- Fresh Arrests Loom in INEC as EFCC Probes 20 States
The South-South geopolitical zone has recorded the highest number of people who took part in the Continuous Voter Registration between the months of April and September 2017.
This is according to the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who also disclosed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was already probing the commission’s officials in 20 states over alleged electoral fraud.
He said this during a quarterly consultative meeting with journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.
Regarding the prosecution and probe of 205 of its officials for allegedly receiving part of the N23bn reportedly disbursed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani-Alison Madueke, the INEC boss said he would continue to cooperate with the EFCC.
Yakubu said the last report given to him by the EFCC involved 16 states. He said the EFCC was already probing INEC officials in 20 other states
He said, “I want to say that this is the first time in the history of our elections that in one fell swoop, 205 officials were disciplined based on the interim report we received from the EFCC covering 16 states.
“Under the terms and conditions of service what we can do is to interdict them which means placing them on half salary and suspending them from work until their innocence or guilt is established. The last report covered 16 states and only last week I heard they had started prosecuting them.
“However, after receiving the report, we had a discussion with the EFCC and told them that for the outstanding 20 states, they should not submit any interim report to INEC but just prosecute them.
“Once they are taken to court, we activate the provisions of the terms and conditions of service. Whatever we need to do we will do even if it means getting rid of everybody in the commission and recruiting afresh for the purpose of the 2019 elections. We are committed to doing so.”
Giving a breakdown of the Continuous Voter Registration conducted between April and September 2017, the INEC boss said about 667, 103 persons registered to vote in the South-South geopolitical zone. The zone comprises Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers states.
The South-West came in second with 532,172 persons registered to vote while the North-West, which has seven states, had a combined 477, 056 registered voters.
The North-Central came in fourth with 374, 923 while the South-East which has five states recorded 352,942 voters.
In the North-East, 350,398 registered within the same period.
Rivers State recorded the highest number of registered voters at 151, 398 while Lagos came second with 144, 076. Ondo recorded the lowest number with 29, 766.
In total, about 2, 786, 405 persons registered to vote between April and September. However, only 108, 752 had come forward to claim their cards.
Yakubu said eight million voter cards remain unclaimed.
Yakubu lamented that out of the eight million PVCs were unclaimed nationwide, Lagos accounted for about one million.
He said, “Some of you will also recall that Lagos has recorded the least collection of PVCs not in terms of numbers but in relation to the numbers that registered. Out of the eight plus million PVCs still uncollected nationwide, over a million are uncollected in Lagos.”
The INEC boss said the voter apathy in Lagos was worrisome as various strategies employed by INEC seemed not to be working.
He said the last two by-elections in Lagos had recorded very low turnout.
The INEC chairman said the commission was ready for the Anambra governorship election which comes up next month.
He said over 6,000 smartcard readers would be used for the election
The INEC boss said the commission would not be discouraged by the legal obstacles it was facing in the process of recalling the Kogi-West lawmaker, Senator Dino Melaye.
Yakubu said constituents had the right to recall anybody they wanted to in a democracy.
The INEC boss also warned politicians seeking to run in 2018 and 2019 to stop campaigning as this was in contravention of the Electoral Act.
China and EU Seek Partnership: Xi Jinping Proposes Key Trade Alliance
Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his desire for China and the European Union (EU) to become key trade partners and foster trust in supply chains, during a meeting with EU leaders in Beijing.
The talks marked the first in-person summit between the two sides in four years and addressed a range of economic concerns, including data flows and market access.
Xi emphasized China’s commitment to high-quality development and opening up, positioning the EU as a crucial partner in economic and trade cooperation.
He envisioned the EU as a trusted collaborator in industrial and supply chain cooperation, aiming for mutual benefits and win-win results.
The summit delved into longstanding issues, such as efforts by Europe to “de-risk” its supply chains and the EU’s anti-subsidies investigation into Chinese-made electric vehicles.
China criticized the investigation, urging the EU to avoid using it for “trade protectionism.”
Xi called for the elimination of interference between China and the EU, a statement likely directed at the United States, which has taken actions, including enlisting the Netherlands, to curb China’s development of high-end semiconductors.
The EU leaders, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, described their conversation with Xi as “good and candid.”
They discussed the main challenges amid increasing geopolitical frictions, emphasizing a commitment to balanced trade relations and pledging to enhance people-to-people exchanges.
During the meeting, Italy formally informed China of its exit from the Belt and Road Initiative, highlighting ongoing strains between the EU and China.
Xi discussed Belt and Road with EU leaders, expressing a willingness to connect it with the EU’s Global Gateway infrastructure plan.
However, deep issues remain, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, trade imbalances, and Chinese overcapacity exported to Europe.
Jens Eskelund, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, stressed the need to address these issues to foster a positive relationship between Beijing and Brussels.
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Nigeria Eyes BRICS Membership within Two Years as Foreign Minister Emphasizes Strategic Alignment
In a strategic move towards global economic collaboration, Nigeria is aspiring to join the BRICS group of nations within the next two years.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, affirmed that Nigeria is open to aligning itself with groups that demonstrate good intentions, well-meaning goals, and clearly defined objectives.
Tuggar stated, “Nigeria has come of age to decide for itself who her partners should be and where they should be; being multiple aligned is in our best interest.”
He emphasized the need for Nigeria to be part of influential groups like BRICS and the G-20, citing criteria such as population and economy size that position Nigeria as a natural candidate.
BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, stands as a formidable bloc of emerging market powers.
In a recent move to expand its influence, BRICS invited six additional nations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates, to join the group.
Nigeria, as Africa’s largest economy, has been absent from the BRICS alliance, prompting discussions on the potential economic and political advantages the bloc could offer the country.
Analysts have noted that BRICS membership could provide Nigeria with significant leverage on the global stage.
Vice President Kashim Shettima clarified that Nigeria did not apply for BRICS membership after the bloc’s announcement of new members in August.
Shettima emphasized the principled approach of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, highlighting a commitment to consensus building in decisions related to international partnerships.
As Nigeria eyes BRICS membership, the move is seen as a strategic step towards enhancing its global economic and diplomatic influence.
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