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Rivers Goes to Polls Today Amid Anxiety Over Security



  • Rivers Goes to Polls Today Amid Anxiety Over Security

Anxiety has been mounting in Rivers State as political parties jostle to win 37 national and state legislatives seats today.

Meanwhile, an atmosphere of uncertainty has beclouded the elections, particularly in Tai Local Government Area where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it would conduct election in the remaining few wards , irrespective of a Federal High Court order that elections should be held in the entire area.

Over 30,000 security personnel comprising the police, army, navy and other para-military agencies have been deployed to the entire 23 local councils where the re-run elections are taking place today.

Eyewitnesses in Abonnema, Bonny, Buguma and other riverine communities told The Guardian that the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has deployed gunboats to these communities to police the waterways and enforce the restriction of movement order.

Heavy security has been mounted around INEC offices across the State, even as the electoral body started the distribution of sensitive electoral materials yesterday to the Local Government Areas of the State.

Meanwhile, Rivers State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Aniedi Ikoiwak, has told The Guardian that irrespective of the huge deployment of security personnel across the State, if the key political actors do not adhere to electoral rules, the entire process might be compromised.

“Everybody should be bothered about security and inflammatory statement made by leaders of the state, because when you are talking about security, it is not only whether you have policemen there, but situations where statements are made to scare people away, creates security situation because people are now scared to do what they are supposed to do,” he said.

He continued: “I cannot say I have security concern in this area and I don’t have in this area. When we talk about security, it may not only mean having security men. It may mean the way we take the election. If we take it as a do-or-die affair, no matter the number of security men you bring, it will still breach security. I think our mindset towards the election should be one that reflects peace, mindset that reflect game not fight”.

Ikiowak explained that about 8,000 to 10,000 ad hoc staff would be deployed across the state for elections. He stressed that any ad hoc staff found to be a member of a political party or has sympathy for a political party, will be dropped to safeguard the integrity of the process.

A statement from the Government House press unit yesterday said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State has warned that if INEC goes ahead to conduct election in a few polling units in Tai Local Council instead of the entire council, then it will become obvious that the electoral commission has a sinister plan to derail the democratic
process in the state.

It will be recalled that Justice Liman of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had on Tuesday ordered INEC to ensure that the results of Tai Local Council emanate from the rerun elections in the area.

“It is hereby ordered that the result of the re-run election in respect of the National and the State House of Assembly elections, which the 1st Defendant (INEC) has fixed a date to conduct in Khana, Bonny, Gokana, Andoni, Eleme and Tai Local Government Areas or any part thereof must emanate from the said re-run election,” he said.

APC spokesperson, Mr. Chris Finebone, has warned that any attempt to derail the electoral process will further dent the image of Rivers State and grossly impact on her economic fortunes.

Finebone noted that it was regrettable that Rivers State has been associated with electoral violence, an image which he stressed is contrary to the true characteristic of the people known for their civility and high moral decorum.

“People will see us as violent people, which we are not, if anything goes wrong this time. Nigerians and the world will see us as a person who cannot exercise their franchise without violence. If we continue to have violent elections, it will affect the economy of the State, as most businesses will leave and government revenue will drop. Anything short of peaceful elections will have spiralling economic effect that we cannot afford at this time”.

On his part, Mr. David Iyofor, media aide to the former Rivers State Governor and Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, said the State cannot afford to undergo another electoral process that will be characterised by an orgy of violence.

Iyofor said because of the consequence of not getting it right would be enormous, adequate security arrangements have been put in place by the security agencies to ensure that the elections take place in a peaceful atmosphere devoid of those circumstances that culminated in the inconclusiveness of the March 19 elections.

The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) has urged local political actors to play the game by the rule and eschew politics of intolerance, acrimony and do-or-die.

MOSOP President, Legborsi Pyagbara, also called on security agencies to play their security roles responsibly, professionally and without bias as partiality could cause violence and breach peace, law and order and destroy the credibility and success of the polls.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Nigeria Immigration Service Reopens Portal With New Passport Application and Payment Process



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The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has announced the reopening of its passport application and payment portal.

The assistant comptroller of immigration, Mr Amos Okpu announced in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.

In the statement, Mr Muhammad Babandede, the Comptroller-General of the service, said the portal became effective for new applications from 12 midnight on Tuesday.

Babandede further said that the portal would allow eligible applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of passports of their choice.

Mr Muhammad Babandede explained that with the reopening of the portal, a new passport application and payment regime had begun.

The statement in full:

“The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (CGI), Muhammad Babandede MFR, has announced the reopening of the Passport application and payment portal effective 8th June 2021 by 12 midnight to allow eligible Passport applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of Passports of their choice.

The Passport portal was closed following the directives of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on the 17th of May, 2021to afford the Service the opportunity to clear all backlogs of applications that have piled up across Issuing Centres in the past few months.

With the reopening of the portal, a new Passport application and payment regime have commenced. Under the new Passport regime;

Applications and payments for Passport services shall be made through the Service website;

  • applicants are expected to visit the portal to apply and upload their support documents for vetting and processing;
  • a chat room facility to guide applicants through the application and payment process has been provided on the portal;
  • upon successful applications, applicants shall make their online booking interview/enrollment appointment on any day, time and location they consider convenient;
  • that the new timeline for Passport production and issuance after a successful enrollment at the selected Issuing Centre shall be six weeks for Fresh applications and three weeks for Re-issue (Renewal applications);
  • that no applicant who is yet to make an online application and payment shall be allowed into any of the Passport Issuing Centres for Passport processing;
  • applicants will be contacted through email and phone number they provided during application when their Passports are ready;
  • a helpline with the number 08021819988 has been provided for feedback mechanism on any challenges.

The Comptroller General, Muhammad Babandede MFR wishes to use this medium to call on Nigerians and indeed Passport applicants to avoid patronizing touts as the entire process has been made seamless for effective and efficient service delivery. He warned Passport racketeers to desist from acts capable of undermining the reform efforts to avoid very strict sanctions.


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INEC To Publish The List Of New Polling Units Next Week



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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has pledged to publish a comprehensive list of its new polling units across the nation next week.

The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja.

Yakubu was speaking at the formal handing over of a new state of the art fire truck, deployed to the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja by the Federal Fire Service (FFS).

He said that details of the locations of its registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration for resumption of nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) would be made available in the second week of May.

He expressed appreciation of the commission to the FFS and all security agencies for the demonstration of their support to protecting INEC facilities

He said that the support was coming on the eve of the resumption of the CVR nationwide in the next three weeks.

“We earlier assured Nigerians that we shall conclude work on the expansion of voter access to polling units and make the new polling units available to citizens ahead of the CVR exercise.

“I am glad to report that we have accomplished this task for the first time in 25 years.

“A comprehensive list of the new polling units will be published next week.

“Similarly, details of the locations of the registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration will also be made available after a series of regular consultative meetings with stakeholders next week,” Yakubu said.

He said that as a member of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) FFS had been as concerned as other security agencies about the recent attacks on our offices across the country.

“This is particularly so because out of the 42 attacks on our facilities nationwide, 18 incidents resulted from arson and three more by a combination of arson and vandalisation.”

Yakubu recalled that concerned by those incidents, the commission convened an emergency meeting of ICCES last week of April, where the security agencies renewed their determination to collaborate more with the commission.

According to him, they pledged to assist the commission address the challenge beyond the routine protection of INEC assets and the security of its officials, voters, observers, the media, candidates and their agents during elections.

“On its part, the Federal Fire Service offered to deploy an additional state-of-the-art fire engine to the INEC headquarters to complement the two existing trucks.

“At the same time, it directed its state offices to take additional protective measures around other INEC facilities nationwide.

“Today’s inauguration of the new fire engine is another affirmation of the support to the commission from the FFS whose personnel, already deployed permanently to the commission

“The personnel will continue to operate and maintain the fire engines and other firefighting equipment installed by INEC,” Yakubu said.

Speaking earlier, the Controller-General (CG) of FFS, Alhaji Liman Ibrahim said the deployment of the firefighting truck was premised on recent fire attacks on INEC offices in different parts of the country.

Ibrahim, represented by the Assistant Controller-General of the service, Mr Samson Karebo, said the deployed truck would serve as fire cover for the premises of INEC headquarters and the entire Maitama vicinity of Abuja.

“The FFS is taking this step as a proactive measure to protect our critical infrastructure and help to protect our economy by forming synergy with all stakeholders in protecting our environments.

“Our center is focused on bringing firefighting operations to every part of the country as part of our statutory duties by having a presence in virtually every state in Nigeria

“The FFS will very soon be moving into all senatorial headquarters in the country. That is how we want to operate for now so that we can touch every corner of this country,” Ibrahim said.

He called for the cooperation of all for the service to better serve the nation by not molesting FFS staff in the line of duty.

In his remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA) retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, who is also Co-Chair of ICCES, described the deployment of the truck as a demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to sustain Nigeria’s democracy and address insecurity.

Monguno said that the gesture also symbolised commitment to a clear affirmation of Buhari toward protecting institutions of government, toward securing their property, toward fighting acts of irresponsibility, vandalisation and outright criminality.

“The President is determined as much as he can within the confines of legality to suppress any kind of criminality and destruction of public property.

“This is something that he is determined to do regardless of whatever the challenges are.

“He will apply all the resources in his disposal in his capacity as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to ensure the wider Nigerian society is safe, stable and is allowed to carry out its legitimate undertaking, free from any act of insecurity,” he said

Monguno urged all other security agencies not to relent in ensuring that they continued to protect lives and property.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Usman Baba pledged commitment to security agencies to work with INEC and protect INEC’s facilities, citizens’ life and property.

Also at the occasion was the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, represented by Director of Joint Services, Mr Peter Obodo; as well as the representative of Director-General, Directorate of State Services, Tony Adikweruka.

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Recovered Assets: Ad-hoch Committee Gives Emefiele, Others 72 Hours Ultimatum



House of representatives

The House of Representatives ad-hoc committee, investigating recovered assets, has given the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, 72 hours to appear before it.

The committee also issued same ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, and the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh.

The summon was issued on Monday, after Mr Emefiele and the others failed to appear before the committee.

The government officials had sent representatives, but the committee chairman, Adejoro Adeogun (APC, Ondo), said they failed to forward letters to that effect.

He said allowing representatives without a proper letter of introduction would be akin to allowing “impersonators.”

You are indirectly insulting the House of Representatives. You are undermining the House of Representatives,” an angry Mr Adeogun said.

Moving a motion to give the agencies 72hours to appear before the committee, Ibrahim Isiaka (APC, Ogun), said the agencies created by Acts of the parliament “should not be undermining the parliament”.

The motion was unanimously adopted by the committee.

Mr Isiaka suggested that the House should shut down its activities if the agencies fail to appear before them.

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