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Kogi guber: INEC trains blind voters on usage of ballot materials ahead of election

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Ahead of the November 16 governorship election in Kogi State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday, said it has commenced training of visually impaired voters on how to use braille ballot guide and magnifying glasses on election day.

The INEC Director in charge of civil society organisations, Mrs Dorothy Bello, stated this while speaking at the opening of the training/sensitisation workshop in Lokoja on Monday.

The director, however, said that the training was designed for visually impaired not well versed in the use of braille, NAN reports.

She said that the training necessary because of the realisation that voting could be particularly difficult for the visually impaired voters, adding that ballot papers were not produced with their disability in mind.

Bello further said that the efforts would help in reducing the number of invalid votes among the visually impaired electorate.

According to her, the move will also guarantee their rights to vote independently and secretly as required by the law.

She explained that the sensitisation of this class of voters was in line with efforts by the INEC to ensure inclusive balloting and remove barriers in their ways.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Prof. James Apam, said that the participants were selected from across the 21 local government areas of the state.

He said that they would, up return to their various local governments, were expected to train other visually impaired voters, on how to use braille ballot guide and magnifying glasses on election day.

Apam expressed the confidence that all the visually impaired registered voters will be trained before the election day with the help of civil society organisations.

The state Chairman of the Joint Association of People Living With Disabilities, Mr Solomon Yahaya, described the exercise as timely, saying it would ensure full participation of visually impaired voters in the election.

Yahaya commended INEC for steps taken to include blind persons in the electoral process to further boost public confidence in its activities.

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Xenophobia: South African Police detain 180 foreign nationals

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180 foreign nationals have been detained by the South African police for storming the UN refugee agency in Pretoria where they staged a sit-in protest. 

The protesters whose protest centered on their demand to be relocated to another country after a spate of xenophobic violence in South Africa in September, stormed the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday November 14 after they were informed of a court order giving them three days to vacate the site.

“One hundred and eighty two men and one woman were taken into custody by the police at different police stations,” said provincial police spokeswoman Mathapelo Peters in a statement.

AFP reported that Peters said the sit-in was cleared and hundreds of women and children were bussed to a repatriation centre on the outskirts of Johannesburg as “temporary accommodation”. 

The protesters who were held on trespassing charges and expected to appear before the Pretoria Magistrate Court on Monday November 18, reportedly threw rocks and other objects when being dispersed with water cannons by security operatives. 

“One hundred and eighty two men and one woman were taken into custody by the police at different police stations,” said provincial police spokeswoman Mathapelo Peters in a statement.

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Boat Conveying Journalists Covering Bayelsa Election Capsizes

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A boat conveying journalists across flooded parts of Sampou community in Kolokuma Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on Saturday capsized and threw the four occupants into the water.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the boat was carrying four journalists covering the governorship elections, including its correspondent.

The journalists were returning from a polling station when the incident happened and left the victims submerged.

However, the timely intervention of sympathisers saved the journalists whose mobile phones, cameras and recorders were drenched.

Flood had submerged many parts of Amasoma, Yenagoa and parts of Sagbama, a development that displaced polling stations.

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Armed men invade INEC office in Kogi community, chase officials, observers into hiding

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The atmosphere was tense Saturday night at about 10 p.m. in Ugwolawo community, Ofu local government of Kogi State, as thugs who claimed to be from Zamfara State invaded the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office.

Collation of results was ongoing when the armed men arrived.

For more than an hour, the armed men shot sporadically into the air and are believed to have engaged a police team that arrived later in a shootout.

When they shot sporadically, they shouted on top of their voice for residents of the area to remain indoors and not come out to continue the collation exercise at the INEC office.

Our reporter, among other observers who were caught up in the fracas, had to run into a house and lie down for over an hour.

Residents and election observers were still in hiding at the time of this report.

Efforts to contact the INEC spokesperson and the police spokesperson in Kogi State were unsuccessful as both did not respond to calls and text messages.

Premium Times earlier reported how thugs allegedly loyal to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) invaded Dekina community in Dekina local government of Kogi State in an attempt to hijack results sheets for the Dekina Ward.

The PDP collation agent for the ward, Obaka James, said the results were already collated and being signed by agents, when gunshot sounds rented the air.

Mr Obaka said; “We know the attackers, they had already operated in the morning and their leader was arrested. But we don’t know how he was released again. Now you can see the problems he is causing. But they don’t know that I have collated result with me.”

He said across eight other local governments in the senatorial districts, collation had been done in most wards.”So, why is ours different? Every time, there must be crisis claiming lives in this place. Is election war?”

Earlier, at about 1:13 a.m. on Saturday, thugs had invaded the registration centre for ward 2 in the local government, which is located at Odu Ofomu community and attacked the electoral officers.

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