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INEC Clarifies Role On Revision, Adjustment Of Electoral Constituencies

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INEC Clarifies Role On Revision, Adjustment Of Electoral Constituencies
Mr. Festus Okoye

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says revision of electoral constituencies/adjustment of their boundaries are joint responsibilities of the commission and the National Assembly.

The commission made the clarification in a statement by Mr. Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner, and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, in Abuja on Friday.

Okoye said that the clarification became necessary following recent media reports regarding the commission’s responsibilities in the division, revision, and adjustment of electoral constituency boundaries in Nigeria.

Read Also: Discountenance Rumours Of Recruitment, Employment Letters- INEC

He noted that the division of the country into electoral constituencies for Senate, House of Representatives, and State Houses of Assembly was the responsibility of the INEC.

Okoye, however, said once the contingencies were established, subsequent revision of the constituencies/adjustment of their boundaries were the joint responsibilities of the commission and NASS.

“Consequently, any such revision or adjustment must be passed by a resolution of the two houses of the national assembly, namely the senate and the house of representatives.’’

Okoye said that as a result, INEC had been in discussion with the relevant committees of the national assembly to arrange a meeting with the leadership of the assembly to address some of the difficult issues on alteration of electoral constituency boundaries.

He said  that the commission had previously brought to the attention of the national assembly, some of the issues including the following:

“That the 1999 Constitution (as amended) does not place an obligation on INEC to revise or alter the boundaries of constituencies every 10 years as being canvassed by some opinions in the media.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 73 (1) of the Constitution provides for that to happen at intervals of “not less than 10 years” this implies that it can only happen from 10 years and above!

“Therefore, the commission is not in breach of the constitution, since the revision can happen in 10 years or more.

“Secondly, the constitution also provides that the commission may embark on revision and adjustment after a national census, creation of states or by an Act of the National Assembly [Section 73 (2)].

“None of these conditions actually exists at the moment. The last population census was conducted in 2006, about fifteen years ago,” he said.

Okoye said that INEC felt that revising and/or altering constituencies based on 15-year-old population data was inappropriate because the well-known rapidity of population changes in Nigeria would make nonsense of any outcome.

“In any case, the National Population Commission is working on conducting another census and it seems reasonable to await its outcome,” he said.

Okoye said that on the other hand, no new states had been created in Nigeria since the constitution came into effect in 1999 nor was there an Act of the national assembly requesting INEC to activate the relevant sections of the constitution on division, revision, and alteration of electoral constituencies.

The third issue according to Okoye is on the state constituencies to be created in each state of the federation.

He said that the constitution provided that the number for each state should be three or four times the number of its federal constituencies (seats in the House of Representatives) subject to a minimum of 24 and a maximum of 40.

“The problem is that some states presently have three times the number of their seats in the House of Representatives, others have four times; others have the minimum of 24 and yet others have reached the maximum of 40.

“For some, their present number of state assembly constituencies is neither three nor four times the number of their house of representative seats.

“This motley distribution calls for more clarity in the division, revision, and alteration of electoral constituency boundaries, which in fact may require constitutional amendments,” he further said.

Okoye listed the fourth issue to be the question of the so-called suppressed constituencies, saying essentially, these are constituencies that existed prior to the coming into force of the 1999 Constitution.

He said the canvassers for those constituencies argued that they had been “suppressed” in the present dispensation.

Okoye disclosed that 42 cases were filed in various courts across the country,  requesting INEC to be compelled to restore 62 constituencies.

“The commission has consistently argued that the idea of the restoration of a constituency was both legally questionable and practically improbable.

“It is questionable to ask INEC to restore constituencies that existed under an old constitutional order in the present one.

“For example, the present constitution provides for the maximum seats in the house of representatives and the multiples of that for state house of assembly constituencies.

“Restoring all old constituencies from a different constitutional order will definitely mean that the number set by the present constitution may be exceeded,” he said.

Okoye said that besides, there had been many previous constitutional orders, each with its own specification of limits on the number of constituencies.

“Furthermore, which of the old constitutional provision should we restore?

“Perhaps, some people may even ask for the restoration of the four constituencies in Calabar and Lagos created in 1922 following the Clifford Constitution.

He added that it was a misnomer to talk of suppressed constituencies because some of the constituencies had been divided territorially.

These according to him, are a result of state creation and boundary adjustments, the creation of Local Government Areas as well as the creation of the subsisting electoral constituencies.

“Some of the court judgments in the cases on these so-called suppressed constituencies have agreed with the position of the commission.

“Others have gone for the suppressed constituency canvassers. In yet other cases, the commission has appealed the judgments.

“These are some of the challenges that have constrained the commission on the question of revision and adjustment of electoral constituencies.’’

Okoye said yet, INEC was not oblivious of the importance of balanced constituency delimitation on the democratic and electoral processes.

“However, these are complicated legal, political, and practical issues.’’

He said that was why INEC requested for a meeting with the leadership of NASS to resolve those issues and build the necessary consensus that would ensure that any revision of electoral boundaries would be passed by the national assembly.

Okoye said that was unlike in the past when the commission’s proposals on revision and alteration of electoral constituencies received no response from the assembly.

He noted that the commission is presently preparing a comprehensive Discussion Paper on these issues to assist in its engagement with the national assembly.

“The commission wishes to put on record the frank and open discussions with the leadership of several committees of the national assembly and their support on these issues

“We also appeal for public support to ensure that the right atmosphere exists for the commission to continue to do its work in this regard.

“For emphasis, the commission also wishes to state that the issue of electoral constituencies is separate and distinct from the ongoing consultation on voter access to polling units in Nigeria.’’

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Amid Terrorism Scandal, Pantami Lifts Ban On SIM Card Registration

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Amid Terrorism Scandal, Pantami Lifts Ban On SIM Card Registration

Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has lifted the ban on SIM card registration with a mandatory National Identity Number (NIN).

According to Dr. Femi Adeluyi, the minister’s Technical Assistant (Information Technology), who made this disclosure in a statement seen by Newsrand, starting from April 19, 2021, the approval for the activation of the new SIM card registration will take effect.

The statement read: “For IoT/M2M activations, SIM security protocols would be implemented on the SIM profile to ensure that SIMs can only be used for point-to-point data services specific to the URL they are working with. All other services will be barred.

“In the event that a data-only service is particular to individual use (eg home car tracking, WiFi, MiFi services, etc), the standard NIN registration process will be followed. A Telecoms Master will also be required for Corporates requiring IoT/M2M activations.”

Speaking on the NIN registration progress, Adeluyi added that the biometric verification process had been slower than anticipated, owing largely to the non-adherence of many previous SIM biometric capture processes to the National Identity Management Commission standards.

He said the revised policy would ensure that operators conform to the required standards for biometric capture.

He stated, “The implementation of the policy will commence on Monday, 19th of April 2021. The issuance of new SIMs and other suspended activities will resume on the same date, as long as verification is done and the guidelines are fully adhered to.

“The minister has also directed Nigerian Communications Commission and NIMC to ensure that the provisions of the policy are strictly followed by all operators and subscribers.”

As reported on Newsrand, Pantami had been linked with global extremist groups –the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, after declaring support for them in his past preachings.

Inquisitive Nigerians are however curious if the minister’s move was to divert attention from his terrorism scandal…

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General News

Daily Headline News (Thursday,15-4-2021)

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Here are the top 5 news of the day.

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‘FG Still Disturbed Over Missing Chibok Girls’ – Presidency

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'FG Still Disturbed About Missing Chibok Girls' - Presidency

The Presidency has given hope to parents and guardians of the missing Chibok girls, that their release is still a work in progress as the Government is also bothered.

This was disclosed in a State House Press Release in their official Twitter handle, as the Presidency gives reassurance to parents and all concerned citizens.

READ ALSO: Police Say Rescued Trafficked Children Are Yet To Be Claimed

“No one is giving up hope here. Efforts to secure their release through various channels and activities of the security and intelligence agencies remain on course.

“The recent decisive push by the military against the terrorists gives hope that a breakthrough is possible and could happen anytime soon.

The government asks Nigerians to render aid and prayers to the military and understand with them as they discharge their historic mandate to quickly finish off the insurgency war and free all citizens held hostage.

 

HOW IT  ALL STARTED:

On the 14th night of April 2014, seven years from today, 276 female students from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State were kidnapped.

The kidnappers broke into the school, pretending to be guards, although according to sources, a few hours prior to the raid, residents in Chibok had received phone calls from neighboring villages warning them of the incoming attack, who had witnessed convoys containing armed insurgents driving in the direction of the town.

57 of the schoolgirls escaped by jumping from the trucks in which they were being transported, while the others were being transported to Sambisa Forest around Lake chad.

The girls were forced into marriage with members of Boko Haram, with a supposed”bride price” of ₦2,000 each.

In 2015 a video of proof of life was released when Stephen Davis contacted the militants’ commanders during negotiation to release the girls. Some of the girls were down with an illness.

After negotiations, the deal fell through as the girls were unable to gain freedom.

In 2017, Rakiya Abubakar, One of the kidnapped girls was reported to have been found by the Nigerian Army along with a 6-month-old baby while they were interrogating suspects detained in army raids on the Sambisa forest.

82 further schoolgirls were released on 6 May following successful negotiations between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram, involving the exchange of five Boko Haram leaders.

2018, Salomi Pogu, one of the Chibok girls was rescued by the Nigerian military near Pulka, Borno State. She was also found with a child.

Concerned Nigerians still clamor for the release of the remaining 112 schoolgirls, as the Government reassures them of their unrelenting search.

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