Civil Society Group Faults Credibility Of Edo Governorship Elections

Edo-Elections-ACEThe Alliance for Credible Elections, (ACE), a civil society organisation, has expressed its dissatisfaction with the conduct of the September 28 governorship election which took place in Edo state.

The group claimed that the election was far from being free, fair and credible.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Monday, the acting General Secretary of the organisation, Mrs Mma Odi, said that there was generally no secrecy in voting, as people voted in the full glare of party agents despite the presence of security agents.

Mrs Odi, while presenting the report of the observation of the election by the Alliance for Democracy, added that there was a form of subtle intimidation of voters aided by open sale of votes for cash.

The group also criticised the delay in the collation of votes which commenced late in the evening despite elections being concluded by 2:00 p.m. local time in most of the polling units across the state.

Smooth Elections

The concerns pointed out by the General Secretary of the group, however, contradict initial comments by several observers who stated that the polls went on smoothly.

INEC National Commissioner, Mrs Amina Zakari, had said that the electoral process went on as expected while INEC officials and security agents worked professionally to ensure it was hitch free.

Furthermore, a poll on the performance of INEC in the election initiated by Channels Television on Twitter had over 5,000 Twitter users participating.

Thirty per cent of the people rated INEC’S performance in the election as excellent while another 30 per cent said it was fair.

Twenty-six per cent rated it poor and another 14% were indifferent.

The election finally came to a close with INEC announcing Godwin Obaseki as the governor-elect of Edo state to take over from Governor Adams Oshiomhole who has ruled the state for nearly eight-year.

After the result was announced, however, aggrieved members of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) alleged inducement of voters and collaboration of INEC and the state government to doctor the results in favour of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The PDP has said it would go to Tribunal to challenge the outcome of the election, but the APC denied inducing voters and said the PDP was a bad loser.

Edo Governorship Election: Polls Going On Smoothly – INEC

INEC-on-Edo-governorship-electionThe Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says polls have been going on smoothly so far in the Edo State governorship election.

INEC National Commissioner, Mrs Amina Zakari, said the electoral process was going on as expected while the INEC officials and security agents were working professionally.

Mrs Zakari made the observation in an interview with Channels Television on Wednesday at one of the polling centres in Benin City, the state’s capital in south-south Nigeria.

“It (the electoral process) has gone based on our expectation.

“The ad-hoc staff are working professionally (and) the security agents are doing their work (while) the people of Edo State are actually doing what we expect of them.

“They are behaving adequately, they are lined up neatly and everything is going smoothly,” she said.

Card Readers Shorten Period Of Elections

The INEC official noted that the innovation where the electorates vote immediately after accreditation was yielding result compared to the old system.

She explained that as voting and accreditation take place simultaneously, more voters have been able to exercise their franchise, enabling the commission save time it spends to conduct elections.

“It allows more voters to come out (and) it reduces apathy because most elites did not like the old system but they can now come and vote peacefully and go back to their homes.

“It is something we should continue with the cooperation of all stakeholders, especially the voters and the card readers have actually shortened the period of elections,” she said.

Mrs Zakari further expressed pleasure with the usage of the card readers, saying it has also contributed greatly to the progress of the elections.

Although there were hitches with card readers at some polling points, she was happy that the technical support team deployed by INEC were able to manage the situation.

“Yes they (the card readers) are working, but you must expect some hitches here and there. We have deployed about 200 technical support.

“We have one technical support for each registration area (that is 192) and we have 36 senior technical support (two per local government).

“We’ve had hitches here and there and they are being replaced or repaired and we have continued voting”, she added.

Governorship Aspirants Sign Peace Accord In Bayelsa

Timipre-Sylva-and-Seriake-DicksonBarely one month to the governorship elections in Bayelsa State, aspirants from various political parties have converged to sign a peace accord, to ensure peaceful and credible elections.

The signing of the peace pact which was initiated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in collaboration with United Nations Development Program (UNDP), had heads of security agencies, traditional and religious leaders in attendance.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Baritor Kpagi, said that information available to INEC suggested that a number of cloned cards were in circulation in the state, and such cards would not be verified by the smart card reader.

The INEC National Commissioner representing the North West Zone, Mrs Amina Zakari, in her address, explained that election is a beautiful experience, especially when it is devoid of violence.

Also speaking, an official of UNDP, Mr Matthew Aloa, explained that signing of the peace accord connotes that INEC and the security agents would do everything humanly possible to ensure stakeholders’ confidence in the electoral process.

The Bayelsa State Commissioner of Police, Nasiru Oki, also advised aspirants to take the message of the peace accord back to their supporters.

The flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timipre Sylva, reiterated his commitment to abide by the term of agreement, as stipulated in the peace document.

The incumbent Governor, Seriake Dickson, also advocated for stringent punishment for electoral offenders.
The United States (US) on Tuesday had warned against any plan to foment violence before, during and after the Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections.

According to a statement by the United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria, the US urged Nigerians to refrain from any action capable of upsetting the peace of the nation or the two states involved in the exercise.

New INEC Chairman Pledges To Hold Credible Elections

Mahmood-Yakubu-InecThe new Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Nigeria, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has promised to consolidate on the gains of the commission by conducting credible elections.

Speaking in Abuja on Monday shortly after taking over the affairs of the commission from its Acting Chairman, Mrs Amina Zakari, Professor Yakubu assured Nigerians that the commission would be guided by the constitution and the Electoral Act in the conduct of all elections.

“Mr President, we pledge our commitment to the discharge of our responsibilities without fear or favour.

“Free, fair and credible election is at the heart of our nation’s progress and stability. We shall not fail the nation,” he said.

Also speaking at the handing over ceremony, the former Acting Chairman said the commission was already prepared for the conduct of the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.

During the swearing in of Professor Yakubu, President Buhari pledged to respect the independence of the electoral body and promised to give the commission all the support it may need.

The President said that a situation where people hide under technicalities to deny the citizens their rights was unacceptable. He called on state governments to make their electoral bodies work for the benefit of all.

President Buhari Set To Inaugurate New Federal Executive Council

Muhammadu-Buhari-Nigeria_presidentNigeria’s President,  Muhammadu Buhari, will officially inaugurate a new Federal Executive Council on Wednesday, November 11.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Femi Adesina confirmed this in a statement on Sunday.

He said the ministers-designate would  take their oaths of office in the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, before the commencement of the inaugural session of the council.

“The swearing-in ceremony would begin promptly at 10:00 hours and the ministers-designate are expected to be seated in the Council Chambers by 09:30 hours at the latest. Each minister-designate can only be accompanied to the swearing-in ceremony by a maximum of two guests”, Mr Adesina said.

The statement, however, added that President Buhari would on Monday at the Presidential Villa, preside over the swearing-in of Professor Mahmood Yakubu as Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and five others as National Commissioners of INEC.

The swearing-in of Professor Yakubu, Mrs Amina Zakari, Mr Solomon Adedeji Soyebi, Professor Antonia Okoosi-Simbine, Dr Muhammed Mustafa Lecky and Baba Arfo is scheduled for 11:00 hours in the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa.

INEC Ag. Chair Decries Prolonged Election Petition Tribunals

INEC Chairmanm, Amina ZakariThe Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Wednesday, spoke out on the effects of the prolonged election tribunals maintaining that it is constituting a big challenge to the progress of the commission.

Mrs Amina Zakari noted that some states are still grappling with issues in courts six months after elections, preventing them from properly settling down to governance.

The situation, according to the INEC boss, also takes a toll on staff and management of the electoral commission.

Mrs Zakari announced a 13-member committee set up to understudy the issues surrounding the tribunals which would perhaps, proffer solutions within two months.

INEC Lauds Contribution Of Security Agencies To 2015 Election Success

INECThe Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mrs Amina Zakari has lauded the contribution of security agencies in ensuring the success of the 2015 general elections.

She gave the commendation when 24 participants of the National Security Training Seminar of the Defence Intelligence College (DIC) paid a courtesy visit to the Commission’s headquarters on Tuesday, September 1.

Mrs Zakari explained that the Commission had set up a committee on security – Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES)- to strategise ways of achieving a successful poll during the 2015 general elections, maintaining that the contribution of this committee to deepening democracy cannot be overemphasized.

She, however, noted that a major threat to electoral security is the “lack of internal democracy among political parties in Nigeria”, decrying the numerous court cases that usually trail party primaries as a result of substitution of candidates, thereby “heating up the polity”.

She further identified “the deployment of money politics” as another challenge, explaining that the Commission had begun putting measures in place to effectively track campaign funding.

The Acting INEC Chairman also commended security agencies for their support in the drive for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) voting during the 2015 general elections.

Earlier, the Coordinator, National Security Training Seminar, Defence Intelligence College (DIC), Air Commodore Peter Charles Ekeh (Rtd) accompanied by 19 participants and 5 staff of DIC explained that their visit was to expand their knowledge and also for innovative planning in achieving National Security.

“We have come to learn about how INEC operates and to draw from your wealth of experience from the past elections”, he said.

‘All Is Not Well With Nigeria’s Democracy’, PDP Claims

PDP-apcNigeria’s major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged that all is not well with Nigeria’s democratic system, following the appointment of the Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mrs Amina Zakari.

The PDP maintained that the appointment of a new Chairman of the commission had enervated the commission from carrying out its functions as stipulated in part 1 of 3rd schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended, putting the electoral system under severe threat.

A statement released by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, says that the intolerance of the APC and the glaring insensitivity of the present government, in spite of the outcries of well-meaning Nigerians against undemocratic leanings, raise fears about the country’s democracy.

The statement reads: “The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), after a thorough review of the political developments in the country since the All Progressives Congress (APC) took office at the center, alerts all Nigerians and the international community that all is not well with the nation’s democracy”.

The party further said this fear was derived from the facts of some conscious actions and inactions of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government that undermined critical institutions of democracy, emasculate the constitution and ostensibly set the stage for a return of dictatorial regime in Nigeria.

Mr Metuh said despite claims of being a converted democrat, President Buhari had allowed, under his watch, an incessant violation of sections of the nation’s constitution, a development that has become a huge threat to democracy and the stability of the nation.

“For instance, how can this government explain the fact that a major institution of democracy like the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been deliberately debilitated to the extent that it can no longer perform its statutory responsibility for lack of quorum?

“Nigerians are aware that before his tenure expired on June 30th, the former INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega wrote to President Buhari, intimating him of the fact that the tenure of majority of the national commissioners will expire before August, yet the President never acted, resulting in the present crisis in the commission, where more than 80% out of the statutory 13 members remain vacant, even as eleven states of the federation are also without Resident Electoral Commissioners,” the statement read.

The PDP said: “We note that this anomaly is in addition to the uncertainty surrounding the controversial appointment of an Acting Chairman of INEC in the person of a national commissioner whose tenure has since expired, not minding that there is no provision for an acting chairman of INEC in our constitution.

“This development has completely enervated the commission from carrying out its functions as stipulated in part 1 of 3rd schedule of the 1999 constitution as amended, thereby putting our electoral system under severe threat.

“We ask, if not for a possibility of an ulterior motive to inject a constitutional crisis and undermine the nation’s democracy, why should President Buhari wait to be urged before he upholds his responsibility of forwarding replacements to the Senate for confirmation so as to enable the commission effectively carry out its constitutional responsibilities to the nation?

“Could this be a ploy by the APC-led government to use a decapitated INEC to conduct the forthcoming governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa to pave way for their planned ‘capture’ of the two PDP states?

“Is the weakening of INEC not part of the plot to use the commission to put the PDP in precarious position in various electoral tribunals to the advantage of the APC?

“Furthermore, Nigerians are witness to the undue interferences of the Department of State Services (DSS) in the activities of election tribunals in Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and other PDP states, where electoral officers are being harassed, intimidated and detained, ostensibly to influence judgments against the PDP.

“Akin to these are reported cases of abuse of security agencies by the APC-led government. Of particular note is the July reprehensible sealing of Rivers state local councils by the Police, who also barred members of caretaker committees that were duly appointed by the state government to take charge of the councils following the pronouncement of the court.

“Also, of grave concern is the adamant stance of this administration in running a government without the statutory components of a full cabinet as prescribed by the constitution, even when the negative consequences of this strange and totalitarian tendency are taking serious toll on the economy and the polity in general.

“The intolerance of the APC and the glaring insensitivity of this government, in spite of the outcries of well-meaning Nigerians against their undemocratic leanings, raise fears about the future of our democracy and the general health of our dear nation.

“For example, how can we begin to explain the venom and disparagement with which the APC has been attacking our highly revered national leaders in the National Peace Committee, which has as members, former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, respected clerics; Archbishop John Onaiyekan and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kuka, retired justices of superior records as well as others highly respected patriotic Nigerians, for daring to counsel Buhari’s government on some observed undemocratic tendencies and processes.

“The crass attacks are more astonishing, considering the much appreciated role these great Nigerians played in ensuring a peaceful and violence free 2015 general elections.

“This is especially as we have no reason to believe that such weighty attacks from the President’s party can come without his approval, more so as the APC spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who authored the statements was not part of the meeting between the President and the Peace Committee.

“The PDP and indeed all discerning Nigerians are therefore left with no other option than to conclude that there is a clear agenda to undermine critical institutions of democracy, intimidate Nigerians and pave way for dictatorship in the land.

“In view of the developments, the PDP, as a party that nurtured and sustained democracy in Nigeria for 16 years, beckons on all lovers of democracy within and outside the country, to rise up to the occasion and impress it on President Buhari and his APC to imbibe, in its totality, the tenets of democracy and the rule of law in the general interest of our dear nation.

“In raising this alarm about disturbing national issues, we however wish to reiterate our earlier position that the PDP, as a responsible and patriotic political party, is not in any way averse to the fight against corruption, as long as it is carried out within the ambits of the due process of the law.

“Our nation is a state built on the principles of freedom and social justice; the essentials of democracy, where ‘sovereignty belongs to the people, from whom government, through the constitution derives all its powers and authority’ for the good of all, irrespective of creed, class, political, ethnic or gender considerations; tenets that must be protected and upheld at all times.

“Finally, we call on some well-meaning Nigerians who have found themselves in the APC, especially, those who at one time or the other, were pupils of the teachings and visions of the founding fathers of the PDP, to rise above the shallowness of their temporary enclave and join in this major defence of democratic ethos”.

INEC Cautions Electoral Commissioners Ahead Of Elections

inecThe Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mrs Amina Zakari, has asked all Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) to work cautiously, not minding the challenges the commission is experiencing at the election petition tribunals.

The INEC boss made this call at a second meeting with RECs, to consolidate on the gains of the 2015 general elections and to develop strategies for future elections.

She noted that in spite of the various cases at the tribunals, INEC would take the security of its materials very seriously ahead of the upcoming Kogi and Bayelsa elections in November and December.

She added that all electoral commissioners, directors and staff must strive to uphold the integrity of the commission.

Mrs Amina Zakari was appointed as the Chairman of INEC, following former Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega’s conclusion of term of office.

Professor Attahiru Jega’s tenure as the Chairman of INEC came to an end on Tuesday, June 30.

PDP Seeks Review Of INEC And DSS Heads’ Appointments

pdpThe Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called for the review of the appointments of the acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) Mrs Amina Zakari, and that of the Director General of the Department of State Services, Mr Lawal Daura.

The acting National Chairman of the PDP, Mr Uche Secondus, told Journalists at a press conference on Wednesday that the party was uncomfortable with the treatment of its members in the hands of the DSS in Rivers and Akwa Ibom States where elections results are being contested in the tribunals.

Aside from the DSS boss, the PDP also insist that the appointment of Mrs Amina Zakari as the acting Chairman of INEC should be reviewed by the Nigerian President, Muhamadu Buhari, ahead of the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States.

Meanwhile, the electoral commission has assured Nigerians that the scheduled governorship elections holding in Kogi and Bayelsa states would be free and fair.