Foreign News

Uganda restores internet after five-day shutdown over election

Internet was partially restored in Uganda on Monday almost five days after a near-total blackout was imposed across the country ahead of elections the opposition says were rigged.

The gradual easing of internet curbs came as police announced dozens of arrests for alleged election-related violence, and surrounded the headquarters of the main opposition party whose leader is under effective house arrest.

Long-term leader Yoweri Musveni was declared the winner of a January 14 presidential election, securing 58.6 percent of the vote and a sixth term after 35 years in power.

His main rival, musician-turned-lawmaker Bobi Wine, came a distant second with 34.8 percent. He has rejected the results, and decried the election as a sham. 

A government spokesman said an unprecedented internet shutdown imposed on January 13 for alleged national security reasons had been lifted.

“The internet has been restored. Other platforms are still under review,” Ofwono Opondo, the spokesman, told AFP.

“We shall go full throttle depending on what happens in the initial phase of opening connectivity… We advise internet users, especially those from the opposition, not to use it to promote hate messages, threats” and intimidation.

Social media access remained patchy in the capital Kampala, where millions of internet users have been unable to send emails, search the web, or use Facebook, WhatsApp and other communication platforms for the better part of a week.

NetBlocks, a non-government organisation that tracks internet shutdowns, said network data showed a rise in connectivity in Uganda to 37 percent after all but core infrastructure, regulatory and government networks were switched off.

“This suggests that Uganda’s election shutdown, or at least the procedure under which it was implemented, was planned some time in advance. This has been one of the more orderly nation-scale network blackouts we’ve tracked,” NetBlocks told AFP.

– ‘Raid’ –
The headquarters of Wine’s National Unity Platform (NUP) in Kampala was under police guard Monday in what the opposition leader called a “raid” by security forces.

“Museveni after committing the most vile election fraud in history, has resorted to the most despicable forms of intimidation,” Wine tweeted.

Uganda police spokesman Fred Enanga said 55 people had been arrested over the election period for “violent acts” including blocking highways and damaging property.

“Though the polls were peaceful and a success, there were criminal elements that wanted to cause violence,” he said, adding the accused would face court.

The runup to polling day was marred by bloodshed and a sustained crackdown on government critics and Museveni’s rivals.

At least 54 people were shot dead in November over two days of street protests over Wine’s arrest, and the opposition leader was repeatedly detained and his rallies broken up with tear gas and live rounds.

The United States said it was “deeply troubled” by reports of violence and irregularities in Thursday’s poll, though Museveni declared it the cleanest in Uganda’s post-independence history.

Wine was the frontunner of 10 opposition candidates running against the veteran leader, who has ruled uninterrupted since taking power as a rebel leader in 1986.  

Once hailed for his commitment to good governance, the former rebel leader has crushed any opposition and tweaked the constitution to allow himself to run again and again.

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Covid-19

No COVID-19 test required for returning students, says FG

The Federal Government has asked schools to stop requesting for COVID – 19 test results from returning students before they are admitted.

The government, in a short statement issued on Monday by the Director, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Goong, warned school authorities to refrain from asking students or parents to undergo COVID-19 test before they are accepted in their schools.

The statement said: “No Covid-19 Test Required for Resumption of Students. The Federal Ministry of Education says no Covid-19 Test is required for returning students to be admitted into their schools.

“Only temperature checks should be carried out on students and any other person crossing any school gate.

“School authorities should therefore refrain from asking students or parents to undergo covid-19 test before they are accepted in their schools.”

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Politics

Dogara not our member, APC tells court

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has denied claim by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that ex-Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara has defected to the party.

Dogara, who was elected to the House of Representatives at the last general election on the platform of the PDP, reportedly defected to the APC last year.

The APC’s denial is contained in a counter-affidavit it filed in opposition to a suit by the PDP, seeking Dogara’s sack for allegedly abandoning unlawfully, the party, on which platform he rode to the House of Reps.

The Head of Legal Department of the APC, Dare Oketade was quoted, in the party’s counter-affidavit, to have claimed that he is not aware that Dogara has defected from the PDP.

Oketade said he has checked the membership register of the APC and that he did not find Dogara’s name in APC’s membership register.

“In fact the 5th defendant (the APC) has not received an application for membership from the 1st defendant (Dogara) or any other person acting under the instruction of the 1st defendant; neither the 5th defendant has issued any membership card to the 1st defendant.

“Recording the name of the 1st defendant as member of the 5th defendant in the membership register of the 5th defendant and the subsequent issuance of APC’s membership card to the 1st defendant confers 1st defendant the membership of the 5th defendant,” the APC said.

It described the suit by the PDP as speculative and instituted in bad faith, and prayed the court to dismiss all the claims of the plaintiffs in the interest of justice.

On Monday, Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja granted the plaintiffs’ application for an abridgment of time within which the case could be heard.

The application, which was moved by plaintiffs’ lawyer, Jibrin S. Jibrin, was not opposed by the defendants, following which Justice Abang adjourned till February 4, 2021 for hearing.

Defendants in the suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1060/2020 are: Dogara, the House of Representatives Speaker, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the APC.

The PDP and its Bauchi State Chairman Hamza Koshe Akuyam, listed as plaintiffs in the suit, stated that Dogara, representing Dass, Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro Federal Constituency of Bauchi State, defected from the APC to the PDP before the last general election and won a re-election to the House on the platform of the PDP.

They added that Dogara, on July 24, 2020, abandoned the PDP for the APC when he submitted his resignation letter to PDP Chairman in Bogoro ‘C’ Ward in Bauchi State.

The plaintiffs are contending, among others, that by virtue of Section 68(1)(g) of the Constitution, Dogara ought to vacate the seat for defecting from the party that sponsored him to the Ninth National Assembly before the expiration of his tenure.

They said the former Speaker was no longer qualified to partake in the activities of the House of Representatives while still using his former party’s ticket.

Akuyam stated, in a supporting affidavit, that there was no crisis or division in the first plaintiff, being the political platform by which the election of the first defendant (Dogara) as a serving member of the National Assembly was sponsored and from which he has defected to the fifth defendant (APC) before the expiration of the period for which he was elected.

He also stated that there were no mergers involving the PDP, from which Dogara defected.

Akuyam averred that, having defected from the PDP before the expiration of his tenure; Dogara “has lost his seat/office as a member of the House of Representatives and is no longer entitled to participate in the legislative proceedings and other businesses of the National Assembly and/or entitled to salaries and allowances as a member of the National Assembly”.

He added that given the facts and circumstances of the case, the Speaker of the House of Representatives “is under legal obligation” to declare Dogara’s seat vacant and allow INEC to conduct an election for his replacement.

The plaintiffs are praying the court to, among others; declare that Dogara has ceased to be a member of the National Assembly from the date he defected to the APC.

They prayed the court to direct Dogara to vacate his seat in the National Assembly and to refund all the salaries, allowances and emoluments he collected from the date of his defection from the PDP.

They also prayed the court to direct the House of Representatives Speaker to give effect to Section 68(1) of the Constitution to forthwith declare Dogara’s seat vacant and for INEC to conduct a by-election for his replacement.

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Covid-19

EKITI AAUA ALUMNI ASSOCIATION TO MEET DESPITE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The Ekiti State branch of Adekunle Ajasin University (AAUA) Alumni Association has stated that the January 2021 edition of its monthly general meeting would be held virtually in compliance with state government order/COVID 19 protocol restricting large gathering

The Association, in a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, O’Seun Ogunsakin, said the decision to opt for a virtual meeting scheduled for Sunday 24th January 2021 instead of a large physical gathering was borne out of the Association’s respect for law and order; adding that the safety of its members and their families comes first.

Ogunsakin stressed that rather than risk the lives of members by meeting physically, the Association would prefer to exploit the opportunities made available by technological advancement by meeting via Zoom.

He said using the social media platform would not only enhance wider reach by accommodating members who are resident outside Ado Ekiti but also enable new members attend the meeting without any challenge.

The Publicity Secretary said top on the agenda for the meeting is a special presentation by the Worldwide President of the Association, Mr Kunle Adetoba on the nitty gritty of the newly formed AAUA Alumni Cooperative Society.

He urged all Alumni to join the meeting with 77080577485 Meeting ID and 6MfDYF passcode at 5pm on Sunday 24th January, 2020

O’Seun Ogunsakin
Publicity Secretary
18th January 2021

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Nation

INEC Lists Five Challenges Ahead Of 2023 Elections

AS politicians step up horse-trading ahead of subsequent elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has listed five main areas of likely challenges that could confront the commission in the conduct of the election and the 2023 general election. 

These areas include expanding voter access to polling units in the context of a growing population, the growth of new settlements across the country and validation of the voters roll and Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) in the shadow of the COVID- 19 pandemic. 

Others are the amendment of the Electoral Act that will improve the conduct of free, fair, transparent elections; deepening technology in the electoral process and rolling out Voting Machines for the Anambra State governorship election. 

Equally of great concern to the Commission is how to increase voters turnout in future elections and how to effectively manage electoral success recorded in the last two off -season elections in Edo and Ondo states. 

The national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye, identified the areas at the end of a five-day workshop at the weekend for Review of INEC Voter Education Manual, held at Sawalino Hotel, Keffi, Nasarawa State. 

The INEC voter education manual is being reviewed by the Department of Voter Education and Publicity (VEP) with the aim of identifying and including best methods of designing voter education messages to increase citizens’ participation in the electoral process. 

The exercise is being supported by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. For the INEC to achieve the concerns, Okoye challenged the department to design new, creative and innovative messages that would address the electoral concerns and challenges of the youth and students population. 

He reminded VEP Staff that in designing voter education messages, they must be able to compete effectively on the social media and “our narratives and messages must be clear, concise and believable.” 

Okoye said the commission should take on board societal changes and dynamics” urging the participants to design new methodologies of delivering civic and voter education in the context of a pandemic. 

He stated that the commission had resolved to sustain the momentum of the successes recorded in the Edo and Ondo governorship elections and also increase voter turnout in elections through the provision of access to the polling units. 

Stating that the INEC could not succeed alone in the task of conducting successful elections, the commissioner said: “We must build multi-sector coalitions for the sustenance of the electoral process and consolidation of democracy.” 

On voter register, Okoye said that the INEC was determined to clean up the document and register all eligible and constitutionally qualified Nigerians. 

He commended the department for its robust voter education and publicity activities in the past years which led to the successes recorded by the commission adding, “Without VEP, we would not have achieved the new face of INEC.” 

He also thanked the Westminster Foundation for Democracy for sponsoring the workshop and urged it to consider taking the initiative to the state level, so as to build the capacity of INEC staff at the state and local government levels.

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Business News

Dangote completes Nigeria’s longest concrete road

The Dangote Group says it has completed Nigeria’s longest rigid pavement located in Kogi State.According to a statement issued by the group on Sunday, the 43KM Obajana-Kabba road constructed by Dangote Industries Limited, has been described by motorists as the country’s most strategic highway aiding travellers between the North and the South.

The Project Director, Olatunbosun Kalejaiye, expressed his excitement on the completion of the Corporate Social Responsibility Project to be used by Nigerians, adding that while the rigid pavement had been completed, the company was dressing the shoulders.

Site Engineer, Samuel Obosi, assured that the dual carriage way would be durable and less susceptible to potholes and repairs like asphalt road.

He added that it would crash the rate of road accidents in the country.

 The Bajana of Obajana Land, King Idowu Senibi, described the project as gigantic and the first of its kind anywhere in Nigeria.

“This is a great opportunity for us and many generations to come. Our society will be opened as you can see vehicles and commercial activities have started coming up. May God Almighty bless Dangote and all his staff,” he stated.

Speaking in the same vein, the traditional head of Akpata Land, Frederick Balogun, said his people were very proud of Aliko Dangote, adding that the Dangote Cement Obajana plant had brought honour and respect to their kingdoms.

The King of Okebunku Land in Kabba Bunu Local Government, Timothy Omonile, also noted that the construction of the road had helped cut down the criminality rate in the state.

He commended the president of the Dangote Group and charged other philanthropists to emulate him, adding that that was the only way Nigeria could develop its economy and infrastructure.

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Covid-19

UNIBEN To Bar Students Who Refuse To Wear Face Masks

Returning students of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) who refused to wear face masks will not be allowed into the campus when they come into halls of residence on January 30 for the continuation of first semester lectures, on Monday, February 1, 2021.

The institution’s spokesperson, Dr Benedicta Ehanire, who disclosed this warned when the school throw its gates opened for the amended calendar for the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 academic sessions, it will not tolerate any student who does not wear a face mask.

Mrs Ehanire noted that the students must adhere strictly to the non-medical protocols of compulsory use of face masks, hand sanitisers and physical distancing while possession of an android/smartphone or device is advised, as e-learning has become inevitable.

Also, Mrs Ehanire noted that all returning students are expected to comply with acceptable dress codes as determined by the University in line with societal norms and values while those with any ailment are to ensure that they are properly treated before resumption.

Academic activities are scheduled to commence at the school on Monday, February 1, 2021, almost one year after it was shut down following a protracted strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over poor working conditions.

Mrs Ehanire explained that the semester is expected to run until April 1, 2021, while the second semester is billed to commence on April 5, 2021.

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Education

Law School Rejects Graduates From Benin Republic University

The Council of Legal Education has maintained its ban on Law graduates from Houdegbe North American University, Cotonou, the Benin Republic from being admitted into the Nigerian Law School.

A statement by the council secretary, Elizabeth Max-Uba, made available to newsmen on Friday said, the council said after its meeting to consider the appeals of the affected graduates on November 25, 2020, it resolved to sustain the ban imposed in 2015.

According to the council, the university is domiciled in Civil Law jurisdiction yet its law faculty was offering Common Law courses only, and that the subjects of the programme were specifically designated Nigerian.

It also noted that the students of the school were 100 per cent Nigerians and the language of instruction was English, whereas French is the lingua franca of Benin Republic, adding that, “The lecturers were Nigerians drawn from faculties of law in the South-West region of Nigeria, who were teaching there on a part-time basis.

“Information gathered from independent sources indicated that the university had no approval from the regulatory authority in that country to run a law programme in the university until 2016 after the decision was taken by the Council to suspend admission of its graduates to the Nigerian Law School,” the statement said.

“There are continuing concerns over substandard tertiary institutions in the West African sub-region, the Benin Republic, in particular, that target Nigerian students for commercial or monetary gains only.

“Although the Council has no regulatory control over institutions domiciled outside Nigeria, it is vested with powers to determine who is admitted into the Nigerian Law School and under which conditions.

“It also has the responsibility to ensure that candidates admitted to the Nigerian Law School have obtained the minimum standards in learning and have imbibed the basic tenets of the law,” the council secretary stated.

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Politics

Southwest lawmakers: “We stand by zoning”

Many chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) believe that there is an agreement about the rotation of the presidency between the North and South.

In 2023, President Muhammadu Buhari from the North would have spent two terms of eight years.

Zoning or rotation, according to observers, is one of the hurdles the ruling party must cross to survive and remain relevant. It is more of a unifying factor than a divisive factor. It a core issue that will shape the next general elections.

Speakers of the Houses of Assembly in the Southwest are therefore, calling for power shift to the zone at the expiration of President  Buhari’s tenure of office.

The speakers, who were joined by their predecessors, deputy speakers and other state lawmakers at a meeting in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, also called for unity in the zone.

Regional cohesion is very critical to goal achievement as the impression about disunity may make divisive elements to penetrate through the cracks on the wall of brotherhood. Analysts are of the opinion that a united Southwest is capable of earning more recognition and respect in the competitive polity.

To the lawmakers, it is in the interest of party unity too that the pre-2015 agreement about power distribution and presidential rotation should be honoured to foster trust, mutual confidence and a deep sense of belonging.

The legislators, who lauded the contributions of the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to national development, said they will support his bid, if he declares a presidential ambition.

Actually, many members of the progressive bloc look forward to 2023 with eagerness and optimism. Eyes are on the national leader, whose campaign train may become another movement, if he decides to throw his hat on the ring. His assets are his antecedent and pedigree as a star federal legislator, pro-demoncracy crusader, a performing governor who laid the foundation  of modern Lagos, his capacity for building bridges of understanding, networks,  and pioneering role as one of the founding fathers of the party.

The lawmakers, who converged on Carlton Gate Exclusive Hotel, maintained that the zone should produce the next president to foster equity, fairness and justice in the ruling party and the country.

At the meeting were 20 current and past speakers of states, who reiterated their loyalty and solidarity with the national leader. The noted that Tinubu is the most colourful politician produced by the Southwest in post-Awolowo era.

Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker Mudashiru Obasa, who was the convener,  introduced the Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT) Foundation and Movement to the gathering.

He said the Foundation is meant to propagate Tnubu’s ideas.

Obasa said although the former Lagos State governor has not declared his intention to run for the highest office, it is important to deliberate on power shift and raise awareness about the need for the region to put its House in order.

He urged the current and former speakers to set up the template that would herald the actualisation of the foundation’s agenda, if Tinubu decides to run.

The former speakers lauded the national leader for his struggles in the Southwest, which made the progressive bloc to bounce back to reckoning, following the defeat of the five governors in 2003.

They also lauded his roles in the emergence of Governors Kayode Fayemi(Ekiti), Rauf Aregbesola and Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Babatunde Fashola, Akinwunmi Ambode and Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), and  Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo).

Former Ogun State Speaker Titi Oseni-Gomez lauded the membership drive initiative by Tinubu, who never looked down on anyone in the zone. She said she decided to defect to the APC, following Tinubu’s appeal to him.

Former Ondo Speaker Victor Olabimtan lauded Tinubu’s leadership role in the region, stressing that he deserves its bloc support, if he declares ambition.

He advised the national leader to broaden and sustain his networks, contacts and mobilisation in the zone and beyond.

Olabimtan also urged Tinubu to assist in getting more appointments for loyal Ondo APC chieftains.

Other ex-lawmaker praised the former governor for his lack of permanent hostility, his forgiving spirit, accommodation and elevation of party interest above personal interest.

BAT Foundation National Coordinator Ambassador Aliyu Saulawa said the foundation was committed to the push for zoning and power shift to the Southwest.

He said Tinubu is eminently qualified to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari at the expiration of his tenure.

He lauded Tinubu’s option of embracing principle by supporting President Buhari and not former Vice President Atiku Abubakar during the first APC primary and 2019 election.

Saulawa described Tinubu as an outstanding Yoruba man with the capacity, experience and means required for the race.

He said: “Tinubu still needs to do more networking in Yoruba land, especially amongst serving and past governors so that voices of dissent can be reduced to the bearest minimum.

“All stakeholders here present should go back home and start the Asiwaju Tinubu presidential project, pending when he will come out to agree to contest.

“All speakers present must commence beneficial political interaction with traditional rulers across the Southwest.”

At the meeting were Olakunle Oluomo (Ogun), who described Tinubu as a reliable leader and father figure, Dr. Yemi Ikuforiji and his predecessor as Speaker, Joko Pelumi (Lagos), Suraj Adekunbi, Muyiwa Oladipo (Ogun), Asimiyu Alarape and Ganiyu Ojo (Oyo); Prof. Mojeed Alabi, Adejare Bello and Olufemi Popoola (Osun), Ayo Agbonmusemi, Kenneth Olawale, Taofiq Abdulsalam, Oluwasegunota Bolarinwa (Ondo), Kola Adefemi, and Patrick Ajigbolamu (Ekiti).

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