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INEC to spend N305b on 2023 polls

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INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday disclosed that it has received N100 billion out of the N305 billion it proposed for the conduct of the 2023 general elections.

INEC said President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to sign the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill would not hamper its activities as an electoral umpire.

It also said it “will never reward bad behaviour’’ by conducting a by-election in Ekiti East State Constituency before the June 2023 governorship election in the state.

INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu defended the agency’s proposed N305 billion budget for the general elections before the Senate Committee on Appropriation in Abuja.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Barau Jibrin, assured that the 2022 federal Appropriation Bill will be passed today.

Yakubu attributed his inability to defend the budget proposal last week to an official engagement outside the country.

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He said: “We thank the committee and by extension, the Senate, for all the proactive measures taken, including some of the provisions in the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill, particularly Section 3, which you have strengthened to grant better financial autonomy for the commission.

“I also thank you for the provision in the bill for ensuring that funds are released to the commission, at least, one year to the elections.

“We made a submission for the sum of N305billion for the 2023 general elections.

“We made the submission on the basis of the N100billion as one line item, N40billion regular budget, and the 2022 Appropriation Bill, and then, there is the outstanding N205billion.

“What we have done is to look at the activities that we have to conduct before the general elections. There are activities that must be concluded.

“For instance, if you are going to replace some of the critical facilities like ballot boxes and voting cubicles, these things must be done before the election.

“Party primaries must be conducted and concluded before the election and names of candidates submitted, registration of voters would have to be concluded before the election.

“Printing of the permanent voter’s card would have to be concluded before the election and then some of the critical election technology for the 2023 general elections must be concluded and procured before the election.

“There are activities that we have to undertake during the elections, for instance, engagement for the transporters for electoral logistics. We can’t engage them in advance, it has to be close to the election.

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“Payment of ad hoc staff, we can’t engage ad hoc staff and pay them long after the election, it has to be during the election.”

“In submitting the executive proposal to the National Assembly, the sum of N140billion was made available to INEC as a one-line item in the budget.

“The N140billion was broken into two, we take it that N40billion is our regular budget as an agency of government and N100billion was the first tranche of the 2022 budget and we have gone ahead to make provisions accordingly.

“It may interest the committee to know that we have eight bye-elections pending (three federal constituencies and five state constituencies.

“In fact, the last vacancy occurred only last Wednesday following the death of a member that represented Jiwa West State Constituency in Kaduna State. We have other by-elections pending. We hope that these elections will hold as soon as we resume in the new year.”

*Ekiti, Osun party primaries hold Jan, Feb

Party primaries in  Ekiti and Osun states  will hold in January and February next year,  the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC)   has announced.

The governorship election in Ekiti is scheduled for June and that of Osun will take place in August next year.

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INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu, who spoke yesterday in Abuja, also said the   Ekiti East State Constituency by-election would hold the same period as the governorship poll.

Yakubu said: “Ekiti governorship election is holding in June. But, in about two weeks, party primaries for the state will commence beginning from January 1 to 29 next year.  The primaries for Osun State will be in February.

“Elections are held all year round, there is no longer election season in Nigeria. Elections are held all year round as the need arises.”

He lamented that INEC had tried four times to hold the by-election in Ekiti East State Constituency without success.

He recalled that in the last attempt, voters, security operatives, and electoral officers lost their lives at polling units.

Yakubu added: “INEC will never reward bad behaviour. The election can only be repeated in June next year during the gubernatorial election.”

The Nation

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Supporters of Peter Obi rally, lock down Lagos, Bauchi, Asaba, Calabar

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Massive turnout of supporters of Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party,  during rallies held on Saturday in parts of Lagos, Asaba, Calabar, Bauchi and Warri, led to traffic congestion on a number of major roads.

In Lagos, the Lekki-Epe expressway as well as Surulere, they were seen marching and chanting songs of praise for the presidential hopeful.

Many of them ditched the Nigerian green and white flag for the Labour Party’s multi-coloured flag, waving as they marched in excitement. Others adorned paraphernalia of the party.

In Delta State, another mammoth crowd marched from Inter-Bus roundabout along Nnbisi road in Asaba, the state capital.

A similar situation was recorded in Warri where Obi’s supporters converged on Effurun roundabout and  marched to the Airport Road and later Warri city stadium where Labour Party leaders urged them to vote wisely in the 2023 general elections.

In Calabar, dancers wore traditional attires and lined major roads chanting “Obi! Obi!” to match the beats of traditional musical instruments.

Other supporters adorned the Labour Party’s multi-colour flag in a show of support for Obi.

In a Facebook video posted by The Nation, another excited crowd marched in support of Mr Obi in Bauchi.

Some of them could be seen chanting “Carry me dey go, Obi, carry me dey go, dey go, dey go,” while waving the Nigerian and Labour Party flag.

The physically challenged, market women and other people from many places thronged the busy roads of the Bauchi metropolis to show their support for Obi.

The supporters who trekked about 10km distance to the converging point at Rafin Zurfi were screaming the slogan ‘we are not only on social media, we are real’.

Speaking shortly after the rally, the Chairman of the Labour Party in the state, Hussein Saraki, said he was shocked to see the turnout of the supporters.

“Peter Obi will take us from consumption to production because we are tired of misrule. Just look at the crowd, I am surprised myself by what is happening in Bauchi. The day Peter will come it will be great. This movement has just started. We will take our country by the grace of God,” he said

The massive turnout has put to question claims that Obi, labelled by opponents as a social media candidate because of the support he enjoys from social media, would not enjoy the same support on the ballot.

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Campaign funds donors can’t be anonymous, INEC tells political parties

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Festus Okoye, INEC spokesperson

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned political parties against receiving funds from “anonymous sources” for the 2023 elections.

Festus Okoye, INEC spokesperson, said this on Friday during an interview with Channels Television.

Ahead of the 2023 elections, there have been a series of debates on the legality of crowdfunding, including diaspora funding, to raise money for campaigns for political parties and their candidates.

Asked how INEC will monitor crowdfunding for campaign organisations, Okoye said political parties are not to spend funds from anonymous sources.

“The law is very clear. The law says that no political party is obligated to receive funds from sources it cannot testify to — anonymous sources,” he said.

“And the law is very clear that when people donate funds to you (referring to political parties), you should get their names, know their addresses, and so on.

“If you receive funds from a source you cannot identify, you should turn in such funds to the INEC. The law is also clear that every registered political party in Nigeria must and shall maintain proper books of accounts where it will record the sources of funds, money received, expenditure it has made, and the place where it received such funds from.

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“If a political party receives funds that it cannot account for or does not know its source, that particular political party ought to report to INEC that it received such funds.”

Section 225 (3) of the constitution states that: “No political party shall — hold or possess any funds or other assets outside Nigeria; or be entitled to retain any funds or assets remitted or sent to it from outside Nigeria.”

Speaking on the legal provisions of campaign funding, Okoye said section 225 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) does not allow political parties to receive funds from outside the country.

“The guiding electoral legal framework for this election remains the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Electoral Act of 2022 , the regulations and guidelines rolled out by INEC,” Okoye said.

“If you look at section 225 of the constitution, it makes it very clear that no registered political party in Nigeria shall possess any fund outside the country.

“In other words, a political party cannot open an account and have money remitted into that particular account outside the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Secondly, it makes it clear that no political party shall, under any circumstance, retain any funds remitted to it from outside the country and if such funds are remitted to the political parties from outside the country that political party has constitutional and legal obligation to turn in such funds to INEC within a period of 21 days from the date of receipt of such funds.

“That is the law and the constitutional stipulation, and the political parties are aware of this stipulation.

“As far as section 225 of the 1999 constitution is concerned, it did not make any distinction. It says you should not receive funds from outside.

“If you receive funds from Niger, Chad and Benin Republic, it goes with the same issue because it seems to me that when people are talking about not receiving funds, they are just looking at funds received from places like the US, Germany and France and the rest of them. But the law says you should not receive funds from outside the country.”

The Cable

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Oyetola, deputy wrong candidates for last Osun gov election­ – Court

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Osun State Governor, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Friday evening nullified the nomination of Governor Isiaka Oyetola and his deputy governorship candidate, Benedict Alabi, as candidates of the All Progressives Congress in the last governorship election in Osun State.

The court said the judgment was on the grounds that the former APC Caretaker Committee Chairman, Mai Mala Buni, who submitted their names to the Independent National Electoral Commission, violated the provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 82(3) of the Electoral Act 2022.

The Peoples Democratic Party through its counsel, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), had in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/468/2022, dragged Buni and four others before the court, challenging the nomination and sponsorship of Governor Oyetola and his deputy as the duly nominated candidates of the APC.

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In challenging the competence of the suit, counsel for Oyetola, Kunle Adegoke (SAN), who contended, among other grounds that the plaintiff did not have the locus to commence the action and that the suit was statute-barred.

In arguing to the contrary,  Ogunwumiju (SAN), leading O.M. Atoyebi (SAN) and Ademola Abimbola, submitted that the plaintiff rightly commenced the suit under Section 285(14) (c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

In its judgment, Justice Emeka Nwite agreed with the submissions of the plaintiff’s counsel and declared as null and void the nomination of Oyetola and Alabi by the APC.

Meanwhile, the Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Ismail Omipidan, has appealed to Oyetola’s supporters to remain calm in the face of the decision of a Federal High Court that nullified his candidature in the July 16 governorship poll.

He said, “For the records, the position of the law is that only members of the APC who participated in the primary election can approach the court to challenge the nomination of Oyetola as the candidate of the party.”

“All these are part of the antics of the opposition PDP and some of their collaborators from within to distract us. But like every one of their plans, this too has fallen flat on their faces.”

Punch

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