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Uphold Integrity of Electoral Process, Group Advises INEC

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Spokesman of Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation, Mr Segun Sowunmi, has advised Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to guard against issues that will make citizens to doubt credibility of electoral process.

INEC electoral materials
INEC electoral materials
Sowunmi told the NAN in Abuja that credible electoral process would not only promote citizens’ trust in INEC, but would also promote peace and legitimacy of elected government.

He said that INEC, more than ever before, must continue to ensure that the electoral process was seen to be free, fair and credible, especially as Nigeria prepared for 2019 general elections.

“One of things that democracy gives every country that practises it is that if you conduct a free, fair and credible election, everybody will see it and applaud you.

“But, if you trample on the will of the people, you conduct an election that is not free, not credible and not transparent, everybody will also see it.

“If you use the power of the state to go against the will of the people you can only get away with it for a time. For every time the will of the people did not count, you move that country nearer a revolution.

“What keeps the people safe in a democratic setting is that they must believe that the legitimacy that their leaders get to rule and lead them was freely given by them.

“When they get the impression that the person leading them has no legitimacy to lead them, you are going to be pushing the country and the people to the wall.’’

Sowunmi said that Nigeria, with over 180 million people with a lot of unemployed youths, could not afford a violent revolution because the will of the people was not allowed to prevail.

“Democracy intends and imagines that it is the responsibility of the independent electoral empire to guard the process and anything that reflects otherwise will be a danger.’’

He advised the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to ensure that it built on the credible electoral process handed over to it by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“Remember as citizens of this country, we all watched how the democratic space was strengthened over the years of PDP.

“PDP was not concerned about who won or lost, and until we even lost the presidency and we hand over peacefully.’’

Sowunmi condemned the rising trend of voters’ inducement during elections, and urged Nigerians to make up their minds to vote the right persons.

He said that the electorate must resolve to make their intensions superior to people’s ability to induce them against their will.

“If our intentions to vote a particular candidate or party is stronger than their own ability to induce us, then inducement will stop.

“This mean that we are capable of collecting their money and still vote for our wish,’’ he said.

The spokesman condemned the reported cases of open vote-buying in the July 14 governorship election in Ekiti state, describing it as “big shame, unacceptable and disgusting’’.

“What happened in Ekiti is embarrassing and it should not stand.

“We cannot be a nation shouting to the whole world that we are fighting corruption when from simple little things we are demonstrating that we have become far more corrupt that we have even been.

“No wonder Transparency International said Nigeria has never been as corrupt as it is now,’’ he said.

Sowunmi also expressed concern about the growing debt rate in the country, saying high rate of borrowing did not correspond with development of infrastructure in the country.

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Edinburgh to Host 9th Pan-Commonwealth Forum

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The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and the Open University (OU), UK, will co-host COL’s ninth Pan-Commonwealth Forum (PCF9) at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Scotland, from Sept. 9 to Sept. 12.

Edinburgh to host 9th Pan-Commonwealth Forum
Pan-Commonwealth Forum (PCF9)
Dr Obinna Okwelume, COL’s Communications Manager, in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, said that the timing marked both the end of the OU’s 50th anniversary celebration and COL’s 30th anniversary.

“I am delighted that PCF 9 will be held jointly with OU which has been an inspiration to the open and distance learning community around the Commonwealth.

“The OU has been a pioneer in quality, research excellence and accessible learning.

“This forum will promote innovations to strengthen access to quality education and lifelong learning for all.

“We look forward to welcoming stakeholders from around the world for a rich and productive confluence of professional, intellectual and forward-looking ideas,” the statement quoted COL President, Prof. Asha Kanwar, as saying.

Prof. Mary Kellett , OU’s Acting Vice-Chancellor, said the institution was delighted to co-host the event, bringing together partner institutions across the Commonwealth.

“ It promises to be an excellent forum for debate, with opportunities to consider issues of great importance to the OU, such as the global and inclusive reach of education.

“We look forward to welcoming friends and colleagues,” Kellet said.

Held every three years, PCF is one of the world’s leading international conferences on open, distance and technology-enabled learning.

It attracts over 600 delegates from across the 53 member nation Commonwealth and beyond.

COL will present its Excellence in Distance Education Awards to individuals and institutions that have demonstrated remarkable achievements in the promotion of open learning.

The OU is the UK’s largest academic institution and a world pioneer in distance learning committed to making education open to all.

COL is an intergovernmental organisation created by Commonwealth Heads of Government to promote the development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies.

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Ecobank Headquarters Generator House Gutted by Fire

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For over three hours, fire disrupted banking services at the head office of Ecobank Nigeria Ltd. on Ahmadu Bello Way, Lagos, on Tuesday.

Ecobank generator house gutted by fire
Firefighters at the premises of Ecobank headquarters in Lagos. NAN Photo
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondents who visited the scene of the fire incident reported that the fire started at 8.30am.

A witness, Mr Malachy Okoli told NAN, that the fire started when a tanker was discharging diesel into the bank’s fuel dump.

Okoli told NAN that staffers of some commercial banks around EcoBank used their fire extinguishers to contain the fire before the arrival of officials the Federal Fire Service.

NAN reports that some youths were seeing around the place scooping diesel from the gutter not minding the risk and a lot of kiosks around the bank were destroyed by the inferno.

Ganiyu Olayiwola, Deputy Commanding Officer, Lagos Command, Federal Fire Service, said the bank alerted the command at about 8.55am.

“We quickly alerted our people and we were able to contain the fire, the first thing we did was to evacuate all the personnel and secured the area so that we would be able to perform our work effectively,” Olayiwola said.

Mr Femi Giwa, Director of Operations, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), said the agency was alerted at about 8.55am.

“At about 8.55 am, we got a distress call at the Lagos State command and control centre concerning an inferno within the Ecobank head office.

“We activated our response and mobilised our respondents to the scene of the incident,” Giwa said.

He said officials of the agency discovered a tanker with 33,000 litres diesel, while trans-loading caught fire.

“We need to appreciate the Lagos State Fire Service, the Federal Fire Service and LASEMA Response Unit, the Ecobank Fire unit, UBA fire unit, Julius Berger and others for their efforts”, said Giwa.

“We were able to contain the inferno within the generator area where they have the tank and the building, as I speak to you is in good condition and the adjourning buildings were not affected.

“Personnel and occupants within the building were evacuated within the muster point. We recorded no injury, no death and I speak to you we were at the dampening stage,” Giwa said.

Mr Tunde Dawodu, representative of Ecobank, said the fire started at about 8.40 am, when a tanker that came to supply diesel apparently caught fire.

“Immediately we activated the emergency protocol and all staff were evacuated from the building even though it did not affect the main building.

“We decided to fight it with fire gadgets that we had and we reached to the fire departments, the state, the federal, LASEMA and some other corporate organisations.

“As you can see it is just the tanker and one of our generators that were affected, it did not affect the building, the personnel or our operations,” Dawodu said.

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Malaysia Aviation Chief Resigns Over MH370 Report

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The chief of Malaysia‘s civil aviation regulation, Azharuddin Abdul Rahmanon, stepped down on Tuesday after an official report found lapses in air traffic control when Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared.

Malaysia flight MH370
Malaysia flight MH370
However, the report, prepared by the 19-member international team, said that it was impossible to provide any firm conclusion about the occurrence of the incident until the lost plane’s wreckage and black boxes were recovered, Fox News reported.

In a long-awaited report released on Monday, the probe team pointed out scores of lapses by air traffic controllers in both Vietnam and Malaysia.

The report also added that there was a paucity of information to determine if the plane broke up in the air, or due to the impact of the ocean.

The Boeing 777, which was ferrying as many as 239 passengers from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, suddenly disappeared on March 8, 2014, and was presumed to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.

The team, in its report, mentioned that it was onerous for the MH370 aircraft’s course change to be attributed to mechanical or system failures.

“It is more likely that such maneuvers are due to the systems being manipulated,” the report said.

In an attempt to resolve this case, several countries such as Malaysia, China, and Australia carried out search operations in the Indian Ocean but later called off in January 2017 after failing to find the traces of the missing aircraft.

In May 2018, another search operation was conducted by a private firm it signed an agreement with the Malaysian government.

Source: ANI

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Normalcy Returns to Akwa Ibom Community After Militants’ Attack

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The Police Command in Akwa Ibom says it has restored peace to Iwukem community in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area of the state attacked by suspected militants on Sunday.

Governor Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom
Governor Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom
The Spokesman for the Command, SP MacDon Achebe, told newsmen in Uyo on Tuesday that the police had restored normalcy in the area.

Achebe said that the police were on top of the situation although he did not confirm the casualty figure.

“Police were aware of the attack; we are on top of it and normalcy has been restored to the community,” he said.

The suspected militants attacked the community about 10p.m. on Sunday, shot sporadically and set some houses ablaze.

Although the cause of the attack is unknown, the state government, in a move to bring to an end killings and kidnappings banned cult activities across the state.

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