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Poverty major reason for vote-buying, says INEC



The fight against vote buying and selling in Nigeria is seriously being frustrated by weak punitive sanctions against the perpetrators and increasing poverty  in the country, key stakeholders in electoral process have said.

They raised the concern during a policy dialogue with the theme, ‘Addressing vote-trading in Nigeria from global comparative experiences’, organised by the Electoral Forum in collaboration with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa and MacArthur Foundation.

The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, represented by his Chief of Staff, Otive Igbuzor, said that vote-trading had become an unusual democratic experience, which served as a clog in the wheel of free choice and democracy in Nigeria.

According to him, the menace had become a common phenomenon in Nigeria’s political system, which, he said, had brought negative consequences to the country’s electoral system.

While observing that vote-trading only guaranteed limited, elections-bound benefits for a few, but jeopardising the long-term fortunes of the majority, Omo-Agege called for stronger punitive sanctions against perpetrators and sustained information campaigns, community action and locally enforceable public commitments to collectively fight the menace.

He said, “To stem the ugly behaviour, everyone should be involved, both voters and contestants. It needs sustained information campaigns, community action and locally enforceable public commitments to collectively shun vote-buying.

“Punitive sanctions strategies are more likely to be successful than moralistic pleas. Political actors who buy votes should face stringent consequences. Political financing reform, and ensuring election security and ballot secrecy, are equally vital in addressing vote-selling. Most of this was taken care of in the new Electoral Act 2022 passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the president.”

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The chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, represented by a National Commissioner, May Agbamuche-Mbu, said the speedy passage of the National Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal Bill by the National Assembly would checkmate vote-buying.

The INEC boss admitted that poverty was largely responsible for the menace. He, however, expressed confidence that the tide would change soon as Nigerians were beginning to have faith in the electoral process.

Yakubu said, “We are going to intensify voter education and sensitise the people more with regards to vote-buying. People have also talked about poverty. Yes, we all know it’s poverty. But I think also that as soon as people begin to have faith in the electoral process, they will begin to see the power that they have over the people who are running for offices. And I believe that very soon, the story will change and the power will return to the people.”

The chairman of Electoral Forum Chairman, Prof. Bayo Olukoshi, said there had been a global consensus that seeking to eliminate the use of money in politics was almost impossible and waste of time because politicians would find ways to bring the use of money into the political equation.

According to him, democracies around the world had moved away from elimination to regulation of the use of money in politics, in a way to ensuring that the use of money did not corrupt integrity of the electoral process.

Olukoshi said, “So, money in politics is a global challenge, especially criminal money which are unaccounted and very difficult to trace. However, in our context, the debate around the issue of money in politics is again not an entirely new debate for those who are old enough to know the politics of the Second Republic where we saw increasingly the significant role of money as opposed to issues and ideas entering the Nigerian political space.

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“But what happened in the Second Republic will seem to have been a child’s play compared to what we are dealing with today, in which it is absolutely clear that if you do not have a well-oiled godfather sponsoring you, or you do not have the resources of your own to oil your political machinery, you are not likely regardless of how beautiful your ideologies may be or your record of personal integrity and achievement may be, you are not likely to be able to make a dent on our political system.

“Much more than that is the fact that the use of money has gone beyond simply capturing political parties and structures to infiltrate the wider electorate.”

Speaking on the ‘Socio-political paradox of vote-trading in Nigeria: Focus on the political party primaries and the recent Ekiti and Osun governorship elections’, the immediate past Resident Electoral Commission, Rivers State, Obo Effanga, said the malaise of vote-trading required the involvement of a multiplicity of stakeholders, agencies, and groups to address it.

He traced the root of the menace to the economic imbalance and inequality in Nigeria, which if fixed, according to him, would to a large extent reduce the “number of poor people whose vulnerability currently is such that they can easily be dangled pittance in exchange for their vote.”

Effanga lamented that vote-trading is also aided and abetted by security officials at the polling unit, adding that this could happen either by failure to ensure adequate arrangement to guarantee secrecy of the vote or failure to take steps to prevent those who try to breach the rules.

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“The law enforcement agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission must ensure appropriate steps to stem or react to incidents of vote-trading, before, during, and after each election. I am not sure we yet have records of anybody picked or investigated for vote-trading during all the political party primaries this year.

“However, it is also a paradox that those saddled with the responsibility to fix the economy are also the primary beneficiaries of the vote-trade – politicians. Therefore, it would appear that it serves their purpose to keep the economy in shambles in order to sustain the vote-trading market dynamics,” he stated.

On his part, chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, Bolaji Owasanoye, represented by provost of the Anti-corruption Academy, Prof. Olatunde Babawale, warned that vote-buying has a tendency of frustrating and undermining the war against corruption in Nigeria.

He said the ICPC was working with INEC to tackle the menace.

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EFCC decries rise in fake dollars circulation, cyber crime in Benue



The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has decried the sudden rise of fake dollars and cyber crimes in Benue axis.

Its Acting Chairman, Mr Abdulkarim Chukkol, who disclosed this on Thursday in Makurdi, said that the commission had taken measures to address the situation.

The EFCC chairman spoke during a workshop on “Effective Reporting of Economic and Financial Crimes,” organised for 30 journalists of major media organisations in the country.

Chukkol was represented by the Head of Makurdi Zonal Office of EFCC, Mr Friday Ebelo.

He said the primary aim of the commission was to reduce corruption in the country to barest level, and would continue to discharge its duties effectively and professionally.

“Through the commission’s enforcement activities, recoveries running into several billions of naira have been recorded and the country’s anti-money laundering framework strengthened.

“There is now a more robust regulation of the activities of these entities which are vulnerable to money laundering,” he added.

The EFCC chairman warned people against disclosing their bank details to anybody to avoid its being used for illegal financial deals.

“I will like the media to educate family members, friends, politicians and others that they run the risk of going to jail if they allow their companies or banks accounts to be used to launder proceeds of illegal activities.

“Under the Money Laundering Act, 2022 family members and close allies of politicians and public office holders, including top civil servants, are now classified as Politically Exposed Persons.

“The EFCC is determined to ensure that anyone who steals from public treasury and all those who assist them under whatever guise, are brought to justice, and ignorance of the law will not be an excuse,” he said.

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Chukkol said that the commission had recorded 3,785 convictions in 2022, the highest since its establishment.

He said that the Makurdi Zonal Office, which was established in 2019, has so far recorded 107 convictions. (NAN)

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Akwa Ibom tribunal affirms Governor Eno’s victory, dismisses ADC, NNPP’s petitions



• Akwa Ibom State Governor, Umo Eno

The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Uyo has discarded the petition brought before it by the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Ezekiel Nyaetok, challenging the election of Pastor Umo Eno of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The tribunal had earlier thrown out suit number EPW/AKS/GOV/03/23, brought by the governorship candidate of the NNPP, Senator John James Akpan Udoedehe, challenging the election of the governor.

Among other grounds, Nyaetok of ADC sought the disqualification of Pastor Umo Eno, alleging that he was convicted by a Magistrate Court in Abuja and that having been convicted, all votes accrued to him during the March 18 elections ought to be nullified.

He also challenged other candidates who scored more votes than him, alleging that they were handicapped by litigations and legal bars which hampered their eligibility to participate in the elections.

But delivering judgement on the matter, Justice Adekunle Adeleye chaired the panel and unanimously ruled that the same magistrate court presided by Emeka Iyama, delivered a judgment, nullifying its earlier conviction of Pastor Umo Eno and that once a judgement is nullified, it ceases to exist.

The tribunal also held that Nyaetok’s petition lacked merit as the petitioner was not able to establish one polling unit in which there was noncompliance with the electoral law in the March 18 Governorship elections.

After about one hour and thirty minutes of detailed and considered judgement, the governorship election panel, in a unanimous decision concluded that the petition by Senator John James Akpanudoedehe and his party against Gov Umo Bassey Eno, the PDP, and INEC deserves no less a verdict than a dismissal for lacking in merit.

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The governorship election petition by the former senator followed the defective trajectory of two previous cases dismissed by the tribunal two weeks ago, by virtue of the attempt to resurrect the subject matter of certificate forgery leveled against Governor Eno, which was previously buried by the Supreme Court.

Counsel to the PDP had told the tribunal that the petition was “most unambitious”, as the Petitioners neglected and or refused to declare what they really wanted.

Akpanudoedehe of the NNPP had in his arguments claimed that Gov. Umo Eno was a convict by the Wuse Magistrate Court, Abuja, thereby robbing him of the qualification to have contested the March 18, 2023 governorship election.

He prayed the Tribunal to order that the election be cancelled, and a fresh one conducted within 90 days.

He also alleged that the Governor was born in Enugu, even though he declined to show proof of this claim as he neither front-loaded nor relied upon any document to back it.

Surprisingly, of the over 5000 voting units in the state, the NNPP candidate called only 2 witnesses with himself as one of the two.

Under cross-examination, the NNPP gubernatorial candidate admitted, when shown the enrolled order of the Wuse Magistrate Court repudiating its judgement orders, that he lacked knowledge of the existence of the order before his petition.

Counsel to the PDP and Pastor Umo Eno had noted in their submission that the NNPP petition is most unambitious, as the petitioner has not only failed to prove the criminal allegation of forgery but also failed to state what he wants.

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The tribunal, presided over by Justice Adekunle Adeleye, ruled that lacking in merit, the petition had to be confined to the trashcan.

Reacting to the judgement, Counsel to the PDP, Barr Emmanuel Enoidem said the judgement was in strong agreement with the point of law.

Enoidem said the petitioners failed to prove that Pastor Umo Eno did not meet the constitutional entry requirements for office of the Governor, adding that most of their claims were pre-election matters which they could not also substantiate.

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NDDC Invites Applications for 2023/2024 Foreign Post Graduate Scholarship




The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has announced the commencement of the application process for its 2023/2024 Foreign Post Graduate (Masters) Scholarship Programme.

This marks a significant stride in the Commission’s unwavering commitment to fostering human resource development and empowerment of the youths in the Niger Delta region.

Aiming to cultivate empowerment and specialization, this initiative is designed to equip the vibrant minds of the region with indispensable skills and training. The goal is to facilitate their meaningful participation in the Federal Government’s local content programme and to enable them to excel in various professional disciplines, enhancing their global competitiveness.

Diverse Opportunities for Study:
The programme offers a broad spectrum of fields, including diverse engineering disciplines like Biomedical, Software, and Marine, and cutting-edge domains such as Artificial Intelligence and Math/Sciences. Opportunities also extend to Health and Social Sciences, with options in Medical Sciences and Law, as well as Environmental and Physical Sciences, including Architecture and Environmental Science.

Eligibility and Application:
Eligibility is reserved for individuals originating from the Niger Delta Region, possessing relevant Bachelor’s Degrees with commendable classifications from recognized institutions. Prospective candidates are invited to submit their applications online through our official website [](, with the application window closing five weeks from the date of this announcement.

Rigorous Selection Process:
Candidates will undergo a comprehensive selection process, including preliminary shortlisting, a computer-based test in Rivers State, and final verification through respective Local Government Areas and Community Development Committees. The scholarship amount will be determined based on the prevailing exchange rate of the Naira.

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For detailed information on application procedures, required documentation, and other relevant aspects, applicants are encouraged to visit []( Further enquiries can be directed to:

Director, Education, Health and Social Services, NDDC
Mobile: +234(0)9137806550, +234(0)9049409391

The NDDC remains steadfast in its mission to facilitate the sustainable development of the Niger Delta into a region that is economically prosperous, socially stable, ecologically regenerative, and politically harmonious. We extend our sincere best wishes to all applicants and eagerly anticipate welcoming the scholars who will contribute to shaping a brighter future for the region.

Pius Ughakpoteni
Director, Corporate Affairs
September 28, 2023.

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