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Rivers Rerun: Police Panel Hunts for N238m Bribe Cash Balance

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  • Police Panel Hunts for N238m Bribe Cash Balance

The police panel, which investigated the violence that characterised the December 10, 2016, legislative rerun polls in Rivers State, has intensified its efforts to recover the balance of the N350m bribe, which the panel alleged was given to officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The committee alleged that the cash was given to about 23 officials of INEC by officials of the Rivers State Government in order to ensure that the election was rigged.

But while the police have tendered the N111.3m, reportedly recovered from some officials of the electoral umpire, the panel has been unable to trace the balance of N238.7m.

The panel, which presented its findings at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, last Tuesday, had indicted six dismissed police operatives for misconduct and misuse of arms during the poll, contrary to the provisions of Force Order 237.

They are Eyong Victor, Peter Ekpo, Oguni Goodluck, Orji Nwoke, Okpe Ezekiel and Tanko Akor.

The panel, headed by Damian Okoro, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, said in its report, “Out of N350m, N15m was given to each of the electoral officers and N5m was added by the government of Rivers to the EOs who were in charge.

“Consequently, the sum of N111.3m was recovered by the panel from the 23 electoral officers.”

It was learnt that initial efforts to recover the outstanding N238m had failed to yield the desired results as some of the indicted officials had refused to cooperate with the police to trace the alleged loot.

“The panel could not establish who got the balance of N248.7m bribe as the EOs (Electoral Officers) admitted to getting just N111.3m out of the N350m bribe,” a source told one of our correspondents on Saturday.

The source, however, refused to outline the steps being taken by the panel to recover the balance, vowing that the panel was sure of getting the money “soon” owing to the strategies to be taken to recover the bribe.

The police have released the indicted 23 electoral officials on administrative bail to INEC for appropriate sanctions in line with the civil service rules.

Sources said that the police expected INEC to mete out appropriate sanctions to the indicted officials after which the officials would be arraigned in court.

A senior official, however, said the arraignment of the EOs was not dependent on the electoral commission’s action, noting that the prosecution of the officials would be determined by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN).

The source added, “After their interrogation and the money was recovered from them, the EOs were released to INEC to be dealt with in accordance with the civil service rules. Both the givers and takers are culpable, but it is only the electoral officials that would be prosecuted because the governor enjoys immunity from prosecution.

“INEC would be allowed to carry out its internal disciplinary exercise against the errant officials, but this would not stop or delay the arraignment of the suspects once the authorities have drawn up the charges against them.”

He stated that the suspects were not paraded before newsmen when the panel submitted its findings last week because they had yet to face INEC internal disciplinary committee.

“It is because of the need for INEC to implement its internal mechanism on the officers that the electoral officers were not paraded when the panel submitted its report last week, but their files are being studied and would be submitted to the AGF as soon as possible,” the source stated.

When asked the reasons for the delay in the arraignment of the suspects, the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, said there was no delay, adding that the panel report would be implemented.

“We are going to fully implement the report; Like the IG has stated, the report will be forwarded to the AGF and implemented. There is no delay, we are simply following the due process,” the police spokesman stated on Saturday.

The Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, had inaugurated the panel on December 22, 2016, following the violence that rocked the poll in which DSP Mohammed Alkali and his driver were beheaded and their heads thrown into a river.

We are awaiting our internal panel report — INEC

Meanwhile, the Chief Press Secretary to Chairman of INEC, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, said the commission was expecting the outcome of its internal panel of investigation and the police report on the Rivers rerun elections.

Oyekanmi stated that it was appropriate for the police team, which visited the commission at the beginning of its work, to oblige the agency with its findings to keep INEC abreast of further developments on the rerun probe.

He added that the affected personnel were not Abuja-based and might have been released in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

He said, “I don’t know when and how they (suspects) were released; you know they are not Abuja-based people. Probably, they were released in Port Harcourt. It is our local spokesperson there or the Resident Electoral Commissioner who would have the information.

“They (the police) are supposed to oblige us with their own report because they came to us at the beginning and we expect them to let us know what they have discovered which they have not done.

“If you came to INEC and you brought a letter that you needed some things, which were granted and when you now conclude your investigation, at least, you should let us know what you discovered. So they have not given us the report. We are waiting for them.”

Oyekanmi also denied the claim that the Legal Department of INEC had received the police report on the rerun elections.

He stressed that such a report would not be sent to a department in the commission but would emanate from the office of the Inspector-General of Police to the office of the chairman of the commission.

Oyekanmi said, “The Independent National Electoral Commission has not received such a report either at the Legal Department or anywhere.

“And in fact, there is no way a police report will go to a department. It will come from the Inspector-General of Police to the Chairman of the commission. I have cross-checked in all the necessary places and they say it is not true.”

However, a top official of the commission, who confided in one of our correspondents, on Saturday, said the police did not need the input of INEC to prosecute the personnel indicted by the panel.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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NIMC Announces Launch of Three National ID Cards to Boost Identity Management

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The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has unveiled plans to launch three new national identity cards.

These cards are aimed at providing improved access to government services and bolstering identification systems across Nigeria.

The three new national identity cards, as disclosed by Ayodele Babalola, the Technical Adviser, Media, and Communications to the Director-General of NIMC, will include a bank-enabled National ID card, a social intervention card, and an optional ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card.

Babalola explained that these cards are tailored to meet the diverse needs of Nigerian citizens while fostering greater participation in nation-building initiatives.

In an interview, Babalola outlined the timeline for the rollout of these cards, indicating that Nigerians can expect to start receiving them within one or two months of the launch, pending approval from the Presidency.

The bank-enabled National ID card, designed to cater to the middle and upper segments of the population, will offer seamless access to banking services within the specified timeframe.

Also, the National Safety Net Card will serve as a crucial tool for authentication and secure platform provision for government services such as palliatives, with a focus on the 25 million vulnerable Nigerians supported by current government intervention programs.

This initiative aims to streamline the distribution process and ensure efficient delivery of social services to those in need.

Furthermore, the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card will provide an optional identity verification solution, facilitating cross-border interactions and promoting regional integration within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The announcement comes on the heels of NIMC’s collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS) to develop a multipurpose national identity card equipped with payment capabilities for various social and financial services.

This collaborative effort underscores the commitment of key stakeholders to foster innovation, cost-effectiveness, and competitiveness in service delivery.

Babalola stated that the new identity cards aim to address the need for physical identification, empower citizens, and promote financial inclusion for marginalized populations. With a target of providing these cards to approximately 104 million eligible applicants on the national identification number database by the end of December 2023, NIMC is poised to revolutionize the identity management landscape in Nigeria.

The implementation of these programs aligns with broader efforts to drive digital transformation and improve access to essential services for all Nigerians.

Babalola highlighted the multifaceted benefits of the new identity cards, including their potential to uplift millions out of poverty by facilitating access to government social programs and financial services.

While the launch date is set tentatively for May pending presidential approval, NIMC remains committed to finalizing the necessary details to ensure a smooth rollout of the new identity cards.

The introduction of these cards represents a significant step forward in NIMC’s mission to provide secure and reliable identity solutions that empower individuals and contribute to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

Efforts to reach Kayode Adegoke, the Head of Corporate Communications at NIMC, for further insights on the initiative were unsuccessful at the time of reporting.

As Nigeria gears up for the launch of these innovative identity cards, stakeholders express optimism about the potential positive impact on identity management, financial inclusion, and socio-economic development across the country.

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Nigeria Launches New National ID Card to Enhance Access to Social and Financial Services

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced the launch of a National Identity Card with integrated payment and social service functionalities.

This initiative, spearheaded by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS), aims to provide Nigerians with a single, multifunctional card that combines identification, payment, and access to various government and private sector services.

The new National ID card backed by the NIMC Act No. 23 of 2007 is poised to become the country’s default identity card, serving as a tangible proof of identity for citizens and legal residents alike.

With features aligned with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, including a Machine-readable Zone (MRZ) and biometric authentication capabilities, the card offers robust security and verification mechanisms.

One of the most significant aspects of the new ID card is its payment functionality. Cardholders will have the ability to link their cards to bank accounts, enabling them to conduct debit and prepaid transactions seamlessly.

This feature is expected to enhance financial inclusion efforts, particularly for the unbanked and underbanked populations in Nigeria.

Also, the card will grant holders access to a wide range of government interventions programs, including travel, health insurance, microloans, agriculture initiatives, food subsidies, transport benefits, and energy subsidies.

By consolidating these services onto a single platform, the government aims to streamline administrative processes and improve service delivery efficiency.

To ensure widespread accessibility, the NIMC has outlined various channels for obtaining the new ID card, including online applications, commercial banks, participating agencies, and NIMC offices nationwide.

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New York City Hit by 4.8 Magnitude Earthquake

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New York City, famously known as the “city that never sleeps” was hit by a 4.8 magnitude earthquake.

The tremors reverberated through the towering skyscrapers and bustling suburbs as it sent shockwaves across the densely populated metropolitan area and left residents feeling shaken.

The earthquake, with its epicenter approximately 45 miles west of New York City and 50 miles north of Philadelphia, caught many off guard.

Reports indicate that over 42 million people across the Northeast region may have felt the midmorning quake with reports coming in from as far as Baltimore to Boston and beyond.

The impact of the earthquake was not confined to mere tremors; it resulted in significant damage to several multifamily homes in Newark, New Jersey, displacing nearly 30 residents.

Officials immediately sprang into action, conducting checks on bridges and other major infrastructure to assess any potential structural damage.

Flights were diverted or delayed, Amtrak slowed trains throughout the busy Northeast Corridor, and a Philadelphia-area commuter rail line suspended service as a precautionary measure.

The experience was unsettling for many New Yorkers, with some likening it to the sensation of an explosion or construction accident.

Shawn Clark, an attorney working on the 26th floor of a midtown Manhattan office, described it as “pretty weird and scary,” echoing the sentiments of many who felt the earth move beneath them.

Aftershocks were reported hours later in a central New Jersey township, causing additional concern and producing reports of damage and items falling off shelves, according to Hunterdon County Public Safety Director Brayden Fahey.

The disruption caused by the earthquake extended beyond immediate safety concerns. Cellphone circuits were overloaded as people tried to reach loved ones, and phones blared with earthquake-related notifications during the New York Philharmonic’s morning performance, adding an unexpected twist to the day’s events.

Even as the seismic event rattled New York City, residents and officials alike drew comparisons to past earthquakes, particularly the memorable tremor of August 23, 2011. Registering a magnitude of 5.8, it was the strongest quake to hit the East Coast since World War II, leaving lasting impressions on those who experienced it.

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