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Edo: INEC suspends use of z-pad, reassures voters of credible poll

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The z-pad, a new innovation introduced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to serve as a secondary means of achieving full biometric accreditation of voters, using a facial image, will no longer be used for the Saturday Edo State governorship election.

The Commission disclosed that the piece of technology, which was deployed in the Nasarawa State bye-election to test-run its functionality, had both hardware and software issues.

INEC National Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, while announcing the decision to drop the z-pad, noted that, “the atmosphere in Edo State ahead of the election this weekend is already charged”, adding that, “we cannot afford to complicate it further by introducing a new technology we are not yet fully satisfied with.

In his address at the Edo Governorship Election Stakeholders’ meeting in Benin, the Edo State capital, Yakubu, stated that “perhaps the most critical of the recent innovations introduced by the Commission is the use of a tablet now popularly called the z-pad. It is a new innovation introduced to serve as a secondary means of achieving full biometric accreditation using the facial image of the voter in support of the fingerprint authentication by the Smart Card Reader.

“Secondly, the camera on the tablet will be used to take a picture of the polling unit result (EC8A) and to upload the same on a dedicated portal (INEC RESULT VIEWING – IReV). This will enable all those interested in viewing the results to do so in real-time. The Commission deployed the z-pad in the Nasarawa Central State Constituency bye-election in Nasarawa State on 8th August 2020. It was a test-run intended to assess the functionality of the technology before its deployment in major elections. While the capture and upload of polling unit level results went on smoothly, the facial authentication did not.

“Without going into the technical details, let me say that the Commission encountered hardware and software issues which needed to be fixed”.

He explained further that, “our ICT Department worked on the new device and made a presentation to the Commission which decided that the system needs to be robust enough before it can be deployed in a major election.

“Unlike the 44 polling units of the Nasarawa Central State Constituency, the Edo Governorship election involves 2,627 polling units. The Commission decided that since this technology is work in progress, we should carry out a further test-run in some of the smaller constituencies during the bye-elections scheduled for 31st October 2020 and thereafter engage with stakeholders before it can be deployed in major elections”.

However, the uploading of polling unit level results in the election on Saturday will proceed as planned, INEC stated.

Meanwhile, the Commission reassured the Edo electorate that their votes will count in the emergence of the winner of the September 19.

According to the INEC Chair, “our ultimate objective is to ensure that the choice of who becomes the next Governor of Edo State is entirely in the hands of the voters. I wish to reassure you that votes will count and only the choice made by the people of Edo State will determine the outcome of the election.

“The Commission shall not take any action to the advantage or disadvantage of any political party or candidate. Our focus is on our processes and procedures. Nothing more.”

He stated further that “the Commission is also aware of the concern expressed in some quarters about the neutrality of our staff, in particular, the ad hoc staff engaged for election duty. We have heard allegations that some ad hoc staff were recruited in such a manner as to compromise the election.

“In response, the Commission deployed two National Commissioners who reviewed the process for strict compliance with the guidelines for such recruitment. I want to assure you that all categories of ad hoc staff have been vetted. The integrity of the process will not be compromised and there will be no partisan infiltration.

“As the eligible voters in Edo State go to the polls on Saturday, I wish to renew my appeal to all political parties, candidates, and their supporters for peaceful conduct. Your votes will count. Polling unit-level results will be uploaded for public view. However, this will not happen where the process is disrupted by violence or malpractices.

“The Commission is determined that no one will benefit from impunity or rewarded for bad behaviour such as vote-buying, ballot box snatching, and stuffing, multiple voting, hijacking and diversion of election materials, disruption of collation, falsification of results, attack on INEC officials or compelling them to declare unofficial results.

“The people of Edo State must be allowed to freely vote for their preferred candidate without inducement or harassment. We have been assured by the security agencies that thugs and their sponsors will not have the freedom to move around freely to disrupt the election or collation of results”.

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NIGERIA

Flood displaces scores in Kano, Nasarawa, Kwara

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Heavy downpour which lasted for days has left many displaced in Kano, Kwara, and Nasarawa states forcing governors Abdulahi Ganduja, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, Abdullahi Sule to seek for a speedy supply of relief materials to victims from the Federal Government.

In Nasarawa,  Governor Abdullahi Sule, yesterday, raised the alarm that scores of people, including aged men, women, and children, were displaced and rendered homeless following a flood that ravaged Nasarawa town in Nasarawa Local Government Area.

Sule, who appealed to the Federal Government to quickly intervene in tackling flood and other ecological problems facing the state, said it was the second time flood would wreak havoc in Nasarawa in less than two weeks.

He said houses were submerged, just as animals were killed, with some persons reportedly missing.

The governor stated this, yesterday when he visited the affected LGA where he ordered the evacuation of the displaced persons.

He directed the state emergency management agency to provide relief materials such as food items and mattresses without delay to the victims.

In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Ibrahim Addra, the governor “urged the people of the state to desist from building on waterways and stop indiscriminate dumping of refuse in drainages.”

In the same vein, the Executive Secretary, Kano State Emergency Relief Agency (SEMA), Dr. Saleh Jilli, in an interview with Daily Sun, lamented that this year’s flood was far more devastating than it had ever been in the state. He said an assessment showed that there was no local government council in the state that was spared by the flood, adding that in some cases, over 100 houses were destroyed by the flood in a single local government council.

While imploring the National Emergency Relief Agency(NEMA), Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Presidential Task Force on Relief and Rehabilitation and National Refugees Commission to deliver and assist victims, Jilli underlined the fact that most  of the victims had been displaced and were in urgent need of support

He equally appealed to well -to –do individuals in the state to assist the displaced, saying government alone  could not shoulder all the responsibilities of ameliorating the suffering of the flood victims.

Similarly, on Saturday night, torrential rains that lasted several hours  wreaked havoc in Ilorin, Kwara state capital.  One life was said to have been lost during the heavy rains, it was gathered.

Two persons whose corpses were  yet to be recovered were equally swept away at Taiwo Isale and Oko-Erin bridges in the metropolis, a source at the state Fire Service said.

The heavy downpour also destroyed several houses and property.

The rains started around 7pm and stopped in the wee hours of Sunday.

Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq commiserated with families whose houses  were affected.

The state government urged  the Federal Government to urgently consider Kwara for special support even as it is setting up a special disaster response team to collate data of areas affected and determine how the state government can offer support based on available resources.

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NIGERIA

Nigeria records 97 new cases of COVID-19, total now 57,242

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Nigeria now has 57,145 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 97 new cases recorded on Sunday night.

According to a tweet from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, NCDC, 48,569 patients have now been discharged, with 1,098 deaths recorded.

The tweet revealed that Lagos State had the highest number of infections on Sunday night with 46 cases, with Kwara State following with 12 cases.

Other states read as follow:

Rivers-11 Adamawa-4 Niger-4 Ogun-4 Osun-4 Ekiti-3 Imo-3 Kaduna-3 Plateau-2 FCT-1

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NIGERIA

FCTA captures 300,000 households for social plan

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THE Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has commenced the second phase of registration of vulnerable persons in Abuja for its Social Investment Programme.

FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Aliyu stated this at a 3-day training for community-based targeting team at the legislative chamber, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Abuja.

Aliyu revealed that the second phase, which targets communities in AMAC, Bwari and Gwagwalada Area Councils, was coming after completion of the first phase which captured poor and vulnerable persons in Abaji, Kuje and Kwali Area councils.

Represented by her Special Assistant and FCT Focal Person on Social Safety Net Programmes, Chiwendu Eteyen Amba, Aliyu said that over 88,000 poor households were registered in more than 400 communities in the first phase of the programme.

”It is on record that as at August 2020, a total number of 88,464 poor and vulnerable households and 309,509 individuals from 408 communities across the three Area Councils were identified and registered into the National Social Register (NSR)”.

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