The Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has begun screening of the Special Assistant to the President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, and other nominees for appointment as National Commissioners of the electoral body.
The screening has commenced at Senate Chambers.
President Buhari, last month, wrote the upper legislative chamber of the National Assembly to, for a second time, confirm the nomination of his personal assistant on social media into an influential INEC position.
Onochie is a very vocal member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and has been deeply involved in the party’s internal activities in the past, making her unsuitable to occupy a position that demands non-partisanship.
The nomination has been met with stinging public criticism with numerous petitions submitted against her appointment.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC, Senator Kabiru Gaya, said in a televised interview on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, that Onochie will finally be screened on Thursday, July 8, alongside five others.
He said the petitions submitted against nominees will be seriously scrutinized and that the committee will make its decision based on what the law says.
“We will look at the petitions. When they have grounds, then we use the petition; but where the grounds are not strong enough, we may only do what is right,” he said.
Onochie’s nomination will be confirmed or rejected when the committee submits a report on the floor of the Senate next week when Gaya said a report on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill will also be presented.
NSCDC Deploys 20,000 Personnel For Anambra Election
Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has deployed 20,000 personnel to provide security for the November. 6 governorship election in Anambra.
Those to be deployed include personnel in the NSCDC Arms Squad Unit, Counter-Terrorism Unit and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives Unit.
NSCDC Commandant-General, Dr Ahmed Audi, said this on Thursday in Abuja while delivering a keynote address at a three-day Train-the-Trainers Capacity Building and Electoral Workshop, ahead of the Anambra poll.
Audi said that the special forces would be drafted to key areas in the state where they would be saddled with the responsibility of protecting lives and property.
“They will also see to the protection of sensitive and non-sensitive election materials, INEC officials and all critical assets against vandalism, damage or arsonist attacks,” he said.
He said that NSCDC, in collaboration with other security agencies, had developed strategies to checkmate any act of electoral violence and other nefarious activities capable of undermining the electoral process.
The commandant-general further said that the deployed personnel would ensure effective monitoring before, during and after the election.
Audi also said that the personnel would be drafted from the NSCDC commands in all the states in the South-South and South-East zones.
“In addition, personnel from Kogi, Ekiti, Ondo, and Benue have been placed on standby, in case there is the need for reinforcement,” he said.
The NSCDC boss warned the officers to strictly adhere to the ethics of the corps and comply with the law in the discharge of their duties.
“Let me warn, and I mean it, that any conduct of an officer of NSCDC that undermines the rule of law will be seriously dealt with, in accordance with the public service rule,” he added.
Stakeholders Call On NERC, EEDC To Scale Up Performance In S’East
Stakeholders in the electricity industry in the South-East have charged the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) to scale up their performances.
The people gave the charge on Thursday in Enugu at a NERC Stakeholders’ Engagement on Consultation on the Review of Customer Protection Regulations.
They described the periodic review of the regulations after five years as worthwhile.
They, however, said the practical implementation of the regulations, especially concerning the treatment of customers’ complaints, was of greater importance than the proposed review.
An electricity consumer, Mr Joshua Itumo, said the period between the supply of bills and disconnection of defaulting customers “must be reviewed to meet present realities and hardship customers face to get the money to pay their bills.
“The review also has to include that those enforcing disconnection must do it with human face and listen when superior argument or evidence of payment is presented,” Itumo said.A landlord in Trans Ekulu, Enugu, Mr Ifeanyichukwu Okorie, urged NERC and EEDC to clearly state the amount, which when accumulated by a tenant, must be paid before he or she parks out.
Okorie said: “It is not palatable that someone will park into a new apartment and inherit over N500,000 as electricity liability.
“Where does he start as a new tenant to off-set such a huge bill?”
Mr David Emeson, who lives at Agui Road, Enugu, said it was better to ensure the existing regulations were implemented to the latter than have a review that could not be implemented.
“We are not lacking good regulations. The problem is that NERC and EEDC most times fail to carry out what the regulations say and leave customers to their fate,’’ Emeson said.
Earlier, Prof. Frank Okafor, the Commissioner in charge of Engineering and Performance Monitoring in NERC, said the review had become necessary after five years in order to accommodate new ways of doing things, technology and other innovations.
Okafor said the review was not to witch-hunt any stakeholder but ensure more efficient and robust regulations to the benefit of electricity consumers.
“We are looking for ways to ensure more proactive and fast-result oriented ways of attending to customers’ complaints and using technological devices to do this, since NERC cannot be everywhere,” he said.
He said it was difficult for NERC to be proactive due to limited manpower, pointing out that the commission had only 150 staff members nationwide.
Responding, the Managing Director of EEDC, Mr Chorghade Praveen, assured the customers that the company was eager to resolve their complaints in good time, “just as we have recorded noticeable improvement in power supply across our network”.
Praveen also said the company was designing some technological innovations for complaints to be reported and solved within few hours of the report, where possible.
“We are working to improve our customers’ experience just as we have improved in the rate and quality of power supply throughout our franchise area.
“EEDC is moving from customers’ satisfaction to customers’ affection in order to allow our esteemed customers the best quality of service and care so far.
“All the complaints raised here and others to come, I assure you will be treated with dispatch,” he said.
Exploit Technology To Promote National Security, NSA Tasks Military, Others
The National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, has urged the armed forces of Nigeria and other security agencies to exploit more of cyber technology in their quest to safeguard national security.
Monguno, made the call at the Defence Space Administration (DSA) Cyber Security Awareness Day 2021 with the theme, “Developing Cyber Capabilities for the Enhancement of Armed Forces of Nigeria Operations and National Security” on Thursday, in Abuja.
The NSA was represented by the Director, Policy and Strategy, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Amb. Aminu Lawal.
He said that Nigeria, like several other countries across the globe was currently witnessing a surge in digital transformation with many new activities migrating to the Internet especially with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic.
NSA stated that Nigeria’s cyberspace had become a centre stage for new business innovations, governance and social interactions.
He said that the trend had created an opportunity for government to redefine its national objectives and address some of the major developmental challenges currently facing the country, including the emergence of new forms of criminality and terrorism perpetrated through the cyberspace.
According to him, the transformation is a vital priority for the armed forces and security agencies because of the enormous benefits they stand to derive from the cyberspace.
“It is pertinent to note that digital transformation in the armed forces is no longer about innovation but is considered as culture because of the exponential rates of accepting technology and its dynamism.
“The use of the cyberspace is increasingly impacting almost every aspect of our lives as a country and armed forces of the world exploit its benefits to transform their economies and operations.
“Also, the cyberspace is fast evolving, creating technologies, dismantling barriers to commerce, security and allowing seamless communication across borders for people to collaborate and share information,” he said.
Monguno said that cyberspace had been regarded as the fifth domain and newest theatre of warfare after land, sea, air and space, adding that conflicts in cyberwar were rarely military-on-military because of its borderless nature.
He, however, said there was need for the military through DSA in collaboration with ONSA to consolidate and redouble efforts for a more resilient infrastructure, enhanced capacity against cyberattacks and sustainable service delivery.
He commended DSA for organising the event to discuss ways to create opportunities from the nation’s cyber space for economic and operational planning.
Earlier, the Chief of Defence Space Administration (CDSA), Rear Adm. William Kayoda, said that DSA had entrenched the value of space to support the operations of the armed forces, especially on how space systems infrastructure would apply to national critical functions.
Kayoda said the Administration had continued to provide resilient cyber security solutions in the protection of Nigeria’s cyber space.
He said such were, especially, in the regulation, monitoring, vulnerabilities penetration assessment, testing and mitigation exercise to safeguard military and other security agencies’ websites and servers.
He added that DSA also followed the trends and ensure cybersecurity maturity model certification were sustained in the understanding of latest requirements.
According to him, the global re-occurring supply chain attacks that are very destructive, especially malware and ransomwares attacks, call for adherence to developing and sustaining basic cyber security hygiene.
“Thus, the issue of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFAs), passwords, decryption and other key management real world physical access control mitigation for supply chain security are very essential.
“In the Nigeria security perimeters, Multi-Factor Authentication, system control, hygiene culture, training, enforcement, segmentation, control of routine networks, physical access at all times, collaborations, end source investigation amongst others in line with global best practices must be our priority.
“This is very relevant as trust model for all devices has revealed the need for zero trust for machines due to vulnerabilities.
“Adherence to procedures, monitoring, reporting and policy compliance and enforcement devoid of complacency by cyber analyst, Network administration and other end users is important,” he said.
The CDSA disclosed that the cybersecurity awareness month was organised to increase sensitisation efforts on models to mitigate cyber threats and build national cyber resilience to shape cyber security standard, particularly information sharing and identifying critical solutions for implementation at all government levels.
In his goodwill message, the Ministry of Defence, retired Maj -Gen. Bashir Magashi, commended DSA on its unrelenting efforts towards creating a robust indigenous space competence capable of producing and utilising space assets to meet the operational requirements of the Nigerian armed forces.
Magashi said the awareness week was a critical step in addressing increasing cyberattacks on businesses and even the military.
He said that creating awareness of this menace was imperative especially with the drive for global connectivity, usage, recent launch of the e-naira by Mr. President and prevalence of more sophisticated cyber security attacks.
“No doubt, this exercise if sustained will go a long way in curbing new cyber threats and promote the proper use of the social media.
“On this note, I urge the participants to take full advantage of this Workshop and wish the DSA well in the pursuit of its mandate,” he said.
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