The major headlines in mainstream newspapers today, Friday, March 15 are focused on moves by APC senators-elect to assume principal positions in the ninth Senate, the election tribunal's ruling President Buhari and the APC access to inspect election materials, INEC’s plea for the ninth Assembly to prioritize the Electoral Act amendment and Buhari’s refusal to meet with the Bauchi and Adamawa governors during the duo’s recent visit to Aso Rock.
Opening the review, Punch reports that President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have been cautioned by some of the party’s senators-elect, against sitting on the fence on the issue of the principal officers of the National Assembly.
The publication reports that senators-elect who are interested in the Senate presidency and other positions have started lobbying their colleagues.
Speaking shortly after collecting their Certificates of Return, some APC senators-elect, however, stated that the presidency and party leaders should come out with their position on zoning, latest by next week.
The APC has a majority of 65 senators in the ninth Senate while the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has 37.
In the House of Representatives poll, the APC won 211 seats, while the PDP clinched 111 seats.
On to a different subject and Vanguard reports that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was on Thursday, March 14, ordered by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja to to grant President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC access to all the electoral materials that were used for the February 23 presidential election.
In two separate rulings by a three-man panel of justices of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Abdul Aboki, the tribunal ordered the commission to forthwith, make available to President Buhari and the APC, both used and unused ballot papers it deployed across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory for the purpose of the presidential poll.
It also granted the applicants leave to inspect all the voters registers.
The tribunal held that the applicants should also be allowed to obtain Certified True Copies of all the documents that were used at the polling units, wards, local governments and state levels.
Mirroring the previous publication, The Nation also reports that the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal granted the president and his APC party access to materials used for the 2019 presidential election.
According to the publication, the access was granted in order to enable the applicants to prepare their defence against the petition to be filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
As per the ruling, President Buhari and the APC will be allowed to inspect and obtain the Certified True Copies of the materials.
The tribunal’s panel had granted two ex-parte motions filed by the APC and Buhari.
On its part, The Guardian reports that Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi and his Adamawa state counterpart, Jibrilla Bindow, were unable to see President Muhammadu Buhari when both men visited the Presidential Villa on Thursday.
The publication reports that the governors had separately sought to see the president when they arrived at the Villa. However, they met a brick wall as Buhari was not favourably disposed to seeing them.
Following a declaration by INEC that the results of the March 9 governorship polls in Bauchi and Adamawa states were inconclusive, both men now face another electoral battle when reruns hold on March 23.
The visit may be viewed by some observers, as an attempt by the governors to curry the president’s favour in a bid to prevent their states from being taken over by the PDP.
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Rounding things off, ThisDay reports that INEC has urged the ninth National Assembly to prioritise amendment to the Electoral Act 2010 as altered, ahead of the 2023 general election.
The INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, stated this in Abuja while presenting Certificates of Return to newly elected members of the National Assembly on Thursday.
He stated that the commission would begin work on post 2019 elections review and the road-map to the 2023 general elections, as a matter of urgency.
He said: “There is a lot of work; but very little time available. As a process govern by law, the success of election in Nigeria depends to a large extent on the electoral legal framework and most importantly in ensuring adherence to the law.
“I want to assure you that we will continue to work with the National Assembly to review and strengthen our electoral law.
“But, I want to appeal to the senators-elect to please start work early and conclude work on electoral framework in a good time well ahead of the 2023 general election.’’
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