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Tension in Ondo as gunshots rock polling unit, boat capsized

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Sporadic shootings have been reported at a polling unit in the Oke Ijebu area of Akure at the ongoing governorship election in Ondo State.

Ondo police spokesman, Tee-Lee Ikoro, confirmed the incident, adding that mobile police personnel had been promptly drafted to the area.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said on Twitter that those shooting were thugs from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The opposition party said the plan was to scare away voters from the polling unit.

Also, a boat conveying electoral materials and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to the Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State capsized this morning.

The boat was said to have capsized on its way to deliver voting materials to polling units in the Ilaje area.

No death was recorded as all the passengers were reportedly put on life jackets while onboard.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Tee-Leo Ikoro, who confirmed the incident, however, said the development would not affect the election.

He added that the materials were not affected either.

The Deputy Inspector General leading the police team for the election, Leye Oyebade, said on Friday that adequate measures had been put in place to ensure maximum safety during the poll.

He said tactical squads had been deployed in strategic areas apart from police manning the polling booths.

Oyebade said, “We have been able to put a robust mechanism on ground that is going to work; a mechanism that it is going to give us the desired result, which is safety.

“We have deployed to the riverine areas at least three per unit. We have deployed men to all the collation centres and given adequate protection to INEC officials, and materials in all the necessary areas that are meant to be covered.

“Our preparation has been ongoing before now behind the scene. We have been able to crime map the state and noted the threat analysis.

“We will not be distracted. We have enough personnel to address the issues of banditry, kidnapping and all of that. We have our technical platform to track and do the needful.

“We have adequate number to address the supervision of this election; personnel are sound technically. We are good to go. We have been able to structure the terrain, the waterways, land and air, all entry and exit points. We have been able to get adequate personnel lectured, trained and tutored to be professional.

“So, with the personnel we have on ground, appropriate logistics and with the mindset to sacrifice, because this is a major event to celebrate our democracy, the police officers’ morale is very high. We know that the police and other security agencies are ready to protect lives and property.

“We have been able to support in terms of protection of INEC officials and transportation of INEC materials that has begun for some days now and has been going on without any issue.”

He also said, “We have a code of conduct guiding the personnel that have been deployed. They have been given a tag with their names and pictures on it to identify them in the places they are posted to. “Their names and mobile phone numbers are also with the officials at the various places they are posted. That is how we will curb fake or illegal policemen.

“We have also sent out dedicated mobile numbers- 07049960674 and 09152784339. These two numbers are for members of the public to have access to us through calls and text messages.

“If they think there is an urgent matter going on, they can send a message, pictures or videos to us through WhatsApp on this number: 07049936417.”

But the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of over 400 civil society organisations, on Friday condemned what it described as an invasion of the state by some governors.

The Chairman, Transition Monitoring Group, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said at a press briefing this constituted a threat to the peaceful and credible conduct of the election.

Also, the Independent National Electoral Commission has denied the allegation by the PDP that it appointed a townsman of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu as its chief returning officer for the election.

National Commission and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, gave the clarification in a statement on Friday.

The PDP had on Thursday alleged that the electoral umpire had appointed the Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, as the chief returning officer for the governorship election.

The Chairman of the PDP National Campaign Council and Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde said Ogunbodede is a known crony of Governor Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress and hails from Owo, the same hometown as the candidate.

Makinde said Ogunbodede could not be a fair party in the proceedings by virtue of his association with the governor and as such, would not guarantee a free and fair election.

But in dismissing the report, Okoye said the returning officer for the election was not from Ondo State and not from the OAU.

“The attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been drawn to a press conference addressed by the Chairman of the PDP National Campaign Council and Governor of Oyo State, Mr Seyi Makinde, on Thursday, October 8, 2020 to the effect that the Commission has appointed the Vice-Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Professor Eyitope Ogungbenro Ogunbodede, as the returning officer for the Ondo governorship election taking place on October 10, 2020.

“While the commission will not be drawn into speculations relating to the performance of its constitutional and statutory functions, it is imperative to set the records straight for the benefit of the people of Ondo State and the integrity of the electoral process.

“It is the sole responsibility of the commission to appoint a returning officer for the Ondo governorship election and does not share this responsibility with any individual, group, or political party.”

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Onochie to know fate on INEC job Tuesday

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The public is expected to know on Tuesday (tomorrow) the outcome of the screening of a Senate panel of the Special Assistant to the President on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, and five others nominated for appointment as national commissioner of Independent National Electoral Commission.

The panel, it was learnt, would submit its report to the plenary on Tuesday.

Onochie, Prof. Muhammad Sani Kallah, Prof. Kunle Cornelius Ajayi, Saidu Babura Ahmad, Prof. Sani Muhammad Adam and Dr. Baba Bila were screened last Thursday by the Senate Committee on INEC nine months after President Muhammadu Buhari forwarded a request to the Red Chamber to confirm them.

Onochie’s nomination had sparked outrage from the opposition lawmakers and some from the All Progressives Congress and civil society groups, who argued that she was “too partisan” to be a commissioner in an important institution like INEC.

Others accused her of being a card-carrying member of ruling APC.

But the presidential aide said she had stopped being a member of any political party since 2019.

The screening session became rowdy when a member of the panel, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti) suggested that Onochie be placed on oath to swear that she did not belong to any political party.

But the suggestion was opposed by other committee members, who noted that putting Onochie on oath was against the Senate rule.

The Senate Committee Chairman, Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano), said his committee would look at all the documents before the panel, decide the nominees and forward its recommendations to the Senate.

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PHOTOS: Fire razes building at Ladipo market in Lagos

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PenCom launches app to capture retirees for benefits

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The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has launched an online application to capture the information of retirees and process the benefits due to them.

In 2020, PenCom had explained that it would introduce an electronic process for easy authentication of retirees due to COVID-19.

The commission said the process would include self-assisted and the pension fund administrator (PFA) assisted options.

With this application, the commission said it aims to capture about 11,000 civil servants who are billed to retire in 2021.

Anyim Nyerere, PenCom commissioner, Technical, told reporters in Abuja on Monday on the sidelines of a training for Pension Desk Officers (PDOs) at the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

Nyerere said the application was developed owing to the fact that physical contact has been limited because of COVID-19, adding that it will help the federal government draw up the budget for retirees.

“In terms of value, we are in a dynamic situation, this exercise was supposed to be physical capturing of the would-be retirees of 2020 and 2021 years,” Nyerere said.

“Now it is not impossible to do it because of COVID-19 pandemic, so that is why the online application was developed. The benefit [of this app] is to enable us to capture the would-be retirees which would enable the budget proposal for the retirees by the federal government.”

The commissioner also said measures have been taken to ensure that information about the retirees are not hacked.

“About the safety mechanisms, like I told you, we are aware of what is happening in the cyber world and that is why we put in some control mechanisms, that is why you heard me mention about authorisation, there are people who will authorise from the various PDOs in the ministries, agencies and departments,” he said.

“Once we have the authorisation from that place, the same thing will have to be verified at the other end.

“This training session and the people you see here are pension desk officers (PDOs) from the various MDAs.

“These would-be retirees are from these MDAs, so automatically the information is at their doorsteps, and those that are not computer literate is why this training is germane, these desk officers will put them through to ensure that the right information is provided.”

Also speaking, Abdulhaman Saleem, head contribution, bound and redemption of the commission, said receiving information electronically will enable PenCom to process the benefits of the retirees faster.

“The number of retirees we are expecting, we are looking at 11,000 retirees for 2021, and the major benefit is accuracy and timeliness in terms of processing speed,” Saleem said.

“Initially we were doing manually, physically, collecting documents but now the documents will be sent electronically which makes it faster and easier to process.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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