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I am fully in support of electronic transmission of results – Michael Opeyemi Bamidele

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Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele
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The Chairman Southern Senators Forum and Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele has said that he never voted against electronic transmission of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Senator Bamidele explained further that he was one of the few Senators who ensured inclusion of electronic transmission of results in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill adding that he has remained consistent in his legislative work in the overriding public interest.

He carpeted some senators from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) saying they were grandstanding on the floor of the Senate to run a smear campaign against All Progressives Congress (APC) senators ahead of 2023 general elections.

Bamidele in a state issued gave insights into what transpired in the Senate and expressed concerns over misrepresentations by PDP.

In his words ,“In order that no one who knows me and what I have always stood for would be in doubt as to where I stand, I wish to place on record that I am fully in support of the passage of Section 52(3) of the proposed Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to give the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) powers to transmit election results electronically.

“ Let it be known also that I am specifically a member of the Senate Committee on INEC, which, in addition to electronic voting contained in Section 52 (2), recommended and ensured the inclusion of this electronic transmission clause 52 (3) in our Committee report submitted to the Senate for deliberation and passage. The said report, known as the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill carries both my name and signature.

“We did this in response to the popular desire of a cross section of Nigerians, including stakeholders who participated in our public hearing, as well as in recognition of and compliance with global best practice standard in electoral law and procedure.

“For the records, we had specifically recommended in our report that INEC might electronically transfer election results “where and when practicable.

“As it is the practice in parliamentary procedure, our Committee, which made this recommendation, is, like any other standing committee of the Senate, only a SUB-COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE once the entire Senate sits to consider the report and clause by clause passage of the proposed Bill.

“At this point, any Senator shall have the right and privilege to propose amendment to any of the clauses proposed in the sub-committee’s report being considered. This was exactly what happened on the floor of the Nigerian Senate on Thursday, 15th July, 2021.

“The Distinguished Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, expressed concern that the words ‘electronic transmission of results where and when practicable’, as used in our report, were rather nebulous and could lead to arbitrary intervention and implementation.

intervention and implementation.

Read Also: Electoral Act amendment bans electronic transmission of results
“He also opined that the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), being the regulatory institution in charge of communication infrastructure across the country, should be made to work with INEC in determining the “where and when practicable” desire in our report to ensure that Voters in rural communities without access to communication network are not disenfranchised or the results of their elections compromised, relying on a report that only about 43 per cent of the Nigerian rural communities so far have access to communication network service.”

Opeyemi clarified that Senators only disagreed on which versions of the two drafts on electronic transmission of results should be approved.

He added: “This was the issue before the Senate. While every Senator present and voting was in support of electronic transmission of election results (which is a good development for Nigeria), there was a division between the two versions of the draft.

“Distinguished Senator Albert Akpan, representing Akwa Ibom Central Senatorial District, had proposed that the Senate should stick to the recommendation as originally proposed by our sub-committee, as a counter proposal to the amendment sponsored by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.

“So, the Senate became divided between those who voted ‘.’YES’ to electronic transmission of results “where and when practicable” and those who voted ‘NO’ to what they described as nebulous version in support of an amendment they believed would ensure that INEC was guided by data and scientific realities.

“The voting and subsequent division was not about making a choice between supporting or rejecting electronic transmission of election results because we all agreed to it.”

He accused some PDP Senators of taking undue advantage of normal parliamentary procedure.

He said: “When the Senate Minority Leader called for a division, we all thought it was a normal parliamentary procedure to ensure accurate result of voting on the floor of parliament.

“But subsequent events and calculated attempts to manipulate facts and misinform the public since then have shown that there was more to it than met the eye as the PDP had taken it beyond their grandstanding on the floor of the Senate to working so hard to run a smear campaign against APC Senators as if their voting ‘no’ was in rejection of electronic transmission of results.

“Of course, 2023 is getting nearer and, expectedly, though unfortunately, PDP is becoming more restless, more aggressive and more determined to manipulate its way back into power. But I think we all should still be mindful of what we do when we are making laws for the people.”

Bamidele said he has been an advocate of electoral reforms as part of his agenda for contesting election to the Senate.

He said: “Electoral reforms constitute a major part of my agenda for contesting election to the Senate because I am convinced on the need to sanitize and stabilize our electoral process so as to stabilize our polity and, by implication, stabilize our economy.

“ I am happy my membership of the Senate Committee is affording me the opportunity to be actively involved in fundamental discussions, engagements, drafting and voting processes aimed at strengthening our democracy. Do I support that INEC be given powers to transmit election results electronically? Absolutely, yes. Did I canvass that position at my Committee level? YES.

“Did the Committee boldly introduce this clause into the draft Electoral Amendment Bill submitted to the Senate for consideration? YES, as it clearly carries my name and signature. Should I have allowed myself to be misguided by the manipulation of those who would not want additional input and reasonable and data driven amendments to our report on the floor of the Senate? NO.

“Am I driven by overriding public interest in my voting on the amendment to our sub-committee version of Section 52 (3) of the proposed Bill? YES.

“Guided by the same overriding public interest that made me endorse a recommendation of our same sub-committee (Senate Committee on INEC) to the same Senate rejecting a Presidential nomination into INEC as National Electoral Commissioner just less than forty eight hours before the voting on Electoral Bill.

“ It is also the same overriding public interest principle which has guided me in sponsoring several Bills and Motions aimed at achieving judicial reforms, social reforms, economic reforms, electoral reforms, youth and women development, deepening diaspora participation in our political process and far reaching constitutional amendment and reforms.”

He assured his supporters and admirers that he has not betrayed the trust reposed in him.

He said: “I am consistently who I am: Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, a product of the collective struggle of the Nigerian youth, students and Pro-Democracy movement. More than most people who grandstand on the floor of the Nigerian parliament today, I, most respectfully, submit that I have more Stakeholders to account to for my actions and inactions, in addition to my Constituents who massively and happily elected me to serve in this capacity.

“ Above all, I am accountable to God Almighty who has saved me to serve and I will faithfully serve Him and humanity to the best of my ability. That is my stand for those who are interested in knowing where I stand on these issues.

“Beyond this, I may not comment any further on this issue as the Senate, as an institution, has an officially appointed Spokesman who would continue to explain the rationale behind every decision of the Senate.

“But let the innocent public beware of political manipulation and let it be known that if an election was to be conducted today and INEC runs into logistic problems in its efforts to electronically transmit results in some remote parts of the country, these same PDP gladiators would be the first to shout that they were being rigged out.

“So, I believe it is important to make NCC submit to INEC for the specific purpose of assisting the electoral umpire in determining the availability of necessary infrastructure and technical capacity to do so long clearly before election.

“If we are wrong on this, let it be the people themselves that will tell us so and if the law is deemed to be invalid, let it be the Judiciary, as the watchdog of democracy, that will shut it down. Not the grandstanding, intimidation or smear campaign of a desperate and self-serving political opposition platform.”

 

Below is the Statement issued by The Chairman Southern Senators Forum and Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele.

Press Statement

VOTING ‘NO’: FAR FROM BEING A CHOICE IN REJECTION OF ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION.

In order that no one who knows me and what I have always stood for would be in doubt as to where I stand, I wish to place on record that I am fully in support of the passage of Section 52( 3) of the proposed Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to give the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) powers to transmit election results electronically. Let it be known also that I am specifically a member of the Senate Committee on INEC, which, in addition to electronic voting contained in Section 52 (2), recommended and ensured the inclusion of this electronic transmission clause 52 (3) in our Committee report submitted to the Senate for deliberation and passage. The said report, known as the Electoral Act
(Amendment) Bill carries both my name and signature. We did this in response to the popular desire of a cross section of Nigerians, including Stakeholders who participated in our public hearing, as well as in recognition of and compliance with global best practice standard in electoral law and procedure.
For the records, we had specifically recommended in our report that INEC might electronically transfer election results “where and when practicable.”
As it is the practice in parliamentary procedure, our Committee, which made this recommendation, is, like any other standing committee of the Senate, only a SUB-COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE once the entire Senate sits to consider the report and clause by clause passage of the proposed Bill. At this point, any Senator shall have the right and privilege to propose amendment to any of the clauses proposed in the sub-committee’s report being considered. This was exactly what happened on the floor of the Nigerian Senate on Thursday, 15th July, 2021.
The Distinguished Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, expressed concern that the words ‘electronic transmission of results where and when practicable’, as used in our report, were rather nebulous and could lead to arbitrary intervention and implementation. He also opined that the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), being the regulatory institution in charge of communication infrastructure across the country, should be made to work with INEC in determining the “where and when practicable” desire in our report to ensure that Voters in rural communities without access to communication network are not disenfranchised or the results of their elections compromised, relying on a report that only about 43 per cent of the Nigerian rural communities so far have access to communication network service.
This was the issue before the Senate. While every Senator present and voting was in support of electronic transmission of election results (which is a good development for Nigeria), there was a division between the two versions of the draft. Distinguished Senator Albert Akpan, representing Akwa Ibom Central Senatorial District, had proposed that the Senate should stick to the recommendation as originally proposed by our sub-committee, as a counter proposal to the amendment sponsored by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi. So, the Senate became divided between those who voted ‘.’YES’ to electronic transmission of results “where and when practicable” and those who voted ‘NO’ to what they described as nebulous version in support of an amendment they believed would ensure that INEC was guided by data and scientific realities. The voting and subsequent division was not about making a choice between supporting or rejecting electronic transmission of election results because we all agreed to it.
When the Senate Minority Leader called for a division, we all thought it was a normal parliamentary procedure to ensure accurate result of voting on the floor of parliament. But subsequent events and calculated attempts to manipulate facts and misinform the public since then have shown that there was more to it than met the eye as the PDP had taken it beyond their grandstanding on the floor of the Senate to working so hard to run a smear campaign against APC Senators as if their voting ‘NO’ was in rejection of electronic transmission of results.
Of course, 2023 is getting nearer and, expectedly, though unfortunately, PDP is becoming more restless, more aggressive and more determined to manipulate it’s way back into power. But I think we all should still be mindful of what we do when we are making laws for the people. Electoral reforms constitute a major part of my agenda for contesting election to the Senate because I am convinced on the need to sanitize and stabilise our electoral process so as to stabilise our polity and, by implication, stabilize our economy. I am happy my membership of the Senate Committee is affording me the opportunity to be actively involved in fundamental discussions, engagements, drafting and voting processes aimed at strengthening our democracy. Do I support that INEC be given powers to transmit election results electronically? Absolutely, YES. Did I canvass that position at my Committee level? YES. Did the Committee boldly introduce this clause into the draft Electoral Amendment Bill submitted to the Senate for consideration? YES, as it clearly carries my name and signature. Should I have allowed myself to be misguided by the manipulation of those who would not want additional input and reasonable and data driven amendments to our report on the floor of the Senate? NO. Am I driven by overriding public interest in my voting on the amendment to our sub-committee version of Section 52 (3) of the proposed Bill? YES. Guided by the same overriding public interest that made me endorse a recommendation of our same sub-committee (Senate Committee on INEC) to the same Senate rejecting a Presidential nomination into INEC as National Electoral Commissioner just less than forty eight hours before the voting on Electoral Bill. It is also the same overriding public interest principle which has guided me in sponsoring several Bills and Motions aimed at achieving judicial reforms, social reforms, economic reforms, electoral reforms, youth and women development, deepening diaspora participation in our political process and far reaching constitutional amendment and reforms. I am consistently who I am: Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, a product of the collective struggle of the Nigerian youth, students and Pro-Democracy movement. More than most people who grandstand on the floor of the Nigerian parliament today, I, most respectfully, submit that I have more Stakeholders to account to for my actions and inactions, in addition to my Constituents who massively and happily elected me to serve in this capacity. Above all, I am accountable to God Almighty who has saved me to serve and I will faithfully serve Him and humanity to the best of my ability. That is my stand for those who are interested in knowing where I stand on these issues. Beyond this, I may not comment any further on this issue as the Senate, as an institution, has an officially appointed Spokesman who would continue to explain the rationale behind every decision of the Senate. But let the innocent public beware of political manipulation and let it be known that if an election were to be conducted today and INEC runs into logistic problems in its efforts to electronically transmit results in some remote parts of the country, these same PDP gladiators would be the first to shout that they were being rigged out. So, I believe it is important to make NCC submit to INEC for the specific purpose of assisting the electoral umpire in determining the availability of necessary infrastructure and technical capacity to do so long clearly before election. If we are wrong on this, let it be the people themselves that will tell us so and if the law is deemed to be invalid, let it be the Judiciary, as the watchdog of democracy, that will shut it down. Not the grandstanding, intimidation or smear campaign of a desperate and self serving political opposition platform.

Signed
Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele
(Ekiti Central Senatorial District)
Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters; and
Member, Senate Committee on INEC.

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Buhari Pledge to Rescue Kaduna Train Attack Hostages

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President Muhammadu Buhari
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President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday assured to rescue 31 hostages taken in a train attack and return them “safe and unhurt”, his office said, five months after their abduction.

Gangs of bandits with no ideological or religious motives are known to kidnap for ransom in northwest and central Nigeria.

On March 28, armed men blew up a train travelling between Abuja and Kaduna and opened fire, killing eight people, wounding 26, and taking an unspecified number of passengers hostage.

A week later, they freed one hostage — a top bank executive — as a goodwill gesture for Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, because of his “advanced age”.

Dozens of hostages have already been freed following negotiations, but 31 remain in the kidnappers den.

“I have been informed that at last count, there remain about 31 people in the hands of the kidnappers,” Buhari told representatives of the families of the hostages in Abuja on Thursday.

He said his government would ensure the safe return of the remaining hostages to their families.

“My primary concern is to get everyone released safe and unhurt,” he assured.
The president commended the security forces on recent successes against kidnappers and “terrorists”.

“In the past couple of days, you must have heard about the number of terrorists neutralised by the military, and a number of hostages freed. These efforts will not stop, or reduce,” he said.

“We must take the fight to the terrorists and demonstrate that there is no hiding place for them within the borders of our country,” he said.

“Each one of them will be hunted, and pursued and spoken to in the language that they understand,” he added.

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Five Guards Brigade Killed By Bandits Buried In Abuja

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Five Guards Brigade Killed By Bandits Buried In Abuja
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The Nigerian Army on Thursday buried five members of the Guards Brigade killed by bandits during a clearance operation in the Federal Capital Territory recently.

The soldiers were laid to rest at the Guards Brigade Cemetery, Maitama , Abuja, according to a statement by Guards Brigade spokesperson, Captain Godfrey Anebi Abakpa

Among the deceased was Captain Attah Samuel.

“Until their demise, the gallant soldiers were serving with 7 Guards Battalion, Lungi Barracks Maitama and 176 Guards Battalion Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja respectively,” the statement said.

“While reading the funeral oration of the deceased officer and soldiers, the Commanding Officers of 7 Guards Battalion Lt Col Salim Yusuf Hassan and Commanding Officer 176 Guards Battalion, Lt Col Joshuah Kolowale Adisa described the late Captain and Soldiers as thoroughly bred Infantrymen who were genuinely committed to their duties in defence of Nigeria and whose contribution and services would be greatly missed.

“They asked God to console the families left behind stressing that while the Brigade and the Nigerian Army mourns, the families should take solace in the fact that they have fought a just fight and their souls shall continue to rest with the lord till the resurrection morning.

“Highpoint of the event was the presentation of accoutrements by the representative of the Chief of Army Staff, Maj Gen James Alilu Ataguba to the next of kins of the deceased personnel and lowering of the remains of the fallen heroes.

There was also the blowing of the last post and gun salute to bid the departed heroes fair well

“The burial process started with Christian wake keep and funeral service held in honour of the fallen heroes at St John’s Military Church (Protestant) before the final Internment at the Guards Brigade Cemetery Maitama Abuja.

“The solemn ceremony was witnessed by senior officers of the Nigerian Army, Commanding Officers, Staff Officers of the Brigade, Bwari Area Council Chairman, Hon John Gabaya as well as family members and the barracks community.”

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Two More ISWAP Terrorists Linked To Owo Church Attack Arrested – DHQ

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Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor
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Two more Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists linked to the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo state, have been arrested.

Gunmen had on June 5 stormed the Catholic church, killing over 40 worshippers and injuring others.

The incident drew widespread condemnation, with President Muhammadu Buhari ordering security agencies to arrest the attackers.

On June 9, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, blamed the attack on ISWAP, but the claim was countered by Ondo state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.

Just yesterday, the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor, announced that the gunmen behind the attack on the church have been arrested.

But in a statement on Wednesday, the Director of Defence Information, Jimmy Akpor, said the two suspected ISWAP fighters were arrested through the collaborative effort of the military and the Department of State Services (DSS).

“Recall that the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, during his parley with media executives and editors yesterday, Tuesday 9 August 2022, informed of the arrest of 4 terrorists among those who carried out the attack on St Francis Catholic Church, Owo on 5 June 2022,” Akpor said.

“They were arrested through a combined operation by military and DSS personnel at Eika, Okehi LGA, Kogi State on 1 August 2022.

“Those arrested include Idris Abdulmalik Omeiza (a.k.a Bin Malik), Momoh Otohu Abubakar, Aliyu Yusuf Itopa and Auwal Ishaq Onimisi.

“Barely few hours after the disclosure by the CDS of the arrest of 4 of the Owo Catholic Church attackers, 2 additional ISWAP terrorists, who were also connected to the attack on the church were apprehended at Omialafara (Omulafa), Ose LGA, Ondo State yesterday, 9 August 2022.

“The arrests were made through the collaborative effort by military and DSS personnel. The suspects are Al-Qasim Idris and Abdulhaleem Idris.

“It is instructive to note that Abdulhaleem, alongside other high profile ISWAP commanders, had also previously coordinated attacks on military targets in Okene, Okene LGA, Kogi State resulting in casualties.”

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