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CHECK OUT:Kogi, Bayelsa, Imo polls: Parties, candidates sign peace accord Wednesday details

CHECK OUT:Kogi, Bayelsa, Imo polls: Parties, candidates sign peace accord Wednesday details.…..CONTINUE READING>>>>>>

Political parties and other stakeholders in the Bayelsa, Kogi and Imo governorship elections scheduled for next Saturday are billed to sign a peace accord on Wednesday next week.

The Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee (NPC), which disclosed this in a statement signed by the former head of state, pleaded with all stakeholders to play their parts in ensuring peace before, during and after the elections in the three states.

“The NPC hereby wishes to announce the signing of Peace Accords on Wednesday, 8th November 2023, by political parties and other election stakeholders in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states. This is to pledge their commitment to peaceful, transparent, and equitable elections in their respective states,” the statement said.

The committee stressed the need to have a peaceful electoral process for the benefits of the nation.

The statement reads in part: “We acknowledge this pressing need to cultivate a peaceful and conducive environment, especially with the escalations of violence in various regions of our country.

“The governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi states offer another opportunity to underscore our unwavering commitment to peaceful democratic transitions, setting an inspiring example for the entire nation.

“The NPC continues to engage state institutions and political actors in our bid to facilitate the commitment of stakeholders to democratic processes for the development and wellbeing of the nation.

“These efforts aim to ensure that the electoral process is conducted with transparency and impartiality, devoid of intimidating actions and inciting rhetoric, which could trigger violence.

“We implore all key stakeholders in Imo, Bayelsa, and Kogi states to step forward and play their parts in safeguarding our country’s peace and stability—before, during and after these governorship elections.

“The responsibility for peace belongs to each of us.

“We appeal to citizens in these States to exercise their rights to vote, choosing their leaders according to the provisions of the law.

“Remember, your vote is your voice, and with your participation, we can collectively build a better state.

“As an apolitical body, which places the utmost importance on preserving the peace, unity and tranquility of our nation, we urge the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the elections ombudsman, security agencies and other government agencies that facilitate the conduct of the electoral process to do so with transparency, particularly because the entire nation and the world is watching.

“It is important to continually build and reinforce public trust in the process to ensure free, fair, credible and transparent elections.”

The committee also urged residents to ensure the electoral process epitomises the spirit of progress and hope, which will set the standard for unity and growth in the country.

INEC Chair: We must maintain our integrity, non-partisanship

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, yesterday warned the staff of the commission against any act that will call to question the integrity of the commission during the forthcoming off cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states.

The INEC boss, who spoke when he led other officials of the commission to assess the state of preparedness in Bayelsa and Imo states, told the staff that they must remain non-partisan and maintain their integrity throughout the process.

He said that INEC is not a political party and does not have a candidate in the November 11 governorship elections.

“All we are going to do is to ensure that the people of Bayelsa and Imo states choose whoever they want to be their governors, and our responsibility is to protect the people’s choice,” he said.

Yakubu also called on the Electoral Officers (EOs) in both states to ensure that all Registration Area Centres (RACs) are fully activated early enough to enable smooth conduct of the elections, assuring that the Commission was “committed to a credible process”.

He said as part of the Commission’s determination to ensure that poll officials live up to their responsibilities on election day, a refresher training would be organised on Friday, November 10 “apart from the refresher training we are going to conduct this week Friday, Saturday and Sunday”.

Yakubu assured the Commission staff that all allowances accruing to them would soon be paid as the National Assembly has approved the appropriation of the N18 billion supplementary budget submitted to it by the President.

He said: “I know that many of you are not happy because you have not received the alert for the 40 per cent palliative awarded to all civil servants to cushion the effect of the economic hardship being experienced due to the removal of the fuel subsidy.”

He explained that the cause of the delay in payment was that the Commission’s budget for the year 2023, which was passed in December last year, did not capture the 40 per cent peculiar allowance, the New Duty Tour Allowance, and the 35-thousand-naira cash award for six months approved by the Federal Government from April to September this year.

“We met with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in Abuja recently and informed them to plead with the members of staff to please bear with the Commission, as everything is being done to ensure we put a smile on your faces and very soon, this long wait will be over.

“I was also told that the N35,000-award palliative ought to have been paid from September 1st, 2023 as it has been paid in some ministries, meaning that you have two months’ arrears and we are going to pay you for a period of six months from September 2023 to February 2024.

“Meanwhile, you are going to have 10 months arrears for the 40 per cent peculiar allowance and we will commence paying as soon as the Commission receives funding.”

APC, PDP in verbal war over Bayelsa killings

The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa State yesterday engaged each other in war of words over what the latter described as “dastardly and senseless” two-day attacks by suspected thugs of the former on members of the party in Ogbolomabiri community in Nembe Kingdom of the state.

Two chieftains of the PDP, Timi Biriyai Macdonald and Diepreye Akrisia, were brutally attacked by suspected thugs, following which Macdonald was later confirmed dead at a hospital in the area.

The PDP, in a statement issued on Friday by the State Chairman, Hon. Solomon Agwanana, the Secretary, Hon. Gesiye Isowo and the Publicity Secretary, Hon. Ebiye Ogoli, sympathised with the families of the deceased and the injured.

The party condemned a situation in which APC allegedly resorted to violence, maiming, killing or scaring away supporters of other parties to freely hijack, collate and return fictitious and non-existent results in its favour from the said community during elections.

The party said: “The PDP, to this end, strongly urges the police and other security agencies in the state to, without delay, investigate, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of this wicked and senseless attacks on innocent citizens.

“We believe that the measure will go a long way to serve as a deterrent to others during the November 11 election.”

The APC leadership in the state had earlier accused the PDP-led government in the state of trying to instigate violence in Nembe Local Government Area of the state ahead of the governorship election.

APC spokesman in Bayelsa State, Mr Doifie Buokoribo, had in a statement on Friday said the intelligence reports available to the party leadership in the state indicated that PDP in cahoots with incumbent governor, Senator Douye Diri, has perfected plans to cause a breach in Bassambiri community, Nembe LGA of the state.

He said: “The goal of this scorched earth policy is to make it extraordinarily difficult for electoral officials to gain access to the place, harass and intimidate our members and supporters, and ultimately prevent the November 11, 2023 elections from holding in Bassambiri-Nembe, our stronghold.

“We consider this intelligence credible as the PDP is now desperate, knowing that the Bayelsa people are not with them.

“Their performance in office has been lamentably poor. Hence they are not campaigning on any known record of achievement.

“Instead, the PDP is running from court to court, trying to stop the APC from being on the ballot.

“Not only are they threatening violence, they are actually visiting violence on our members in places like Opokuma, Odi and Kaiama in Kolokuma/Opukuma Local Government Council (Governor Diri’s local government area) and Sangana in Brass Local Government Area.”
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In a statement yesterday, a pro-democracy group, New Generation Leaders of Bayelsa State, also condemned alleged incessant attacks on the APC stalwarts and supporters in Bayelsa State.

The statement issued by the group’s National Coordinator, Apostle Bodmas Kemepadei, said repeated attacks on supporters of APC governorship candidate, Chief Timipre Sylva, had become worrisome.

Describing the attacks as a senseless and callous strategy by the ruling party in the state, Kemepadei noted that rather than canvass for votes from the people, the PDP had resorted to assaulting and manhandling law abiding supporters of the APC.

The statement reads, “As APC supporters in Bayelsa State, we condemn in totality the reports of sponsored political thugs dressed in full military uniform that attempted to invade Sylva’s LGA few days ago.

“There are also others who have been harassing, intimidating and attacking ardent members of the APC, which may force some of us to fight back if Mr. President does not wade in.

“It is highly condemnable and a serious attack on democracy. Because of the price we paid for standing for President Tinubu, we are now hunted as meats.

“We therefore call on the President, IGP and other security agencies to swing into action and bring the perpetrators of this sinister act to justice before it gets out of hand.

“As a group, we are closely watching the attacks on APC members and we know it is connected to the rising popularity and teaming support of the APC in the state.

“The President should intervene by directing the security agencies to be at alert on the continuous attack of members of the party.”

The Bayelsa State Command of the Nigeria Police Force was yet to react to the situation in Nembe Local Government Area as the police spokesman in the state, CSP Asinim Butswat, was yet to pick his calls.

Kogi guber: Your past will haunt you, group tells Melaye

Ahead of Saturday’s governorship election, a foremost Tinubu support group, Disciples of Jagaban (DOJ), has taken a swipe at the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Dino Melaye, saying that his sordid past is now haunting him.

The National Coordinator of DOJ, Comrade Abdul Hakeen Alawuje, said that Dino never imagined that he would one day seek to be governor when he exhibited irresponsible acts that created for him the toga of an area boy.

“It is like Senator Dino Malaye has never thought of becoming the governor of a state in the past 20 years. That is why he turned himself into a Nollywood comedian, always acting in the most irresponsible manner,” he said.

Alawuje noted that with Dino as the candidate of the party, the PDP does not pose a serious challenge for the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“The PDP is not always serious in all aspects, especially with the kind of people they always push forward to represent them in local, state and federal elections,” he added.

He advocated the exclusion people of Dino’s ilk from electoral contests because he has demonstrated serious mental imbalance, adding that the electoral umpire should insist on psychological test for aspirants.

“If I am not making a mistake, I want to believe that in this coming Kogi election, we need someone that is responsible; not an agbero (tout). If I may ask Senator Dino Melaye, where is your leadership material?

“With our experience with you, you have never been serious enough to lead a local government, less talk of a state.

“How can Dino be a governor, and how did he expect some of us who know him from his admitted time at ABU to keep quiet and we will still stand in the public that we love this nation?

“Anyway, we can only pass just half of the messages to the wise one,” Alawuje said.

Coalition urges INEC to end Imo killings with credible poll

A coalition of civil society groups has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to help end the ongoing bloodletting and violence in Imo State by conducting a free, fair and credible governorship election in the state on November 11.

The group also tasked the commission to guard against attempts by some unscrupulous elements in the state to harvest and write results in favour of a particular candidate in the election.

At a joint press conference held in Enugu, the groups, including the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) and Southeast based Coalition of Democracy and Human Rights Organisations, said conducting a credible election in Imo State would restore decency and sanctity of the ballot box and eventually have Imo voters and their properties secured and protected after years of agony.

The Chairman, Board of Trustees of the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety), Emeka Umeagbalasi, who addressed the press conference, said: “The restoration of sanctity of the ballot box in Imo is capable of ending the ongoing mass murders and property destruction that have ravaged the state since January 2021, leading to unlawful killings by drafted security forces and armed non-state actors of combined total of over 2,000 unarmed and defenseless citizens and wanton destruction of more than 1,600 civilian houses and tens of thousands of other ‘non military necessity’ properties.”

Umeagbalasi lamented that available evidence and realities suggest that some persons do not want INEC to organise an election that is free, fair, credible and secure.

He said that the winner of the November 11 election in Imo State, if conducted freely and fairly, will not score more than 90,000-130,000 from the total lawful votes of not more than 300,000.

“We arrived at this projection after considering the fears, chaos and bloodletting that have gripped the state since January 2021 in which more than half of the state’s 27 local government areas are deeply affected,” he said.

He noted that the coalition had written letters to some critical stakeholders, including the Inspector General of Police (IGP) the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Chief of Army Staff, (CAS), the Director General of the State Security Services (DSS), the Chairman of INEC and the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

He however regretted that none of the issues raised in the letters, such as the need to ensure that collation centres are outside the arenas under the influence of the state government, timely overhaul of some security departments in the state, the provision of security for Imo voters and protection of their votes had been addressed.

Journalists brainstorm on how to fact-check misinformation

The International Press Centre Lagos Nigeria, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has conducted a two-day intensive workshop for Imo state-based journalists on how to fact-check and verify stories before sharing, particularly during the forthcoming governorship election.

The workshop was held at the Echelon Heights Hotel in Port Harcourt, River State.

Addressing the Imo-based journalists from the broadcast, print, and online sectors, Mrs. Stella Nwofia, the Programme Manager, emphasised that this was the final training session out of the three designed for 80 journalists involved in reporting electoral processes across the three states with off-cycle polls scheduled for November 11, 2023.

The main objective of the workshop was to equip journalists with the necessary skills and knowledge to ensure the electoral processes in Kogi, Imo and Bayelsa states are credible, inclusive, transparent, and peaceful.

Nwofia also highlighted the importance of Iverify in Nigeria, noting that it serves as a valuable tool for verifying information, fact-checking, and preventing the spread of disinformation and misinformation, which can lead to electoral violence.

During the workshop, various experts, including Mr. Taiwo Obe, the owner of Journalism Clinic in Nigeria, covered a range of topics. Obe emphasised that business journalism is about finding answers to questions and questioning those answers until no more questions remain.

He also stressed the importance of reporters and editors acting as detectives of misinformation and being ready to debunk falsehoods without amplifying them.

Another speaker, David Ajikobi delved into the process of fact-checking, emphasising that it involves sub-editing in newsrooms before publishing articles in newspapers or broadcasting stories on radio or TV.

He said: “In the case of independent fact-checking organisations, fact-checking involves verifying information already in the public domain to assess the accuracy of claims made by public figures, organisations, the media and on social media using publicly available data.”

Dr. Emmanuel Mmman from the Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution discussed the dangers of information disorder in relation to peace building and conflict resolution.

Mr. Matthew Alao, the Team Leader of the Governance and Peacebuilding Unit, representing UNDP, highlighted the primary goal of reducing misinformation, disinformation and hate speech around election time.

The Executive Director of IPC in Nigeria, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, said Iverify platform plays a pivotal role in assisting journalists verify misinformation.

The highlight of the workshop was the practical capacity-building sessions, during which participants were divided into four groups: Unique, Stringers, Integrity and Eagles. The groups engaged in tasks that proved to be rewarding and fruitful, as participants demonstrated their fact-checking skills and learned about various fact-checking tools.

The organisers of the training were impressed with participants’ performance and declared them ready to apply their newly acquired skills in their respective media organisations and in the society.…..CONTINUE READING>>>>>>

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