Rivers Re-run: Govs of Bauchi, Benue, Kanu, Plateau Donated N1b Each For Rigging– Wike

Rivers state Governor, Nyesom Wike has accused the Governors of Bauchi, Benue, Kano and Plateau states of donating one billion naira (N1b) each to the All Progressive Congress, APC, party candidates in the state for the rigging of the re-run election held on 10th December, 2016.

The election which saw the killing of over five persons including a police DSP was riddled with brazen rigging and violence.

Wike gave the allegation during a state broadcast after the election.

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Police dares Wike to prove rigging allegation by releasing video

The Rivers State Police Command has challenged the state governor, Nyesom Wike to prove his latest allegation about plots to rig the forthcoming rerun legislative elections in parts of the state by making public the purported video.

Wike had during his outing at Abonnema in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area claimed that the state government was in possession of audio-visual footage of alleged plot to rig the rerun.

He also accused the Commissioner of Police, Francis Odesanya of involvement in the alleged plot with officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

But the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, in the state, Nnamdi Omoni challenged the Rivers State Government to release the video.

Omoni said, “We are not aware of it. It is a mere allegation which is not verifiable. We insist that his allegation is never correct. Such thing never happened.

“If the Governor claims he has a video footage, a video recording or audio recording let him bring it out and make it public so everybody will see.

“As it stands what he said is still speculative and it does not offer any futuristic defence.”

Meanwhile, All Progressives Congress, APC, in Rivers State has alleged that Wike is getting out of hand in his sundry allegations in the buildup to the rerun elections on December 10.

The Rivers APC stated that with less than two weeks to the legislative rerun, the Governor appears to have thrown caution to the wind as he launches a campaign of blackmail on everyone especially the APC, INEC and the Nigeria Police.

State Publicity Secretary of APC, Chris Finebone noted, in a statement, that Wike was putting up what he described as “a pitiable image of a disarmed dictator.”

In a counter allegation, the APC spokesman said Governor Wike has never embarked on any election without buying over the police and the rest of the security agencies.

The statement reads, “Governor Wike has also not engaged in any election without taking firm control of the election umpire and the judiciary.

“As the rerun elections approach, it appears to be dawning on the Governor that times have changed, as the security agencies are way beyond his influence.

“Despite still having pockets of moles in the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Rivers State Governor has lost the services of the top echelon of the commission due to the anti-corruption stance of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.”

PDP: From inconclusiveness, INEC has graduated to ‘advanced election rigging’

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the outcome of Saturday’s Ondo governorship election, describing it as a case of “advanced election rigging”.

In a statement issued by Dayo Adeyeye, its spokesman, on Monday, PDP accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of colluding with the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the rig the election in favour of Rotimi Akeredolu.

“The outcome of the November 26, 2016 gubernatorial election in Ondo state, as declared by Professor Abdul-Ganiyu Ambali, the chief returning officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is a charade and not the true reflection of the will of the people of Ondo state,” the party said.

“INEC has however graduated from inconclusive elections as seen in Kogi, Bayelsa, Osun, FCT, Imo, Nassarawa and some other previous by-elections in the country to ‘advanced election rigging’, as in the case of Edo and Ondo states gubernatorial elections.”

It accused the APC of taking advantage of the poverty of Ondo people by giving them money for votes.

“It is common knowledge that the APC agents openly bought votes of the electorates in the full glare of security operatives who did nothing to prevent such dastardly violation of the Electoral Law. It is not surprising that the electorate in Ondo state became so vulnerable to the corrupt influence of the APC because of the harsh economic situation in the country inflicted on Nigerians by the APC administration which has indeed made all Nigerians virtually beggars in their own country,” the PDP said.

“Nigerians will recall that we had persistently called for the postponement of the election before Saturday, for at least two weeks to enable our party campaign and prepare properly for this election as a result of the setback orchestrated by Justice Okon Abang and the charlatans in PDP who allowed themselves to be used by the APC to destroy our chances in the Ondo state election.

“The actions of INEC in collaboration with the APC led administration left us no time to campaign and sell our candidate and party manifesto to the electorates in Ondo state. Our persistent call for the postponement of the election which was backed and supported by more than 20 other political parties were all rejected by INEC which were  acting the script of the APC.

“It was a carefully planned and well orchestrated strategy to rig the election well in advance by preventing the PDP from planning and campaigning for the election. The APC has hereby introduced a new formula of rigging election in Nigeria.”

The PDP added that it had directed Eyitayo Jegede, its candidate in the election, to proceed to the election petition tribunal to challenge the outcome of the exercise.

“In view of the fact that the election was blatantly manipulated from the beginning to the end to favour the APC, we vehemently reject the results of the November 26, 2016 gubernatorial election in Ondo state.

:The election and all actions leading to it fall short of laid down principles guiding conduct of elections in Nigeria. We have instructed our candidate and the Ondo state chapter of our party to proceed to the tribunal to challenge the outcome of the election.”

While calling on the judiciary to redeem Nigeria’s image on this matter, the party requested a total cancellation of the exercise.

Amir Abdulazeez: Before Everybody Becomes an Election Rigger

It takes one of the most morally bankrupt consciences to rig an election, but it takes even a more morally bankrupt one to legitimize and affirm it. One wonders where the aggrieved person in an election can find justice if he can’t find it in the tribunals. Before and after elections, multiple alarms of foul play are being raised in different quarters and during the course of the elections, many candidates usually complain of rigging, violence, manipulation and oppression, but all INEC could do was to tell them to head to court if they were not satisfied. Does this means INEC itself is satisfied with all elections it presides, no matter how dirty and those dissatisfied should go to court? Is it even a matter of satisfaction or dissatisfaction? With this development, it is therefore the duty of the election tribunals to rescue the people from being governed through illegal mandates in various capacities-a duty which they have so far failed to adequately perform. The Electoral Act itself has badly incapacitated the electoral process to checkmate rigging and punish riggers.any Nigerians were not angry with the reportedly massive irregularities that characterized and dominated the 2003 and 2007 General Elections as much as they were with the verdicts from the various election petition tribunals across the country, notably those judgements from the Supreme Court which affirmed the ‘elections’ of Obasanjo in 2003 and that of ‘Yaradua in 2007. Some researchers I recently discussed with have expressed the fears and reluctance of conducting studies using alleged ‘inflated’ figures from various Nigerian General Elections which unfortunately have already made their way into our National Archives. If you think their fears are unfounded, how on earth can you explain election figures showing almost 100% or more voters’ turnout in certain places or one giving the impression that even dead people voted? How can you swallow the (il)logic of a people continuously and overwhelmingly ‘voting’ for a particular party in certain states in 5 straight elections despite the clear visibility of bad governance everywhere in such states? These are some of the things that many of our courts are directly and indirectly endorsing as correct.

The elections petitions tribunals in 2011 did not fare any significantly better than those of 2003 and 2007. Over the past few weeks, outcomes of various 2015 election tribunals have left many people baffled and dejected. Some of the outcomes are simply bizarre to say the least, even though not all were completely unexpected.

It has gradually become very clear that once you were not declared winner after the polls, you stand virtually no chance of reclaiming your mandate in the courts. First, the tribunals give much emphasis on flimsy technicalities and often dismiss several petitions on such grounds. Secondly, they often summarize all arguments and evidences brought before them as having failed to prove the case ‘beyond reasonable doubt’- an ambiguous phrase now so popularly and notoriously used to dismiss many competent cases.

There are so many problems bedevilling the quest for electoral justice in Nigeria. The first starts with the constitution of the tribunals themselves. Quite often judges and tribunal members are hurriedly constituted from entirely different areas from where the elections took place, leaving them with virtually zero knowledge on what happened in the area or how the area is. Although, every tribunal is expected to only rely on arguments presented before it and not otherwise, we cannot say that knowledge of an area will not help a judge to make better informed decisions on so many things. The time frame for settling electoral cases and the unnecessary delays and adjournments of proceedings within such time frames is also another critical problem. The ‘winners’ are allowed to be sworn in and properly settle in power while petitioners are left to wander and wallow in search of justice. Winners, after being sworn in may use state resources to not only diligently prosecute their defence in the tribunals through competent and experienced lawyers, but also to scuttle any efforts for justice to be done against them. This is apart from the likelihood of using same resources to adequately prepare and gain upper hands in case of a re-run. These are luxuries which the petitioner does not only lack, but also struggles to maintain his tempo after the elections and sustain his zeal enough to prosecute his case. He finds things very difficult and in some cases he has to even pay his witnesses in addition to other things.

Secondly, the tribunals are themselves inadequate. Two tribunals are set up per state; one for the governorship and the other for the national and state assembly elections with very few-often an average of one per geo-political zone- Appeal Courts serving the entire country. The national and state assembly elections are packed with several cases which are expected to be settled within limited time. As such, the tribunals hardly give enough attention to each case. Elections are not perfect, that is why we have election tribunals and their duty is to ensure speedy justice. Justice must not be delayed because it is totally unfair and unacceptable for someone to continue sitting on an illegal or stolen mandate for long just because the tribunals are dragging the case for whatever reason.

Thirdly, INEC is not playing the role of a truly unbiased electoral umpire in the hearings of election petitions. In the cases, INEC’s objectives should not be about defending its actions no matter how wrong during the elections, it should be about defending the truth; it doesn’t matter whether the truth was discovered after the polls. INEC Staff are humans; the commission can’t defend their indefensible actions during the elections just because they are joined as respondents in a petition. They should admit their mistakes, take responsibility for their actions, give explanations for them, expose and punish their officers involved and provide the true facts with which the work of the tribunals would be simplified rather than complicating proceedings.

The fourth is the cost of justice in Nigeria. Prosecuting an average case in a Nigerian court needs huge financial resources and time. Many a time, you can’t get justice when you don’t have good lawyers who are hired at exorbitant costs. In election petitions, one may also need the services of forensic experts, data analysts, huge logistic arrangements and other expenses. This often costs a petitioner with a good case but without money his victory in courts.

The fifth but also the most crucial is corruption. The entire Nigerian justice system comprising the police, judiciary and other bodies are perceived by many to be corrupt. Indeed the elections tribunals are seen as some of the worst. There were reports of allegations in 2003, 2007 and even 2011 that judges jostle and lobby to be appointed to preside over election tribunals because of the lucrative prospects involved. Power-monger politicians would stop at nothing to influence and manipulate the election tribunals and to comprise their officials in order to stay in power.

Currently, most of the rulings coming out of the 2015 elections petitions tribunal are not showing a significantly different pattern from the dismal ones of the past, even though there are some signs of little improvement. Many of the judgments are seemingly unjust and hard to comprehend with. The level of success of the Appeal Courts in correcting these anomalies would determine the future confidence level of people in the judicial-electoral process. All eyes would now be on the Appeal Courts who are expected to thoroughly review most of these cases.

If the Appeal Courts fail to salvage the situation and things continue like this, it will reach a level where everyone would think of rigging his way into power since there is every chance that his victory would not be overturned by the tribunal and even if it does, he has every advantage of winning the re-run, except of course if the tribunal chose the rare case of declaring the petitioner as the outright winner. After the 2007 and 2011 elections, the tribunal nullified the governorship elections of Kogi, Bayelsa, Cross-Rivers, Kebbi, Adamawa, and Sokoto states, but the governors all won their re-run elections against their battered and power-less opponents whose energies have been sapped after several months of pursuing their cases at the tribunals. Candidates who could adequately prove that they won elections should be declared winners instead of wasting government funds by ordering for re-runs.

One of the most popular opinions among Nigerian politicians is that it is better to rig elections and be taken to court than get rigged out and go to court. One of the problems with election rigging is that no matter how hard you try, you cannot completely hide it, although you may get away with it and even get the chance to repeat it. The law says everyone is innocent until proven guilty but in reality some people are guilty until proven innocent.

Mallam Amir is on Twitter: @AmirAbdulazeez

Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of www.omojuwa.com nor its associates

Group Urges FG To Strengthen INEC

Dr Uloma Osuala, Deputy Country Director, International Foundation for Electoral System ( IFES), on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to strengthen the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to Improve on the nation’s electoral system.

She made the plea in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, adding that the electoral body should be made to ensure that registration of voters is continuous.

Osuala said that continuous improvement on the mandate and activities of INEC would deepen the democratic system of the country.

According to her, many Nigerians were not able to participate in the last electoral process because there was not enough time for voters’ registration and INEC could not capture many eligible Nigerians.

”IFES in collaboration with the European Union organised a project called `Mitigation of Violence in Election’ to evaluate the last general election.

”The project has an objective to strengthen capacity of stakeholders in Nigeria to prevent and remedy electoral violence and also provide constructive engagement.

”Even when it was said that the last general election was to some extent successful, we still noted some issues that could be improved upon, like the technical issues with the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).

“Many people did not get and could not vote.

”There is the need for a continuous voters’ registration, so that it becomes a continual process. We do not have to wait until it is a year to another election before you validate your PVC.

”On the card reader machine, there are few problems that must be fixed to strengthen the efficiency of the machine as well create awareness on the use.

”There should also be continuous training and retraining of INEC officials on the use of the card reader machines and results collation.

”Voter and civic education are part of the global improvement of the education of the people.

” Nigerians must be educated in this field of citizenship and the important role elections play in the democratic process, ” she said.

Osuala also urged the Federal Government to adequately fund INEC to enable it efficiently deliver on its mandate and prepare for future elections. (NAN)

Guber/State Assembly Polls: INEC Investigates Electoral Violence In Rivers, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Others

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Sunday commenced  investigation into incidents of violence that trailed last Saturday’s governorship and state assembly elections, vowing to do everything within in its powers to bring culprits to justice.  ?

?The electoral commission also said according to its records there were 66 reports of violent incidents targeted at polling units, the commission’s officials, voters and election materials.

?INEC also said the process of accreditation with Smart Card Readers was successful in a majority of the polling units.

Governorship elections were held in 29 States of the Federation, while State Assembly elections were held in 36 states. No election took place in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

However a statement by the commission delivered by the chief press secretary to INEC chairman, Kayode Idowu, said “a general assessment shows that the elections went very well across the country. According to preliminary reports, 88.9 % of polling units opened for accreditation between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. across the country. Only 5.2 % were yet to open as of 1 pm. Also, 73 % of the polling units had commenced voting by 2.30 p.m.

“The process of accreditation with Smart Card Readers was also successful in a majority of the polling units. Initial challenges were recorded in Edo and Abia states, but the technical teams deployed to support the states were able to resolve the issues in a timely manner.

“Overall, many parts of the country remained relatively peaceful during the elections. Some states, however, recorded a significant number of violent incidents, the most affected being Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ebonyi and Ondo States. 

“INEC’s records show that there were 66 reports of violent incidents targeted at polling units, the Commission’s officials, voters and election materials. 

“These were in Rivers State (16 incidents), Ondo (8), Cross River and Ebonyi (6 each), Akwa Ibom (5) Bayelsa (4), Lagos and Kaduna (3 each), Jigawa, Enugu, Ekiti and Osun (2 each), Katsina, Plateau, Kogi, Abia, Imo, Kano and Ogun (1 each).  

“The Commission is investigating these incidents and will do everything within in its powers to bring culprits to justice.”  

INEC however commended electorates for once again demonstrating their resolve and commitment to participate in the electoral process and by doing so, contributing to deepening democracy in our country.

“The Commission calls on every citizen to maintain the peace as the results of the Governorship and State Assembly elections are being processed, and to accept the official outcomes. It would like to emphasize that winners can only emerge after collation of the official results and on the basis of the requirements prescribed by the legal framework. Any aggrieved persons or groups are encouraged to seek redress at the Tribunals.  

“INEC would also like to remind all stakeholders that the process is not yet completed and urges restraint in their comments, as we strive to bring this process to an orderly, peaceful and credible conclusion.”

Era Of Winning Elections By Hook Or Crook Is Over – Prof. Jega

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega says the era of politicians winning elections by hook or crook is over. Professor Jega stated this while addressing all Benue governorship candidates in Makurdi the Benue state capital today April 9th. Professor restated the commissions commitment to conduct a free and fair election come Saturday April 11th.

#NigeriaDecides2015 : Election Materials Reportedly Hijacked In Rivers

Ahead of the Saturday’s presidential election, Rivers state has recorded the first report of hijacking of electoral materials meant for the Presidential election in the state.

Violence has dominated the political atmosphere of Rivers State since the build up to the 2015 general elections started in earnest.

Reports coming out of rivers has it that electoral materials and INEC personnel deployed to certain Local government areas in the state have been hijacked by unknown hoodlums.

We gathered that thugs working for a particular political party in the state attacked INEC officials who were moving election materials to Akuku-Toru, Asari-Toru and Gokana Local Government areas.

Confirming the incident, a member of the APC in the state said: “PDP thugs hijacked materials and Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, personnel meant for Akuku Toru Wards 15, 16 and 17. The hijacked materials and men were taken to Freetown, a hinterland coastal community. The attack was led by two youths whose identities are known.

“In Tombia, in the same Akuku Toru local government area, PDP had by Friday night filled the community with Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, bouncers who were attacking APC members and at the same time, preventing those returning home to vote from entering the town. They were doing so in the presence of soldiers who were too few in number. The Caretaker Committee Chairman and others were injured on Friday.

“In Buguma, which is in Asari Toru Local government area, policemen were busy all day arresting chieftains of All Progressives Congress, APC.

Expect Results Of Polls In 48 Hours – Jega

Going by the assurance from the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, results of the presidential and National assembly elections will be declared within 48 hours.

Jega who disclosed this Friday in Abuja during a joint press conference alongside the Director General of the National Youth Service Commission (NYSC), Brig-Gen. Johnson Olawumi noted that the commission has put a lot in place to ensure the 48hours target was met.

He said the commission is making all efforts to ensure that results are disclosed much earlier than in 2011.

Jega also denied the report making the rounds that the Commission’s database has been compromised.

INEC Boss in an apparent reaction to an allegation by the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Council that the master key was in possession of the APC, said only the producers of the data base infrastructure of INEC have the source code.

He further said that the company, Act Technologies Limited, was approved by Federal Executive Committee and was never blacklisted.

While also describing the allegations as baseless, Jega however regretted that it has the propensity to threaten the credibility of the election.

Defending the choice of the firm, Jega said it went through all the expected checks before it was awarded the contract to develop the database.

He said “it is regrettable that it is a pity that people can say all sorts of things and get away freely with it.  “it is a last minute attempt to undermine the credibility of the elections.”

Jega also cleared the air on his disagreement on the issue of voters having to wait after casting their ballot or go home as advised by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba.

Jega noted that his stand was not a sign of disagreement with the police but that voters should have the choice of waiting or staying after casting their votes.

Explaining further that the presence of voters during the counting of votes would enhance the credibility of the polls.

INEC Chairman also urged corp members drafted for the elections to take the assignment with all seriousness it deserves, noting that their security and welfare has been taken care of.

He hailed the role of Corps members in enhancing the electoral process.

On his part, the DG of the NYSC, urged the corp members to handle the assignment with high integrity.

He urged them to stay away from any temptation that may tarnish the image of the scheme, families and nation.

The DG also assured Corp members of their welfare and security, noting that while INEC has disbursed 100 percent for the corp members, the NYSC has disbursed 50 percent of that amount pending the completion of their assignment.

PDP Chieftain Urges Supporters To Protect Their Votes Peacefully

A Peoples Democratic Party chieftain in Sokoto State, Malam Dahiru Maishanu, on Sunday urged members of the party to embrace peace while protecting their votes in the forthcoming elections.

Maishanu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Sokoto that it was only by so doing that the will of the electorate would be fully respected.

He also called on the leaders of the party as well as those seeking elective positions to sustain their sensitization campaign on the need for their followers   to shun violence before, during and after the elections.

Maishanu, who said that the elections must not to be seen as a do or die affair, called on politicians to abide by the rules and regulations of the electoral process.

He also called on the security agencies to provide a level- playing ground for the peaceful conduct of the elections.

“A peaceful environment will prevent rigging and all kinds of political violence”, he said. (NAN)

Re: No Waiting At Polling Booths After Voting By Adeola Austin Oyinlade

ADEOLA AUSTIN OYINLADE, LLB, BL, LLM, United Nations Peace Ambassador
Email: adeolaaustinoyinlade81@gmail.com
20th March, 2015
Mr. Suleiman Abba,
The Inspector-General of Police,
The Nigeria Police Force Headquarters,
Louis Edet House,
Abuja, Nigeria.

Dear Sir,
I want to commend you sir for the adequate preparation of the Nigeria Police Force in order to record violence-free, fair and credible 2015 general elections. I also want to use this opportunity to commend our service men and women for ensuring protection of lives and properties in Nigeria. No matter the reservation anyone has for the Nigerian police force, I make bold to say that without you and our officers on ground, lives will be ‘nasty, brutish and short’ in the words of Thomas Hobbes.
Kindly permit me to use this open letter as a concerned citizen of Nigeria to ask for your clarification on a statement credited to you sir and widely reported on the pages of Newspapers. A good example is the one on the front page and page 2 of The Punch Newspaper titled “No waiting at polling booths after voting – IG”, dated March 20, 2015. I understand that open letters in the last two years have served different purposes for different individuals, but this only seeks your clarification on what appeared not to be cleared to me and other well meaning Nigerians.
In view of the above statement credited to you sir, could it be possible to say that was an order or a piece of advice to Nigerians? As a lawyer, I have tried in vain to see whether such assertion has any force of law as no law stipulates a time where any eligible voters must vacate the polling booths. I have also checked my primary and secondary sources of law and I can say that there is no law in force in Nigeria against eligible voters from witnessing the count of ballot papers after voting.
I read that your justification for the declaration was that “the possibility of committing electoral offence was very high if voters stayed back at the polling booths for votes to be counted.” I strongly believe that the essence of security in this task is not only to protect INEC officials and electoral materials but also the citizens. I also believe that the police can invoke their power of arrest under the Police Act against anyone who may want to breach public peace before, during and after elections.
Sir, you will agree with me that the political atmosphere of Nigeria is tensed at the moment. The attention of the whole world is on Nigeria as we go to the polls. As a United Nations Peace Ambassador and resource person to African Union on the implementation of African Youth Charter, UNESCO and UNDP, I have being privileged to hear from people within and outside Nigeria their expectations about the coming polls. While I believe that waiting till ballot papers are counted will see the process to the legitimate end, I also believe too that seeing voters standing and with our service men and women on ground can make anyone planning to steal ballot boxes to have a rethink rather than asking eligible voters to leave.
I want to thank you in anticipation for this clarification.
I wish Nigerians an emphatic success as we decide again.
Yours faithfully,

Adeola Austin Oyinlade Esq

Views expressed are solely that of author and has no association with www.omojuwa.com nor its associates

Obanikoro Confesses Participation in Ekiti Poll Rigging Meeting

Senator Musiliu Obanikoro has admitted that there was indeed a meeting between himself, Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekit State, General A.A. Momoh, Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan and some top officials of the People Democratic Party on how to rig the June 21 governorship election in favour of Fayose.

Obanikoro confessed to some senators that he did participate in the meeting on the orders of President Goodluck Jonathan. Obanikoro’s confession is part of the move to lobby the Senate to give him a pass during his upcoming nomination hearing.

Prior to admitting his involvement to the Senators,  he had met with President Jonathan to discuss the tape and his role in the whole saga. Obanikoro had in the past vehemently denied his involvement in any meeting to help Fayose win the election.

Read More: Sahara Reporters