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A Must Read: Nigeria holds its breadth as Edo elects next governor Tommorrow.

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With the stage set for the Edo State governorship poll tommorrow Wednesday, September 28, Nigerians are waiting with bated breath for a free, fair and transparent election process. But once again, the build-up has been marred by allegations of fraud, even after the elections were postponed. An allegation of connivance to rig the polls was levelled against INEC, the Police and the ruling APC. The PDP in a statement by its publicity secretary, Chris Nehekhare claimed it had credible information that there was an arrangement by the APC to thumbprint fake ballot papers and take them to local councils where its candidate is expected to lose. He further said there was another plot to plant fake permanent voters cards on PDP supporters and get them arrested. Although the Edo the state police command and INEC have in separate reactions, denied the allegation, these are ominous signs that portend to trouble. If, as we say, the morning tells the day, then politicians, their supporters, power mongers, security agencies and all sorts of irredentists who take advantage of such situations of chaos should spare a thought for peace and security in Edo state and indeed the country.

According to the PDP, this sinister plot hatched between the APC and INEC with the connivance of the police was a ploy to manipulate or disrupt the results on the field at polling stations where they may be losing the elections. “They are planning to destabilize the election at Uromi, Ovia and parts of Oredo in order to provoke inconclusive elections in their areas of weakness. We are also reliably informed that members of the APC have been granted remote access to the INEC servers and its e-collation platforms. We are informed that certain officials of the commission had granted the APC real time access to the platforms in furtherance of their plan,” the PDP statement said.

Interestingly, the two governorship candidates, who hail from the ancient Benin Kingdom, have served the state in various capacities and on the platform of the same political party before this contest separated them. This, of course, could make the contest very divisive. On an optimistic note, it could also make it less so! Nigerians hope the latter prevails. What is more, incumbent Governor Adams Oshiomhole who is rounding off his constitutional second term has presided over a relatively peaceful state. While he is entitled to some partisanship as expected of an outgoing governor who would want his legacies consolidated by a successor, the least that is expected of Oshiomhole, a well-known unionist is to help ensure that the will of the Edo people prevails at the ballot box. That is the only way to guard his reputation as a statesman.

The APC governorship candidate, Godwin Obaseki defeated other aspirants at the APC primaries of Saturday, June 18, while Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who will fly the PDP flag, won his party’s ticket on June 20. Ize-Iyamu and Obaseki have both been in the same political camp before going their separate ways.

Ize-Iyamu, a pastor, is a former Chief of Staff and Secretary to Edo State government. He was an APC bigwig before decamping to the PDP. Ize-Iyamu was also the National Vice-Chairman, South-South Zone of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). He was the director general of Oshiomhole’s second term campaign organization in 2012. He had also once coordinated the office of the Goodluck/Sambo campaign organization on the PDP platform.

Obaseki was managing director and board chairman of Afrinvest (West Africa) Ltd until June 2016. He served on the Presidential Committee on the Reform of the Nigerian Pensions System; and also on the Committee on Reactivation of the Nigerian Bond Market set up by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He is an active member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and currently serves in its Governing Council. He has also served on many NSE committees. In 2001, he was nominated Global Leader of Tomorrow (GLT) by the World Economic Forum. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers and an alumnus of the Lagos Business School. He is the founding and current Chairman of Edo State Economic and Strategy Team which was inaugurated by Governor Oshiomhole in March 2009. So, both men come to the race with good enough credentials as managers and politicians.

Next Wednesday’s election offers another important test case for what to expect in 2019 and INEC should seize the moment to send the right signals about its capacity to organize free, fair and credible elections. With only 1,925,105 registered voters, INEC has more than adequate material, personnel and security wherewithal to do a diligent job in Edo, if it wants to. Therefore, there was no excuse for INEC, to have postponed the election from September 10, to September 28 after deploying all the requisite logistics, other than gross incompetence, partiality, corruption and mischief. The postponement of the vote over some imaginary security threats led to all sorts of speculations and opened the electoral umpire to charges of impartiality; and in the process, undermined its own credibility. INEC now has a historic opportunity to try to salvage its increasingly battered public image and gain some measure of public respectability.

As this is the second state-wide election to be organized by new INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmud Yakubu, expectations are high that INEC would discharge itself creditably. The first election on Yakubu’s watch was in Kogi where a strange development neither envisaged by the constitution nor Electoral Act occurred: the presumed winner died before the results were announced and that created a new phrase in Nigeria’s political lexicon – “inconclusive election.” In Nigeria where cynicism, political opportunism and inordinate ambition is the currency of choice of politicians, the prospect of any “inconclusiveness” over the Edo election should be banished by INEC with fairness in its conduct of the poll.

INEC should ensure that Edo politicians are not given any opportunity to engage in a shouting match to the news media when certain hiccups occur. INEC should work hard to plug all loopholes and save itself any embarrassment. The politicians in Edo State must behave in a decorous manner if they are truly out for service to the people, and the security agencies must show a high degree of professionalism and neutrality. Election is a process that has many components and stages. The Election Day itself is however the most critical, when its integrity can be easily compromised and outcome discredited. Once trust, the building block of credibility of the process is doubtful, people and observers automatically suspect injustice and that can be the trigger of widespread violence.

Politicians, their supporters, power mongers, security agencies and all sorts of irredentists who take advantage of the absence of an Election Offences Tribunal should spare a thought for peace and security in the state and indeed the country. All told, the people of Edo State should also be conscious of the fact that extant electoral laws empower the election umpire, INEC, to suspend or cancel elections where actions are suspected to have compromised the integrity of the process. That is why all Nigerians need to reflect on the implications of their negative attitude before, during and after elections. The people of Edo should realize that they are the source and the pillars of democracy and good governance. They owe themselves the duty to make it work in their State. They should help deepen democracy by voting peacefully on Wednesday and ensuring that all votes count.

 

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Contempt: Again, court commits EFCC boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa, to prison

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The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, has been committed to prison for allegedly disobeying court order.

The court also directed the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to effect Bawa’s arrest and remand him in Kuje prison for the next 14 days until he purges himself of the contempt.

Justice R.O. Ayoola of the Kogi State High Court, in his judgement on Monday, granted the application for committal to prison of the EFCC chairman for disobeying a court ruling delivered on November 30, 2022, wherein the EFCC chairman was directed to produce the applicant in the case, Ali Bello.

Ali Bello had dragged Bawa to court for arresting and detaining him illegally, with the court ruling in his favour, only for the EFCC to arraign him for alleged money laundering three days after the ruling.

The EFCC’s applications for setting aside and stay of execution of the ruling were refused for want of merit.

The Court had, in Form 49, Order IX, Rule 13, marked, “HCL/697M/2022” and titled, “Notice to Show Cause Why Order of Committal Should not be Made,” asked the EFCC Chairman to appear before it on January 18, 2022 to explain why he should not be jailed for flouting the order given on December 12, 2022 in a case filed by Ali Bello against the EFCC and Bawa, as the 1st and 2nd respondents, respectively.

The court ordered that the EFCC and Bawa be served the motion of notice together with Form 49 by substituted means.

The court had declared the arrest and detention of the applicant in the face of a subsisting court order made by a court of competent jurisdiction and without a warrant of arrest “or being informed of the offence for which he was arrested” as unlawful, unconstitutional, and in contravention of the personal liberty and dignity of human person guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

The court had also ordered the respondents to tender an apology to the applicant in a national newspaper and awarded N10 million compensation for him.

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Fidelity grows profit to N52 billion for FY 2022 

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Fidelity Bank Plc has announced an impressive growth in Profit Before Tax to N52 bn for the Full Year 2022. This was made known in the Bank’s unaudited statement of account presented to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) on Wednesday, 31 January 2023.

 

According to the regulatory filing, the bank grew Gross Earnings by 33.9% to N335.897 billion (from N250.774 billion in FY 2021) and Net Interest Income by 61.1% to N152.813 billion (from N94.877 billion in FY 2021) leading to a Profit After Tax of N47.163billion for FY 2022 (from N35.579billion in FY 2021).

 

Similarly, Total Assets for the Bank now stand at N3.999trillion (from N3.289trillion in FY 2021) and Deposit from Customers is now at N2.591trillion (from N2.024trillion in FY 2021).

 

Analysts posit that this is yet another strong showing for the tier-one bank having sustained impressive performance year-on-year even in the face of the headwinds in the economy. Despite growing its Gross Earnings at an impressive rate, the bank has managed to record one of the lowest Non-Performing Loans (NPL) ratios in the Nigerian banking industry, for instance.

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Petition signatures to Emefiele over new naira hit 1653..

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Petition signatures to Emefiele over new naira hit 1653

 

Following the crisis over the non-availability of the redesigned N100, N200, N500 and N1000, over 1653 Nigerians have petitioned the Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to end what they termed ‘hardship’ on the citizens.

 

The petition, hoisted on the global change website, change.org, which was started on Friday, garnered over 1653 signatures on Saturday.

 

As of the time of filing this report, many bank customers have yet to access the new notes as many automated teller machines are either not dispensing cash or completely shut down because of the crowd.

 

Protests have erupted over the situation in some parts of the country and some banks vandalised by hoodlums, demanding access to their money lodged in several accounts.

 

 

 

There have also been controversial videos showing bank officials sabotaging the process by hiding the new notes behind old ones in vaults.

 

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has requested seven days from Nigerians to fix the mess.

 

Part of the petition stated, “The recent shortage of physical cash in Nigeria has caused major untold hardship to Nigerians. People are spending hours in long lines at banks just to withdraw cash, and many are forced to rely more on digital transactions which tend to be unreliable due to poor bank networks.

 

POS operators also charge outrageous amounts; as much as N1000 for a N10,000 withdrawal. The Central Bank of Nigeria has stated that the shortage is temporary, but it is causing serious disruption to the daily lives of many Nigerians.

 

“We call on the government, stakeholders, law enforcement agencies and the CBN to take urgent action to address the cash shortage crisis in Nigeria. We demand that the CBN increase the distribution of physical cash to meet the demand, and also any POS operator found charging outrageous amounts for withdrawal should be arrested.’’

 

Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students has expressed displeasure over the issue, noting that the process was not only ill-timed but also not well thought out.

 

Speaking to Sunday PUNCH during a telephone interview on Friday, National Vice President (External Affairs), Akinteye Afeez-Babatunde, said, “The whole situation is crazy. We are tired. Students are crying and complaining. They can’t get cash. The leaders have confirmed to us that they don’t care for the people. The policy is fine but the process to get it done is to the detriment of our own lives as Nigerians. Our day-to-day activities have been disrupted. Nigerians are suffering.’

 

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