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Can Nigeria handle technology in electoral process? (1)

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In a three-part series, I will examine the place of Smart Card Readers (SCR) or modified Smart Card Readers or other technological device that may be introduced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the electoral process.

It is a matter of common knowledge that the electoral management body introduced the Smart Card Readers in the 2015 general elections to aid verification and authentication of voters in the accreditation process.

As we move closer to the 2019 general elections, it may be worthwhile to examine the challenges faced by the Nigerian people and the Electoral Management Body in the use and operation of the Smart Card Readers during the 2015 general elections.

I will also take a panoramic view of the amendments made to the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended) by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in terms of the place of the Smart Card Readers in the electoral process as well as the introduction of and legalisation of the use of electronic voting in the electoral process. I will bear in mind that the amendments in circulation are that of the Senate and that the version passed or as may be passed by the House of Representatives have to be harmonised before it becomes a Bill of the National Assembly waiting for the assent of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

I will also examine the process of ecollation and result transmission being proposed by INEC as part of its preparations towards the 2019 general elections. To start with, it is worthwhile to emphasise that INEC and the State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs) use the same voters register and the same Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) in the conduct of their respective elections. Constitutionally and legally, only INEC is permitted to register voters and issue Permanent Voters’ Cards.

It is also a notorious fact that INEC conducts all the elections assigned to it in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended), the States Independent Electoral Commissions conduct elections to the various local government councils. The implication is that SIECs use the same PVCs issued by INEC for the conduct of local government elections. They also use the same voters register for the conduct of their elections.

In the main, changes in the way the voters register is kept will in a fundamental way affect the way SIECs conduct their elections. Therefore, the fate of local government elections and the way and manner of their conduct is inexorably tied to the form and format of the PVCs and the voters register. It is gratifying to know that some of the states and SIECs are attuned to the new technological changes in the electoral process.

In 2016, the Sokoto State Government courageously conducted their local government elections using the Smart Card Readers. They sought for and obtained the technical backup of INEC and the process was seamless.

The Kaduna State Government has also decided that it will organise its local government elections in July 2017 using the electronic voting system. The implication is that other than the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) that deployed technology in its voting process, the Kaduna State Government and its SIEC may be the pioneer in electronic voting in our electoral system. Presently the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission has unveiled some of the equipment that will be used for the voting and are training some of its staff on its workings.

The implication of this is that the Kaduna State Government will conduct the local government election with full blown technology. The Senate has also decided that the time has come for the country to abandon the manual system of voting and embrace the electronic voting systems.

It should be remembered that Nigeria has been making steady progress towards full blown technology in the electoral process. During the 2015 elections, INEC introduced PVCs and Smart Card Readers (CR).

“The use of the Smart Card Readers for the purpose of accreditation of voters is one of the innovations introduced by the Commission to improve the credibility of the electoral process”. According to the  former chairman of the commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, “using the CRs has enormous advantages. First, once configured it can only read PVCs issued by INEC. Second, it reads the embedded microchip in the card, not the barcode.

Third, it enables authentication of the identity of the voter by matching his/her fingerprints with that stored on the chips. Fourth, it keeps a tally of all cards read, all cards verified/ authenticated or not, with all their details. Fifth, this information can be sent to a central server using an sms. Sixth, the stored information on the server would enable INEC audit results from polling units, as well as do a range of statistical analyses of the demographics of voting, something INEC has never been able to do effectively. Seven, the RA/Ward Collation Officer can use this information to audit PU results sheets and determine whether accreditation figures have been altered (a common feature of electoral fraud).”

Of course the Nigerian people faced enormous challenges operating the Smart Card Readers. Some of the Presiding Officers could not operate the Smart Card Readers. Some of the Smart Card Readers malfunctioned and the necessary technical repairs did not arrive at the requisite time.

There were authentication challenges leading to the use of unimaginable number of Incident Forms. Some of the politicians and candidates used some vulnerable Presiding Officers to undermine the Smart Card Readers.

On the whole, the Smart Card Readers provided the Nigerian people with new and creative way of accreditation, lowering multiple voting and the use of cloned Permanent Voters Cards. At the end, despite all the challenges faced by the Nigerian people in the use and operation of the Smart Card Readers, the Nigerian people agreed that technology is the way to go as it lowered to the barest minimum human errors in the conduct of elections.

Unfortunately, the use of the Smart Card Readers for election faced a barrage of challenges before the elections and before the various election tribunals set up after the 2015 elections. Some of the candidates and political parties equated the use of Smart Card Readers with electronic voting. Some of legal practitioners that went before the election tribunals insisted that the report and result from the Smart Card Readers must be the only way of proving overvoting.

The Supreme Court finally resolved the challenges on the place of the Smart Card Readers and held in the case of Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi v Abdulazeez Yari that “the function of the card reader is to authenticate the owner of a voter’s card and to prevent multiple voting by a voter.”

In the case of Okereke v Umahi and Ors, the Supreme Court also restated the place of the Smart Card Reader in the electoral process when it held that “Prior to the authorization of its use by the Guidelines and Manual (supra), the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended) in section 49(1) and (2), had ordained an analogue procedure for the accreditation process. As a corollary to the procedure outlined above, the Act, in section 53(2), enshrines the consequences for the breach, negation or violation of the accreditation procedure in section 49(supra).

With the advantage of hindsight, INEC, pursuant to its powers under the said Electoral Act, authorized the deployment of the said Card Readers. Even with the introduction of the said device, that is, the Card Reader Machine, the National Assembly, in its wisdom, did not deem it necessary to bowdlerize, or even amend, section 49(supra) from the Electoral Act so that the Card Reader procedure would be the sole determinant of a valid accreditation process.

Contrariwise, from Corrigendum No 2, made on March 28, 2015, amending paragraph 13(b) of the Approved Guidelines, it stands to reason that the Card Reader was meant to supplement the Voters Register and was never designed or intended to supplant, displace or supersede it.”

With the far-reaching amendments made by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended) what then is the fate of the Smart Card Reader and the Voters Register in the electoral process?

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The futile attempt by rented miscreants to dance on the sacred grave of Gani Fawehinmi (4)

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INTRODUCTION

Last week, I could not discuss much on the above subject because of some other pressing national issues I dealt with. Today, I shall continue on how Gani fought tyranny and dictatorship across the length and breadth of Nigeria, using the law as an instrument of social engineering. He defended all, whether rich or poor, “corrupt” or “clean”, mighty or low, private persons or public servants. I will not allow the reprobates and malefactors to rewrite history.

 

I EDUCATED THE AUDIENCE ON WHO GANI WAS

 

I recalled to the audience that in fighting tyranny and oppression, Gani in 1984 (during General Muhammadu Buhari’s military junta), defied the NBA (for which he was initially blacklisted and his name entered in the roll of dishonor by the NBA, which later recanted), Consequently, Gani led me and others to defend Colonel Peter Obasa, Chief Kila, Dikko, Udoka, etc, who were accused of corruption and misappropriation of public funds. More on this later. I told the audience how I later founded the Universal Defenders of Democracy (UDD), which was launched by Justice (Dr) Akinola Aguda, in April, 1992. Hon Emeka Ihedioha, who later became Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, was my Director of Publicity.

 

It was this platform I used in securing court injunction against the detention of the “Kuje 5” (Gani, Beko Ransome Kuti, Falana, Baba Omojola and Segun Maiyegun). I also used UDD to stop the execution of General Zamani Lekwot, who had been sentenced to death by a special Military Tribunal set up under the IBB military junta, over the Zagon Kataf crisis.

I never knew General Lekwot. I met him for the first time at the 2014 National Conference where we were both delegates. I was later to co-found the Joint Action Committee of Nigeria (JACON), with Chief Gani Fawehinmi and other leading lights in the pro-democracy movement. Gani was unanimously elected the National Chairman of JACM. I was elected the National Vice Chairman, Publicity and Publications. It was this platform that we used to finally push out the military junta in 1999. It was tough. But, we did it.

 

At the risk of our youthful lives. Where were these blackmailers when we were fighting for the heart and soul of the Nigerian nation?

 

DID GANI EVER DEFEND PERSONS ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION?

The answer is a loud yes.

Gani defended many people who were accused of corruption, embezzlement of public funds, etc. I will show these anon.

 

That did not mean that he was defending corruption. Gani had, during his life time, exhibited his admirable legal wits during numerous encounters in the courts with the best lawyers in Nigeria.

One of such epochal cases in which he appeared is recorded as Gani Fawehinmi vs NBA (1). In this case, Fawehinmi had dragged the NBA to court in 1984 over the Association’s decision, directing lawyers to boycott the Special Military Tribunals (SMT), established by the General Buhari military regime.

To the Ondo-born late activist per excellence, he had a constitutional right and duty to defend any client who hired his services.

As a result, he openly shunned the NBA’s order at a press conference and appeared for his client, Col. Peter Obasa (rtd), a former DG, NYSC, and his Deputy, Chief Kila, then standing trial before the Special Military Tribunal set up by General Muhammadu Buhari in 1984.

 

Distinctly defiant, Gani subsequently instituted an action against the NBA, the General Council of the Bar (GCB) and three Elders of the Bar, Chief F.R.A Williams, Mr. Kehinde Sofola and Chief E.A Molajo, all of blessed memory, over his blacklisting for daring to appear before the military tribunals to defend so called corrupt clients.

 

(To be continued next week).

 

NOW THIS

SO, EVEN SNAKES LOVE MONEY?

Nigeria is such a comical country. South Africa has been busy teaching the world democracy, by bowing to the superior power of a political party, ANC (African National Congress), to force out its sitting president,

 

Jacob Zuma, which it replaced with his Deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa. The same thing had happened in 2008 when the ANC replaced President Thambo Mbeki with his then Vice president, Zuma, after forcing him out. Both cases were anchored on proven cases of corruption; not on simulated and orchestrated media corruption trials. Fastrack to my dear country, Nigeria.

Nigerians are daily regaled with bizarre and eerie tales from Arabian nights (that will torpedo Ali Baba and the 40 thieves). One of such quirky and freakish fictions is the N36 Million snake-swallowing anecdote the country was entertained with last week.

A sales clerk at the JAMB office in Makurdi, by name Philomina Chieshe, had, during a team of auditors’ visit, told a bewildered nation that she could not account for N36 million made in previous years before the abolition of the scratch card system of paying money.

 

She claimed she was one of the four sales clerks attached to JAMB office, Makurdi, whose responsibility was to sell scratch cards to candidates and not to handle revenue. Handling of revenue was the responsibility of one Joan Asen, she narrated. Hear more of her weird story: “It was a mystery to me too. I have been saving the money in the bank, but I found it difficult to account for it.

 

So I started saving it in a vault in the office. But each time I open the vault, I will find nothing. I became worried and surprised how the millions of naira could be disappearing from the vault.

“I began to interrogate everybody in the house and office, and no one could agree on what might have happened to the money. I continued to press until my housemaid confessed. She said that the money disappeared “spiritually”. She said that a “mysterious snake” sneaked into the house and swallowed the money in the vault.” A  snake swallowing money?

 

Haba! We have already heard of the outlandish story of rats taking over the seat of power for some months. Very soon, as 2019 approaches, we may hear odd and strange fabrications about lizards swallowing up ballot papers; of domestic fouls swallowing up ballot boxes; of goats swallowing up card readers! I hope we will not wake up one day to hear of wall geckos swallowing up our foreign reserves!! Nigeria, we hail thee!

 

OF ZUMA, STATUES AND MORALS

Some Nigerians worship mediocrity, clownery and buffoonery.

Jacob Zuma was so corrupt and so hated by his country men and women whom he had governed for nine years that the South Africans forced him to resign prematurely before the end of his second term.

 

But, in Nigeria here, Zuma has a statue erected in the heart of Owerri, Imo State capital, standing in all its splendor and imperioriousness, for his “exemplary leadership and contribution to society”. Can’t our leaders see that we are fast becoming the butt of jokes, mockery, skylarking, jesting, obloquy and derision across Africa?

 

AND THIS

AND THE ORGY OF MASSACRE GOES ON ACROSS NIGERIA

The unrestrained orgy of violence and unprovoked cold blooded slaughter goes on cross Nigeria, as 41 people were brutally massacred on Valentine’s Day under gory and horrendous circumstances.

This heartless blood – letting by organized bandits happened in the sleepy agrarian village of Birane, in Zurmi LGA of Zamfara State. Only last November, gunmen had invaded and torched dozens of houses in Shinkafi LGA of the same Zamfara State, killing 24 people in the process.

Section 14 of the Nigerian Constitution provides that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. Nigerians are asking if we still have real governance in place, or if all we do now is politicks and politicking.

We are screaming 2019 when we are in a deep security quagmire and economic cesspool. All we now hear and read of everyday is death, killings, arson, kidnapping, invasion, slaughtering. Gosh!

 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

“Defender of the liberty that I idolize, myself more free than anyone, in coming as a friend to offer my services to this intriguing republic, I bring to it only my frankness and my goodwill; no ambition, no self-interest; in working for my glory, I work for their happiness”. (Marquis de Lafayette).

 

LAST LINE

Hope Nigerians are reading, digesting and awaiting the next exploring discourse of Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, Ph.D, LL.D?

• Follow me on twitter @ MikeozekhomeSAN

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Red-hot Batshuayi on the march again

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   …but Hazard can boost hosts

 

Rejuvenated Borrusia Dortmund enter into Sunday’s derby clash against Borussia Monchegladbach with an air of confidence surrounding their new striker Mitchy Batshuayi who is enjoying incredible form since he arrived Germany. Batshuayi is proving to be Borussia Dortmund’s best version of Batman yet, outstripping his decorated predecessor Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, now of Arsenal. Batshuayi scored a brace against Atalanta as BVB beat the Italians 3-2 in the UEFA Europea League on Thursday, meaning that he has raced to five goals in just three performances – four fewer than Aubameyang needed to reach the same tally.

The winter transfer merry-go-round saw Batshuayi replace the Arsenalbound Aubameyang, who in turn took Oliver Giroud’s place at Arsenal, with Giroud completing the circle by joining Chelsea He admitted his frustration at being regularly overlooked for selection at Chelsea before being sent on loan to Dortmund. The Belgium international was used as nothing more than a fringe player during his first 18 months at Stamford Bridge, starting a combined four English Premier League games.

Speaking to Sporza about his time at Chelsea, the 24-year-old said: “I did not have a good time there, but I’m doing well here and I’ve been well received by my colleagues and supporters. “Sitting on the bench, scoring a goal and then being back on the bench is quite difficult to deal with for an attacker. As a young player, you need a lot of playing time to evolve. It’s perfect here, and I’m trusted by everyone.”

After a dramatic Europa League win over Atalanta on Thursday, there are several names on the lips of Dortmund fans which are once again making the black-and-yellows an entertaining team to watch. Six games unbeaten in 2018, with five goals and an assist in three games from new superhero Batshuayi. Dortmund coach Peter Stöger is in no doubt about the quality of his new acquisition “Michy is a real goalscorer; it was a good move go bring him here,” he beamed after the final whistle at the Signal Iduna Park on Thursday.

“The question was: How well does he fit into the team, will he feel at home here? Things are looking good. He is well-liked, fully integrated and our goals as well as his personal goals align. Scoring goals is one thing, but working for the team and winning balls like he did for the opener makes him a great striker.” The German expect his Belgian star to help them extend their unbeaten run as they visit Gladbach on Sunday. Gladbach can also rely on the magic of their winger Thorgan Hazard to get the result for them. – The younger sibling of Chelsea forward Eden has netted 24 goals in 129 outings for Monchengladbach in all competitions and could be the match winner tomorrow.

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Caught with his ex

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Imagine this, a man tells you how much his ex-girlfriend disappointed him jilting him for an older man who already had two wives? He says it with such convincing self- pity and agony that you have to comfort him by promising never to let him down. He burns all her photographs and cards that she’d sent to him when the going was good. He vows never to talk to her again even if this life depends on it.

Then one day you return earlier than usual from work and decide to go kill time in his flat and do some cooking for him. And what did you find? The purportedly much hated ex-girlfriend in the warm embrace of the purportedly wronged boyfriend. Who’s fooling who? Is it that men just don’t know what they want or simply can’t be bothered whose ox is gored while they are seeking their pleasures? If he tells you it’s raining outside, make sure you take your umbrella because what he really means is that the sun is out in all its blazing glory. One can’t really say for sure whose side they are on or when they are crossing the carpet.

It doesn’t even make a difference whether the man is married to you or not. Some men go back to their ex-wives even after they’ve told their new wives that: “If I ever see that woman again, I’ll kill her.” It’s all bravado and hurt pride. Men never seem to be able to say good bye once and for all. When they say goodnight, they mean good evening or, better still, welcome.

Or how do you explain this? A man divorced his wife on grounds of infidelity, laziness and a whole lot of other jargons he must have put together. Meanwhile, he got the custody of the two children of the marriage. He remarried but as the court allowed that the ex-wife could visit her kids, she came once in a while to do so.

Then suddenly the new wife found out that the ex-wife was pregnant. And guess who was responsible? The husband who was supposed to hate the sight of his exwife! The husband who complained and wore a permanent frown each time the ex-wife came to visit. The husband who said he could kill that useless woman.

The murderous, cheating, lying son-of-a-bitch! So you see, there’s no exceptional category. Both the marrieds and the unmarried do it. Ask your friends, male or female, if his or ex-partner had not wangled his or her way back into the bed they used to share. At least, if not for want of trying.

That’s how men get themselves messed up all the time. Ex-girl friends, ex-wives, or even exmistresses have ways of making claims and holding on like parasitic leeches. It hurts, really hurts when a man whopromised his undying love for you turns out to be a Judas.

Men are well known for their lies. They cheat, apologise, charm you, you forgive then only for them to cheat again. Women cheat too. I know, so don’t scream yet. But I’m talking about men, as usual. There’s nothing new about a man wandering away from his matrimonial vows.

They do it all the time. It’s when and why they wander back to their ex-girlfriends or sugar mummies or even wives that it hurts a plenty. It gets the poor woman wondering. I mean, the one who’s supposed to be the current champion. What could or can cause such callous acts? It’s not that the new girl was the one who separated them in the first place. It is the randy man who came begging, toasting and promising heaven and earth. He was the one that said he had had enough of his ex and she was now history, his past. If it were possible, he was the one who almost turned blue in the face of trying to convince the new girl that his ex wouldn’t come back, neither will he go back to her.

Sure, we all know the power of exes and any girl who fails to do her research about why her new boyfriend is replacing her predecessor is not smart enough. If the excuse he gave for their parting is too flimsy, don’t getinvolved. Like, if hetoldyou, he’s leaving her because she has no sense of time and litters his flat with her things, he can’t be serious with you.

Tell him to show you a woman who doesn’t like to keep a man waiting. If only to see how far his patience can go. Or on the other hand, which man hasn’t at one time or the other stood his girlfriend up. Every girl likes to put her stamp on the guy’s flat in case of intruders. It’s not that she’s untidy.

That pant and bra in the bathroom, the new broom and dustbin, her powder and perfume on the dresser are all intentional. To show she’s the woman around here. That’s why women give their wrappers to their boyfriends as cover cloth. A cover cloth made for a man is different from a woman’s wrapper, you know. When Sunny’s wife caught him about four years ago with a woman who from all intents, purposes and ramification was his mistress, he apologized. Maybe because their marriage was still fresh and he was still very much in love with his wife.

Now, the woman and Sunny are back together and she’s staking claims and threatening that if Sunny’s wife thought she could get her out of his life before, she could go have her head examined. Can you beat the cheek, the insult, just because you have a man who keeps dropping his pants each time he sets eyes on his ex? Now, Sunny’s explanation is that he went back to the woman because he thought she would be easy to dispose of as usual. Stupid, stupid, stupid. He’s one messed up guy. I tell you, because he still wants his wife, doesn’t want a second wife and neither wife nor mistress is ready to let him have his peace of mind.

Whichever way you look at it, each time a man wanders back into the arms or bed or both of his ex, he ends up cheating both women. For in most cases, he doesn’t actually leave the new girl or commit himself to the ex. He ends up using and betraying both.

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