I didn’t say 2023 elections were compromised — Former INEC Chair, Jega

A former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, has denied describing the 2023 elections as compromised.

Jega was allegedly reported to have said this at a two-day retreat organised by the Senate in Ikot Ipene, Akwa Ibom State, last week.

The professor of political science at Bayero University, Kano, presented a paper titled, “Electoral Reform and Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria: Review of 2022 Electoral Act (areas for further legislative actions), in which he was quoted to have said, “We have seen in 2023 elections, the damaging effect of how people in the corridors of power get their client/partisan nominees appointed, without being thoroughly screened, and then they are influenced to compromise the integrity of elections.”

However, his Senior Research Assistant, Hamman-Obels, in a statement on Monday, said the report was not an accurate reflection of his position.

Hamman-Obels, who is also the Director of the Electoral Hub, an Initiative for Research, Innovation and Advocacy in Development said, “The attention of Prof. Attahiru Jega has been drawn to a misleading report published in a number of online newspapers quoting him to have commented that the 2023 elections were compromised.

“The report making the rounds is incorrect and not an accurate reflection of the presenter’s position. Professor Jega categorically denies making this particular comment about the 2023 polls.

“As would be seen in his presentation he made at the Senate Retreat held in Ikot Ipene, Akwa Ibom State, nowhere did he make such a statement that the 2023 elections were compromised. Professor Jega hopes this rebuttal will correct the incorrect and inaccurate reporting currently making the rounds.”

(Punch)

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IRev: There won’t be glitches in result upload for Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi polls – INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has stated that there will be no glitches in the upload of results for the Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi elections on the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV).

Recall that the upload of results was a major issue in the 2023 elections, which INEC attributed to technical difficulties.

INEC’s Chief Press Secretary, Rotimi Oyekanmi, made this known in an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Friday.

His words: “We have been using the IReV for all governorship elections, but it [2023] was the first time we deployed it for the general election setting. Well, we had a glitch for some hours, and we fixed it. But I can assure you that this time around we are not going to have glitches.

“I can affirm that those technical issues have been resolved. Last week, we undertook the mock accreditation, and one of the reasons we did that was to test run these technology gadgets we were going to use, and it was successful,” he said.

Oyekanmi also stated that there could be technology downtime at any point, but noted that the body has learnt lessons from the conduct of the 2023 general elections.

“Technology can throw up challenges, but by and large, we have learned our lessons from the 2023 general elections.”

He also clarified that what INEC does with the IRev portal is uploading and not transmission of results.

“We are not transmitting; we are uploading,” he said, noting that there are differences between transmitting and uploading.

“All we are doing is that we are taking a picture of the polling unit results and uploading same to the portal.” 

(Vanguard)

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Major airlines suspend flights to Israel after massive attack by Hamas

Major airlines have canceled flights to Israel after the country declared war in response to a devastating Hamas attack.

American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines suspended service as the US State Department issued travel advisories for the region citing potential for terrorism and civil unrest, Associated Press reports.

A Palestinian group, Hamas, had launched its biggest attack on Israel early on Saturday, firing a barrage of rockets from Gaza and sending fighters across the border.

In response, Israel said it was on a war footing and began its own strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza on Sunday, hitting housing blocks, tunnels, a mosque, and the homes of Hamas officials in Gaza.

The fighting continued in several locations Monday morning. At least 700 people have reportedly been killed in Israel and more than 400 have been killed in Gaza.

(AFP)

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UAE orders arrest of man filmed buying luxury cars

The United Arab Emirates has ordered the arrest of a man who was filmed arrogantly telling a car dealer in a luxury showroom to sell the most expensive cars in the garage to him, Arabian Business reports.

According to a report by state-run news agency, WAM, the video insults and ridicules Emirati society and incites harmful public opinion of citizens.

In the viral video, an Asian man in an Emirati dress is seen attempting to buy a car worth $545,000 and other ones while being flanked by people carrying large sums of money.

He said, “What is the most expensive car here? Okay. I want the Mercedez, rolls royce and the Red Bull sports car.

Meanwhile, the UAE’s Federal Prosecution for Combating Rumours and Cybercrimes has ordered the detention of the man pending investigations after being accused of abusing the internet in posting exciting propaganda that stirs up public opinion and harms the public interest.

He was also charged with publishing content that was inconsistent with the media content standards and insulted Emirati society.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation at the UAE Attorney General’s Office also said it monitored a social media video clip in which the defendant was seen wearing an Emirati dress inside a luxury car showroom and followed by two persons carrying what appears to be large sums of money.

The video showed the man talking with the owner of the showroom and “arrogantly” asking to buy a car valued at more than AED2m ($545,000).

According to the UAE’s FBI, “He was shown distributing financial packages to the showroom employees in a way that reveals imprudence and lack of appreciation of the value of money.

“The video promotes a wrong and offensive mental image of Emirati citizens and ridicules them, and then incites and provokes public opinion, which harms the public interest.

“The Public Prosecution ordered the summoning of the owner of the car showroom in which the aforementioned video clip was filmed.”

The Public Prosecution urged social media users in the UAE to observe the legal and ethical regulations in the media content they publish and to consider societal characteristics and embedded values of the UAE society that call for moral commitment in all aspects of behaviour, to avoid falling under the force of the law.

(Punch)

Cyber-crime rampant among undergrads, graduates in Kwara – EFCC

The acting executive chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Abdulkarim Chukkol, has said that cybercrime is a major crime, particularly, among undergraduates and fresh graduates of tertiary institutions due to presence of a number of academic institutions in the state.

Speaking at a one-day media training/workshop organized by the EFCC for print/electronics/online reporters in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital on Thursday.

Represented by the zonal head of the anti-graft agency, Michaels Nzekwe, at the workshop on Effective Reporting of Economic and Financial Crimes, the commission said that activities of illegal solid mineral operators posed grave threat to the local and national economy, through non-payment of royalties, taxes and other dues.

“The commission has been active in tackling their criminalities and will continue to ensure that extant laws against illegal miners are enforced”, he said.

The EFCC boss, who said that Nigerians should not wait until they suffer any loss on economic and financial crimes before they move against corrupt practices, added that, “economic and financial crimes remain a threat to our individual and corporate progress.

“It is not only by being a victim of these crimes that we suffer losses.  We also suffer limitations when our neighbours, colleagues, institutions and nation fall prey to them”.

He charged the nation’s journalists on patriotism, saying that, “as journalists, we owe our nation and the entire world an obligation of exposing every shadiness and criminal acts through our reporting.

“Journalism is the best gateway to whistle blowing and I charge the media to deploy more time, energy and commitment in exposing all fraudulent activities in our midst”.

In one of the presentations, titled, “New trends in cybercrime: how not to become a victim” by Alex Ocheme of the EFCC, the commission said that cybercrime had eaten over $8 trillion of victims’ hard earned finances in the world.

He, however, said that legal bottleneck is one of the factors hindering cross border corruption investigation in the anti-corruption war.

Ocheme said that not all African countries, for example, had passed the law on cybercrime, adding that since one cannot compel those countries to try corruption offenders with such law, means that, “the money stolen is gone”.

“Each nation is entitled to its laws. They are not necessarily there to work with you. Some countries are fast to assist you in the war against cybercrime while some are not. For instance, if the UAE is not ready to collaborate with you on a cybercrime investigation, it means the money lost is gone”, he said.

(Tribune)

NUC approves 33 degree programmes for Ekiti varsity

The National Universities Commission has approved 33 new undergraduate programmes for the Bamidele Olumilua University of Education, Science and Technology, Ikere Ekiti.

This followed visit by a team of experts from NUC to the university to assess its capability to run the proposed programmes with respect to human and material resources and the resultant clean bill of health given BOUESTI.

BOUESTI Public Relations Officer, Temitope Akinbisoye, said in a statement on Saturday that the approval was contained in a letter dated 19th June, 2023 and addressed to the Vice Chancellor, Prof Olufemi Adeoluwa,” adding, “With this approval, the university now runs a total of 78 degree programmes.

The VC, in his reaction, described it as “a welcome development and a testament of the institution’s avowed commitment to excellence and qualitative education”.

The programmes include Bachelor’s degree in Transport and Logistics Management, Procurement Management, Educational Technology, Library and Information Science, Early Childhood Education, Computer Science Education, History, English and Literary Studies,  History and International Studies and French.

(Punch)

Embrace unity, faith for prosperous nation, Tinubu urges Nigerians

President Bola Tinubu has called on Nigerians to maintain faith in God and the country’s potential for peace, stability, and prosperity.

He made this call during the observation of the Eid-el-Kabir prayers at Dodan Barracks prayer ground, Lagos.

Addressing reporters after the prayers, the President emphasised the importance of unity and cooperation, urging citizens to set aside ethnic and religious rivalries.

Expressing gratitude to Almighty Allah for the nation’s well-being, Tinubu prayed for good health and prosperity for all Nigerians.

He highlighted the significance of collective sacrifices and reassured the population that Allah does not burden individuals with more than they can bear. Encouraging faith in the nation’s ability to overcome challenges, he stressed the need for Nigerians to come together and contribute to its development.

”I thank Almighty Allah for keeping us in good health till today and pray to Him to grant us robust health and prosperity. May our sacrifices turn to prosperity. We have to make the sacrifices, and that is clear, we have to.

”But Allah will not give you a burden that you cannot carry. He is there for us. We must have faith in the country. Have faith in ourselves, believing that as citizens of this country, we must join hands to build the nation.

”No religious identity, no tribal identity, let us live with one another in joy and prosperity. Nigeria will see peace, stability and God will grant peace to those of us at the war front,” he said.

The Eid prayer, led by the Chief Imam of Lagos State, Sheikh Sulaiman Oluwatoyin Abu-Nolah, commenced at 9 a.m. The Chief Imam also performed the ritual slaughtering of a ram, symbolising the obedience of Prophet Ibrahim to Allah’s command.

Lagos state deputy governor Obafemi Hamzat, speaking on behalf of the state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, extended greetings to Muslims across Nigeria and within the state, wishing them joy during the Eid-el-Kabir celebration.

He called for unity in supporting President Tinubu’s efforts to improve the nation, emphasising the need to pray for leaders and their success in their respective roles.

The prayer gathering was attended by notable dignitaries, including the Chief of Staff to the President, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; the former Governor of Lagos State and immediate past Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola; as well as Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, among other government officials.

(Punch)

Naira depreciates to N765.13/$ in I&E window

The naira yesterday depreciated N765.13 per  dollar in the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window.

Data from FMDQ showed that the indicative exchange rate for the window rose to N765.13 per dollar from N763.17 per dollar on Wednesday, indicating N1.96 depreciation for the naira.

Similarly, the naira depreciated by N14 in the parallel market yesterday.

Vanguard findings from black market traders showed that the exchange rate for the market rose to N772 per dollar from N758 per dollar on Wednesday.

Thursday’s transaction volume was an improvement from below $90 million turnover recorded at the window on Wednesday.

The naira also weakened against the British Pound Sterling (GBP) to N980/GBP at the close of business on Thursday.

The I&E window was activated in June 2017, and represents the broader forex market, where dollars sourced from autonomous sources are traded between Authorised Dealers, Clients and the CBN.

(Vanguard)

Electricity consumers owing us N50bn in Kwara – IBEDC

The Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) says it is owed over N50 billion in outstanding electricity bills by consumers in Kwara.

Busolami Tunwase, the company’s media relations lead, disclosed this while addressing journalists during a stakeholder meeting in Ilorin, on Tuesday.

Last month, the management of IBEDC warned its clients to pay their bills so that the company can meet its obligations to the market operator (MO) and other parties in the electricity supply industry.

On March 30, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) said defaulting electricity distribution companies (DisCos) were given a 60-day grace period (until next week) to fulfill their obligations.

Speaking on the issue, Tunwase said the market operator was planning to disconnect IBEDC’s feeders from the national grid due to poor remittances.

Providing a breakdown of the company’s revenue loss, she said electricity consumers in Jebba were at the top of the list with an outstanding of N25.8 billion, followed by those in the Baboko district with N18.9 billion debt, and those in the Challenge district with a debt of about N7.4 billion.

Tunwase said it was regrettable that the huge debt profile from Kwara was hindering the company from fulfilling its obligations to the market operator.

“But I can assure that when payments are made, service will definitely improve,” she said.

She urged Kwara residents to settle their outstanding electricity bills so that the IBEDC management could effectively serve them.

The DisCo’s media relation lead advised electricity consumers who intend to procure new prepaid meters to shun third parties so as not to be defrauded.

“IBEDC will soon be flooding the market with new meters,” Tunwase said.

On his part, Gabriel Eze, IBEDC’s regional manager, said a huge part of the outstanding debt was from government ministries, departments, and agencies, as well as the “Nigeria air force (NAF), navy, and army”.

(Cable)

Cameroon, Niger, Benin citizens lament fuel subsidy removal in Nigeria

Prices of petroleum products have nearly doubled in Cameroon, Benin Republic and Niger following the removal of fuel subsidy in Nigeria, findings by Daily Trust Saturday revealed.

Cheap petrol from Nigeria was regularly smuggled to as far as Sudan, a North African country, making it difficult for Nigerian authorities to save enough to provide services to the people.

The subsidy removal in Nigeria has also affected social and economic life in the neighbouring countries, with sources saying black market activities have significantly reduced.

The removal of fuel subsidy was announced on Monday, May 29, by President Bola Tinubu during his inaugural speech.

Tinubu on Friday, June 9, justified the action, stating Nigeria cannot continue acting as ‘Father Christmas’ to neighbouring countries.

He said this at an interactive session with the Royal Fathers under the aegis of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN) at the Aso Villa.

No longer at ease at neighbours’ doorsteps

Our reporters learnt that petroleum products are being sold at CFA700 or CFA 800 in Benin Republic, nearly double the previous price, CFA 450.

The development lends credence to reports that a significant volume of Nigeria’s subsidised petroleum products were being smuggled into other African countries.

The chief executive officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mele Kyari, in a media interview said, “We know how much we supply. There is data on this. Is all of this consumed in the country? The answer is no. The reason is very simple. We have an arbitrage environment. For instance, before this decision we made, fuel sold at N185 in Abuja, but just across your border, there is nowhere you would have prices that are lower than N500 per litre.

“None of the countries around us imports petroleum products, and you can’t do something about it because there is an arbitrage environment we have created. We have 4,500km of land borders and you don’t have all the resources to man them,” he said.

Questionable businesses grounded

Transporters, passengers and traders in neighbouring countries said they were grounded by the increase in the price of petroleum in Nigeria.

Speaking to Daily Trust Saturday, a top player in the Nigerien petroleum sector, Bio Abdourahamane, admitted that subsidy removal in Nigeria would have more negative effect on his country.

He said that before the subsidy removal, smuggled Nigerian fuel used to flood his country’s oil market and most consumers preferred buying it due to its cheapness, thereby preventing them from selling their domestic fuel favourably.

“Nigeria was selling at N195 and our domestic fuel sold at CFA508 (N381), so the smuggler took that advantage to exploit Niger’s market, selling below our litre price.

“At that time, we faced a lot of challenges selling our product because smuggled oil is cheaper, but now that the subsidy is removed, we can compete or even sell at a lesser price.

“But our fear is that if our fuel sells cheaper now, we would face the risk of shortage; and our product being smuggled into Nigeria, to Borno, Yobe, Kano, Katsina and Sokoto, among others and our fuel capacity is so little to accommodate that,” he said.

Malam Ali, the chairman of Niger/Nigerian transporters, lamented that the subsidy removal had plunged vehicle owners and passengers into economic crisis.

“Petrol is now too expensive that our drivers and passengers cannot cope. A passenger will now pay N10, 000 as transport for what he used to pay N6, 500,” he lamented.

He called on the Nigerien government to look inward and see how the situation could be regulated and bring succour to the citizens.

Malam Musa Abdullahi, the leader of Nigerian taxi owners in Diffa, also lamented that the subsidy removal in Nigeria jerked up fuel price in Niger, forcing many people to park their vehicles.

“For one week, my car has been parked at home due to the increase in the fuel price because you would go out and burn the little you have without seeing passengers to pick.

“Fuel is available but it is more expensive in border towns where there are no filling stations. For instance, I only know of filling stations in Maine Soroa, Diffa town and Gigime, but I don’t know any in Boso, Kablewa, Jakori, Garin Wanzam, Kinchambi and Tumar. All these are big towns that are supposed to have filling stations. Unfortunately, they don’t have any.

“The consequence of that is that you can only buy fuel at the black market. We are now buying a five-litre gallon at N5, 000, against the old price of 3,000 and a 28-litre jerry can at N25, 000, against the N15, 000 it sold previously,” he said.

Situation same in Cameroon

Cameroonians living along the border with Nigeria have lamented the effect of subsidy removal by Nigeria, calling on President Tinubu to reconsider the decision.

Fuel smuggled from Nigeria provides Cameroonian border communities with cheaper alternative.  In fact, many communities are without filling stations to dispense petroleum products; therefore, residents rely mainly on black marketers.

Residents told Daily Trust Saturday that life had not been easy since the announcement of subsidy removal by the Nigerian authorities. Commercial motorcycle operators across the border expressed fear that they would be pushed out of business.

It was learnt that they even staged a protest to press home their demands, but considering that the channel they used to get the fuel was not legal, there was no any response.

Muhammadou Auwal, a business man in Garwa, said the increase in petrol prices took the people by surprise, saying the price of a litre of petrol suddenly jumped from round N300 to N800 equivalent.

“We never expected it because the prices of Nigerian fuel, although unstable, had always been relatively low and affordable. This increase is pushing transporters out of business because here, you cannot increase transport fares as you wish.

“We have our own local supply of fuel, only that border communities take advantage of cheap oil from Nigeria, which does not go beyond 150 kilometres. So it is limited to areas around the border, but it has a huge impact,” he said.

The pump price of petrol stands at CFA730, which is N900, to N1, 000 equivalent, while the smuggled petrol, which previously sold at N300, has risen to N850 equivalent following  subsidy removal.

Yahaya Bello, a resident of Beka, depends on his motorcycle for movement within the general area and across the border into Nigeria and petrol had never been a problem until recently when it became scarce and expensive.

Now, he needs N5, 200 to fuel his motorcycle instead of N2,000 he would need in the last few weeks to buy same quantity of fuel from black marketers who lined the street with jerry-cans, making his weekly seven kilometre business trip to Gurin in Nigeria more expensive.

“I live seven kilometres from Nigeria, so Nigerian fuel is more accessible to us.

There is no filling station at Beka, Troua, Pole, Chamba and Wangai. All of these communities depend on fuel supply from Nigeria and the current situation is frightening. You begin to wonder what life would be if the price remains this high,” he stated.

A motorist in Garua, Bindowo Gorko Hadija, told our correspondent that it became impossible to make meaningful profit in the business due to the hike in fuel price, saying that although fuel is available at filling stations in the town, the smuggled products were cheaper and higher in quality.

He said the problem was compounded with the fact that motorists in Cameroon lacked the freedom to keep hiking their fares to match the increase in prices of goods and services.

More troubles for Beninese hawkers over subsidy removal

Black market petrol dealers in the Republic of Benin are finding it rough as the recent removal of subsidy on petrol is now tightening the noose around the neck of their supply chain from Nigeria.

In fact, there is scarcity of the product along the Seme-Port Novo expressway corridor in the country as the unavailability of the product is beginning to have an untold hardship on the citizens of the country.

Investigation by Daily Trust Saturday revealed that those in the petrol business get their daily supply from Nigeria.

It was found out that most of the hawkers are now winding down operations as a result of the sudden hike in the price of the product occasioned by the scarcity.

They said business had not been this bad for decades as most of them got steady supply from smugglers, who deliver to them by the beach side daily.

At first, many of the sellers said they believed the Nigerian government would back down from going ahead with the removal following the threat by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to embark on a nationwide protest against the removal, but their hope was dashed when the leadership of both unions announced the suspension of the protest, saying they had reached an agreement with the government.

Right now, in towns and villages along the road to Cotonou, the capital city of Benin Republic, thousands of Beninese hawkers of petrol have disappeared.

Few of them who have the product are the only ones seen and enjoying the sudden boom.

Those who still have the product are having a field day as they have jerked up the price per litre of petrol from the usual CFA400 to CFA700, which is about N800, almost twice the original price.

“I have to close the business because only the supply which comes from boats at the beach side can sustain it,” Dansis Dansu, a retail seller along the Seme-Port Novo junction said.

Pointing at his village, he said he had lived most of his life selling fuel in bottles by the same spot. He wondered what else to do if the situation persists.

“Now, I don’t have other options but to go back to my subsistent farming. I left my farm because I make more profit selling fuel,” he said through an interpreter.

A female fuel seller who identified herself as Ajara said scores of women like her who were in the business had been forced to leave.

“We had hopes when we heard that there was going to be a mass protest to force government to change their stance, but our heart sank when few days later we heard that those leading the protest had called it off,” she said.

The Seme border command of the Nigeria Customs Service said it intercepted 930,140 litres of fuel, equivalent to 28 tankers, between January and  December, 2022.

(Daily Trust)

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