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INEC withdraws 25 Certificates-of-return As ordered by court

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By — Ijeoma Ojukwu

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has withdrawn 25 Certificates-of-Return issued to some candidates that won during the 2019 General Elections, following court orders.
The Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Mr Festus Okoye, said this at a `Forum on Media Coverage of 2019 General Elections’ held in Enugu on Monday.
Okoye noted that 20 of the 25 certificates-of-return were withdrawn from All Progressive Congress (APC) members to other APC members; while two from People Democratic Party (PDP) members were withdrawn and issued to other PDP members.
He said that the other three were withdrawn from APC and PDP; and given to other political parties.

“Before we left INEC national headquarters on Friday; the commission has withdrawn 25 certificates-of-return from the first owners to their new owners following court orders to do that,’’ he said.

Okoye, however, lauded the media for its openness and robust engagement with the commission before, during and after the election, adding that the media had become critical stakeholders for the success of future elections.
He noted that the media had become the first line of reach of the masses as well as platform for explanation of INEC political and electoral decisions.
Okoye therefore called on the media and its practitioners to dig deep into the Electoral Act to ensure that the import of the recent amended sections are made known to the public.
“The media should also centre on the aspect of using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve electoral issues especially at the party levels instead of going to the court,’’ he advised.
Speaking, President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr Chris Isigozu, said that the media and its practitioners enjoyed a vast and robust relationship with INEC before, during and after the elections.
Isigozu said that INEC performed creditebly well given the resources and length of co-operation from other stakeholders involved in the electoral processes.
“However, we are here to evaluate the entire process and see where we can strengthen our engagement and better the electoral system.
“We would be open and say it as it; so that the electoral and democratic processes can be better even as we go into off season elections,’’ he said.
In a welcome address, Enugu State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Emeka Ononamadu, noted that evaluation of processes of the elections would help better the electoral processes as well as strengthen institutions and stakeholders involved in the entire processes.
“INEC wants to hear from the media, security agencies, civil society organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations etc on how the election fared. Whether there are avenues to improve on what we have.
“So, INEC is open to receive your objective deliberations and its outcome and we definitely take a critical look at your outcomes in order to better the electoral processes,’’ Ononamadu assured.
(NAN)

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US capital locks down as security threats mount

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The center of Washington was in lockdown Thursday as more than 20,000 armed National Guard troops were mobilized following the deadly assault on the Capitol and the threat of more violence at the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden.
Police Chief Robert Contee said the US capital was facing “a major security threat” after supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building a week ago in a violent bid to block Biden’s confirmation that left five people dead.
A day after Trump was impeached in Congress for allegedly supporting the assault, more barriers were being erected and razor wire laid as part of precautions ahead of the January 20 ceremony.
Most of downtown Washington was off-limits to traffic, drawing comparisons to Baghdad’s high-security “Green Zone.”
The Secret Service, in charge of security, was weighing an unprecedented shutdown of the entire National Mall, the grassy spread where hundreds of thousands traditionally gather to celebrate the inauguration of a new president.
Security officials are warning that armed extremist Trump supporters, possibly carrying explosives, pose a threat to Washington as well as state capitals over the coming week.
“We are seeing an extensive amount of concerning online chatter,” FBI Director Chris Wray told Vice President Mike Pence in a televised briefing.
“We’re concerned about the potential for violence at multiple protest rallies planned here in DC and state capitol buildings around the country in the days to come, that could bring armed individuals within close proximity to government buildings and officials,” he said.
– ‘Stay alert’ –
In steps not seen since after the September 11, 2001 national alerts, an internal FBI bulletin warned that an armed group planned to “storm” government offices in all 50 states to protest Biden, ABC News reported.
“The FBI received information about an identified armed group intending to travel to Washington, DC on 16 January,” the bulletin added.
The New York Times reported that the FBI has told police departments around the country to stay alert for extremist activity and pass on intelligence.
Political figures boosted their own personal security, as Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser revealed she has received death threats.
Peter Meijer, one of 10 House Republicans who voted with Democrats on Wednesday to impeach Trump for supporting “insurrection,” said he and other lawmakers were taking precautions like acquiring body armor.
“I have colleagues who are now traveling with armed escorts out of the fear for their safety,” he told MSNBC. “Our expectation is that someone may try to kill us.”
The potential threat was underscored earlier this week with the discovery that one of those arrested for taking part in the January 6 attack on the Capitol had the kind of weapons and ammunition one might use for an assassination.
-‘Stay home’-
Court documents said Cleveland Grover Meredith had two guns, one with a telescopic sight, and around 1,000 rounds.
Another man was arrested with four guns and 11 Molotov cocktails in his truck.
Police are still searching for a man who planted two pipe bombs near the Capitol on January 6.
On Tuesday police in Chicago arrested a man who weeks ago phoned in threats against Biden.
Worries were heightened when The Washington Post reported that dozens of people on an FBI terrorist watch list were in Washington for the pro-Trump rallies on January 6.
For the upcoming week Washington officials have urged people to stay home rather than celebrate the inauguration.
Downtown hotels were closing their doors, and Airbnb has canceled reservations in the days around the event.
Airlines were tightening security, with Delta announcing that legally armed travelers formerly allowed to check their guns at security would not even be allowed to do that on flights to Washington.
In several states, National Guard were also called out to prepare security for January 16-20.
Washington State, Michigan and others said they were concerned about possible far-right violence.
AFP

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Nigeria: Fulani massacre people daily but Miyetti Allah not designated a terrorist group — Kanu

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Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra – a separatist group in eastern Nigeria, has berated the Nigerian government for failing to designate Miyetti Allah as a terrorist group.

Despite the daily killings by Fulani herders, the Federal Government of Nigeria has ignored appeals from Nigerians seeking the designation of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association – a group focused on promoting the welfare of Fulani herders, as a terrorist group.
“We are in a country where the Fulani massacre people on a daily basis. They were called terrorists and later insurgents and now they are called bandits. But these are Fulani herders killing people. Nobody has ever designated Miyetti Allah as a terrorist group,” Kanu said while speaking at the ‘2nd Never Again Conference: 51 Years After Nigerian-Biafra Civil War’ organised by an Igbo think-tank, Nzuko Umunna, and monitored the Nigerian PUNCH Newspaper.
The leader of the separatist group, whose group has been designated as a terrorist group by the Nigerian government led by President Muhammadu Buhari but not accepted by the international community, further claimed that Nigeria’s oft-called unity is a deception.

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Catholic Bishop Kukah risks assassination following threats from Nigerian Muslims groups

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A Nigerian bishop of the Catholic diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan Kukah, faces assassination as another Islamic group threatens him.

Bishop Kukah had received threats from Muslim groups and officials in Nigeria after a homily in which he criticized the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari whom he accused of nepotism, and also referred to the worsening insecurity in the country.
The Muslim Solidarity Forum asked the cleric to apologize for what they called “malicious vituperations against Islam and Muslims” and to vacate Sokoto immediately.
The group claims that Bishop Kukah systematically attacks Muhammadu Buhari, who is a Muslim, and other Muslims at all times.
“In February 2020, he (Kukah) shamelessly staged a demonstration in the heart of Sokoto over the killing of a single Christian priest, presumably, by the Boko Haram insurgents, but did not consider hundreds of Muslims, Fulani herders that were mercilessly killed by the Christian militia in Taraba state in 2018,” the Islamic group said in a statement by its acting chairman, Professor Isa Maishanu.
Meanwhile, well-meaning Nigerians and activists have condemned attacks by Muslim groups on Kukah, describing the order asking him to leave Sokoto as a serious threat that could lead to his assassination.
The Nigerian government has yet to release any statement regarding the new threat.

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