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BREAKING: Court allows INEC to reconfigure BVAS, refuses to vary order against Obi

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It was half victory for Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP), respectively, as the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, declined the attempt by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to get it vary its earlier order for them to inspect the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS), machine used for the February 25 presidential election.

But the court refused to stop the commission from reconfiguring the data on the machine to enable it conduct Saturday’s election into the governorship and Houses of Assembly elections in the country.

The appellate court, acting Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) refused the application electoral umpire, which also said it wanted to reconfigure the BVAS for Saturday’s state elections for the governorship and Houses of Assembly, after a spirited contest of the INEC position, by lawyers to Obi and Atiku, who had alleged that the move could lead to compromising the data for the presidential election.

The court, while ruling on the matter, said the application was unnecessary because it never granted permission to Atiku, Obi and their parties to scientifically access and inspect INEC’s database which includes the BVAS devices.

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The tribunal said the apprehension being expressed by INEC, which includes the possible revelation of the identities of voters and their voting choices, was unnecessary because no applicant was granted leave to access INEC’s database.

But it agreed with the INEC lawyer, who had said that not re-configuring the machine would tie the hand of the commission, saying “Each polling unit has its own particular BVAS machine which we need to configure for the forthcoming elections.

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“It will be very difficult for us, within the period, to reconfigure the 176, 000 BVAS for the election. We have already stated in our affidavit that no information in the BVAS will be lost as we will transfer all the data in the BVAS to our backend server. Our backend server preserves the data. So, granting this application will be a clog in the process and disrupt the conduct of the elections.”

Ruling on Obi and LP’s application, the court which also doubles as the presidential election petitions tribunal, said granting the sixth relief in the application would amount to “tying the hands of the respondent (INEC)”

 

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The tribunal, also granted Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who was declared winner of the election, by INEC the same leave. In two motions moved by his lawyer, Akintola Makinde, for the court’s permission to inspect materials used for the election and obtain copies and other materials to prepare his case.

Lawyer to the APC, Omosanya Popoola, moved the two ex-parte motions filed for the party and in which it seeks similar prayers as contained in Tinubu’s motions.

Tanimu Inuwa (SAN), lawyer to INEC had argued that it was necessary that the order granted Obi and Atiku to inspect the BVAS be varied, adding that the  commission should be allowed to store the date currently being held in the BVAS on INEC’s back end server to enable it deploy the same machines for the governorship and House of Assembly elections slated for March 11.

Stating that time was of the essence because INEC required adequate time to reconfigure the BVAS machines before the proposed elections, he argued that the commission was particularly concerned with Orders Four and Five, which relate to the digital and forensic analysis of the BVAS machines.

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Lawyer to Obi and LP, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), who objected to INEC application and urged the court to dismiss it, subsequently moved the motion he filed for his clients’ for the court’s permission to conduct physical inspection of the BVAS machines to enable them extract information embedded therein.

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Arguing that Obi also wanted to obtain a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the report of the BVAS machines, he said both the former governor and the LP wanted the evidence in the BVAS machines preserved before they are reconfigured, because information on the INEC back end server vary from time to time.

Responding, Inuwa cautioned the court against granting the application by Obi and LP on the grounds that it could negatively affect INEC’s preparation for Saturday’s elections, saying the granting of the application “will cause us serious delay in the conduct of the governorship election coming in 11 March.”

He added: “We need the BVAS for the next election. Granting the order will act as clog in our preparation and may affect the conduct of the election, which date is circumscribed by the constitution.”

Stating that each machine needed to be configured separately and done one after the other, because each polling units is peculiar, he stressed that no data would be lost if they are moved to INEC’s back end server, because the data transferred there are secure.

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Tough economy: Trouble in APC, as staff plan strike

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A loud grumbling has enveloped the 40 Blantyre Crescent, Wuse, Zone 2, Abuja, headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC), where staff across different departments are threatening to down tools in protest of poor welfare and biting economic hardship.

Daily Trust, is reporting that the staff are specifically asking the party’s top echelon to make provision for their housing and other allowances, stressing that the economic situation of the country had become quite unfavourable to them.

The paper quoted one of the staff, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying that the party’s executive members had left them to suffer, while taking home humongous amounts of money as salaries and allowances.

Though Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, National Chairman of the party, is said to have commenced payment of N35,000 provisional wage award to them in January 2024, they argued that the largesse would in June, and they would be back to square one and therefore, they needed more stable welfare packages.

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In a swift riposte, Felix Morka, spokesman of the party, was quoted as dismissing the agitation, saying: “Those matters I don’t really discuss them. As you can see, there are many important things to discuss; at the national level, in Edo State. We are battling with all that. So, any in-house matters are not my focus right now.”

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BREAKING: Davido ups the ante, doles out N300million to orphanages

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David Adeleke Nigerian music sensation, otherwise known as Davido is stamping his giant feet with which he has mesmerised his audience across the world in the arena of philanthropy, with an announcement of a fresh donation of a whopping N300million to some orphanages across the country.

The latest is an increase of N63million up from the N237million the popular singer, who disclosed the largesse in a statement on his social media accounts on Tuesday, dolled out last year as part of the gesture in what is now turning out a yearly programme since it started a few years ago.

The gesture is coming at a time Nigeria is under an intense weather of deprivation and poverty, with the prices of food and other commodities hitting the roof and citizens, unable to afford basic items mostly going to bed on empty stomachs as a result.

In recent weeks, demonstrations had erupted in many parts of the country, including Niger, Kano, Ogun and Oyo States, where residents trooped into the streets to demand an end to the parlous situation, which they blamed on the insensitive policies of the government of Bola Tinubu, the Nigerian President.

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The singer, who first gave out N250m to 292 orphanages in October 2022, said the this year’s donation would be done through The David Adeleke Foundation (DAF), adding: “I and my foundation pledge the sum of 300 million Naira to orphanages around Nigeria … as my yearly contribution to the nation. Details of disbursement tomorrow.”

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BREAKING: Tinubu set to probe Buhari’s N23trillion Ways and Means debt

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At last, President Bola Tinubu, may be going through the N23trillion Ways and Means debt obtained by his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, with a fine comb to determine what the funds, which is attributed to a major part of the current debt overhang in the country, went into.

The Nation, quoted Wale Edun, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy as revealing this much to participants at the ongoing Public Wealth Management Conference organised by the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MoFI).

Besides, the Minister reportedly said the Federal Government would also present a bill to the National Assembly, soon to authorise the removal of “all taxes and levies that constitute nuisance from the country’s tax system, as a measure to wean itself from future Ways and Means indebtedness.

The government, Edun added, will vigorously pursue policies that will allow it harvest revenue in real time from Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) and Corporate entities.

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It was also on the same day that the Minister explained that Tinubu’s administration inherited a surge in food and general commodity prices from the previous government, but emphasised the government’s commitment to reducing food prices and tackling the nation’s high inflation rate.

Outlining the measures government was taking in tackling the situation, he revealed that, the government had released 42,000 metric tons of grains, with an additional 60,000 metric tons scheduled for release soon.

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