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‘Era of electoral fraud is over’

‘Era of electoral fraud is over’

Any
elected official that fails to meet the yearnings of the electorate
would meet his/her waterloo during the next election because Nigerian
voters are now conscious of their power to effect changes, the Ondo
State resident electoral commissioner, Akin Orebiyi said yesterday in
Akure.

Mr Orebiyi, who
made the observation while presenting a certificate of return to the
lawmaker representing Akure North State Constituency in the state
Assembly, Akindele Adeniyi, said it was clear from the results of the
last elections that the electorate voted for candidates of their choice
without coercion.

He added that
political parties could no longer foist their candidates on the
electorate; a development which he noted was good for the advancement
of the nation. The INEC boss also advised the newly elected lawmakers
to carry their opponents along in the interest of development.

“The era of forcing candidates on the electorate is gone, we are now in the era where people’s votes count”, he said.

Mr Adeniyi
commended the INEC Chairman, Attaihru Jega, for providing a level
playing ground for all the political parties. He equally praised
President Goodluck Jonathan for allowing INEC to serve as unbiased
umpire.

“Jega has written
his name in gold for putting an end to election debacle that has
continued to hunt the nation in the past,” he said.

Fight poverty

In Adamawa, INEC
also issued certificates of returns to 36 lawmakers-elect in the state.
Nura Yakubu, INEC’S National commissioner in charge of Adamawa, Taraba
and Gombe, who presented the certificate to senators-elect, members-
elect of federal house of representative and elected members of the
state house of assembly, revealed voters turnout averaged 51% for the
election in the state.

“A total of 12
political parties sponsored 201 candidates to contest for the 25 state
house of assembly seats. Nine political parties sponsored 51 candidates
to contest for the eight house of representative seats, while another
nine political parties sponsored 23 candidates to contest for the three
senatorial seats,” he said.

Three women,
Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (Yola North, Yola South and Girei federal
constituency); Wilbina Jackson, Guyuk state constituency and Wale Fwa,
representing Demsa constituency, were the only female elected
politicians in the state.

The lawmakers,
through their spokesperson, condemned the post-presidential elections
violence and urged the government to ensure that the perpetrators of
the “dastardly act” were brought to book.

However, Bello
Tukur, a former deputy governor and senator-elect representing Adamawa
central, tasked the government to forestall its reoccurrence in the
future.

Mr Tukur who
berated the post election violence as “unfortunate development” blamed
it on the endemic poverty and backwardness of the affected areas.

“All these problems that happened in the North-East and North West
region,” Mr Tukur said. “Happened greatly in this region because of the
level of poverty in these two regions is very high. And if we don’t
rise up to the occasion these problems will continue to consume us and
we will continue to be marginalized”.

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Lawyer wants NYSC law abrogated

Lawyer wants NYSC law abrogated

A lawyer, Oluwole
Aluko, has sought the intervention of the judiciary for the revocation
of the 1973 decree that established the National Youth Service Corps
(NYSC).

Mr Aluko, in a suit
filed before a Federal High Court in Ibadan, joined both President
Goodluck Jonathan and Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister
of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, as respondents.

The lawyer claims
that the law that brought the NYSC into existence falls short of the
provision of the 1999 Constitution, as well as the African Charter on
Human and Peoples Rights and the United Nations Universal Declaration
on Human Rights, and wants it declared null and void and of no effect.

Mr. Aluko is
praying the court to determine whether the NYSC law, which compels
every first degree holder Nigerian below the age of 30 years to embark
on one year national service, is consistent with section 34(1) (a) (b)
and (c) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution that confers on every citizen
right to personal dignity and freedom from inhuman and degrading
treatment, slavery or servitude and freedom from performing force or
compulsory labour.

He also wants to
determine whether the provision of section 34 (2) (e) (111) of the
country applies to the NYSC which talks about “part of the education
and training”, contending that the corps is not an educational
institution.

Other posers are:
“Whether the National Youth Service Corps Decree of 1973 by which every
Nigerian below the age of 30 years that has completed his first degree
at any University in Nigeria is liable to be called upon to serve in
the service corps without guarantee for safety of life of the corps
members where they serve is inconsistent with the provision of section
33 (1) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution that guarantees the rights to
life of every person and therefore null and void.

“Whether the
National Youth Service Corps Decree of 1973 by which every Nigerian
below the age of 30 years that has completed the his first degree at
any University in Nigeria is liable to be called to serve in the
service corps without any liberty as to preference of place to serve is
inconsistent with the provision of section 35 (1) of the 1999 Nigerian
Constitution that confers right to personal liberty on individual and
non and void.

“Whether the
National Youth Service Corps scheme by which Nigerian Youths and
Graduates below age 30 years are forced to take part in the National
Youth Service Corps scheme is a violation of the African charter on
Human and Peoples Rights and Universal Declaration of Human Rights by
the United Nation Organization of which Nigeria is a signatory and
therefore null and void.

Force or duty

“Whether the
provision of section 12 (1) of the National Youth service Corps decree
of 1973, by which there cannot be employment anywhere in the Federation
for any University graduate except on the production of the discharge
certificate or exemption certificate issued by the Directorate of the
National Youth Service Corps, constitutes act of compulsion and if the
answer is in the affirmative, whether the National Youth Service Corps
Decree is invalid having regard to the provisions of sections 33, 34,
35 of the 1999 Nigerian constitution.

“Whether the
violation of the provisions of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution confers
right on any citizen of Nigeria to seek redress in court having regard
to the provision of section 1 (1) and (3) of the 1999 Nigerian
constitution that make the provisions of the constitution to be supreme
and having binding force on all authorities and persons and any law
that is inconsistent with it null and void.

The matter will be open for mention on May 18, 2011.

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Former works minister applies for bail

Former works minister applies for bail

A former minister
of works and housing, Hassan Lawal, yesterday asked a Federal High
Court in Abuja to order his release from prison custody, pleading that
he will not jump bail if granted.

Mr Lawal and 15
others were on Wednesday arraigned before an Abuja court presided over
by Belikisu Aliyu, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
(EFCC) on a 25-count charge bordering on fraudulent award of contracts,
money laundering and embezzlement of about N75.5 billion belonging to
the federal government.

But counsel to Mr
Lawal, in his application for bail yesterday, said his client has not
been able to make any calls since the time of his arrest and has lost
his goodwill and relationships.

“He was arrested and detained while going about his business lawfully,” M.A. Magarji said.

Mr Magarji, who
filed the bail application pursuant to section 35(4) and 36 of the 1999
constitution, further pleaded that the minister will not jump bail if
granted bail and will not tamper with already concluded investigation.

“It is important to
state that the 1st Accused/Applicant has been invited on several
occasions by the EFCC and has always honoured the invitation,” he said.
“Even while in EFCC bail, he was invited for further interrogation
through phone calls and he still honoured the invitation.

“At the last
invitation of the complainant, the 1st accused person elected to honour
the invitation and soon thereafter was detained in the custody of the
Complainant/Respondent before being arraigned. It is our argument that
a person who has contributed his own quota would not jump bail and will
always be available to take his trial.”

Health grounds

He said the
minister suffers from kidney ailment and has recently developed a
cardio-vascular ailment, of which he needs constant medication and
needs to be managed by his medical doctors.

“It is also
important to submit respectively that the health of the 1st accused has
deteriorated since his detention by the EFCC,” he said.

Mr Lawal and 15 others docked along with him by the EFCC pleaded not guilty to the charges read to them on Wednesday.

The counsel to the EFCC, Wahab Shittu, asked the court to remand them in prison custody pending the commencement of trial.

The judge agreed,
and ordered that the accused persons be remanded in Kuje Prison till a
formal application for bail is brought before the court and adjourned
the case till June 6th for definite hearing.

Mr Lawal, who was
appointed Minister of Works and Housing by late President Umaru
Yar’Adua in 2007, also served as Minister of Labour and Productivity in
the cabinet of former President, Olusegun Obasanjo.

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Jonathan to commission Kwara State University

Jonathan to commission Kwara State University

President Goodluck
Jonathan will on Tuesday, May 17, visit Ilorin, the Kwara State capital
to commission the Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete.

The university
which was established by the Kwara State governor, Bukola Saraki, is
located in the Moro local government area in the northern senatorial
district of the state and commenced academic session since 2010.

Briefing newsmen in
Ilorin on the preparation of the presidential visit to the institution,
the Vice-Chancellor of the University, AbdulRasheed Na’Allah said the
institution will use the opportunity to sell the new university to the
entire world as arrangements had been concluded to make the president’s
visit a historic one.

Fielding questions
from reporters, Mr Na’Allah said, “The main objective of the
institution was to move its host community and environs from poverty to
wealth.”

According to him,
“for Nigeria to attain greatness, efforts must be made to make
universities agents of development especially at the grassroots.” He
said it was in recognition of this that the KWASU management created
the centre for entrepreneurship to teach students the practical aspect
of their studies so that they could be self-employed after graduating.

“Our goal in this
university is to produce global citizens who will be able to compete
favourably with their peers in any part of the world. This is the
reason why we recruited our academic staff from home and abroad,” he
added.

Mr Na’Allah who
condemned the post-election violence in parts of the country, urged the
government to urgently put machinery in place to forestall a recurrence
of the killings recorded in the violence where innocent youth corps
members lost their lives.

While mourning the
late corps members, Mr Na’Allah added that “the violence was uncalled
for, it is sad, it is barbaric. It is a sad story for Nigeria”.

“Though demonstrators must be allowed to ventilate their grievances but that must never be allowed to turn violence.” He said

Mr Na’Allah
commended Mr Jonathan for supporting the deceased youth corps members’
families with a compensation of N5m each and automatic employment for
their siblings with the federal service.

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Saraki’s aides spurn court order

Saraki’s aides spurn court order

An attempt by the
National Assembly election tribunal to serve an order from the Ilorin
High Court bailiff on the Kwara Central senator-elect and serving
governor, Bukola Saraki, at the state government house on Monday was
allegedly resisted by the governor’s security detail.

The court bailiff,
Saka Adetoro, in an eight-paragraph affidavit averred that he and two
others were ordered by the security men to remove “an order from the
tribunal vide the motion ex-parte, moved by the counsel to the
petitioners, to paste all the court processes on the gate of Government
House, Ilorin, through the substituted means. Order of 20 May 2011,
duly signed by the chairman and the secretary of election petition
tribunal.”

The bailiff added,
“the secretary assigned me to paste the said order and all the
processes at the gate of Government House, Ilorin.”

Barring the way

He said he was
accompanied by two others, a Mr John and Mr Ali, saying that both of
them had reached the second gate of the government house, where they
pasted the order, but were ordered to remove it by the security men.

Mr Adetoro said,
“We told the security and showed them the said order, that it is the
court order, not our own making; that there is a signature of ‘my
lord’, the chairman of the National Assembly election petition
tribunal. He said he does not know [my] lord; what he knows is his
oga.”

Mr Adetoro said
they were subsequently summoned to the government house security base
to address a police inspector, who also refused to let them paste the
order.

However, the
affidavit omitted Monday’s speculation that the court officials were
beaten up by security men on the orders of government house officials.

When contacted, the chief press secretary to Mr Saraki, Mas’ud
Adebimpe. confirmed that they were aware of the matter but added that
the state attorney general and commissioner for justice, Kamaldeen
Ajibade, would react to it accordingly.

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Professor advocates single tenure for vice chancellors

Professor advocates single tenure for vice chancellors

The out-going Vice Chancellor of
Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Michael Faborode yesterday
said a five-year single term should be enough for any Vice Chancellor
willing to perform in office and that those seeking for elongation are
not actually serious about service.

Mr Faborode, who spoke yesterday in
Osogbo during a thank-you visit to the Nigeria Union of Journalists
(NUJ) Correspondents’ Chapel, Osun State Chapter, said:
“Infrastructures of the university are nothing to write home about when
I took over as the vice chancellor. Many projects are in the state of
abandonment and as responsible leaders, we had to work very hard to
revert the institution to its lost glory and set it on a high pedestal.
“When I took over, I came to the realisation that you cannot inherit
such an edifice as OAU and mess it up. The general maintenance on
campus now revealed that we are living better than the way we met it.
All moribund companies on the campus have been revived to secure the
future of the university.

Credible elections

He lauded the press, Independent
National Electoral Commission (INEC), the NYSC and others for a good
job during the just-concluded general elections.

“Everybody was apprehensive that the
exercise will end up in disaster and one can see that INEC has very
good intention,” he said.

On how to secure food security, Mr
Faborode advocated for proper organisation of agriculture policies.
“The construction of Natural History Museum sponsored by Leventis
Foundation, New Post-graduate building constructed by an alumnus of the
institution, ICT building sponsored by Skye Bank and others were not
part of the original plans when we took over the administration of the
university,” he said.

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Akwa Ibom rehabilitates abandoned children

Akwa Ibom rehabilitates abandoned children

Akwa Ibom State
government has concluded arrangements to rehabilitate 21 abandoned
children who were taking refuge in two different locations in the Eket
local government area.

The action of
government is in response to media reports on the neglect and abuse of
the children who were forced to flee their homes owing to maltreatment,
and those who were driven away by their families on the allegations
that they were witches.

The commissioner
for information and social re-orientation, Aniekan Umana, in a
statement yesterday in Uyo, warned parents, guardians and other people
in the habit of maltreating children, especially labeling them as
witches to desist from the act.

Maintaining
government’s determination to do everything within its power to ensure
that children were protected and their safety guaranteed, Mr Umana,
said the government would stop at nothing to ensure that defaulters
were prosecuted in line with the provision of the Child Rights and
Protection Law.

Explaining why the
government delayed in relocating the children, Eunice Thomas, the
commissioner for women affairs and social welfare said they received
information on the state of the children, who were they residing at the
premises of the Eket Sports Stadium and the abandoned Qua River Hotel,
late.

She promised to
work expeditiously to re-integrate them with the society, noting that
the ministry has previously been involved in the rehabilitation and
integration of children who were abandoned by their families for
several reasons.

Mrs Thomas said a
temporary accommodation would be provided for the newly discovered
children at the women development centre, pending when the government
would make permanent provisions for them.

She took immediate custody of one of the female children, Jane
Bassey, who was four months pregnant, and mentioned that the children
would be given immediate medical attention, while plans were on ground
to ensure that they were enrolled in schools.

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Group wants Ogun government’s support in AIDS fight

Group wants Ogun government’s support in AIDS fight

The AIDS Prevention Initiative of
Nigeria (APIN) yesterday gave assurance of its readiness to assist the
Ogun State government in tackling the spread of HIV.

The chief executive officer of the
NGO, Prosper Okonkwo, spoke at a stakeholders’/advocacy meeting on the
expansion of Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission services to
primary healthcare centres, held in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

He noted that the task of curbing the menace was the collective responsibility of all stakeholders in the health sector.

More facilities needed

Speaking further, Mr Okonkwo noted that
Nigeria was ranked high among countries with the highest number of
people living with AIDS owing to a dearth of maternity hospitals. He
solicited the state government’s support in order to achieve the
organisation’s set objectives.

“In 2009, around 400,000 children
under the age of 16 became infected with HIV, mainly through
mother-to-child transmission. Nigeria has the second highest number of
people living with HIV in the world, after South Africa. There are low
numbers of hospitals and maternity homes in Nigeria, most mothers
deliver at homes or church,” he stressed.

“The reason we are here today is to
solicit for a partnership with the state government so as to improve
healthcare services for our people,” he added.

Shortly after the stakeholders’
meeting, APIN donated CD4 machines to the Ijebu-Ode General Hospital
and the Sacred Heart Hospital in Abeokuta, where he said 25 primary
healthcare centres would spring up in the state before September.

In his response, Oluyemisi Ajibawo, the government representative
at the occasion, promised maximum cooperation from the state
government, identifying funding as a major challenge in reaching out to
the grassroots people.

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Oyo governor-elect accuses Alao-Akala of frustrating committee

Oyo governor-elect accuses Alao-Akala of frustrating committee

The Oyo State
governor-elect, Abiola Ajimobi, has accused the incumbent governor,
Adebayo Alao-Akala of frustrating his effort to ensure a smooth change
of baton in the state by May 29.

Mr Ajimobi had
last weekend inaugurated a 30-member committee to ascertain the true
position of the state’s finances as well as other necessary aspects of
governance ahead of his eventual take-over.

But the camp of
the governor-elect has warned that the incumbent was not doing enough
to ensure that the transition is carried out smoothly.

Frustrating the committee

“My Transition
Committee’s work is being terribly frustrated by Akala’s failure to
respond to my letter after several fruitless attempts to reach him,” he
said.

Since the
inauguration of the committee, headed by Busari Adebisi, a former
secretary to the state government, it has not been able to meet with
the governor’s 21-member side.

Mr Alao-Akala’s
team, according to sources, were waiting for instruction from the
governor to allow them meet with their counterpart.

But Dotun Oyelade,
special adviser to Mr Alao-Akala on public communications, said the
delay was prompted by the recent appointment of a new head of service
for the state.

“With the change
of baton and the swearing-in of a new Head of Service on Wednesday,
there is understandably a slight delay since the new HOS is the
Chairman of Government’s Transition Committee,” Mr Oyelade said in a
statement.

He, however assured that the government is not nursing any motive of thwarting the transition process.

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Kwara tribunal orders forensic examination of election materials

Kwara tribunal orders forensic examination of election materials

The Kwara State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal
yesterday granted an order that all election materials used during the April 26
elections be made available for inspection. The order followed an ex-parte
application by Osaro Eghobamien, the counsel to the Action Congress of Nigeria
(ACN) governorship candidate, Dele Belgore.

Mr Eghobemien, on behalf of his client, had ahead of yesterday’s
inaugural sitting of the tribunal filed an application before the tribunal on
May 7, to challenge the election victory of the Peoples Democratic Party’s
(PDP) candidate, Abdulaziz Ahmed.

The three-man panel, headed by Ngozi Priscilla Emehelu, while
granting the prayers sought by the applicant, ruled among others,

that there should be an inspection of polling booths and
election materials used and unused for the April 26 governorship elections in
about 200 wards in the state.

The tribunal also granted permission for the forensic
examination, as well as the electronic scanning of the election materials.

Relying on section 151(1) of the Electoral Act (amended 2010),
and the case of Rauf Aregbesola V. Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the tribunal directed
compliance with the consequential orders.

However, the tribunal did not honour the prayer of the applicant
that the documents and materials be kept in the court custody, and this was
because of the provision of section 72 of the Electoral Act which is to the
effect that only the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), that is, the Resident
Electoral Commission (REC) shall have the custody of election documents.

The tribunal ordered the respondents to the petition to comply
with the orders made by the tribunal.

Ms Emehelu said the establishment of the panel was pursuant to
section 285 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as
amended by section 9 of the Second Alteration Act 2010, paragraph 1 and 2 of
the sixth schedule of the constitution, 2010.

She said the secretary of the tribunal, Fransisca Mesiobi Emeto
had earlier reported in Ilorin to set up the registry of the tribunal with
supporting staff. She, however added that as at the time of its sitting on
Wednesday, no single petition had been received.

“As I speak to you, no petition has been filed before this
tribunal, save for an application, EPT/KWA/GOV/1M/2011: Mohammed Dele Belgore
of the Action Congress of Nigeria and two others V. Fatahi Ahmed of the Peoples
Democratic Party and 4 others, which was filed on the 7th May 2011 seeking
inter-alia, for the leave of the court to inspect and make copies of certain
documents used in the conduct of the governorship election of Kwara State for
the purpose of instituting and, or maintaining the applicants election
petition,” she said.

Ms Emehelu, who promised that the tribunal would give petitions
before it “expeditious adjudication”, pleaded that people should know that
election tribunals “are sui generis”, that is, belonging to a class of their
own, and give it maximum cooperation to enable the accelerated hearing of the petitions.

Other justices sitting as part of the tribunal are Kadi Dahiru Abubakar and
Saidu Sifawa.

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