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2019 polls: Falana speaks on Nigeria ending election rigging, vote-buying

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Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has said unless an Electoral Offences Tribunal was set-up to tame the culture of impunity during elections, it will be very difficult for Nigeria to combat any form of electoral malpractice.

DAILY POST reports that Falana spoke on Tuesday at a stakeholders’ meeting on partnership for monitoring, documenting, reporting and prosecuting vote trading during the 2019 polls, which held at the YarAdua centre in Abuja

He said that while electoral laws with stringent provisions exist in the country, the courts have repeatedly held that until a direct nexus is established between the winners of elections and those who took money from either their agents or political parties, there is nothing that could be done to convict suspected vote-buyers (political parties and candidates).

Using the case of Falae Vs Obasanjo in 1999 to buttress his point, Falana said: “the Court of Appeal held that even though there was evidence that money and bags of rice and salt were allegedly distributed by the PDP, there was no evidence to prove that the beneficiary of inducement (Obasanjo) directed the party to distribute any form of gift for the election. Since then it has always been difficult to prove that the beneficiaries of inducement directly gave instructions for inducement.

“However, by virtue of section 124 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), any form of inducement, be it money, gifts or even promises, is a serious criminal offence. But since 1999 nobody has been prosecuted for inducement yet we witness inducements during elections.

“It has been general agreed that to stop electoral offences and collusion between electoral offenders and the government, either at the federal or state level, we should have an electoral offences tribunal that deals with electoral offenders. But, very conveniently, the PDP and the APC have not shown any interest in establishing electoral offences tribunal. That is why we have continued to witness electoral offences.”

The Senior lawyer further took a swipe at the civil society for narrowing its engagements against vote-trading to the electorates who sell their ballots for stipends.

He said; “You have left out those who spend money on campaign beyond the stipulation of the electoral act; you have left out those who are collecting money or been offered money for support; you have left out parties who give people money to decamp; You have left out money been given to the media to manipulate stories and make phoney and funny projections.

“We have left out money spent on pastors and imams to pay for candidates to win elections. In the 2015 elections, it was alleged that some ‘spiritual’ consultants collected about N5bn. We have also left out money spent on unemployed people to attend rallies and give the impression that some parties are popular.

“What of money spent on thugs to attack political opponents or disrupt rallies? I am sure you saw one in Ogun state where the President and Vice-president had to be shielded from those who were hurling stones. What of the huge money spent on bribing electoral officers and security personnel? That is why i am saying we are very partial in our discussions.”

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Crime

Army vs Police: Military issues strong warning to Nigerians

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The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has warned Nigerians against comments and actions that could pit the Nigerian Police Force against the Nigeria Army.

The warning became necessary following the controversies and public criticism that greeted the killing of three policemen and a civilian last week by soldiers on the Ibi-Wukari Road in Taraba State.

Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, the Acting spokesman for the DHQ, Colonel gave the warning while reminding Nigerians that the police and the army are two very important services in the country.

He said that concern should be geared at ensuring the joint panel constituted undertakes an exhaustive investigation.

When asked by The Nation about the captain alleged to have been responsible for the unauthorised shootings and release of the suspected kidnapper, Nwachukwu said, “That information did not come from me. Our concern is to allow the panel do a thorough job and avoid comments that heat up the situation. We are trying to apply some restraint on this issue to avoid pitching the police against the army.

“These are two very important institutions in Nigeria and it will be most unfair to this nation to pit them against each other or the personnel of each service against the other.

“What is important is that lives have been lost and this is a difficult time for the families of the victims. We should be more concerned at looking into the human angles, the psychological traumas these families are going through.

“Our concern should be that the panel does exhaustive investigation and gets to the bottom of the matter. So, I would not like to begin to make comments that would pre-empt the investigation or its outcome.”

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Crime

FBI Arrest Nigerian Billionaire Over $11m Fraud

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation have arrested the Chief Executive Officer of Invictus Group, Obinwanne Okeke, for conspiracy to commit computer fraud.

Okeke, who made it into Forbes ‘Africa’s 30 Under 30 List in 2016’, was arrested by the FBI over $11m wire fraud after an account belonging to the CEO of Unatrac Holding Limited, a steel company, was hacked.

The suspect was alleged to have conspired with some other individuals to access the CEO’s computers without authorisation, PMNews reports.

According to an affidavit signed by Marshall Ward, a Special Agent of FBI, representatives of Unatrac Holding Limited, contacted the agency after experiencing a fraudulent transfer of $11m from the firms account through a compromised email.

The affidavit reads, “Unatrac’s Chief Financial Officer received a phishing email containing a web link purportedly to the login page of the CFO’s online email account hosted by Microsoft Office365.

“When the CFO opened the link, it instead led him to a phishing website crafted to imitate the legitimate Office365 login page.

“Believing the page to be real, he entered his login credentials, which were captured by an unknown intruder who controlled the spoofed web page.

“Between April 6 and April 20, 2018, the intruder accessed the CFO’s account at least 464 times, mostly from Internet Protocol (IP) addresses in Nigeria.”

The report led to an investigation, which began in July 2018 after the FBI reviewed the submitted documents and eventually led to the arrest of Okeke.

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Arewa

World Humanitarian Day: 37 aid workers so far killed in Northeast Nigeria, says UN Office

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The Head of Office, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UN OCHA, Mr. Peter Ekayu has stated that a total of 37 aid workers have lost their lives in service of humanity since the beginning of the conflict in northeast Nigeria.

Peter Ekayu stated this in a statement made available to newsmen as aid workers mark humanitarian day.

Mr. Perter also said that, over the years, too many innocent children, women and men had died in the violence, adding that, data showed that about 35,000 people had lost their lives in the conflict since 2009.

“These are 35,000 deaths too many. As we mark World Humanitarian Day to honour aid workers around the world and in Nigeria, who often risk their own lives to help save and improve that of others, I salute the courage and relentless commitment of not only colleagues and partners, but also affected people and families have shown over the years,” Peter said.

“in the past year, tragic events befell women humanitarians working in Nigeria. We are here to salute their commitment and recognize the sacrifices they and their families are making every day.

“Our efforts are not vain. Together, we are making a difference in the life of millions.These everyday heroes are working tirelessly to provide much-needed vital assistance to the most vulnerable people affected by the crisis in the states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

“UN staff, INGO and local NGO personnel, State emergency professionals, doctors, nurses, host community members, or simply fathers, mothers, neighbours… thousands of people are guided by their dedication to humanity. They are driven by the most noble cause of helping others.

“Today, we are paying special tribute to the women among them. Women are active in every aspect of humanitarian action: from negotiating access to people in need, to addressing deadly diseases such as measles and cholera. From reuniting separated children to ensuring people uprooted by natural disasters and conflict have shelter, access to clean water, healthcare, food and education.

“Women humanitarians bring a unique perspective to this work through their understanding of the specific needs and priority of girls and women.

“And women humanitarians extend our global humanitarian access in parts of the world by their ability to reach women and girls who might otherwise be out-of-reach and bring them the information, support and services they need.

“Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa and Hauwa Mohammed Liman. They were midwives with ICRC and were executed after being held in captivity by non-state armed groups for more than six months. Both aid workers were abducted from Rann town, Borno State in March 2018 along with a nurse from UNICEF who is still held in captivity.

“Faye Mooney. She was a British communications and learning specialist with the non-governmental organization Mercy Corps. She lost her life in an attack by gunmen in Kaduna State earlier this year.

“We are here together to honour them and their grieving families, relatives and children surviving them. As I stand before you today, my thoughts also go to the families of our colleagues who are still being held captive by armed groups.

“The UN and its humanitarian partners call for their immediate release and return to safety.

“My heart also goes out to the families of the thousands of civilians who have been similarly abducted and whose whereabouts are still unknown.

“Today, we are here together to remind the world that the humanitarian crisis hitting Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states is far from over.

“The less attention we pay to the crisis in the north-east, the more risks face our colleagues who are working in extremely volatile areas struck by violence and devastation.

“As respect for the laws of war weakens, aid workers are increasingly vulnerable, though they are more needed than ever before.” He added.

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