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Today is World Press Day: NHRC lauds media workers



The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has lauded Nigerian journalists for their critical role in advocating for the realization and enjoyment of democracy in Nigeria and elsewhere, saying that they deserve the support of all stakeholders as they continue to discharge their Constitutional responsibilities.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Chief Tony Ojukwu OFR, SAN, FICMC who stated this on the eve of the celebration of the 2023 World Press Freedom Day noted that society should see journalists as “Agents of change bearing in mind the various contributions and sacrifices they make on a daily basis to ensure the emancipation and liberation of the common man who had needlessly suffered deprivations, discrimination and other forms of human rights violations in the society”.

Interestingly, Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution (As amended), empowers the Press to hold the government accountable to the people, thereby distinguishing journalists as those who perform essential duty to the nation.

Nigerian journalists should therefore be seen as patriotic citizens because their duties are provided for in the Constitution. Any attempt to prevent performance of their duties amounts to a breach of the Constitution and a violation of press freedom.

This year’s theme of World Press Freedom Day celebration, “Shaping a Future of Rights: “Freedom of Expression as a Driver of all other Human Rights”, is apt, as it seeks to highlight the influence of the freedom of expression on other human rights, especially its inherent potency to advocate for the realization of other human rights.

The Chief Human Rights Officer of Nigeria is using this opportunity to commend journalists for courageously discharging their onerous responsibilities despite occasional harassment, intimidation, and destruction of their working tools by some overzealous security agents.

According to the Learned Silk, law enforcement agencies should recognize the Press as a critical partner in the democratic process and desist from any form of confrontation and interference with the lawful duties of journalists and other media workers or be ready to face sanctions.

The learned Senior Advocate urged the law enforcement agencies, especially the Police to, as a matter of urgency, intensify their investigations in unearthing the circumstances surrounding any attack on Nigerian journalists.

He also seized the opportunity to commend the federal government in its effort last year which led to the emergence of Nigeria as the only African country that had been in full compliance in terms of the protection of the rights of journalists with one incident of death of a journalist recorded from infractions, as reported by the Committee for the Protection of Journalists.

According to the Executive Secretary, the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day is not an opportunity to apportion blame to any individual, Institution or group of persons but it is a period to reminisce the fundamental principles of press freedom, ponder on the state of press freedom globally, defend the Media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in their line of duty.

Observance of World Press Freedom Day which started in 1993, and is celebrated on the 3rd of May annually is designed to remind governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and to remind journalists of their obligation to professional ethics in the course of their duties.

The celebration of World Press Freedom Day is also important to ensure that civic space is not restricted considering the contribution of freedom of expression to development of our democracies all over the world and Nigeria in particular.

As human rights defenders, the NHRC is committed to join all well meaning stakeholders to fight for a robust civic space in Nigeria and ensure that the media enabled to play its constitutional role as the watchdog of the society including the government.

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BVAS fails to transmit Presidential election results, INEC’s ad-hoc staff tells Court




The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) deployed for February 25 general election failed to transmit the results of the Presidential election, two INEC’s ad-hoc staff told Presidential Election Petition Court.

Mr. Friday Egwuma and Grace Timothy the two ad-hoc staff who served as Presiding officers in polling units in Abia State and Plateau State told the court on Thursday that presidential election results were not transmitted from polling Units after the results were recorded, snapped, and entered,

Both of them testified under subpoena as Atiku witnesses. They further told the court that the BVAS machine allocated to them developed a system error immediately after the results of the Senate and House of Representatives held same time and venue were transmitted.

In their subpoena evidence, the two workers of the electoral body explained that they had to resort to other means of getting the results through when it became clear that the BVAS machines would not help them.

Egwuma was a Presiding Officer in a polling unit in Abia State while Grace Timothy served INEC in Plateau State.

Apart from the failure of the BVAS machines to transmit the presidential election results, the two witnesses admitted that voting went smoothly in their respective places of work.

They were led in evidence by Atiku’s lead counsel Chief Chris Uche, SAN. However
under cross-examination by Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud SAN who stood for the electoral body, Egwuma explained that he resorted to the offline system in place of the BVAS machines.

In her own, Grace Timothy told the Court that the greatest challenge she experienced during the election was the uploading of the presidential election results into the I- rev portal.

The witnesses were also cross-examined by Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN who stood for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN who represented the All Progressives Congress APC.

Early yesterday, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Bola Tinubu, and APC had vehemently kicked against the bid by Atiku to have the INEC ad-hoc staff testify in the petition challenging the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the 2023 presidential election.

Tinubu’s lead counsel Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN objected to the tendering of statement on oath of the witnesses at the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in aid of Atiku’s petition.

The respondent argued that the statements of the ad-hoc staff were not front-loaded at the time of filing their petition

He asked the Court to reject the witnesses and discountenance their statements on the grounds that they violated the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.

Tinubu’s arguments against the subpoenaed witnesses were adopted by Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN who stood for the APC and Abubakar Mahmoud SAN who appeared for INEC.

Atiku’s lead counsel, Chris Uche SAN asked the Court to dismiss the objections on the grounds that they were utterly misplaced and misconceived.

Uche argued that the objections by Tinubu, APC, and INEC were deliberate ploy designed to delay proceedings.

The senior lawyer insisted that the statements of the subpoenaed witnesses could not have been front-loaded along with the petition because they have not been summoned at the time of filing the petition.

He asked the Court to discountenance the objections of the three respondents and hold that they are not regular or additional witnesses envisaged in the law cited by Olanipekun. The council said that it would be a denial of a fair hearing to bar a witness under subpoena from testifying when the respondents have the right to cross-examine the witness.

The presiding Justice Tsammani stood down the matter for a ruling but on resumption, Justice Tsammani announced that ruling in the objections had been reserved till the judgment date.

The court directed the petitioner’s lawyer to proceed with his subpoenaed witness testimony.

Meanwhile, further hearing in the petition has been shifted to June 9

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Two Reasons I’m Supporting Akpabio to be Senate President – Ndume



Ali Ndume has revealed why he’s supporting Senator Godswill Akpabio to become the next Senate President. Ndume who represents Borno South, spoke during an interview on Politics Today, a Channels Television programme, on Wednesday. Ndume said it is because Akpabio is the preferred candidate of President Bola Tinubu. Tinubu has also asked Ndume to lead Akpabio’s campaign and ensure he becomes the number three citizen.“There are so many that contributed to my reason to stand for Akpabio, because one the president had interest and had Akpabio as his preferred candidate and number two, he had the confidence of asking me to lead the campaign.“Most importantly, it is about justice, about equity, about the constitution and doing what is right and standing for what is justful for this country,” Ndume said. Even though the All Progressives Congress (APC) has chosen Akpabio to be senate president, the likes of Abdulaziz Yari, a former governor of Zamfara, and Orji Uzor Kalu, chief whip of the senate, have insisted on contesting the position.

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Democracy Day: FG Declares June 12 Public Holiday



To commemorate Democracy Day, the Federal Government has declared Monday, June 12, 2023, a public holiday.In a statement issued Thursday in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Dr Oluwatoyin Akinlade who made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government, congratulated all Nigerians on the occasion.She said; “Nigeria’s democratic journey has, like in many other climes, encountered both stormy and smooth sails, but the ship of State, it’s institutions and most importantly, the Nigerian people have remained steadfast on the tenets of democratic governance.“On this memorable occasion therefore, Nigerians and friends of Nigeria are invited to appreciate the progress that has been made, celebrate the milestones covered and look forward to a better future for the country’s democracy.“The Permanent Secretary wishes all Nigerians a Happy Democracy Day celebration”.

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