The House of Representatives yesterday adopted the conference committee report on electoral and political party matters for the conduct of 2019 general elections thereby annulling the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) elections time table.
INEC had on January 9, 2018 released the 2019 general election time table fixing the Presidential and National Assembly election for Saturday 16th February 2019, while Governorship and State Assembly elections will hold on Saturday 2nd March 2019.
But the House through an amendment of the electoral act on January 24, changed the order of elections fixing the National Assembly first, followed by the States Assemblies, Governorship and the Presidential election.
At yesterday’s consideration of the report of the conference committee on a bill for an Act to amend the provisions of the Electoral Act, No 6, 2010 and Electoral Amendment Act, 2015, the House in the “committee of whole” presided by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, approved the harmonised report with the Senate.
Chairman of the House conference committee, Hon. Edward Pwajok (APC, Plateau), in a brief to the House disclosed that both Houses agreed on seven grey areas that were of contention previously.
He explained that it was erroneous for some section of the public to believe that the powers to determine election sequence was not vested in the National Assembly.
According to him, during the first alteration of the 1999 constitution in 2010, in giving the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, first line charge, it was also stipulated that powers to fix election timetable shall be in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, which obviously is in the jurisdiction of the National Assembly members who review the Act periodically to determine.
The House endorsed section 87 was amended by adding a new section 87 (11) with a marginal note “time for primaries of political parties” (a) the primaries of political parties shall follow the following sequence (i) State House of Assembly (ii) National Assembly (iii) Governorship (iv) president. “The dates for the above stated primaries shall not be held earlier than one hundred and twenty days and not later than 90 days before the date of elections to the offices.”
The House endorsed the amendment of section 36 to allow running mate of any candidate that dies before the conclusion of elections inherit his votes and continue with the process.
According to the new section 36 (3), “If during the commencement of the poll, but before the conclusion of the elections for the office of the president or governor of a state, one of the nominated candidates of a political party dies, the commission shall allow the running mate, that is the party’s vice presidential candidate or deputy gubernatorial candidate to continue and conclude the poll and should he score the majority of the votes cast in accordance with the constitution, be declared the winner of the said election.”
Relatedly, amendment of section 35 also scaled through and it provided that if before election a candidate dies, he will be replaced by the next contestant with the highest vote. “Where a nominated candidate dies in the circumstances stated under subsection (1) of this section, the next person, from the same political party where the deceased emerged, with the second highest votes in the primary election shall be submitted to the commission to replace the deceased, and the commission shall accept such replacement as if the deceased is alive,” the amendment stated.
Also amended was section 143 with a new section 3 providing that “where the nomination of an elected candidate is nullified by the court and notice of appeal against the decision is given within the stipulated period for appeal, the elected candidate shall not, withstanding the contrary decision of the court, remain in office pending the determination of appeal.
“If the court determines that the candidate was not validly nominated, the elected candidate shall, notwithstanding the contrary decision of the court, remain in office within the period an appeal may be filed; and shall not be sanctioned for the benefits he derived while in office pursuant to this section”
Both houses also effected an increment in the limitation of election expenses to be incurred by candidates for presidential candidates from N1 billion to N5 billion; governorship from N200 million to N1 billion; while Senatorial and Representatives candidates are not to exceed N100 million and N70 million respectively. For State Assembly and chairmanship elections, candidates’ expenses have been raised from N10 million to N30 million while councillorship candidates’ ceiling has been raised from N1 million to N5 million. Similarly, individual contribution has been jacked up from N1 million to N10 million.
Reps move to amend revenue sharing formula
The House of Representatives, yesterday, initiated a legal framework for restructuring distributable revenue to the three arms of government.
The resolution came following passage through second reading of a bill for an act to amend allocation of revenue (Federation Account etc), Act Cap., A15 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to establish the excess revenue fund account and for other related matters (HB. 1277).
The bill was sponsored by Hon, Lovette Idisi (PDP, Delta). It came on the heels of criticism over the legality of the proposed withdrawal of $1 billion from Excess Crude Account (ECA), for the procurement of arms to fight Boko Haram. Leading debate on the bill, Idisi noted that the “allocation of revenue Act was established in 1982 to prescribe the basis for distribution of revenue accruing to the Federation Account between the Federal and state governments and Local Government councils in the states; the formula for distribution amongst the states; the proportion of the total revenue of each state to be contributed to the state joint Local Government Account.”
Bed sharing raises risk of baby deaths
Scientists have raised the alarm over the number of babies dying of suffocation, occasioned by an increase in the number of parents sharing beds with their infants.
According to the findings of a report published in ‘Paediatrics,’ babies are safest sleeping on their backs in their own cribs without any pillows, toys, blankets or other loose bedding. From 1999 to 2015, the suffocation death rate for babies younger than one year climbed from 12.4 to 28.3 fatalities for every 1,000 United States (US) infants.
Similarly, the study shows that in 2015 alone, this translated into 1,100 infant deaths that were entirely preventable.
The majority of these suffocation fatalities occurred while babies were in bed. Although, there is lack of data to show the trend of these activities in Nigeria where bed sharing between mothers and newborn is very common among low income and the poor, it is believed that this practice might also be impacting negatively in the country.
However, going by the guidelines from the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), if babies do sleep in parents’ beds, parents should have a firm mattress, remove soft objects such as pillows, and move the bed away from the wall, as part of measures to ensure the safety of the babies.
Similarly, the AAP said parents should also be aware that bed sharing is most dangerous for newborns, less than four months old, premature babies and underweight infants, or if babies were exposed to tobacco during or after pregnancy.
Study co-author, David Schwebel, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said: “It may be that parents are not following `safe sleep’ recommendations to place infants in beds without stuffed animals, soft blankets, pillows, and other items that could cause suffocation.
Suffocation and strangulation deaths increased across the board for boys and girls, regardless of race, ethnicity or whether they lived in urban or rural communities, the study found. At least some of the increase in suffocation deaths might be due to a change in how these fatalities are categorised, researchers note.
Some fatalities that were attributed to sleep-related causes like sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) at the start of the study might have been categorised as accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed by the end of the study period.-
Proscribed IPOB blames FG for members’ plight in prison
The outlawed Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) yesterday expressed dismay over a move by a lawyer representing Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, one of the sureties for Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in the ongoing case to release some of its members in prison custody to adjourn the case to a later date.
IPOB listed the members in prison custody to include Benjamin Madubugwu, David Nwawuisi, Bright Chimezie Ishinwa, Chidiebere Onwudiwe, among others.
A statement made available to journalists in Awka by IPOB’s media and publicity secretary, Emma Powerful, the group noted that seeking another adjournment on the ongoing matter in court was a clear indication that the blackmail machinery of DSS and presidency was fully at work.
The statement reads: ‘We have no doubt that this adjournment was instigated by the Federal Government of Nigeria as another way to delay and deny justice to those who have now spent more time in jail than those convicted of similar offences.
“Information reaching IPOB now from Federal High Court Abuja with Justice Binta Nyako presiding is that Abaribe’s lawyer has written to the court asking for an adjournment.
“The Government of Nigeria has succeeded in pressuring Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe to ask for adjournment of the ongoing case of treasonable felony between Nnamdi Kanu and three others who have so far spent more time in prison than those convicted of similar offences.
“DSS and Aso Rock knew they had no choice than to release David Nwawuisi, Benjamin Madubugwu and Bright Chimezie Ishinwa so they decided to blackmail and intimidate Senator Abaribe into getting his lawyer to write to the court seeking yet another adjournment.”
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