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Electronic Voting May Start in 2021, INEC Reveals

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The Independent National Electoral Commission on Monday said it would engage with the National Assembly and other stakeholders to explore ways of responding to the rising cost of conducting frequent bye-elections in Nigeria.

The commission premised its decision on the Supreme Court judgment which states that votes belong primarily to political parties, as well as its records, which show that only in 10 per cent of all bye-elections since 2015 did the party that won originally lose the election.

INEC also said it would “pilot the use of Electronic Voting Machines at the earliest possible time (not Edo and Ondo), but work towards the full introduction of electronic voting in major elections starting from 2021.”

The commission gave these details in its 17-paged policy document on conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, signed by its chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made available to journalists in Abuja.

According to the document, the commission would ensure the use of electronic and non-contact means to recruit ad hoc staff beginning with the governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states scheduled for September 19 and October 10, 2020 respectively.

The commission also said it would reduce to a minimum interstate movement of staff, including ad hoc staff, for off-season and bye-elections to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus.

The document reads, “The commission will engage with the legislature and other stakeholders to explore ways of responding to the rising cost of conducting frequent bye-elections, especially in consideration of the Supreme Court position that votes belong primarily to political parties, as well as the Commission’s records, which show that only in 10 per cent of all bye-elections since 2015 did the party that won originally lose the election.

“The commission will engage relevant authorities, including the legislature, to designate election as an essential service to enable the commission function effectively in times of national emergency.

“The commission shall revamp its election planning and implementation-monitoring processes in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, the commission in planning elections shall respond to the growing demand for deepening the use of technology in the electoral processes, including the introduction of electronic voting.”

Apart from developing a new election budget template to reflect the likely impact of the COVID – 19 pandemic on the funding profile of electoral activities, INEC said it would constantly re-evaluate planned electoral activities in the light of COVID – 19 and the health risks it poses for voters, stakeholders and staff during elections.

For pre-election activities, the commission said it would “develop a Voter Code of Conduct document detailing how voters are expected to act and conduct themselves at the polling units in the light of the COVID – 19 pandemic.”

The document reads further, “The commission will ensure the use of electronic and non-contact means to recruit ad hoc staff by deploying its INECPres portal, as well as in notifying ad hoc staff of invitations and postings (for example, use of SMS) to prevent large gatherings at INEC offices during staff deployment.

“The Electoral Operations and Logistics Department will harvest all past ad hoc staff from its databases and send to each State preparing for elections.

“All ad hoc staff databases in the commission will be harmonised for better management. To reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, the commission shall reduce, to a minimum interstate movement of staff, including ad hoc staff, for off-season and bye-elections.

“The rule shall be that only shortfalls requested by the States are filled from outside the state. As much as possible, all election staff will be sourced in-state.

“In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commission shall encourage political parties to develop appropriate guidelines and regulations for conduct of party primaries that take into account the COVID-19 prevention protocols.”

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Bandits Attack Military Base in Katsina, Soldiers Feared

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An unspecified number of soldiers are feared killed in an attack on a military outpost in Marina, Safana Local Government Area of Katsina State.

It is not clear the casualties suffered on either side, but some soldiers were feared killed.

The soldiers were said to be returning from an operation in a nearby forest when they were ambushed.

A resident of the area, who spoke under condition of anonymity, told DailyTrust, “Unknown to the soldiers, the bandits had laid an ambush in their outpost. The bandits opened fire immediately the soldiers returned to the posts.

“It is unfortunate because the soldiers were just returning from another operation, where they made tremendous success, combing the forests for the bandits, only to be waylaid in their base,” he said.

Another resident, however, said two of the bandits were killed during the gun duel.

Attempts to confirm the incident from the military or the police authorities proved abortive.

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Matawalle Accuses Jangebe School Watchman of Complicity in Schoolgirls’ Abduction

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Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, has fingered the watchman of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, where about 300 students were abducted last week, of being complicit in the incident.

He also said repentant bandits held talks with their unrepentant counterparts and were able to secure the release of the schoolgirls.

Matawalle spoke on Wednesday while featuring on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme monitored by The PUNCH.

The governor had said Nigerians will be shocked if they know the identities of those behind the mass abduction.

When asked to reveal the identities of masterminds of the abduction, Matawalle said, “The security agents in the state are aware that when we were trying to rescue these children without paying ransom, other people were behind talking to them that money will be given to them that they shouldn’t release them to the state government.

“This is a complete sabotage for my government and we have a lot of intelligence on this and I am going to inform the relevant authorities.

“The children have mentioned the watchman of the school, that after releasing them, the bandits were telling them that they should greet the watchman for them, they even mentioned his name that he was the one who gave them the go-ahead to come, he was involved.

“They (the schoolgirls) have said this before the commissioner of police in Zamfara State.

“I assure Nigerians that investigation will be carried out and all the people involved will be known.”

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See Full List of Officers, Soldiers Who Deserted the Army

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The Nigerian Army has declared a total of 12 officers and 89 soldiers wanted for deserting the war front in Borno State.

The army authorities have also frozen the banks accounts of the affected personnel.

Military sources told PREMIUM TIMES the soldiers absconded from duty after insurgents attacked their camps in Marte and Dikwa Local Government Areas of Borno State, leaving scores of their colleagues dead.

This newspaper had exclusively reported how at least seven soldiers of the Nigerian Army were confirmed dead after Boko Haram terrorists attacked Marte.

The soldiers, attached to the 15 Task Force Battalion, were ambushed and dislodged after hours of intense fighting, sources told PREMIUM TIMES.

According to those familiar with the matter, the troops were overwhelmed and could not withstand the superior firepower of the terrorists.

The unit then tactically retreated and relocated to Dikwa, which was attacked again.

The Nigerian Army recently announced the recovery of Marte and other communities.

Order to apprehend deserters

Military insiders said the order to arrest and freeze bank accounts of the fleeing soldiers came from authorities of Operation Lafiya Dole in Borno.

Various formations of the army have been notified to immediately apprehend and deliver any of the soldiers found in their areas of responsibilities.

An internal memo to that effect has already been circulated to various formations, our sources said.

Full list of the officers and soldiers who deserted the army:

  1. GY Mohammed
  2. EP Nwangwu
  3. US Muhammad
  4. EG Utok
  5. A Ibrahim
  6. US Ibrahim
  7. ME Ochei
  8. EN Essien
  9. FC Maduako
  10. KO Adejare
  11. S Mammada
  12. YJ Ishaya
  13. Muazu Yusuf
  14. Musa Usman
  15. Idris Garba
  16. Chigbo John
  17. Aminu Mohammed
  18. Godfrey Samuel
  19. Christopher Silas
  20. Okoro Emeka
  21. Meze Hillary
  22. Zakka Peter
  23. Onyebuchi Kennedy
  24. Okunola Oluwasegun
  25. Suoyefe Abiola
  26. Mwankat Shalmak
  27. Ekekien Peter
  28. Daniel Emmanuel
  29. John Monday
  30. Yakubu Amos
  31. Aminu Saidu
  32. Pius Okoro
  33. Kenebra Shedrach
  34. Dominic Eworo
  35. Ojo Oluwasegun
  36. Nura Lawal
  37. Yakubu Suleiman
  38. Johnson Chorus
  39. Isah Shaibu
  40. Nasiru Hamisu
  41. Jibrin Sa’adu
  42. John Ukpenkune
  43. Umar Sani
  44. Mustapha Suleiman
  45. Isiaq Adam
  46. Muhammed Ahmed
  47. John Richard
  48. Kabiru Hashimu
  49. Awuna Monday
  50. Isah John
  51. Zamani Fidelis
  52. Abubakar Adam
  53. Philip Chia
  54. Ogundipe GBenga
  55. Samson Unite
  56. Francis Audu
  57. Abubakar Musa
  58. Ibrahim Adamu
  59. Sadiq Abubakar
  60. Lawal Abdullahi
  61. Ajala David
  62. Suleiman Jamilu
  63. Okoro Ama
  64. Sunday Sule
  65. Aimato Abdulsalam
  66. Abubakar Musa
  67. Suleiman Kabiru
  68. Onu Kingsley
  69. Buba Usman
  70. James John
  71. Hussaini Adamu
  72. Shamsudeen Ismail
  73. Saidu Sani
  74. Abdullahi Musa
  75. Abubakar Yahaya
  76. Edosa Aigboje
  77. Ibrahim Umar
  78. Chukwujekwu Okenwa
  79. Abdullahi Usman
  80. Ukali Emmanuel
  81. Joseph Benard
  82. Ewubare Gold
  83. Abimiku Sunday
  84. Ibrahim Mansur
  85. Joseph Ayuba
  86. Ayanyemi Tayo
  87. Remember Jeremiah
  88. Jimoh Adesina
  89. Ukwokori Precious
  90. Ayawei Ayibatemi
  91. Kalu Sunday
  92. Abdulkadir Ahmed
  93. Osakwe Festus N
  94. Badamashi Omokafe
  95. Levi Pwagureno
  96. Paul Pilate Saddam
  97. Bello Musa
  98. Moses Ayo
  99. Ademu Alih
  100. Ogobi Fredrick
  101. Benedict Uduebor

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