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With technology, 2023 polls will be rigging-proof – INEC *Speaks on warehoused PVCs



The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says warehoused Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) can no longer be used during elections as every voter must be authenticated with the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).

The Director-General of The Electoral Institute (TEI), Dr Sa’ad Idris, stated this at the political parties’ polling agent training workshop and Training of Trainers (TOT) in Abuja on Monday.

Idris said that election personnel, including political party polling agents, must be knowledgeable of their roles and what is expected of them.

“New innovations in the voting system that polling agents need to be aware of include the BVAS which was introduced into our electoral process during the conduct of some elections in 2021. The BVAS adds facial technology to the existing fingerprint authentication and this will ensure that all voters are authenticated by either of the technologies.

“With bi-modal authentication, no person can come to vote more than once, as the face or the fingerprints of the person would have been captured during accreditation. This further ensures a one-person-one-vote system. It is necessary to emphasise that warehoused PVCs can no longer be used during elections as every voter must be authenticated with the BVAS.

“The enactment of the 2022 Electoral Act has also helped the voter accreditation process, as the law now recognises technology (Section 47 (2) of the Act), and there are clear punitive measures for the non-usage of accreditation devices on election day.

“Also, the total number of accreditation for an election will be sourced from the total number accredited using the commission’s accreditation device – BVAS. The BVAS is, therefore, the only means for accreditation of voters on election day,” he said.

Idris, who maintained that in addition, to improve the openness and credibility of elections, INEC decided to make available electronic copies of the PU Result Sheet (EC8A) for the general public to view, adding that this brought about the INEC Results Viewing (IReV) Portal.

“This implies that the EC8A form filled and signed by each Presiding Officer (PO) is scanned or photographed and uploaded to a Public Domain which can be viewed by the General Public. This system ensures that the EC8A filled at the PU is the same as that brought to the Collation centre, as the RA Collation Officer checks the uploaded EC8A before collating the result.”

Idris said that the participants were expected to cascade the training to all other party agents at different levels before the commencement of the 2023 general election.

In his remarks, Chairman, Board of Electoral Institute (BEI), Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, reiterated INEC’s determination to ensure that every valid vote counts and the will of the people prevails in 2023 general elections.

Zuru, who said that INEC was determined to make the forthcoming elections free, fair, credible, inclusive, transparent and verifiable, stressed that INEC was committed to the deployment of the BVAS for voter verification, authentication and accreditation.

“To ensure absolute transparency, the BVAS will also be used to upload accreditation data and election results to the IReV in real-time on Election Day to enable all Nigerians and foreigners to follow the election as it happens. The commission is determined to ensure that every valid vote will count, the will of the people will prevail, and the 2023 General Election will be free, fair, credible, inclusive, transparent and verifiable.

“To this end, we just concluded nationwide mock accreditation exercise on Saturday, Feb. 4, where we tested the field performance of the BVAS. The results of the test were very successful and response of Nigerians across the country very pleasing. Therefore, be reassured that we are indeed very ready for the 2023 general election.”

He said that the training was designed to equip party agents with the code of conduct of party agents on election day as well as highlight their role and responsibilities in line with the regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of elections 2022 and the Electoral Act 2022, adding: “This training is quite significant as Political parties are empowered by Sections 43 (1 & 2) of the Electoral Act, 2023, to appoint agents to protect their interest at all the Polling Units where elections will be conducted across the country, as well as designated Collation centres.”

He implored all participants to take the training with utmost importance as the task of conducting peaceful credible and acceptable election was a collective responsibility you share with the INEC.

The participants included the national organising secretary, national publicity secretary, women leader and youth leader of each party or their representatives.


Speak now! Catholic priests want Kaduna gov’s reaction to El-Rufai’s Islamisation comments



Uba Sani, must either officially distance himself or affirm the declaration of his predecessor Nasir El-Rufai that Muslim-Muslim executive branch leadership, have come to stay or stand up to denounce it immediately.

These were the demands from Catholic priests in parts of the North, who as they expressed disgust at the statement, which showed the former governor captured in a video, which went viral last week, practically celebrating the continuation of an arrangement, which he first introduced in 2019, and which has now been sustained with the new governor having a Muslim deputy.

Clerics from Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria chapters of the Nigerian Catholic Diocesan Priests Association (NCDPA), in a public letter to Sani, urged him to declare his position on what they described as political supremacism in Kaduna state and Nigeria, as part of their reactions to the video, which has raised a lot of dust.

El-Rufai, who in his speech to Muslim clerics in the state, had recounted how after instituting an all-Muslim executive in the state himself and made it permanent in the state, the arrangement was pushed through at the national level with the election of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, as President and Vice President, respectively on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Informing that while Nigerians were actually believed that religion was not the issue in pushing through with the ticket, when it was in fact the case, the former Governor, who spoke in Hausa, declared that the arrangement had come to stay and would last for the next 20 years at the initial stage after Tinubu, adding that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), had been defeated by the outcome.

But an apparently thoroughly upset Catholic priests, in an open letter on Thursday, said: “Having soberly considered the contents and implications of such communication by a former state governor who is known to be your close ally, we feel compelled to write you, to know where you stand with regard to the commotions Mallam El-Rufai intends to propagate and perpetuate in our state,” the letter reads.

“We write you today because we are responsible stakeholders in the affairs of our beloved state with our own congregations and followers. Mr governor, we do not intend to conclude that you are in agreement with all the content of the former governor’s utterances, as you have given no explicit reason to suggest so (yet), even though you were present at the occasion! We therefore earnestly expect your direct official reaction to the utterances of your predecessor in office.”

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Buhari spent more than $19billion on revamping four refineries without result – Nasarawa gov



Barely two weeks after his exit, the records of former President Muhammadu Buhari, have come to to the fore with one of them indicating a damning verdict, as he was said to have sunk a whopping $19billion in trying to rehabilitate the nation’s four refineries, without anything to show for it.

Abdullahi Sule, Governor of Nassarawa State, who used the former President abysmal failure to make a case for supporting the removal on petroleum products, compared the huge wastage to the amount Dangote refinery, cost to give Nigeria a facility with the single chain production in the world.

None of Nigeria’s four refineries, located in Kaduna, Port Harcourt, and Warri is currently operational despite the huge amount sunk to resuscitate them, most of the funds borrowed from foreign lending agencies, the latest being the securing of $1.5million loan for that of Port Harcourt.

Bemoaning the situation, the governor, said: “Look at how much the President Buhari administration spent on fixing the refineries. In the eight years, he spent more money than the $19 billion that Dangote spent in building a refinery. That is one and a half times the size of our three refineries combined.”

A guest on Sunrise Daily, a breakfast programm of Channels Television on Thursday, Sule, pinned the payments of subsidy on Nigeria’s non-functional refineries, adding: “From the government side, I think we didn’t do a good job. When the (former) President (Buhari) came in in 2015, prices of crude oil dropped by less than 30 dollars. At that time, there was zero subsidy.

“Our three refineries in Nigeria today have a total of 450,000 barrels per day, Dangote is 650,000. He spent $19 billion on building it. We spent, not building a new one, but in maintaining these refineries; more than $19 billion in eight years, yet they have not been maintained.”

The Dangote Refinery, Africa’s biggest oil refinery, which took off in 2017, drew Nigerians and global personalities in different fields of life, including four African Presidents at its commissioning on May 22, 2023 by Buhari.

Sule, who also lamented the complexity of maintaining the refineries due to their diverse components, added: “The refinery is actually a component for water, crude, and diesel, about five or six different components that constitute a refinery. The moment the government says we are going to spend $2 billion this year on the refinery. The $2 billion is spent and as far as the President is concerned, they have given $2 billion.

“Now when it goes to the three refineries that we have in Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna. Then they say, you now take $700 million, you now take $800 million – by the time they take that, it goes to fix maybe only one component out of the four components that are all bad. The ideal resolve would have been to allocate the major funds to one of the refining states to fix it totally before allocating the remainder to the other states.

“So, zero work is done. These are the true realities of what is happening, and that is why none of the refineries is working. These are truly the problem, we have not really managed this thing well.”

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Japan goes tough on asylum seekers, enacts new law to check abuse



Despite desperate attempts to block it, including a ruckus, which broke out in parliament Japan went ahead on Friday to enact an immigration law that would see the government deporting failed asylum seekers, even with members of civil society, joining in the pushback.

The law gives refugees only three chances to try after which they would face deportation, unlike before when applicants could stay in Japan during the decision process, regardless of the number of attempts they made to secure refugee status, reports, say.

The revised law will “protect those who must be protected while strictly dealing with people who have violated rules. There are many people who misuse the application system to avoid deportation,” Justice Minister Ken Saito, was quoted as saying, adding that this had persisted even when such people were not fleeing danger or persecution.

Last year, Japan accepted just 202 refugees out of some 12,500 applicants, and separately allowed 1,760 people to remain in the country due to “humanitarian considerations,” including more than 2,400 evacuees from Ukraine under a different framework.

Activists staged rallies against the revised law, but a protest from the opposition bloc in parliament was voted down by the ruling coalition, which holds a commanding majority.

“It is intolerable to deport people, even if they have criminal records, to countries that may violate their human rights” and where “their life and freedom would be in danger”, the Tokyo Bar Association said this week.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party says the revisions will bring better access to medical care and accommodation options for people whose asylum applications are pending.

Japan’s immigration detention conditions have been under scrutiny since the 2021 death of Wishma Sandamali, a 33-year-old Sri Lankan woman.

Sandamali was not an asylum seeker but had been held for overstaying her visa after seeking police protection, reportedly to escape an abusive relationship.

Her family are seeking compensation of more than $1 million from the government over her death.

Sandamali reportedly complained repeatedly of stomach pain and other symptoms, and campaigners allege she received inadequate medical care.

Controversy and political pressure over the incident led ruling lawmakers to drop a push to enact similar legal changes to immigration rules two years ago.

Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer for Sandamali’s family, told AFP on Thursday that the revised bill was “equivalent to having a button to execute those who seek refuge by deporting them”.

“Japan’s refugee recognition system is not working,” he said, with officials turning down applications quickly, sometimes without face-to-face interviews.

Amnesty International also said in March that Japan should scrap the proposed revision to immigration laws, calling the country’s detention policies “harsh” and “repressive.”

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