Woos Investors at Nigeria-US Business Roundtable
President Bola Tinubu has assured prospective investors of his administration’s determination to adopt necessary fiscal and regulatory measures toward the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
At the Nigeria-U.S. Executive Business Roundtable, the President said he recognised that investment capital is cowardly in nature.
He said that was the reason behind his bringing successful Nigerian industrialists and public officials to share their experiences and operational plans, respectively.
Tinubu said this was in addition to all he had done to boost the confidence of the global investment community in Nigeria, by reforming the fiscal, monetary, regulatory and tax policy environment.
“Nigeria is an opportunity that is impossible to replicate or find elsewhere in any part of the world. We have brilliant young people who both innovate and consume at a large scale.
‘’Our entrepreneurial spirit is a major part of what makes our market totally unique, aside from demography.
‘’Nigerians build businesses and Nigerian businesses partner with other businesses to conduct larger business.
‘’There is enough value to spread around. Be careful of what you hear about Nigeria. You may be dissuaded out of a major opportunity that others will take up.
‘’We are here for you. We will give you all the support you need to succeed and succeed abundantly,” the President said.
On behalf of the U.S. Government, U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, told U.S. business leaders he came back from Nigeria on an official visit that later became a fact-finding mission.
“In Lagos, I saw, first-hand, some of the major reforms you implemented as the Governor of Lagos and the transformative effect on Nigeria’s commercial capital.
‘’People have attested to the fact that the reforms you have put in place as President are quickly enhancing confidence.
‘’American business is paying attention to that and from what we have seen for ourselves, Nigeria is proving to be a new frontier for investment.
‘’We will encourage our companies from our end as those reforms continue to deepen,” Adeyemo said.
The American Business Council President, Mr Sops Ideriah, said that the extensive turnouts at the roundtable by American business chief executives was impressive.
According to him, the turnouts served as a testament to the degree to which confidence is rising in response to the actions and words of the President.
He said that this was with respect to ease of doing business, investment promotion, and his willingness to intervene to clear the historical concerns of American business people about doing business in Nigeria.
“Having all the stakeholders in the room, His Excellency, the President of Nigeria being here, from government actors at the federal and state level to ministers and tax authorities present, as well as private sector industrialists in Nigeria.
‘’We are very positive about the potential of Nigeria and we are just reinforcing to our colleagues the message about the economic opportunities that exist there,” Ideriah said.
Acting Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Zacch Adedeji, assured the American captains of industry that the nation’s apex tax authority would not focus on taxing the seed.
He said it would focus only on the proportionate taxation of the fruit of fully formed industry, through efficient policy synergy with Nigeria’s sub-national authorities.
“The President is a business enabler, not a handicapper. Everything we do will be geared toward making your tax assessment and payment processes as digitally efficient and transparent as possible.
‘’We are not after the seed, but the fruit and we will keep to this commitment,” Adedeji said.(NAN)
NNPCL Signs Membership of UN Global Compact
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, has signed up as a participant of the United Nations Global Compact, thereby becoming the first state-owned oil company to join the global initiative.
Group CEO of NNPC Ltd, Malam Mele Kyari, signed the Letter of Commitment, at the ongoing UN General Assembly (UNGA), signifying its participation in the UN Global Compact in New York.
A statement by the NNPC Ltd management, on Thursday, said the company signed up in a short ceremony on the sidelines of President Bola Tinubu’s session during the Global Africa Business Initiative (GABI) at the ongoing general assembly.
In a speech shortly after the signing, Kyari said the NNPCL’s participation in the UN Global Compact was a further testimony to Nigeria’s commitment to work with global partners towards attaining a just Energy Transition.
Kyari added that with this development, NNPCL supports the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact on human rights, labour, environment, and anti corruption.
He described the NNPCL as a dynamic global energy company with businesses and operations across the entire spectrum of the energy value chain.
“We are committed to making the UN Global Compact and its principles part of our strategy, culture and day-to-day operations of our Company.
“We will engage in collaborative projects which advance the broader development of goals of the United Nations, particularly the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Kyari added.
Earlier in her remarks, the Executive Director, UN Global Compact Network, Nigeria, Ms Naomi Nwokolo described NNPCL’s move to become a participant of the UN global initiative as pivotal step in fostering a culture of ethical business conduct, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility.
With Nigeria being one of the largest producers of crude oil in Africa, a transition from an energy system driven by fossil fuels to one based on renewable energy will have far reaching positive impact, serving as a catalyst for sustainability in-country, on the continent and the world at large.
The UN Global Compact, formally inaugurated in July 2000, is a voluntary UN agreement designed to encourage companies around the world to develop, implement, and disclose responsible and sustainable corporate policies and practices. (NAN)
Minister Calls for Creative Ideas to Overcome Economic Challenges
By Raphael Atuu, Abuja
Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Professor Joseph Terlumun Utsev has called on Nigerians to come up with creative ideas and suggestions on how best to overcome challenges facing the country.
Engineer Utsev made the call on Wednesday, when he received members of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) in his office in Abuja.
According to him, the administration of President Bola Tinubu was committed to making lives meaningful for all citizens and was ready to welcome creative ideas that will enable the country surmount its challenges and better the living condition of citizens.
He acknowledged the key role the Nigerian Economic Summit Group has played over the years in promoting and championing reforms of the Nigerian economy and called for synergy between the group and the Ministry to achieve the desired result.
Acting Chief Operations Officer and Senior Fellow Economic Policy, Strategy and Competitiveness, Dr Tayo Aduloju had explained that the group, which is non – profit, non -partisan private sector organization with a mandate to promote and champion the reform of the Nigerian economy into a modern globally and competitive one was at the ministry to seek partnership in the areas of providing useful ways of improving water , sanitation and hygiene in the country as well as how to make water a business .
The Minister had earlier played host to a delegation from the World Bank led by Jun Matsumoto, which were at the ministry to also seek partnership for the promotion of irrigation farming and effective utilization of dams for agriculture.
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