NBA Slams INEC, Says Reasons Do Not Justify Election Postponement

NBA Slams INEC, Says Reasons Do Not Justify Election Postponement

 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned the postponement of the general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

NBA President, Mr Paul Usoro, in a statement he signed on Saturday said the association was confused by the announcement of the commission to shift the polls on the same day they were meant to commence.

He queried why the electoral body would postpone the elections, given the earlier assurance that the polls would not be shifted.

Mr Usoro said it was “unkind” for the commission to make the announcement hours into the polls, stressing that the reasons given were not justifiable.

He noted that Nigerians were anxiously waiting to take part in the exercise, with some electorate going to the extent of travelling for the elections.

READ ALSOINEC Chairman Explains Reasons For Postponement Of Elections, Seeks Understanding (Full Speech)

According to the NBA president, regulatory authorities such as INEC require discipline and foresightedness to carry out their functions.

He asked the electoral body to be mindful that the process of conducting a credible election begins with adequate preparations.

Read the full statement below;

POSTPONEMENT OF ELECTIONS

The Nigerian Bar Association is confounded by and disappointed with the

postponement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in the wee hours of this morning, of the elections that were scheduled to hold today, 16 February 2019 and on 02 March 2019.

We are confounded by the postponement, considering the serial assurances that INEC had, prior to this morning, given of its preparedness for the conduct of the elections; INEC had also expressly assured that postponement of the elections was not howsoever in contemplation.

Our disappointment is compounded by the fact that none of the reasons that INEC has proffered justifies the postponement; all the reasons, with some diligence, could have been remediated.

It was particularly unkind for INEC to announce the postponement only hours to the opening of the polls for the national elections today, knowing as we all do that most Nigerians register for elections in their States of origin and had traveled there from their various stations to exercise their civic rights.

The cost in manhours, resources and inconveniences cannot be readily quantified not to mention the risk to personal safety.

Worse, we run the risk that some who may have to return to their workstations early next week may not be able to travel again for the rescheduled polls next weekend.

We read the INEC announcement and listened to its broadcast to hear how INEC intends to mitigate that possibility and nothing was said in that regard.

INEC needs to be reminded that a free, fair and credible election starts with the preparations therefor by the Electoral Commission.

If the Commission is unable to exercise its functions without avoidable glitches, it is difficult to see how it could justifiably impose sanctions on infracting political parties who give excuses for their infractions similar to the ones that INEC has given today for the postponement of the elections.

Regulatory authorities such as INEC require discipline and foresightedness to carry out their functions.

It is only by imbibing those twin virtues, amongst others and showing same by conduct that they can justifiably sanction infracting parties over whom they exercise regulatory control.

NBA hopes that the new dates of 23 February 2019 and 09 March 2019 for the rescheduled elections are sacrosanct and the preparations therefor will be foolproof and glitch-free.

Our democracy can only prosper and be strengthened if our electoral umpire does not give room for disputation of election results through sloppy arrangements and inadequate preparations.

Our elections can only be adjudged free, fair and credible if INEC does not give room for speculations or concerns about its readiness and preparations for the elections.

Nigerians can only have faith in the electoral process if, amongst others, there is no room for suppositions as to the motives – hidden, ulterior or unknown – of INEC for taking certain actions, including but not limited to the postponement of elections.

In concluding, we urge Nigerians not to give up or tire out. We must give INEC the benefit of the doubt and turn out in our numbers to vote for the parties of our choice on the rescheduled dates for the elections i.e. 23 February 2019 and 09 March 2019.

As the NBA pointed out in its 2019 New Year Message: “This is the year that we would decide both at the national and states levels how we wish to be governed and into whose hands we will entrust our affairs and lives . . . The decisions of our rulers directly impact and determine the course of our lives.

It determines the quality of our lives, not only from an economic standpoint but also from our health, longevity and developmental standpoints.

Our decisions at the polls will determine the quality of life for our youths and children from an educational prism as well as from the perspectives of employment and self-development opportunities.

The quality of rulers that we will vote into power this year will determine whether we move from a perennially consumptive economy into a productive and hopefully an industrialised economy; it would determine whether we would, in our lifetimes ever be assured of such basic necessities like pervasive energy supply and provision of potable water and primary health care for our citizens.

The elections of 2019 should and must, therefore, serve as a defining moment for our country.”

Paul Usoro, SAN

President

Eyitayo Jegede, PDP Demand Ondo Election Postponement

Ondo PDP, Eyitayo Jegede, PDP Demand Ondo Election Postponement
Mr Eyitayo Jegede

Ondo state governorship candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Eyitayo Jegede, is moving for a postponement of the election even though the electoral umpire appears ready.

With preparations in top gear ahead of the poll, the security operatives have also stated their readiness to secure lives and property on election day.

But Mr Jegede said that he had been left with no chance of campaigning as the campaigns end at midnight on Thursday and it was time for INEC to prove that it is indeed interested in giving all candidates equal opportunity.

Alongside the leadership of the party in Ondo state, Mr Eyitayo Jegede, on Friday stormed the INEC office to press home his demand but INEC said that it would go ahead as planned.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Segun Agbaje, insisted: “We have passed that stage. No postponement. We are going ahead on Saturday.”

The PDP man expressed disappointment: “We are asking you to give us the same opportunity and now you say it is expensive. We say give us a level playing ground, you say it is expensive.”

Speaking later on Channels TV’s Politics Today, Mr Jegede argued that by the Electoral Act, INEC ought to display the names of candidates for 30 days.

Therefore, with his name “unlawfully removed” on October 27 and later reinstated to be displayed for only two days, it would be unfair to proceed with the election which saw other candidates’ names duly displayed for 30 days.

Channels Television visited the INEC headquarters in Alagbaka area of Akure, the state capital, which has been bubbling with activities regarding the election.

Sensitive materials meant for each of the local government areas were seen stacked and ready for distribution.

The INEC REC told Channels TV that the materials would be moved to the 18 local government areas on Friday.

There was also a heavy presence of security operatives including the Mobile Police, military, Nigeria Security Civil Defence Corps supporting the Police.

INEC Insists On Card Reader For Governorship Polls

Card readerThe Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has insisted that it will maintain the use of card readers for the verification of voters during Saturday’s governorship and House of Assembly elections.

INEC disclosed this in a statement by the Secretary to the Commission, Mrs Augusta Ogakwu, on Monday.

The statement read: “The provision of the guidelines for the conduct of the 2015 general election which outlined what is to be done if a card reader fails and cannot be replaced by the commission within the specified time frame (i.e. reschedule the election to the next day) will be enforced.

“The relaxation of the guidelines on March 28 was only with respect to the Presidential and National Assembly election held on that date.

“The Commission has reviewed the operation of the card reader in the 28th March elections, identified the challenges and has taken adequate measure to address them.”

Accreditation of voters during the March 28 election drew mixed reactions as the incumbent President and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, and the First Lady could not be accredited with the card reader. At his home town, Otuoke in Bayelsa State, President Jonathan’s card and that of his wife, Patience could not pass the process.

Channels Television correspondent, Chukwuma Onuekwusi reported that several card readers were tried but his card and that of his wife could not be read by three different card readers.

While President Jonathan urged all Nigerians to be patient with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), politicians in different parts of the country had since urged INEC to review the use of the card reader, citing challenges faced during the presidential and National Assembly elections.

Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano, called the overall performance of the card reader device in the state ‘a disaster’, noting that his fingerprints could not be captured despite several attempts.

“Well, it was in my opinion a disaster at the early stages,” Obiano said during an interview on Channels Television’s special election programme, ‘Nigeria 2015’.

He explained that as at 10:30 on Saturday morning, INEC officials were absent at his polling unit,  while the queue was more than a quarter of a mile long.

According to the governor, INEC officials arrived at noon following a call to the REC. Even after their arrival, the card reader failed to work.

“But before then, substantially everywhere, the comment I was getting was that the card reader wasn’t working. As a matter of fact, I received so many calls that I got so worried,” he said.

The governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, had also urged the commission to make another pronouncement on the use of the card reader for the governorship and National Assembly elections.

Jega On Card Reader Flop

However, there had been an indication that the faith of INEC in the card reader technology remained strong despite the challenges faced on election day.

INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, admitted that there were indeed challenges in the deployment of the card readers but the challenges were not significant enough to affect the overall success of the elections.

In an interview with Channels Television about 24 hours after the presidential elections, he said: “From our general assessment, out of the 150,000 card readers which we have deployed, only about 450 were affected.

“But because we just wanted to ensure that Nigerians who have been patient in this process have an opportunity to exercise their rights and because the numbers are relatively insignificant, that’s why we thought it was necessary to do an addendum to the guidelines and allow those people to be able to vote once they can be physically authenticated and verified.”

 

Card Reader Flop: Jega Says Number Insignificant

JegaThe Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Attahiru Jega, has expressed gratitude to Nigerians for their peaceful conduct during the presidential elections on Saturday, March 28.

The INEC boss, in an interview with Channels Television on Saturday night, expressed gratitude to the Almighty for how peaceful the process has been and for the large turnout of Nigerians who showed patience in the face of frustrations.

“Of course, man proposes and God disposes. We thought that this would be near perfect but regrettably there have been challenges,” he said.

“There were still cases of late distribution of materials and late arrivals in polling units but in spite of this we think its been very good also.

“We cannot but thank Nigerians for the passion they have shown, and the commitment to be able to vote in this general elections.”

Professor Jega was particularly happy about the exercise in the north-east region of the country where there had been fears of insecurity.

Election Postponement

He also explained that elections which failed to hold on Saturday will only be conducted in 13 federal constituencies and that will be on April 11.

He explained that the polls would have to be moved to that date as a result of shortage of electoral materials.

Prof. Jega said that the decision was agreed to by all relevant stakeholders, who unanimously asked for all 11 federal constituencies in Jigawa State be moved to April 11 even though only seven federal constituencies were affected.

The INEC boss, however, looked on the bright side when he compared the situation with what obtained in 2011.

“Federal constituencies alone we rescheduled over 60 and then we also rescheduled some senatorial because of shortages of materials,” he recalled.

Nevertheless, he expressed regret over the challenges faced. He stated that lessons have been learnt, which would be factored into preparations for the governorship and State Assembly elections holding on April 11.

Card Reader Flop

Professor Jega admitted that there were indeed challenges in the deployment of the card readers but the challenges were not significant enough to affect the overall success of the elections.

“From our general assessment, out of the 150,000 card readers which we have deployed, only about 450 were affected.

“But because we just wanted to ensure that Nigerians who have been patient in this process have an opportunity to exercise their rights and because the numbers are relatively insignificant, that’s why we thought it was necessary to do an addendum to the guidelines and allow those people to be able to vote once they can be physically authenticated and verified.

“Thank God it went well. The only challenge is that it meant the voting has gone on in some places into late evening and early night.”

He expressed confidence in the assurance given by security agencies that all arrangements had been made to secure all the polling units and ensure the successful completion of voting as well as a successful collation of the results.

Election Postponement Not In Vain – Omeri

Mike OmeriThe Coordinator of the National Information Centre, Mike Omeri on Thursday said that the victories recorded by the Nigerian army against the Boko Haram terrorist group was evidence that the postponement of the 2015 general elections was neither in vain nor a devious ploy by the government.

The general elections which had been slated for February 14 and 28 were postponed for security reasons and to buy time for the Nigerian army to sweep out Boko Haram insurgents in the north eastern region of the country.

While giving updates on security operations on Sunrise Daily, Omeri noted that there was increased collaboration and vigilance on the part of the security operatives in the fight against the insurgents.

Commenting on the postponement of the general elections, Mr Omeri noted that it was necessary to give the security agents time to restore peace in troubled areas.

“From the information coming from the North East, it is evident that successes are being recorded,” Omeri noted, adding that there were evidences that the request to postpone the general elections was not in vain and neither was it a ploy as alleged by the opposition.

Asked about the efforts at rescuing the Chibok school girls, who were abducted by members of the Boko Haram sect on April 14, 2014, Omeri said “operations are still ongoing” to free as many that were taken forcefully, including the girls.

He urged Nigerians to “please be patient”.

On comments by the Chadian President claiming to know the whereabouts of the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau and his continued resurgence despite previous claims by the Nigerian military that he had been killed, Omeri said he had no reason to doubt the military since they were the ones in the theater of action.

Asked about citizens who were forced to abandon their homes to escape Boko Haram attacks, Omeri disclosed that some internally displaced persons in some communities within the country have started returning to their various homes.

He however noted that some communities have been advised to wait for the army to give a go-ahead before moving back into their communities.

“Where peace and stability is established, people have started coming back. Where they still need to undertake mop up operations and give necessary security advice, citizens are advised to wait and operate within the advice that would be given by the military and other appropriate authorities”.

Ogun PDP Expels Obasanjo

Olusegun_Obasanjo_ChanneslTV3The Ogun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party has announced the expulsion of former President, Olusegun Obasanjo from the party.

The PDP’s announcement came few hours after the former President dramatically announced his exit from the Peoples Democratic Party.

Earlier on Monday, the Owu Chief asked that his PDP membership ID card be torn by the Chairman of his ward 11 Ita-Eko, Sumonu Oladunjoye.

Following the unusual request, Obasanjo’s PDP membership card was torn into pieces in the presence of party members and the media.Obasanjo

Speaking to journalists in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo further maintained that he wasn’t prepared to join another political party, as he wishes to remain an elder statesman.

Obasanjo, in recent times, has been vocal about his displeasure with happenings in the country.

He has openly criticized the Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, over several issues ranging from the Federal Government’s handling of the security situation in the country, the 2015 elections and other party matters.

Obasanjo further accused the President of forcing the elections postponement on the INEC, a situation he said was designed to make him win by all means possible and if not create chaos and confusion in the country.

The former president, who was the nation’s military leader from 13 February 1976 to 1 October 1979 and a democratically elected President from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007, further expressed pessimism on the possibilities of achieving success in the ongoing fight against Boko Haram by the Nigerian military and other allied forces.

Military Calls On Obasanjo To Show Understanding

ObasanjoThe Nigerian Defence Headquarters has given an assurance that it would continue on its path of professionalism in the discharge of its duties at all times.

This is in reaction to statements credited to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on the postponement of the general elections and allegation that President Goodluck Jonathan could use the military to subvert the peoples’ will during the elections on March 28 and April 11, 2015.

In a statement on Monday, the military authorities said, “The military as an institution, is neither as inept in the discharge of its duties, nor is it being misused for political ends in the manner the retired General Obasanjo who was also a former President has possibly been made to believe.”

The statement came on the same day the former military Head of State and later democratically elected President made a dramatic announcement of his decision to leave the Peoples Democartic Party (PDP).

Details of the military statement are as follows:

MILITARY CALLS ON OBASANJO TO SHOW UNDERSTANDING

“The Defence Headquarters has noted the remarks of a former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as reported in the media stating his views on perceived state of the armed forces and the roles being allegedly played by the military in the nation’s political process in recent times. The leadership and cross section of the military believes that the former President and retired General has every right to be interested in the actions and fate of the military. Hence, his views like many others will continue to be accorded the well-deserved attention. It is however noteworthy that most of his utterances lately indicate an attitude of playing to the gallery or indulging in politicization of serious national security or military affairs.

“For instance, the comments credited to Chief Obasanjo alleging that the postponement of the General Elections was to enable President Jonathan to use the Service Chiefs to plot a tenure extension is to say the least, very surprising. It is surprising indeed, considering the fact that the retired General chose to ignore the clarification and emphatic assurances of non-partisanship of the military as declared in a DHQ statement on the position of the Armed Forces in the ongoing political activities. His motive as usual remains unknown but it is certainly less than noble or well intentioned. We dare say again that Chief Obasanjo’s assertions are false.

“Much as the military desires to respect the old General and his views, it has become necessary to point out that his conduct and unguarded utterances of late has fallen short of the standard of discipline expected of an individual who has had the privilege of service in the military and risen to the status of a General. The behavior of retired General (Chief) Obasanjo has been so unbecoming and continues to constitute a serious embarrassment to the military before all who have reasonably and rightly adjudged the essence of military background in terms of the high value and standard it tends to contribute to statesmanship.

“We feel constrained to remind the old General that the world has moved beyond that parochial and self-adulating reasoning and mindset which he seems stuck to. Indeed, he needs to be told that by virtue of their better training, exposure, education, assessment and environment, the military personnel of today are already far beyond his level in their appreciation of democracy and it’s indispensability for the stable and prosperous society which Nigerians cherish.

“In this instance, the military wishes to inform the retired General, that the institution which he bequeathed to the nation has .certainly developed beyond how he left it. The Nigerian military is now better placed to strive for the maintenance of the legacies and ethos of service, valour, subordination to constituted authorities, and nonpartisan commitment to duty and fatherland. It has to be restated that the military as an institution, is neither as inept in the discharge of its duties, nor is it being misused for political ends in the manner the retired General Obasanjo who was also a former President has possibly been made to believe.

“Indeed, the system now strongly believes in Democracy as well as its structures and institutions to the extent that it will do nothing whatsoever to undermine or truncate the steady growth and development of the nation’s democracy. The military will remain professional as it keeps doing its best along with others to ensure adequate security and defence of the nation’s territorial integrity in this auspicious period in the country.

“The Defence Headquarters will like to encourage Chief Obasanjo to be genuinely interested in the growth and sustenance of Nigeria’s democratic credentials. He is also enjoined to endeavor to improve in his understanding of intricate issues and try to encourage the military rather than continue with this tendency to indulge in imputation of ulterior motives to every effort, all for the purpose of discrediting well thought out policies or decisions related to the military’s roles in the polity. The support of all well-meaning elderly Nigerians remains vital in the onerous duty of working for the stability, defence, and peace of our country under duly constituted authorities in a democratic environment.”

Presidency Condemns Obasanjo’s ‘Unwarranted Attack’ On Jonathan

ObasanjoThe Presidency has faulted recent statements made by former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, about incumbent President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

Obasanjo, during an interview with Channels Television, had alleged that the postponement of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was part of the grand plans by President Goodluck Jonathan to win the election by all means.

The former President made the statement on Saturday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, while speaking on the state of the nation and giving his opinion on the election postponement.

Obasanjo accused the President of forcing the postponement of the elections on INEC.

However, a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, on Saturday, made the Government’s position known on the issues raised by Obasanjo.

Full text of the statement as published on Reuben Abati’s website:

OBASANJO’S UNWARRANTED ATTACK ON PRESIDENT JONATHAN IS ODIOUS, REPUGNANT AND SELF-SERVING

OBASANJO’S UNWARRANTED ATTACK ON PRESIDENT JONATHAN IS ODIOUS, REPUGNANT AND SELF-SERVING – See more at: http://reubenabati.com.ng/2015-02-14-OBASANJO-acirc-S-UNWARRANTED-ATTACK-ON-PRESIDENT-JONATHAN-IS-ODIOUS-REPUGNANT-AND-SELF-SERVING-.html#sthash.0J2FQpx6.dpuf

We find the false claims and allegations reportedly made against President Goodluck Jonathan by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on Saturday in Abeokuta very odious and repugnant.

As we have had cause to say before, it is most regrettable indeed that a man like Chief Obasanjo, who should know better, chooses to repeatedly, wantonly, and maliciously impugn the integrity of a sitting President of his country for the primary purpose of self-promotion.

It is obvious from Chief Obasanjo’s serial vituperations against President Jonathan who is doing his best to positively transform Nigeria for the benefit of all of its people that he has willfully chosen to close his eyes to the present administration’s good works and intentions. For reasons best known to him, Chief Obasanjo has set his mind on regime change by fair or foul means.

Otherwise, it would be completely senseless, irrational and out of place for Chief Obasanjo, who still claims to belong to the same party as the President, to accuse President Jonathan of plotting to win the rescheduled presidential elections by “hook or crook” and planning to plunge the nation into crisis if he loses the election.

For the record, President Jonathan has no such intention and will continue to give the greatest possible support to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other relevant federal agencies to ensure that the rescheduled elections are successfully conducted.

Indeed, it is not President Jonathan who remains faithful to his oath of office who is trying to plunge Nigeria into crisis, but Chief Obasanjo who is scheming to plunge the country into chaos in pursuit of a selfish and highly egocentric agenda.

Chief Obasanjo’s plot with others within and outside the country to thwart the general elections and foist an unconstitutional Interim National Government, which he hopes to head on the nation is well known to us, but by the Grace of God Almighty, his odious plan to return to power through the back door will fail woefully.

We know very well that it is in pursuit of this nefarious plot that the former President continues to sow the seeds of discord and crises in the polity by purporting to remain in the ruling party while openly consorting with the opposition, endorsing its candidates and predicting victory for opposition candidates in a manner most unbecoming of a supposed elder statesman.

Thankfully, the vast majority of Nigerians who are patriotic and right-thinking cannot be fooled by Chief Obasanjo’s antics.

We urge them to be assured that President Jonathan’s commitment to democracy in all its ramifications remains constant and that he will never be party to the use of any unlawful means to remain in office or gain political advantage over his opponents.

The President stands by his commitment, which he reaffirmed on national television last Wednesday that on his watch, all elections in Nigeria, will be free, fair and credible, and that all certified election results will be respected.

As President Jonathan has also assured the nation, the rescheduling of the general elections was in the best interest of the nation and was never driven by any ulterior motive on the part of government as Chief Obasanjo and others have alleged.

President Jonathan will continue to put his best efforts into giving Nigeria quality leadership and will not be distracted from his purpose by unwarranted and needless criticism by persons who ought to know better.

The President also continues to trust in the good judgment of Nigerians and to believe that in appreciation of his sincere efforts to move the country forward over the past four years, they will re-elect him for a second term on March 28, 2015 with a mandate to pursue his agenda for national transformation to a successful conclusion.

Obasanjo Has Got His Facts Wrong – Fani-Kayode

fani kayodeMedia Director of the Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, says it was the electoral umpire that postponed the election and not the President.

He was reacting to the statement by the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, accusing President Jonathan of forcing the postponement on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

In a telephone interview with Channels Television Mr. Fani-Kayode explained that President Goodluck Jonathan had said that he was not behind the postponement of the elections.

“It is not the Government of President Jonathan that changed the dates of the election or postponed it. It was INEC, everybody knows this.

“The reasons that INEC adduced to that are reasons I believe are justifiable and there were also other reasons; PVCs and so on and so forth, whereby 34% of Nigerian people would have been disenfranchised, if that election had gone on today.

“So I think it was the right and proper thing for INEC to postpone the elections,” Fani-Kayode said, adding that his team would still respond to Obasanjo’s allegations at the appropriate time.

He further explained, “This is a decision that was made by the military themselves and they have given that assessment and said that in six weeks they would be able to do more than enough to be able to create the necessary stability in the north-east.

“It goes to show that perhaps the former president did not fully understand the rationale behind this decision.

“It wasn’t just about getting rid of the unrest or the insurgency and the rebellion in the north-east, it was also about ensuring that we have enough troops on ground throughout the rest of Nigeria so that those soldiers could help the Police to ensure that there is no violence during the elections.

Fani-Kayode also said that the President had no plan to remove the INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega. Therefore the former president’s allegation is unfounded.

“President Obasanjo has got his facts wrong,” he said, asking all Nigerians to be less critical of the Government.

Military Will Degrade Boko Haram Capabilities In Six Weeks – Okupe

Doyin Okupe_On-Election_PostponementA spokesman for the Nigerian President, Dr. Doyin Okupe, is optimistic that the six-week period of election extension will give the military the needed time to degrade the capabilities of the Boko Haram sect in the north-east and guarantee the safety of voters in the region during the general elections.

Dr Okupe made the assertion on Saturday during an interview on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise.

He was said that some developments in counter-terrorism operations in the north-east region that had seen over five years incursion of the terrorist group, the Boko Haram, would yield positive results.

Not Adequately Equipped

According to him, a military squad trained specially for counter terrorism activities had been deployed to the region to tackle the insurgents.

“We have on the field special trained forces subjected to training… They are on ground.

“We had problems with acquisition of arms. The army has not been adequately equipped.

“That has changed because we have new equipment and machinery. We have taken possession of new arms and they are on the field.

“The nature of the battle makes it difficult. The enemies are not seen. When you are sleeping they come.

“We do not have a jungle army but a disciplined army. We cannot go after the militants across the borders of Nigeria. So we had to seek an agreement with the help of the AU and other international organisations.

“That has been reached and all neighbouring countries agreed to form a joint force.

“Before you can go to into another country, you must have the backing of international protocol.

“The AU pressed the protocol that allowed other countries to join in the battle against the Boko Haram. That gave neighbouring counties needed rights to contribute to the fight against the sect,” he said.

According to him, about 7,500 soldiers are expected from the African Union.

Degraded Terrorist Capabilities

He emphasised that the demand for a six-week extension by the military did not mean that the insurgents would be wiped out, “but that it would afford the security operatives needed time for collaborative efforts” in securing the north-east region before the elections.

“Within the six weeks, the military would have degraded their capabilities to enable people in the north-east take part in the elections,” he said.

Another guest on the programme, a former Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr Arigbe Osula, blamed the government for the inability of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct the elections on the earlier scheduled date, saying that the government had all the time needed to address insecurity in the north-east before the election date.

But Dr Okupe dismissed his claims saying that the government should not be blamed for the inadequacies of the INEC.

He further stressed that the presidency, after the INEC briefed the Council of State, asked the INEC to consider extension of the election date to enable more voters collect their Permanent Voter Cards.

Election Postponement Is Jonathan’s Grand Plan To Win – Obasanjo

Olusegun_Obasanjo_Jonathan_plan_On_ElectionA former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has alleged that the postponement of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was part of the grand plans by President Goodluck Jonathan to win the election by all means.

The former President made the statement on Saturday in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, while speaking on the state of the nation and giving his opinion on the election postponement.

He, however, appealed to politicians in Nigeria to ensure that peace and tranquillity reigned supreme.

The former President also asked President Jonathan not to consider the removal of the chairman of the INEC, Professor Attairu Jega, as the decision may truncate the nation’s  fledging democracy.

Forcing Elections Postponement

Obasanjo further accused the President of forcing the elections postponement on the INEC, a situation he said was designed to make him win by all means possible and if not create chaos and confusion in the country.

The former president, who was the nation’s military leader from 13 February 1976 to 1 October 1979 and a democratically elected president from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007, further expressed pessimism on the possibilities of achieving success in the ongoing fight against Boko Haram by the Nigerian military and other allied forces.

He urged the leadership of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Party (APC) to ensure that the nation’s democracy remains intact.

Presidency Faults Obasanjo’s Claims

The Presidency has however faulted these comments coming from General Obasanjo, and the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati made Government’s position known on his website.

Dr. Abati said that the former president’s comments are odious and repugnant.

According to Dr. Abati, it is obvious that Chief Obasanjo has willfully chosen to close his eyes to the present administration’s good works and intentions, and that for reasons best known to him, Chief Obasanjo has set his mind on regime change by fair or foul means.

The President’s Spokesman said “For the record, President Jonathan has no such intention and will continue to give the greatest possible support to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other relevant federal agencies to ensure that the rescheduled elections are successfully conducted”

Dr. Abati went on to say, “It is not President Jonathan who remains faithful to his oath of office who is trying to plunge Nigeria into crisis, but Chief Obasanjo, who is scheming to plunge the country into chaos in pursuit of a selfish and highly egocentric agenda”

The President’s spokesman alleged that Chief Obasanjo’s plot with others within and outside the country to thwart the general elections and foist an unconstitutional interim national government, which he hopes to heap on the nation is well known to the Federal Government.

Dr. Abati added that as President Jonathan has also assured the nation, the rescheduling of the general elections was in the best interest of the nation and was never driven by any ulterior motive on the part of government as Chief Obasanjo and others have alleged.

Not Consulted By INEC

During a Presidential Media Chat on Wednesday, President Goodluck Jonathan responded to allegations that he had forced the INEC to postpone elections in his interest, saying he was not consulted by the INEC on the postponement of the elections.

Goodluck Jonathan Nigeria Will Not Go To war over Election
Jonathan says reports of plan to remove Professor Attahiru Jega belong to the garbage world.

President Jonathan also said that the decision by the INEC to postpone the election would enable electorates that had not collected their permanent Voter Cards to do so before the elections.

He also said that there were no plans to send the INEC chairman on compulsory leave before the elections.

“Do not be disturbed by the stories that are not real. The president will not send INEC chairman on leave and bring another person. Those stories belong to the garbage world. Less than 20 per cent of the stories on the social media are credible,” President Jonathan said.

The INEC while announcing the postponement of the elections told reporters that the decision of the commission was not forced by any individual or group.

Professor Jega said the decision was reached after ‘wide-reaching consultations’ with stakeholders.

He said that the decision was based on the advice by the military that it needed time to secure areas in the north-east to enable voters cast their votes in a safe environment.

Obasanjo Endorses Buhari

The former President, who is a member of the PDP had few days ago in Nairobi, Kenya, in what seemed like an endorsement for the presidential candidate of the APC, expressed support for General Muhammadu Buhari.

He, however, at the launch of his new book ‘My Watch’ in the United Kingdom, responded to questions on his reported endorsement of General Buhari, saying “well, whatever you get in the paper and in the press, please yourself”.

“What I said, I maintain that I will say it again and I will do it. When the time comes for me to vote, I will consider the track record of all the candidates that are contesting and I will assess and based on my own assessment for who I believe have the best track record to perform the job of the Nigerian President, then he will have my vote.

Boko Haram Attacks Soldiers’ Checkpoint In Gombe

-Heavily armed members of the Boko Haram terrorist group attacked a military checkpoint in Gombe on Saturday, forcing residents and soldiers to flee the area.

Fleeing residents and security sources told reporters that explosions and gunfire were heard after the fighters overwhelmed the checkpoint at the edge of the city, which has been bombed before but has never had the insurgents attempt to take it over.

Reuters quoted a witness, Abdul Hassan, as saying that soldiers ran away after the checkpoint was overwhelmed. The militants then burned down a police station on the outskirts of town, he said.

“I crossed a river and ran into the hills,” he said. “I’m still there and I can hear the fighting.”

Other residents have been forced to stay indoors, with another witness, Hussaina Maji, saying she was unable to leave her house for fear of being caught in crossfire.

“There are gun shot sounds everywhere and heavy artillery fire. People are running down the streets from the area which under attack, The whole town is in a state of panic,” resident Godfret Obeate told Reuters by telephone.

Security authorities have not confirmed the attack and the number of casualties is unknown.

The Boko Haram sect has continued to attack communities in the north-east region of Nigeria, as it pushes for an Islamic state, posing a grave security threat to Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer.

Thousands have been killed while hundreds have been kidnapped, with the group increasing its threats in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

The countries have formed a Multinational Joint Force to battle the insurgents.

Nigeria’s general elections was last week postponed, with the electoral body citing security operative’s advice and request for a shift to enable them secure towns in the north-east before the elections.

The military had told the Independent National electoral Commission that it could not guarantee the safety of lives and property in the region during elections, demanding for six weeks to degrade the activities of the terrorist group.

On Thursday, the West African Allied Forces led by the Nigerian military, supported by Chad, Niger and Cameroon, stormed the Sambisa Forest in Borno State, killing a good number of insurgents.

A top military source told Channels Television that the air forces bombarded the insurgents, before ground forces moved in and incapacitated the insurgents.

Already the insurgents have been pushed out of Gamboru which lies on the Nigerian border with Cameroon.

Boko Haram attacked a village in Chad on Friday, the first known lethal attack in that country by the sect, which killed several people including a local chief according to residents and security forces.