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Election Violence: If hoodlums snatch BVAS on election day, It will immediately be deactivated – INEC

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Ahead of the February 25 and March 11 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday revealed the action to be taken if hoodlums snatch the Bimodal Voter Registration Systems (BVAS) on election day.

According to the electoral body, the BVAS, the technology that will be used for the accreditation and authentication of voters come 2023, will be deactivated from the backend so that whoever snatched the device won’t be able to manipulate votes.

“If a BVAS is snatched, we have a system in place that can deactivate that particular BVAS,” said INEC Deputy Director of Information and Communications Technology, Lawrence Bayode on Channels Television’s special election programme, The 2023 Verdict.

“We deactivate it so that whoever snatches the device will not be able to do anything with the device because the device pushes the accreditation data automatically on its own even without the operator pushing a button. When it is idle, it pushes that accreditation data to the backend.”

With its return to democracy in 1999, past elections in Nigeria have been marred by ballot-box snatching in some polling units as hoodlums and gunmen overwhelm police officers and other security agents to disrupt the voting process.

However, the electoral body expressed confidence in the ability of security agents to secure sensitive and non-sensitive materials at the polling units. The electoral umpire, however, said should snatching of BVAS occur, hoodlums won’t be able to achieve anything with it.

According to the INEC official, if 50 persons were already accredited on a device, and the device is idle, waiting for more voters to come, it will push the 50 already accredited voters to the backend.

“They (hoodlums) can’t take over the accreditation process because the device is designed to push the accredited voters to the backend,” he said.

Bayode said if hoodlums take the device to other places where they think they can manipulate the data on the device, the polling unit officer will report the incident.

“If such thing happens, the PO reports and from the backend, that device is deactivated so that the person who took away that device will not be able to do anything with the device,” he said.

Asked what if the polling unit officer is not able to report the hijack immediately, the INEC official said, “Even at that, the person who took the device won’t be able to do anything.”

Similarly, INEC Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Victor Aluko said the window for the collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) have closed till after the 2023 general elections.

He said INEC won’t take uncollected PVCs to polling units on election day because that will be a distraction for the polling unit officers

“Whoever genuinely registered and was not able to collect it (PVC), it pains us, but we are assuring them that if they miss this particular election, there are other elections, they will still be able to collect them and vote in the future,” he said.

The BVAS and INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) are stipulated in the Electoral Act 2022 and it is a technological system that allows the accreditation of voters through biometrics capturing, uploading of results amongst others. It has been described by many as an upgrade of the smartcard reader used in the last general elections which achieved some results in the country’s electoral process.

Though many politicians have expressed hesitation on the use of the BVAS for this year’s elections and headed to court to stop its deployment, INEC has consistently maintained that the device will be used.

The electoral body also said it has enough BVAS devices to conduct elections in the 176,846 polling units nationwide, adding that politicians buying PVCs to manipulate the 2023 general elections are engaging in futile efforts because the BVAS will reject biometric data of persons who are not original owners of the traded PVCs.

Meanwhile there was briefing of the Federal Executive Council presided by President Muhammadu Buhari by the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu.

Also expected to brief Council is the Inspector General of Police, Alkali Baba.

Before the briefing, a minute silence was observed in honour of Air Commodore Dan Suleiman (rtd), former Minister of Special Duties under General Yakubu Gowon (rtd).

He was a member of General Murtala Muhammed’s Supreme Military Council in Nigeria between July 1975 and March 1976, and was military governor of Plateau State from March 1976 to July 1978 after it had been created from part of the old Benue Plateau State.

The INEC chairman on Tuesday had attended a meeting with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele.

Accompanied by 11 INEC National Commissioners, the INEC Chairman in his address noted that the meeting was because of the apex bank’s unique role in the conduct of elections. However, this meeting was particularly focused on the recent cash withdrawal policy of the CBN.

The INEC boss said the Commission is challenged by this policy as there exist lots of services the Commission must render with cash.

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NASENI lauds Gov. Idris for allocating land for Agric. Institute construction

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The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, (NASENI), has commended Gov. Nasir Idris of Kebbi for donating 10 hectares of land to the agency for the construction of an Agricultural Machinery Development Institute in the state.
The Director of Procurement of the Agency, Dr Muhammad Aliyu, gave the commendation after formal allocation of the land to  NASENI by officials of state government on Sunday in Birnin Kebbi.
Aliyu, who thanked Idris for providing the land at a choice area, explained that the  project would commence within the next two weeks.
H e assured that all engineering, architectural, civil and electrical designs had been completed.
”We have the bill of quantity ready and every approval needed from the government for the project has been obtained,” he said.
The director affirmed that funding for the project had been captured in the 2024 appropriation bill already assented to by  President Bola Tinubu.
”We will start with what we can accommodate this year and we will continue next year.
“We have funds to begin the basic infrastructural construction,” he assured.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, Alhaji Dahiru Zaki, who led other state government officials to hand over the 10 hectares of land to NASENI, explained that the land was earmarked for the agency in 2022 for the construction of the agricultural machinery center.
”The machinery center is to serve as a Regional Office for the production of agricultural equipment and we are happy that today, we have handed over the land to NASENI.
“I believe that Kebbi was selected in the North-West region because of its huge potentials in agriculture, particularly rice production and other crops,” he said.
Zaki expressed appreciation for the governor’s  kind gesture to the agency, tailored to provide job opportunities to youths and further bolster agricultural production in the state.
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Lassa Fever outbreak at Army Hospital sparks response 

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The recent outbreak of Lassa fever at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, prompted a collaborative response with Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) and Federal Ministry of Health.

Prof. Reuben Eifediyi, Chief Medical Director, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, and lead of the response team, said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), confirmed that Lassa Fever was responsible for the death of three health workers and one patient at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, (44 NARHK).

Four of the six blood samples from suspected cases at the hospital sent to the Bayero University Teaching Hospital, Kano, were confirmed for Lassa Fever.

While 25 close contacts of all the cases were being monitored and were placed on prophylactics (preventive medication). 

Eifediyi said that the outbreak resulted in the deployment of a specialised emergency response team, which was made up of experts in Lassa fever management and infection prevention.

He said that though there were initial challenges, including inadequate resources and staffing, the response team successfully contained the outbreak through real-time laboratory testing, isolation, and treatment of confirmed cases.

“Real-time PCR testing was conducted, leading to the identification and treatment of confirmed cases.

“Three confirmed cases were successfully treated and discharged, with no further fatalities, “ he said.

He said that the incident underscored the importance of effective partnerships and rapid mobilisation of expertise in addressing public health emergencies.

He said that health workers at the hospital went through training on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), measures.

He recommended structural improvement, staffing, training, equipment provision, and hygienic measures.

He also made recommendations for capacity building and the establishment of a biosafety molecular laboratory at the hospital.

 Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by infected rodents or contaminated persons.

Its symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, chest pain.

In severe case, there are unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and other body openings.

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Why some airlines are avoiding Nigeria’s airspace – NAMA

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Many airlines are avoiding Nigeria’s airspace because of difficulties encountered in communication with air traffic controllers, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) confirmed on Sunday in Lagos.

Its Managing Director, Mr Farouk Umar, told newsmen at Ikeja that the agency was consequently eyeing more investments to rejuvenate the communication systems to match emerging air traffic trends.

He explained that there was the need to improve the weak communication system, which had been demand-saturated as the industry grew and more routes were opened.

He said huge investments were required of the Federal Government as more routes opened needing more stations to have signals to cover the entire country.

He added that the presidency recently budgeted N40 billion to address some of the issues at the airports, but the money had not been accessed.

Umar assured that as soon as money was made available, the agency would tackle critical safety challenges at the various airports.

“The entire communication network has been re-designed to ensure that every blind spot is covered because if one system fails today, air traffic controllers would not notice.

“We realised also that our radios are working well and well-positioned and we have addressed the challenges we met on ground, but then, we are still having issues.

“The issues have nothing to do with our radios, but with electricity supply which had been a national challenge that government had been working assiduously to fix.

“We have decided to deploy solar energy to some of our facilities to complement electricity supply from the national grid and from generators so that they can function well,’’ he said.

Umar noted that the International Civil Aviation Organisation frowned at even a second’s blackout at any airport and Nigeria could not afford to flout the regulation.

“For an average electronic system, the lifespan is about 10 years. Most of the communications electronics at the airports have been working for the past 15 years to 20 years. Their performance would be below standard, expectedly.

“We are replacing some of the equipment and we have done almost 80 per cent. The contractors are still working, however,’’ he assured.

Umar also told newsmen that Terminal Control Centres (TRACON) were still having challenges because since 2014, there had not been enough spare parts to fix the obsolete equipment there.

“The Federal Government has approved the modernisation of the TRACON system. 15 per cent of the fund has been paid and we are hopeful that more installations will start soon.

“We are also hopeful that at the end of it all, the system will go back to optimal performance,’’ he said.

Umar lamented that NAMA had been charging airlines N11,000 as navigation fee per flight since 2008 when fares for local flights were N16,000, whereas airfares had risen to N150,000.

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