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*We ‘ll Defend Democracy At All Costs- Nigerian Military,Police

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As FG Directs Closure Of All Land Borders

The myilitary high command, joined by its Police counterpart have vowed to defend Nigeria democracy by all available means

They have also ensured a smooth, free and fair polls tomorrow

They spoke Thursday in Abuja at a joint briefing with newsmen

Director, Defence Information, Brigadier General Tukur Gusau, warned during the briefing that strong forces would be deployed to check those who might attempt to breach public peace during the elections.

Gusau said, “We are set for the conduct of hitch-free election in the country. The AFN is prepared to support the Nigeria Police and other government agencies responsible for conducting elections. The CDS has sent out strong messages that the Armed Forces of Nigeria is committed to total collaboration with other security agencies to ensure this election is successful.“The AFN is committed to strong and viable constitutional democracy, we are very loyal to the Nigerian state and we are ready to defend democracy at all costs. During the elections, all our normal operations and duties will continue simultaneously across the country. Operation Safe Conduct has been activated to guide the AFN during the general elections.”

He disclosed that the military high command had established a monitoring team as well as operation centres across the country to facilitate its response to cases of breach.Gusau said, “Similarly, operations centres have been established in FCT and the 36 states of the country to serve as quick response centres for all distress calls in the event of any breach of peace during the general election.

“I want to use this opportunity to re-echo the warning of the CDS to undesirable elements, that the AFN and other security agencies are ready and will subvert any threats to peace and tranquillity, and strong force will be applied to those that want to breach public peace during the general election. The AFN has adequately sensitised its personnel on their expected roles throughout the elections.”The Force spokesperson, Muyiwa Adejobi, said the police were ready to protect democracy, adding that the elections would be free and fair.Adejobi said, “Like the military, we are ready to protect democracy, we are ready to give good security to our electoral process so that we can have free, fair credible, and even acceptable general elections in 2023 in the philosophy of Mr. President who said he wants free fair and credible elections, despite belonging to a political party but he wants to give every Nigerian he rights, liberty to do whatever he wants to do.”

The police spokesman added that the ban on unauthorised use of vehicles, sirens, revolving lights, covered number plates, unregistered vehicles, and tinted glasses was still in force, saying police officers on election duties have been ordered to arrest violators of this order.Adejobi said anyone not enjoying immunity, as prescribed by the constitution, should not come to the polling units with their details. He added that governors and others covered by immunity had been advised to only show up with their ADC.Adejobi said, “I want to say without mincing words that our officers and men, particularly those that are detailed to VIPs or politicians as escorts or aids, are not allowed to move with any one of them during the elections.

“Apart from governors that can go out with ADC, we don’t expect them (governors) to go with a large number of security operatives because on that day we all are equal before the law but we still know that they are governors and they can only go out with ADC or orderly“But any other person who is not a governor or does not enjoy any constitutional immunity but has privileges of having security personnel as aides or escorts will not be allowed to go out to any polling unit with his security operatives and this message has been discussed at various meetings at the instance of the CDS so that all security agencies will be on the same page.”

He warned people of voting age who do not have Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) to stay at home throughout the exercise.Adejobi said, “We want to assure active electorates, that is those with PVCs, to go out and exercise their franchise but inactive electorates, those that are more than 18, but without PVCs, please, stay at home we don’t want them, they are the ones that cause problems. So, just stay glued to your TV and radio stations to monitor the elections.”

The Force spokesperson advised eligible voters whose polling units were far from where they reside to move close to their units on Friday. He said restriction of movement order would be enforced and those in that category might not be allowed to move around on election day.Adejobi said, “Restriction order is very key for all of us to have well-organised security arrangement for the success of the electoral process. Exceptions to these restrictions include accredited members of the press and essential workers.

“For those who would want to move to a polling unit, we’ve been having problems with the relocation of PVC, if you know your distance will be long enough to use a vehicle, you are advised to move close to your polling unit on Friday before the restriction time because you may not have that free access to drive covering a large or long distance in any way.

“Men have been deployed to enforce this restrictions order and you are going to meet them at intervals so for your interest move close to your polling units.”He said voters who intended to walk to their polling units must ensure such units were within walking distance.Adejobi assured that security agencies were on top of the situation in states where beaches were being recorded.He said, “Go out and vote, but those who want to foment trouble, you want it hot, we give you hot, you want it average, we give you average, you want it mild or simple, we give the way you want.”

Meanwhile, all Nigeria land borders are to be closed during the elections on Saturday.

Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Isah Idris, said yesterday in a statement, that , “The federal government has directed the total closure of all land borders effective from 00.00 hours on Saturday, 25th February, 2023 to 00.00 hours Sunday, 26th February, 2023.”

“Accordingly, all command comptrollers, especially those in the border states, are to ensure strict enforcement of this directive.”

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EDSG Trains Batch- 9 Vigilantes, Hunters.

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….. As Gov Obaseki Signs Edo Security Corps Bill into law

By Sim Omo- Benin City

As part of efforts to combat crimes, criminalities, cultism and other social vices bedeviling the state, the governor Obaseki led administration has commenced training of batch Nine hunters and operatives of Vigilantes, bringing a total of over ten thousand Vigilantes and hunters so far trained by the state to tighten security in every nook and cranny

Similarly Governor Godwin Obaseki has signed the State security Corps Bill into law

Speaking at the commencement of the batch- nine training exercise at the Police Training School in Ogida, the State Co-ordinator of the Edo security and Vigilantes network , Col. Kole Omomia( Rtd) commended Governor Obaseki and the state government for prioritizing security in the state and its continuous commitment to providing the necessary logistics for the state’s security apparatus to function

He noted that the training of the corps operatives which included the hunters, as in the instance of the batch- 9 who are currently here today, are concerted effort and determination of the state government to put her citizens at the fore front to enjoy peace, tranquility and have an enabling environment that would promote growth, development and investments.

Col. Omomia reiterated that the trainees would undergo series of exercises such as medical fitness, bio-data, teekwando, Judo, Drills, Parades and mental fitness and other activities ancillary to the job

According to the State Cord, the training would cut across the three senatorial districts in the state , with about One thousand, three hundred,(1300) Vigilantes and hunters expected to be trained in Batch- 9

He, however,urged the trainees to key into the program with keen interest and participate fully.

Recall that only recently, the state governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, singed the Bill establishing the State security Corps, formerly known as the Edo State Security Vigilante Network,ESSVN, into law

By the establishing Act, the Corps is now a statutory body recognised by law and would perform its roles as provided by the Act

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HAILING THE SUPREME COURT ON LG ALLOCATION JUDGMENT

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Prof Mike Ozekhome, SAN,CON, OFR

The supreme court judgement on

July 11, 2024, directing the Federal Government to pay allocations due to Local Government Areas directly to their account thereby abolishing the old practices of State-Local Government Joint Account,is timely and courageous.

What the judgement has done is more like interpreting section 162 of the Constitution, which provides for a joint State-Local Government Account. In which case, money is normally paid to state governors’ accounts and then for them to disburse to the local governments for them to share. But what has been happening is that, as I noted in 2020,over three years ago, the state governors, have been behaving like ”bandits”, waylaing local governments funds along the way and thus impoverishing them leaving them with nothing to work, just a little for salary. And nothing to actually work for the people whom they represent.
I agree totally with the judgement of the supreme court to grant full financial autonomy so that money is released and paid directly to the 774 local government councils which constitute the third-tier of government,to develop their places because the LGAs are grassrooted and nearest to the people. Rather than allow overbearing state governors throw their weight around and muzzle the local governments and seize their purse,they will now allow LGs breath some air of freedom.

If you take a look at our situation, Nigeria is operating a very lopsided federation,more like a unitary system of government. Where the federal government is supposed to be a small government,it is controlling 67 items on the exclusive legislative list. That is why the federal government gets the lion share of the federation account , the lion share of the money that comes to the federation account to the tune of 52.68%. The states get 26.72% while the entire 774 local government councils in Nigeria get just 20.60% of the monthly allocation by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RLASMC.

The question is, what is the federal government doing with almost 53% of the national income? That is because it is a government that is behemoth.That is elephantine. A government that intrudes and intervenes in areas that should not concern it at all. What is the federal government’s business with licensing cars and trucks for states? What is its business with the Marriage Act, dealing with how people marry and wed in Nigeria and how they live together as husband and wife and separate or divorce? What is the federal government’s business with unity schools? A whole FG operating secondary schools? What is their business? Why is the FG not allowing states generate their own power, operate their own railway stations, if they have the capacity? Why should the federal government not allow states have their own police force? Even for the local governments to have their own police force as we have in the United States and other advanced countries of the world where even tertiary institutions have their own police?

The truth is that the federal government is overbloated and overpampered. That is why it is using too much money and make the centre become too attractive,eating deep into funds that ought to be meant for the states and local government areas. The states take not only that which belongs to the states, but also waylays at source that which is meant for the local government areas. No Nation grows that way.

So, I see this judgment as epochal,having

far-reaching effect because money will now be made available directly to the local government areas who will no longer be subservient, like fawning slaves to state governors. In fact, the judgement even went further to say that no state government has the power henceforth to dissolve local government areas. This is because we have been seeing cases where inspite of the provisions of section 7 of the 1999 constitution that give autonomy to local government areas, states normally go ahead and dissolve local government areas ND appoint caretaker committees for them.This is whimsical and capricious.The Supreme Court has said this can no longer go on and that henceforth, no state government should ever be able to dissolve any local government area in Nigeria for any reason whatsoever and howsoever.

The judgement is salutary, timely and regenerative. It should be upheld by all governments and people in Nigeria for better democratic dividends.I see this as victory for our wobbling democracy, even if we are far removed from true fiscal federalism where the federating units control and utilize their God-given resources while paying royalty or tax to the central government. This case is one big plus for tested court room gladiator, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation, who initiated the case at the apex court, invoking its original jurisdiction.Surely,to jaw-jaw is better than to war-war. God bless Nigeria.

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Ex+Abia gov, Senator Kalu backs part-time legislature

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Chairman, Senate Committee on Privatisation, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu has backed calls for part-time legislature at both federal and state levels.

Senator Kalu (APC Abia North) said this would help the nation cut costs and enhance the citizenry’s trust in the polity.

The former Abia governor said this in an interview published on his verified Facebook page over the weekend.

On calls for part-time legislature, Senator Kalu said, “I think it will be a very good idea if my colleagues and other members of the Houses of Assembly will agree that we can sit for three months and do constitutional amendment first.

“So we can sit four times a year and if there’s any emergency, there will be emergency sitting. We can come to do a presidential bid on that basis and go back instead of sitting on a full-time basis.

“Not only the Senate and the House of Representatives, but all the legislative houses in Nigeria will be part-time.”

Senator Kalu maintained that this would be part of austerity measures to reduce cost of governance, arguing that regional government is another viable alternative.

“If we’re going for regional government, it also means that the ministers, the legislators, will be the same. I’ve been tinkering with the idea of how we can save money to run Nigeria because the country needs money.

“I will encourage the President, the National Assembly to make these kind of laws. This will help him, and this will help the system, and this will help everybody,” he said.

The ex-governor explained that contrary to misconceptions among Nigerians, senators are not paid enough.
U
“But I want Nigerians and my colleagues to do a quick constitutional amendment so we can go and be a part-time sitting Senate and part-time sitting House of Representatives, and other 36 state houses of assembly in Nigeria.

“That will bring trust and bring relief to the Nigerian people,” the ex-governor said.

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