Wednesday, 30 April 2014

News Release: Revisiting The Issue Of Double Or Multiple Voter-Registration In Nigeria


The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law wishes to revisit and re-educate Nigerians and the rest of the global community over continuing misinterpretation by some malicious Nigerians of the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2010 as they concern who, in the eyes of the criminal law (misdemeanor), is a double or multiple voter registered voter. We had prior to the November 16 and 30, 2013 crucial governorship poll in Anambra State, released publicly circumstances under which a citizen can be tagged” a malicious double or multiple voter registered voter”. This followed accusations to the effect that one of the governorship candidates in the poll, Mr. Willie Obiano “is a double or multiple registered voter”, having been accused of registering doubly or multiply in one or more than one registration centers.

Our findings then showed that while Section 12 of the Electoral Act of 2010 frowns and criminalizes double or multiple registration, Section 13 provides for exemption only if the citizen involved undertakes the process of voter’s card and data transfer from his or her previous place of registration to his or present place of registration. This must be done in full compliance with the provisions of the Act under reference. Our revisiting the issue, therefore, is based on continuing misleading statements and misinterpretations of the affected provisions oiled by the camps of the malicious citizens.

Below are the full provisions of Sections 12 and 13 of the Said Electoral Act:
Section 12.-(1) A person shall be qualified to be registered as a voter if such a person:
(a) is a citizen of Nigeria;
(b) has attained the age of eighteen years;
(c) is ordinarily resident, works in, originates from the Local
Government/Area Council or Ward covered by the registration centre;
(d) presents himself to the registration officers of the Commission for
registration as a voter; and
(e) is not subject to any legal incapacity to vote under any law, rule or
regulations in force in Nigeria.
(2) No person shall register in more than one registration centre or register
more than once in the same registration centre.
(3) Any person who contravenes the provisions of subsection (2) of this section
commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N100,000
or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both.

Section 13.-(1) A person who before the election is resident in a constituency other than
the one in which he was registered may apply to the Resident Electoral
Commissioner of the State where he is currently resident for his name to be
entered on the transferred voters List for the constituency.
(2) An application under subsection (1) of this section shall be accompanied by
the applicant's voters' card and shall be made not less than 30 days before the
date of an election in the constituency where the applicant is resident.
(3) The Resident Electoral Commissioner to whom an application is made under
the provision of this Section shall cause to be entered the applicant's name in
the Transferred Voters' List if he is satisfied that the applicant is resident in a
polling area in the constituency and is registered in another constituency.

(4) Whenever an Electoral Officer on the direction of the Resident Electoral
Commissioner enters the name of any person on the Transferred Voters' List for
his constituency ,he shall-(a) assign that person to a polling unit or a polling area in his Constituency and indicate in the list the Polling unit to which that person is assigned;
(b) issue the person with a new voters' card and retrieve his previous
voter’s card; and(c) send a copy of the entry to the Electoral Officer of the constituency
where the person whose name has been so entered was originally
registered and upon receipt of this entry, that Electoral Officer shall delete
the name from his voters' list.

Our Submissions:
Contrary to the position of Mr. Willie Obiano’s opponents, Section 12 of the Electoral Act of 2010 reproduced above, cannot be validly read or applied in absence of Section 13. Both must go together whenever an accusation of double or multiple registration and a defense of voter’s card and data transfer arise. Once it is proved documentarily that Mr. Obiano followed all the processes laid down above with respect to voter’s card and data transfer, he has no case to answer either in criminal law’s misdemeanor or in civil law. Where there is documentary evidence both in INEC and Obiano’s records showing transfer of his voter’s card from Lagos to Anambra, then, double or multiple registrations is extinguished.

 Further, Mr. Willie Obiano can never be punished for perceived administrative lapses of the relevant INEC staffs, assuming they failed to delete his name in his previous area of registration (i.e. Lagos). Doing so amounts to transfer of criminal liability, unknown to Nigeria’s criminal laws. The responsibility of deleting a voter’s previous data in a voter’s card transfer squarely lies on INEC. Section 13 (4) of the Electoral Act of 2010 is very clear on this. It states: (4) Whenever an Electoral Officer on the direction of the Resident Electoral Commissioner enters the name of any person on the Transferred Voters' List for his constituency, he shall-(a) assign that person to a polling unit or a polling area in his Constituency and indicate in the list the Polling unit to which that person is assigned; (b) issue the person with a new voters' card and retrieve his previous
Voter’s card; and(c) send a copy of the entry to the Electoral Officer of the constituency where the person whose name has been so entered was originally
registered and upon receipt of this entry, that Electoral Officer shall delete
the name from his voters' list.

Where Mr. Willie Obiano Will Be Guilty As Accused:
Mr. Willie Obiano will be guilty as accused only if he has no documented records known to INEC and law showing he undertook the process of transferring his voter’s card from Lagos to Anambra within a time allowed by the Electoral Act of 2010, and that he deliberately registered more than once in one or more than one registration centers. He is not to be held criminally or legally liable for multiplicity of his voter’s registration if such multiplicity is found to have been caused by INEC’s poor electronic data management. This is because no citizen is allowed to be punished over a crime or misconduct or negligent act of another under Nigeria’s criminal law, except where he or she is a partaker.

Signed:

Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
08033601078, 08180103912
botchairman@intersociety-ng.org

News Release: Stop The Violence In Ekiti State Gubernatorial Election Campaign



The Centre for Rights and Grassroots Initiative (CRGI) is disappointed and condemns in strong terms the crude, barbaric, unconstitutional, irresponsible and criminal pockets of violence that has characterized the campaign train in the run off to the gubernatorial elections in Ekiti State and wish to admonish the perpetrators to sheathe their sword in the interest of peace and tranquility of Fatherland.

We recognize that a period of campaign in a democratic process represents a window opportunity for aspirants to endear themselves to the hearts of the electorate for votes by reeling out their manifesto rather than what obtains presently whereby there have been pockets of violence which have resulted in injuries,  damage to private and public properties and a blur on our sensibilities.

We are hereby using this medium to admonish the electorate to be extra vigilant since it is the watchword for democracy and reject at the polls, aspirants who believe that the only way to gain public attention is to unleash violence on the people rather than engaging in issues driven campaign. We also want to enjoin them to report any security threatening acts or action to the security agencies.

We as well want to encourage the security agencies to be alert and impartial in the discharge of their constitutional responsibility and rise up to the occasion to arrest this negative trend of violence in our body politics. We as well want to encourage them to step up their intelligence apparatus in this period when gubernatorial elections has been proclaimed as war so as to prevent any untoward developments which is inimical to our peace and democracy.

We equally condemn Vice President Namadi Sambo for his reckless,  irresponsible, irresponsive and undemocratic statement of describing the gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun states as going to war and hereby admonish President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately reprimand his misguided and idle Vice President for bringing the Presidency to public opprobrium.

To INEC, we want to enjoin them to keep watch over the activities of the political parties and aspirants in this period of campaign and take necessary  actions in consonance with the Electoral law to bring any defaulting party to book for breach of the Act. The time has come now for INEC to be seen as effective, as a dog that bites rather than its toga of a toothless bulldog which is disappointing.

To the enemies of democracy who want to sabotage this process before elections through violence, we are using this medium to admonish them to quickly beat a retreat and turn a new leaf by joining hands with patriots who are desirous that the Ekiti gubernatorial elections must not only be credible, but must be free, transparent, fair and must reflect one man,  one vote, one woman, one vote, failure which they will meet their waterloo courtesy of the peoples wrath which is like a consuming fire.

A word is enough for the wise!
Signed:

Nelson Ekujumi,
Executive Director,
Centre for Rights and Grassroots Initiative (CRGI)
1a Fadeyi Street, Ikeja, Lagos.
08023172694, 07033853232


News Release: €24-million Afreximbank Loan For Libreville Hotel Complex

Jean-Pierre Lemboumba Lepandou, President of GTH (left), exchanges documents with Mamadou Kane, Managing Director of Orabank, Gabon (right), after the signing ceremony as Afreximbank President Jean-Louis Ekra looks on.

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has granted the Gabonese hotel group, Gabonaise de Tourisme et de l’Hotellerie (GTH), a 24-million Euro loan facility for the development of the Decapolis Rapontchombo which would be managed under the Decameron brand.

According to the Bank, the loan facility is being granted to GTH under Afreximbank’s Construction and Tourism-Linked Relay Facility (Contour) to finance the full refurbishment of the former Novotel Rapontchombo, Libreville, and the construction of  two buildings to turn the property into a five-star hotel with 180 rooms and 30 apartments.

Speaking at the Afreximbank Headquarters in Cairo during the signing ceremony for the facility, Jean-Louis Ekra, President of the Bank, said that the transaction reflected the institution’s commitment to supporting Africa’s economic development. According to him, a high quality hotel facility plays an important role in attracting investment by providing a conducive environment for the conduct of business transactions.

Jean-Pierre Lemboumba Lepandou, President of GTH, said that the objective of the promoters was to make the Decapolis Rapontchombo  a reference infrastructure not only in Gabon but also in the West and Central Africa regions.

Commending Afreximbank for supporting the project, he said that the Bank’s example had spurred the Gabonese Sovereign Wealth Fund  to consider making similar investments in Libreville.

Also speaking, Mamadou Kane, Managing Director of Orabank, Gabon, which is serving as the local administrative agent for the transaction, said that the signing of the facility agreement proved that it was possible to find long-term resources within Africa for the execution of important projects. The project would make significant contributions in terms of job creation in Gabon, he added.

The Decameron Group has already signed a 12-year lease agreement for the management of the new hotel.

Manal Mounir Hendy
Associate

External Communications

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

News Release: DRC Becomes Afreximbank’s Latest Member



The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has taken its place as the latest African country to become a member of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) with the signing of the instrument of accession to the Bank’s agreement.

In a formal letter conveying the Government’s action to Jean-Louis Ekra, President of Afreximbank, Patrice Kitebi, the DRC’s Minister of Finance, said that the decision to sign the instrument was taken by the Council of Ministers on 22 April when it decided that the country would accede to the Bank’s Establishment Agreement.

Welcoming the signing of the instrument, Mr. Ekra said, “The decision by the Democratic Republic of Congo to formally accede to the Afreximbank Establishment Agreement brings us closer to the realization of our objective of making the financing programmes and facilities of our institution accessible to businesses across the length and breadth of the African continent. We look forward to the active and positive participation of the DRC as we work to bring about greater economic integration in Africa.”

Describing the signing as very timely, Mr. Ekra said that the membership would bring significant benefits to the DRC as the Congolese private sector could now to take full advantage of the Bank’s numerous financial offerings at a time when the economy is booming. 
Mr. Kitebi, who led a high-powered government delegation on a fact-finding mission to the Bank’s Cairo headquarters on 13 February, had told Bank officials that the DRC would require support in such key sectors as agriculture, mining, exploitation of forest resources and private sector development.
 Under the terms of the 1993 Abidjan Agreement on the establishment of the Bank, countries that did not sign the Agreement before it entered into force, are required to issue an instrument of acceptance and accession and then to ratify the Establishment Agreement in order to fully activate their membership.
Current participating members include Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d‘Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania and Mauritius.
Others are Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Liberia and Seychelles.
The DRC’s neighbour, the Republic of Congo, signed the instrument of accession in July 2013.
Obi Emekekwue
Afreximbank External Communications

Monday, 28 April 2014

Article: President Jonathan, Niger Deltans And National Conference 2014



By Ben Ikari.

It behooves me to remind the great peoples of Niger delta that this conference is a unique opportunity for the region to reassert itself, place upon Nigeria and Nigerians a just and fair demand for resource ownership and control, which will benefit the country including opponents of the idea who have benefited from the concept during the regional government era and also currently controls their land and non-oil resources. Resource ownership and control as the name implies is clear. It isn't how to share revenue or raise the percentage of allocation based upon resources on other people’s land as those opposed to the idea will love to impose at the conference. 

It is how each local, state or region and federal government can generate resources through creativity and investments, land ownership or acquisition and the resources therein. This is the noblest idea progressing countries, small businesses and large corporations around the world have adopted and are consolidating for the greater good. The concept of resource ownership and control also apply to individuals. Why not Nigeria as a country; why must the cabal continue to hold Niger deltans and other Nigerians hostage that they can’t use their land and otherwise resources to develop at their pace as applicable in civilized nations?

After these decades of exploitation, community agitation for change and violence toward the oil region therefore, if the status quo is protected by the conference, it will be the fault of President Goodluck Jonathan. He knew the number game and mentality of the tripartite ethnic groups of Northern, Western and Eastern regions’ politicians and leaders toward real change from the status quo, but convoked this conference as is.  He ignored equal representation on ethnic basis or a Sovereign National Conference, which will have balanced the imbalance at the conference and nation caused by multiple states created by these three ethnic groups for themselves as a measure to maintaining this imbalance hence exploitation and oppression. 

Niger delta delegates at the conference will also be at fault and will get huge blames like Jonathan if they allow the powers that be to insist and impose a new revenue sharing formula based on oil and gas, and not courageously walkout at the appropriate time to protest such slavery and oppressive mentality. As it stands, I’m commending them for doing their best to represent the region by presenting the positions cited above. Niger delta people who aren't delegates to the conference will also have themselves to blame. The world will laugh at you and the region's struggle for justice may as well end, if you don’t unite, stand up and be ready to take your land and resources back from the rogue federal government controlled by the cabal of these three ethnic groups despite Jonathan’s presidency. You can’t continue to complain and not seize an opportunity favorable for a long awaited revolution. The world will not continue helping you without end, knowing that you’ve oil and gas. And you can’t continue to live as beggars in the midst of plenty.

Paying lip-service or showcasing fear and trying to be more Nigerian than the ethnic peoples you’re, can't end the injustice against the region nor cause the much needed freedom the country yearns. Hard and sometimes uncomfortable decisions/actions, which may pitch the institution and friends, family against you brings freedom and justice. It’s no longer sentimental as some may claim, rather realistic, the fact that Nigeria doesn’t care about Niger delta and other minorities.  All Nigeria expresses is greed for the region’s oil and gas. No one should deceive you/Niger deltans that anything known as “One Nigeria” exist but competition to steal and control the oil and gas wealth in your land. This oil and gas will one day or soon run out. What will happen then and who will the people suffering excruciatingly blame, if not stop the injustice now at all cost and use it for the development of the region?

This is a moral issue that will have the support of international public opinion as it already has. The federal government of Nigeria has no right to control anyone's or indigenous peoples' land and the resources therein. It can and should only control lands it buys or inherits by donation and trade-in for debt owed her. What is happening in Nigeria, where the government controls oil and gas land in Niger delta it doesn't own, by force/unjust laws influenced by Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo politicians is against natural and international law-United Nations Conventions, which Nigeria claims to uphold. To this end Niger deltans have the fundamental right as land owners to standup and stop this unholy and criminal overreach by the government. There is no legal document showing the peoples of the region ceded their lands to the federal government or any document indicating purchase of same by the government or its agencies and proxies. The military constitutions, which have over the years institutionalize the theft of these lands were masterminded by the cabal which holds firm the status quo.

The laws misappropriating oil lands and resources, especially the Land Used Decree of 1978 and Section 42 Subsection 3 of 1979 Constitution which stays same in 1999 law and vests the right to oil land ownership in the federal government/ cabal were and still are illegal. They discriminate against lands own by minorities yet protect Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo lands because they aren’t considered oil and gas prospecting. Most oil blocs in Niger delta are allocated to Northerners, Yorubas and Igbos. Surprisingly, the north still uses Boko Haram to claim marginalization even though most Northerners have also ruled the country since its 53 years of existence (1960 to date). They’re making governance difficult for Jonathan, the first Niger deltan to rule the country, and showing signals to what may come if a Northerner doesn’t take power in 2015. So what other signs does Niger deltans need to understand Nigeria wasn’t created to benefit them or formed for the Jonathans of Niger delta, as my published article of Nov. 2, 2010 states?

My people, the alternative to resource control resistance, blame and shame that will come on Niger delta will be for the delegates to courageously stage a walkout as mentioned aforesaid. They’d thereafter return home to mobilize, stop the oil flow and prepare to network and separate from Nigeria, if no plan is already in place. We must understand that this is 2014 and not 1967. The world understands Niger delta issues and the country more today than during the Biafra-Nigeria Civil War. Oil and gas, as seen around the world have humongous importance that will not be replaced overnight. Oil money smelling in Nigeria, though in the pockets of few; the leverage Russia has in Europe, hence its insistence and maneuvering in the Ukraine crisis are pointers to the influence or power oil has.

Also note that Tanko Yakassi is one of the many Hausa-Fulanis or Northerners opposed to resource control at the conference as he’s always done with threats. He’s the same Northerner credited to have boosted in about 1993, as was reported in the media that, when Igbos attempted to take the oil away (in 1967) the likes of Adekunle were sent to crush them. So if Ogonis attempt to take the oil the Adekunles (of Yoruba) shall also be sent to deal the people some unforgettable blows. Paul Okontumo, who bragged of having more than 200 ways of killing people, was sent to terrorize and torture, kill Ogonis the same way they killed Adaka Boro who first organized resistance to this injustice. We saw what happened to Umuechem, Odi and other communities in Niger delta, not to mention the environmental catastrophes threatening the entire region.

As earlier postulated, the fault will be President Jonathan's, Niger delta delegates who understood the number-game is against the region, but accepted to be in the conference because it's called by one of their own (Jonathan), even though they know he seems confused sometimes so accepting what's handed to him by the oppressive cabal. There is hope: Niger deltans should be prepared for real revolution or have themselves to blame. You shouldn’t continue to expect pity or help from any group and foreign organizations, governments in particular, who also have thousands of issues to deal with in their countries. The time to show you’re ready for justice and be free is now and the world will assist you! You’d be prepared to cut, stop the oil flow, ready to shut everything down if the North and others stays stubborn and obstinate or recalcitrant as always to the end of the conference, thus further protect the status quo ante. Work with them if they’re willing to concede the idea of resource generation, ownership, control and management, which they’ve benefited and still operational to their non-oil lands.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Speech: “They Were Priests, Bishops And Popes Of The Twentieth Century”



(Being Homily By Pope Francis On The Canonization Of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II On Sunday, April 27th, 2014)

At the heart of this Sunday, which concludes the Octave of Easter and which John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy are the glorious wounds of the risen Jesus.

He had already shown those wounds when he first appeared to the Apostles on the very evening of that day following the Sabbath, the day of the resurrection. But, as we heard, Thomas was not there that evening, and when the others told him that they had seen the Lord, he replied that unless he himself saw and touched those wounds, he would not believe. A week later, Jesus appeared once more to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room, and Thomas was present; Jesus turned to him and told him to touch his wounds. Whereupon that man, so straightforward and accustomed to testing everything personally, knelt before Jesus with the words: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).

The wounds of Jesus are a scandal, a stumbling block for faith, yet they are also the test of faith. That is why on the body of the risen Christ the wounds never pass away: they remain, for those wounds are the enduring sign of God’s love for us. They are essential for believing in God. Not for believing that God exists, but for believing that God is love, mercy and faithfulness. Saint Peter, quoting Isaiah, writes to Christians: “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2:24, cf. Is 53:5).

Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.

They were priests, bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.

In these two men, who looked upon the wounds of Christ and bore witness to his mercy, there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Pet 1:3,8). The hope and the joy which the risen Christ bestows on his disciples, the hope and the joy which nothing and no one can take from them. The hope and joy of Easter, forged in the crucible of self-denial, self-emptying, utter identification with sinners, even to the point of disgust at the bitterness of that chalice. Such were the hope and the joy which these two holy popes had received as a gift from the risen Lord and which they in turn bestowed in abundance upon the People of God, meriting our eternal gratitude.

This hope and this joy were palpable in the earliest community of believers, in Jerusalem, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:42-47), as we heard in the second reading. It was a community which lived the heart of the Gospel, love and mercy, in simplicity and fraternity.

This is also the image of the Church which the Second Vatican Council set before us. John XXIII and John Paul II cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the Church in keeping with her pristine features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries. Let us not forget that it is the saints who give direction and growth to the Church. In convening the Council, John XXIII showed an exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit. He let himself be led and he was for the Church a pastor, a servant-leader, led by the Spirit. This was his great service to the Church; he was the pope of openness to the Spirit.

In his own service to the People of God, John Paul II was the pope of the family. He himself once said that he wanted to be remembered as the pope of the family. I am particularly happy to point this out as we are in the process of journeying with families towards the Synod on the family. It is surely a journey which, from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains.

May these two new saints and shepherds of God’s people intercede for the Church, so that during this two-year journey toward the Synod she may be open to the Holy Spirit in pastoral service to the family. May both of them teach us not to be scandalized by the wounds of Christ and to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of divine mercy, which always hopes and always forgives, because it always loves.