The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the people of Kogi and Bayelsa state to remain at alert, resist all undemocratic brigand elements and take all legitimate steps to protect their votes to the very end.
In a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, the party also charged INEC and security forces to ensure that nothing happens to the ballots at every level and that results reflect only the will of the people as expressed at the polling units.
The PDP cautioned that the people already know how they voted and already know the outcome of the polls at their respective polling units, and as such, they will never accept any alternation of results at the collation level.
The party also called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and the military high command to be patriotic by taking measures to assist and protect the people, in their quest to protect their votes.
The PDP charged security forces to check the agents of the ruling party in Kogi State, who the PDP claims are moving around collation centers with armed hoodlums to compromise security personnel, shooting and disrupting collation processes in their desperation to subvert the aspiration of the people.
“The IGP should, therefore, beef up security at the collation centers to ensure that only legitimate votes count. This is because any result that does not reflect the will of the people will surely not be accepted,” the PDP stated.
Tanzania’s opposition party says it will boycott local elections later this month, accusing the government of impeding its candidates from running and making a mockery of democratic processes.
Chadema, the main opposition outfit that has faced increasing hostility under President John Magufuli, made the announcement late Thursday following an extraordinary meeting of its leadership.
“Our party believes it is wiser not to support such electoral cheating. To continue to participate in elections of this kind is to legitimise illegality,” said Chadema president Freeman Mbowe.
Selemani Jafo, the minister for local government, expressed surprise at the decision, adding there would be remedies for candidates who felt they had been wronged.
But Chadema accused electoral authorities of being complicit in scuttling their campaign efforts.
Mbowe said several Chadema candidates had been outright disqualified by electoral officials from running in the nationwide November 24 polls to choose local government leaders.
Others had found registration offices closed when they tried to apply or discovered their applications had been tampered with, he added.
Rights groups say the intimidation of political opponents has escalated sharply under Magufuli, a strongman elected in 2015 whose administration has wielded wide-ranging laws to silence government critics.
Police have broken up opposition gatherings and shut down Chadema meetings, the party says.
Their activists have been kidnapped and beaten, and at least one has blamed authorities for an attack in 2017 which saw him shot multiple times.
Several have disappeared and turned up murdered.
“Magufuli and his party are afraid. We are not going to participate in this charade,” Mbowe said of the upcoming elections.
The victors in the local polls form the political backbone for campaigning ahead of general elections slated for 2020.
Magufuli, whose nickname “tingatinga” means “bulldozer” in Swahili, is expected to run for another five-year term.
His rule has been marked by a democratic backslide in Tanzania, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said in a report last month.
Free media has been cowed by draconian cybercrime laws, critical newspapers and bloggers have been silenced, and opposition activists harassed unlawfully, the report stated.
There is a heavy presence of security personnel at the Niger State Judiciary Complex Minna where the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal is expected to deliver judgment.
The verdict follows a suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate Umar Nasko challenging the victory of Governor Abubakar Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the recently held governorship election.
Israel voted in its second election in five months Tuesday that will decide whether to extend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s term as the country’s longest-serving prime minister despite corruption allegations against him.
The stakes could not be much higher for the 69-year-old right-wing leader who, as in April polls, faces a strong challenge from ex-military chief Benny Gantz and his centrist Blue and White alliance.
Netanyahu voted in Jerusalem alongside his wife Sara and said he expected a close election, urging Israelis to turn out in large numbers.
“President (Donald) Trump said yesterday that the elections will be tight,” Netanyahu said in reference to Monday’s comments calling the polls “50/50” by the US leader, who has been a strong supporter of the premier.
“I can guarantee you this morning that they are very tight.”
Gantz voted in his hometown of Rosh Haayin near Tel Aviv and called on the country to reject corruption and “extremism”.
“We want new hope. We are voting today for change,” Gantz said after voting with his wife Revital.
“We will succeed in bringing hope. We will succeed in bringing change, without corruption and without extremism, all together.”
Polls opened at 7:00 am (0400 GMT) and were due to close in most areas at 10:00 pm.
Some 6.4 million people are eligible to vote.
The first exit surveys will be released just after polls close, while official results are not expected until Wednesday.
There were early signs that concerns over election fatigue may not materialise.
Turnout by 10:00 am was 15 percent, the highest by that time since 1984, according to the election committee.
Opinion polls have indicated another tight race, showing Netanyahu’s Likud and the Blue and White winning around 32 seats each in the 120-seat parliament.
Ex-defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu’s former right-hand man turned rival, could play a kingmaker role with his campaign to “make Israel normal again.”
Netanyahu suffered one of the biggest defeats of his political career following the April vote.
His Likud along with its right-wing and religious allies won a majority, leading President Reuven Rivlin to task the premier with forming a new government.
But following weeks of discussions, Netanyahu failed, leading him to opt for an unprecedented second election rather than risk having Rivlin choose someone else.
The danger for Netanyahu extends beyond remaining prime minister, a post he has held for a total of more than 13 years.
If he wins, many believe he will seek to have parliament grant him immunity from prosecution, as he faces the possibility of a corruption indictment in the weeks ahead.
Recognising the stakes, Netanyahu spent the final days of the campaign seeking to appeal to right-wing nationalists — key to his re-election bid — and to boost turnout among his base.
Those efforts have included a controversial pledge to annex the Jordan Valley, which makes up a third of the occupied West Bank.
He has issued unfounded warnings that the vote could be stolen by fraud in Arab communities, leading critics to accuse him of racism.
But Netanyahu has also highlighted the country’s growing economy and his relationships with world leaders such as Trump.
He has tried to label his main opponents “weak” and “leftist” despite their security credentials.
Gantz has campaigned by presenting himself as an honourable alternative.
He has repeatedly spoken of Netanyahu’s willingness to form a coalition with far-right parties that could help him secure immunity.
Gantz says his alliance, which includes three former armed forces chiefs of staff, wants a unity government that the vast majority of Israelis would support.
Opinion polls show the campaign by Lieberman’s nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party has resonated with voters.
His “make Israel normal again” slogan refers to what the staunch secularist says is the undue influence of ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties on the country’s politics.
He accuses them of seeking to impose Jewish religious law on Israel’s secular population and wants legislation ending the exemption of the ultra-Orthodox from mandatory military service.
Lieberman prevented Netanyahu from forming a coalition after April polls by refusing to relent on his demand that the ultra-Orthodox be required to serve in the military like other Jewish Israelis.
It is not clear he will endorse Netanyahu as prime minister again, which could be enough for Rivlin to allow Gantz to try to form a government.
Israel’s newly reunified Arab parties could also prove decisive with a performance similar to 2015 elections, when they became the third-largest force in parliament.
If so, they could block Netanyahu from continuing as prime minister by recommending Gantz.
The Director of Publicity for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, says the nation’s laws do not create room for the electronic transmission of electoral results.
Osaze-Uzzi, who stated this during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday, however explained that the result can be uploaded theoretically.
The INEC spokesman explained that even if the country begins using electronic mode of voting and releasing of results, those who want to undermine the process will still do it.
“Theoretically, in our elections, you can transmit the results electronically. But the law in Nigeria does not allow for that.
“If Nigerians want that to happen, then you can do that. But that does not mean it will not be susceptible to manipulation by people who are interested in manipulating the process,” he said.
According to the national commissioner, the crucial part of the electioneering process is the actual voting and the direction of result at the polling unit.
Explaining further, he said: “That is the building for the very foundation. If that is not right, others are not right. Even if INEC gets the collation wrong which it should not, there is a process by which, for example it is challenged, it goes back to the commission.”
His remarks come two months to the commencement of the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
The electoral body has promised to improve on the successes recorded in the recently concluded general elections in the November exercise in the two states.
Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido warned President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday that any attempts to bring forward parliamentary elections would end in “disaster” for the government.
Elections to renew the National Assembly, the only branch of government under opposition control, are set for December 2020.
But the Constituent Assembly, a rival body created by the Maduro regime and given extraordinary powers superseding the National Assembly, has hinted at the possibility of ordering early elections.
Such a maneuver could threaten the opposition’s hold on the National Assembly and with it Guaido’s claim as head of the legislature to be the country’s legitimate president.
But Guaido insisted it would backfire, further isolating Maduro, who has so far withstood opposition challenges to his presidency with the support of the military.
“What would happen if the regime dared to — and it could — bring forward an irregular convocation for elections without any conditions?” said Guaido.
“They will drown in contradictions, in isolation — they will drown in disaster.”
Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, the most powerful regime figure after Maduro, admitted on Monday the move was a “counter-attack” after the United States increased its sanctions on the government.
Venezuela has been locked in a political crisis since the legislature branded Maduro a “usurper” in January over his controversial re-election last year in a poll widely denounced as rigged.
As the head of the National Assembly, Guaido demanded Maduro step down and declared himself acting president in a move recognized by more than 50 countries.
The government and the opposition have engaged in Norwegian-mediated talks but those negotiations appear blocked over the opposition’s demand that Maduro step down so new elections can be held.
In the meantime, the regime has stepped up pressure on opposition legislators by stripping 25 of them of their parliamentary immunity over their alleged support for a failed April uprising instigated by Guaido.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini’s spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said these moves were “another direct attack on the only democratically elected body in Venezuela.”
US President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton urged the “international community to hold the tyrant Maduro accountable.”
Togo on Sunday held its first local elections in 32 years, during which a single family has ruled the West African nation, with most opposition parties taking part after boycotting 2018 parliamentary polls.
The elections “mark a major advance in the establishment of democracy” in Togo, President Faure Gnassingbe said in a Facebook post.
Gnassingbe has been in power for nearly 15 years since succeeding his father Eyadema Gnassingbe, who ruled the country with an iron fist for 38 years.
He voted in his hometown of Pya, some 420 kilometres (260 miles) north of the capital Lome.
Turnout was low in Lome with the polling stations visited by AFP reporters showing an average abstention of 75 per cent.
“Participation is weak in Lome, because some young people in the opposition did not come out, they don’t know who to vote for, the leaders being divided,” said Evariste Gangigla, electoral commission representative at a Lome polling station.
Counting of the ballots began Sunday evening, sometimes without electricity, just by the light of a mobile phone, an AFP correspondent reported.
No date has yet been given for announcing the results.
‘A great step forward’
Voting took place without any major incidents reported, AFP correspondents said.
Casting his ballot, Atutu Lawson said he looked forward to “lots of changes in the neighbourhood,” noting it had no market and that many homes did not have indoor toilets.
Another voter, Issouf Moudji, told AFP: “Our country is taking a great step forward. Now we will have representatives in our neighbourhood whom we can discuss our needs with.”
The previous councillors elected in local elections in Togo governed for 14 years from 1987 — despite being elected to five-year terms.
Councillors were later replaced with “special delegations”, tasked with organising new elections, whose positions were often filled with figures handpicked by the government.
The country’s 3.4 million eligible voters were called to elect 1,527 municipal councillors to six-year terms, renewable twice, in 117 towns.
With the notable exception of the National Panafrican Party (PNP), which organised mass protests in April to call for a limit on presidential terms, all the main opposition parties fielded candidates in Sunday’s elections.
The PNP, whose leader Tikpi Atchadam lives in exile, is demanding the release of three activists who have been held since the April protests.
He was part of a coalition formed in mid-2017 that staged demonstrations in several cities seeking constitutional reforms and Gnassingbe’s resignation.
The movement has lost steam, and several opposition parties opted to field candidates in the local elections after boycotting legislative polls in December 2018 — leaving them without representation in parliament.
Now they hope to gain a presence at the municipal level.
The National Alliance for Change, a longstanding opposition party, criticised what it called the “muddled” organisation of Sunday’s vote.
Its spokesman Eric Dupuy alleged ballot-stuffing at a polling station in the Lome suburb of Baguida, adding local residents torched the fraudulent voting papers.
A joint statement released by the United States, European Union, France and Germany last Friday described the vote as an “important step in strengthening local democracy”.
It urged the government and political parties “to make every effort to collectively promote the holding of a free, peaceful and transparent election”.
Some 8,000 police and security forces voted on Friday so that they could be deployed for Sunday’s polling in the former French colony.
Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed an “inclusive” future for all Indians on Thursday after a landslide election victory that crushed the Gandhi dynasty’s comeback hopes once again.
“Together we grow. Together we prosper. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India. India wins yet again!,” Modi tweeted as delirious supporters of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrated nationwide.
“The faith placed in our alliance is humbling and gives us the strength to work even harder to fulfil people’s aspirations,” he said before arriving at BJP headquarters flashing victory signs with both hands and being showered in petals.
Although final results were yet to be published, a rolling vote count by the election commission showed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) increased its majority with 302 out of 543 elected lower house seats.
The BJP’s main rivals Congress were on just 51 seats, with Rahul Gandhi — the great-grandson, grandson and son of three premiers — conceding defeat and congratulating Modi.
In an added personal humiliation Gandhi, 48, also admitted he had lost Amethi, a seat long held by his famous family, to a former television star running for the BJP.
The BJP’s headquarters in Delhi erupted in celebration with drummers, firecrackers, dancing and singing as hundreds of party faithful thronged the yard and nearby streets waiting for Modi.
“Modi will make India great again. Modi is the strongest prime minister India has ever had and will get. We need to support his policies to prosper,” said one supporter, Santosh Joshi.
At Congress headquarters, a handful of dejected supporters sat in groups under the shade of trees.
“We are sad but we will rise again. Modi won because of his lies and false promises. The country is in danger now,” Rajesh Tiwari, a Congress supporter, told AFP.
India’s main Sensex index breached the 40,000-point level for the first time as the count pointed to a Modi win, following strong gains since Monday.
The vast size of India — stretching from the Himalayas to the tropics, taking in polluted megacities, deserts and jungles — made the world’s biggest election a marathon six-week endeavour.
The campaign, estimated to have cost more than $7 billion, was awash with insults — Modi was likened to Hitler and a “gutter insect” — as well as fake news in Facebook and WhatsApp’s biggest markets.
Gandhi tried several lines of attack against Modi, in particular over a French defence deal and high unemployment and saying Modi was dividing the officially secular country.
Lynchings of Muslims and low-caste Dalits for eating beef and slaughtering and trading in cattle have risen, with critics saying extremists have been emboldened by the BJP coming to power.
Several cities with names rooted in India’s Islamic Mughal past have been renamed, while some school textbooks have been changed to include references to Hindu right-wing ideology, culture and history.
But Modi, 68, managed to deftly turn the election into a referendum on his rule while depicting himself, often in the third person, as the only one able to defend India.
In this he was given a major boost when a suicide bombing, claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group, killed 40 Indian paratroopers in Indian-administered Kashmir on February 14.
Doubts abound about the efficacy of India’s subsequent air strikes on Pakistan, but the action enabled Modi to style himself the “chowkidar” (“watchman”).
“We have shown the world that India is a great country. We have shown Pakistan that they cannot mess with us,” said Vishal Sharma, a BJP supporter in Delhi.
“Congress sold the country for all these decades. Now is the time to rebuild the nation.”
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday congratulated Modi and said he looked forward to working for “peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia”.
His message came just hours after Pakistan’s military said it tested a surface-to-surface ballistic missile capable of carrying conventional and nuclear warheads — a day after an Indian missile test.
But while Pakistanis consider Modi a hardliner, analysts say his victory could improve relations between the arch foes.
“The expectation in Pakistan is that there will be an incremental improvement in Pakistan-India relations as Modi’s attitude would be more relaxed,” retired Pakistani general Talat Masood told AFP.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has explained why it postponed the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.
According to the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Commission considered the pleas from the Bayelsa State government.
Appearing on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Thursday, Oyekanmi said the state’s Deputy Governor, John Jonah said the initial date for the election, November 4 coincided with the State’s Annual Thanksgiving Day which is backed by the Bayelsa State Thanksgiving Day Law 2012.
“Recall that on April 9, the Commission released a timetable and the schedule of activities for the Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections for the elections to hold on November 2.
“But after we released that time table, we received an appeal from the Bayelsa State government first from Governor Dickson. Then we got another letter from the Speaker of Bayelsa State House of Assembly.
“Then we got appeals from the religious leaders and traditional rulers drawing the Commission’s attention to the fact that November 2 coincides with the Bayelsa State Thanksgiving Day with is backed by the law enacted by the State House of Assembly since 2012,” he stated.
When asked if Kogi State has been communicated of the new date for the election, the INEC official replied saying: “We did not inform Kogi about the date but of course with the fixing of the date, they will know and will be communicated to.”
On plans made by the electoral body in conducting the forthcoming elections in the two states, Oyekanmi explained the template used in the recently held general elections will be repeated.
He, however, explained that the Commission has learned from its previous mistakes, vowing that it will avoid a repeat of such.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has postponed the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.
In a statement on Thursday by INEC’s Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, the Commission explained that the decision followed several appeals by critical stakeholders in Bayelsa State.
Okoye recalled that the electoral body had on April 9 slated November 2 for elections to hold in both states.
“The Commission has released several appeals from the Government, State Assembly, elders, religious leaders, traditional rulers and other critical stakeholders in Bayelsa State that the election date coincides with the State’s Annual Thanksgiving Day which is backed by the Bayelsa State Thanksgiving Day Law 2012.
“After careful consideration of the appeals, the Commission at its regular weekly meeting held today May 16 decided to shift the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States to Saturday, November 16, 2019,” he stated.
The election will be conducted in the two states following the expiration of Kogi, Bayelsa governors on January 26 and February 13 respectively.
However, INEC noted that Section 178 (2) of the 1999 Constitution and Section 25 (8) of the 2010 Electoral Amendment Act empowered it to hold “election into the Office of a State Governor not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder.”
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has blamed the violence in Zamfara and other states in the north-west on aggrieved politicians who lost out in the recently conducted elections.
Buratai stated this on Wednesday when the House of Representatives Committee on the Army visited the Headquarters of the Theatre Command Operation Lafiya in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
“I want to believe and rightly so that what is going on in the northwest is a fall out of the just concluded general elections.
“There are several political interests; politicians in particular who lost in the election and because of their defeat, therefore they are trying to take revenge sponsoring some of those banditry activities and seeming conflicts between farmers and herders,” he stated.
The Army chief explained that strong evidence indicates that the attacks, including the kidnappings going on in the northwest, have political undertones.
According to him, the House Committee’s visit is an opportunity to call on the members to prevail on some of these politicians to look at national interest first before any other political or sectional interest.
“We have some strong evidence, but we are still being conscious, but the best thing is to advise these politicians who are aggrieved for no just cause and are inflicting serious injury and discomfort to individuals and the country,” he said.
Buratai’s claim comes nine days after the Nigerian Army banned the use of motorcycles in the north-western states of the country, due to the increased rate of kidnapping and banditry.
While announcing the ban in a statement, the Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, said the affected states are Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kaduna, Sokoto, Zamfara and Niger.
The Army explained that “armed bandits, criminals and kidnappers hibernate and all around where troops are conducting operations alongside other security agencies.”
The development follows ongoing military operations in the affected states code-named Exercise Harbin Kunama aimed at combating security challenges in the area.
The Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Sunday Ogbuoji, says politicking by politicians in preparation for the general elections was responsible for the delay in the passage of the 2019 budget.
He stated this on Tuesday while appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today, a few hours after the Senate passed the budget.
“You will recall also that the date for the passage of this budget is slightly delayed because of in-between from the time the budget was submitted, we have been busy as politicians politicking, most people running for offices hoping to come back to the Senate and other offices.
“So that might account for the delay in releasing the budget. All the same, I think we did a job that we can boldly say should approximate to what the Executive brought to the National Assembly,” he stated.