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FG sets up panel to probe tremor in Abuja, okays Electoral Offences Commission Bill

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By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—Federal  Government, yesterday, set up a ministerial committee to investigate the tremor witnessed in some parts of Abuja last week.
This is even as the Federal Executive Council, FEC, approved three bills on electoral reforms, including Constitution Alteration Bill, 2018; Electoral Act Amendment Bill, 2018; and Electoral Offences Commission Bill, 2018.

Abuja tremor

Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello, who briefed State House correspondents at the end of the weekly FEC meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the committee on earth tremor was composed of four ministries, including Science and Technology; Power, Works and Housing; Mines and Steel; and FCT.

He said there was no cause for alarm in the FCT, and that the council was awaiting comprehensive report from the committee on the issue.
He said the order stopping blasting and other related works in the city remained in force until a decision was taken after the committee’s report.
He said preliminary investigation into the development revealed that the tremor was not caused by mining activities and rock blasting in Mpape.

FEC okays Electoral Offences Commission Bill

Also briefing journalists, Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, said the council deliberated on the report of Electoral Reforms Committee set up by President Buhari, chaired by former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, to examine issues, including provisions of the Constitution on Electoral Act (Amendment) BIll, 2017.

He said the committee was set up to come up with a report aimed at enhancing the electoral process, entrenching accountability in the conduct of elections and political parties’ affairs, ensuring speedy resolution of pre- election matters and election disputes, and imposing stiffer penalties on electoral offenders.
According to Malami, the committee proposed the initiation of Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal Bill 2018 and two other bills for onward submission to the National Assembly for enactment.

He said the current administration hopes to entrench accountability in the conduct of the elections and political parties affairs; ensure speedy resolution of pre-election matters and election disputes; impose stiffer penalties on electoral offenders, as well as enhance the independence of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, such that it is not subject to the directives or control of any authority

Consequently, he said the council approved the review and initiation of Constitution Alteration Bill 2018, Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018, Electoral Offences Commission Bill 2018 with a view to achieving the objectives.

In his briefing, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, said he briefed the council on the second quarter report by National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, which said the economy grew by 1.5 percent during the quarter.

The minister said the council was particularly encouraged by the continuous growth of the non-oil sector by 2.05 per cent, adding, however, that the council expressed concern on the state of crude oil and agriculture.

He said efforts would be intensified to raise oil production volume to two million barrels per day and simultaneously raise the growth of agriculture to three per cent.
He said: “The non-oil sector grew by 2.05 per cent and we are very encouraged by this. In fact, this is consistent with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, objectives.

“However, council was a bit concerned about agriculture as well as crude oil and so, we intend to intensify efforts in agriculture which has been affected by some of the insecurities in some parts of the country and some of the clashes which are now being contained.

“So, we expect agriculture to pick up again. We expect agriculture to go back to the 3 percent which we had been experiencing before.
“Then, in terms of crude oil production, we are going to intensify work to get oil production back to over 2 million barrels a day.”

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