• CSOs, presidential candidates pass vote of confidence in Yakubu, reject EU report
• Warn of alleged plot to compromise BVAS at off-season polls
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said, contrary to insinuations, it did not receive direct cash support from international development partners to conduct the 2023 general election.
The commission said, rather, their support was indirect, through civil society organisations and implementing partners.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the clarification at a meeting with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on review of the 2023 general election, in Abuja, yesterday.
Yakubu said the clarification was necessary to address impressions that the commission received huge sums of money from development partners.
Recall that prior to the polls, development partners, like European Union (EU), United States Institutes, International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) supported activities of the commission and CSOs, through capacity-building workshops, technical advice and voter education.
The INEC boss said: “It is appropriate for the commission to express its appreciation to CSOs and development partners for their enormous support to the commission during the 2023 general election. This came in the form of technical advice, civic and voter education, organisation of meetings and capacity-building workshops as well as publication of documents.
“However, it is necessary to seize this opportunity to correct the impression in some sections of the public that the commission received huge sums of money from development partners for the election.
“On the contrary, and for the avoidance of doubt, the commission did not receive any direct funding or cash support from international development partners. Rather, their support was totally indirect through civil society organisations and implementing partners working on elections.”
He added: “Indeed, it has been a longstanding policy of the current commission not to receive direct funding and cash transfers from sources other than the Federal Government of Nigeria. We hope that we shall continue to have this type of productive partnership with civil society and development partners in the future.”
This came as a coalition of CSOs, presidential candidates in the general election, chairmen of political parties and ethnic youth leaders, passed a vote of confidence in Yakubu.
The coalition, under the auspices of the Civil Society Central Coordinating Council, also rejected a report of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM, saying it falls below the standard expected of credible observers.
It further raised the alarm on an alleged plot by some politicians to compromise the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine during upcoming governorship polls in Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi states.
The coalition made the observations at a one-day National Roundtable on Comprehensive Review of the 2023 General Elections, held in Abuja, yesterday.
Members present include: National Chairman, Action Alliance, Kenneth Udeze; National Chairman, Action Peoples Party (APP), Uchenna Nnadi; Executive Director, Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), Faith Nwadishi; National Chairman, National Rescue Movement (NRM), Chief Isaac Udeh; National Chairman, Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Dan Nwanyanwu, and National Chairman, Accord, Alhaji Lawal Nalado.
Others are: Chairman, Partners for Electoral Reforms, Ezenwa Nwagwu; presidential candidate of APP, Charles Nnadi; presidential candidate of NRM, Rev. Johnson Osakwe; vice presidential candidate of Boot Party, Usman Mustapha Turaki, and representatives of Arewa Consultative Youth Movement, Ohanaeze Youth Movement, and South South Youth Council of Nigeria.
The coalition submitted that after analysing pre-election, election day and post-election outcomes, INEC, under Yakubu, performed well.
The members said it was unfair to attack the INEC boss, who, according to them, put everything on the line to “push through technological innovations and reforms, cleaned up the voter register, prosecuting and disciplining staff as high as a state Resident Electoral Commissioner, and insisted that BVAS must be used for the election.”
They said: “The roundtable reviewed the pre-election processes by political parties and agreed that political parties and political actors were responsible for a vast majority of tension and concerns about the polls, and INEC conducted itself creditably in this area.
“The national roundtable reviewed the preparations and pre-election logistics deployment by INEC and agreed that the commission was punctual in meeting up and completing its activity checklist on schedule, including logistics deployment of non-sensitive and sensitive materials.
“We also reviewed the modus of collation and announcement of results and decried the wrongful use of armed security personnel to compromise the electoral process at collation centres and call for introduction of technology in this aspect.”
The members added: “The national roundtable, having analysed the pre-election, election day and post-election outcomes, and without prejudice to ongoing petitions at tribunals, gives INEC a pass mark and unanimously passes a vote of confidence in the chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, for his outstanding conduct of the 2023 general election, and condemns in the strongest of terms attacks on his personality and calls for his removal from office.”
BREAKING NEWS: PDP’s Diri Wins Bayelsa Gov Election
The incumbent Governor of Bayelsa State and governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Douye Diri, has been declared the winner of the State governorship election held last Saturday.
The Returning Officer, Prof Faruq Kuta, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Of Technology, Minna, announced Diri winner of the poll at the collation centre of the election on Monday.
Diri polled 175,196 to defeat his closest rival, Timipre Sylva of the All Progressives Congress, who garnered 110,108 votes while the Labour Party polled 905 votes.
Plateau: Protesters Storm S’ Court Over Sack Of Four PDP Members From NASS
Over 1000 protesters, on Monday, besieged the Supreme Court to register their displeasure over the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which sacked four members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Plateau State, from the National Assembly, based on a pre-election dispute.
The placard and banner-wielding groups, under the aegis of Coalition for Justice in Africa, CJA, submitted a protest letter to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola.
According to the protesters, the appellate court, by its judgement, thwarted the wish of electorates in Plateau state, when it declared candidates that lost the National Assembly elections that held on February 25, as winners of the legislative seats.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the protest letter was submitted to the CJN, the National President of the CJA, Dr. Daniel Okwa, maintained that the judgement of the appellate court was capable of causing a breakdown of law and order in the state.
He said the group was at the apex court to seek the intervention of the CJN, alleging that the verdicts that removed all the PDP federal lawmakers were influenced by some chieftains of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
The protest letter, which was obtained by Vanguard, read in part: “The Coalition for Truth and Justice believes that the judgment of the Appeal Court in Abuja is a case of injustice, else, how could one explain a situation where lawmakers of the All Progressive Congress (APC) would boast and predict the outcome of the Court of Appeal judgment even before the pronouncement.
“This is unacceptable and indicates that the justice regime in Nigeria has been thrown to the dogs. What happened in Plateau State is an aberration of immeasurable proportion. There is a distinction between a pre-election matter and a post-election matter.
“The Supreme Court has established this fact on several occasions. It is now a wonder why the Appeal Court would act otherwise and in a despicable manner that tends to truncate our nascent democracy.
“The Coalition for Truth and Justice entirely condemns the actions of the justices of the Appeal Court that sat in Abuja. They displayed insensitivity to the electoral choices of the people. This is a worrisome trend that the Chief Justice of Nigeria must address.
“This is on the heels that the Judiciary, the world over, is regarded as the last hope of the commoner. This presupposes that it is the only place the commoner can get justice. The function of the Judiciary is not to twist the truth or fabricate facts but to interpret the law. The consequence of the interpretation of the law is justice.
“However, what played out in Plateau state negates the Judiciary’s position as the common’s last hope. The Judiciary is for sale to the highest bidder in Nigeria, if such positions could be taken without recourse to the implication of such on the psychological state of the people.
“The Coalition for Truth and Justice is using this protest to drive the point that justice in Nigeria should not be reserved for a section of the country or any political party. What happened in Plateau should not be allowed to stand or repeat itself. The implication of such is that the reputation of the judicial arm of government would be eroded.”
It will be recalled that the appellate court had on November 7, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel led by Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, okayed the nullification of the election of a Senator and three members of the House of Representatives in the state that emerged on the platform of the PDP.
The panel based its decision on failure of the PDP to fully comply with a court that was made in 2022, which it said directed the party to conduct congress in the 17 Local Government Areas in the state.
It, therefore, held that though the lawmakers won their respective seats during the National Assembly election that held on February 25, all the scores that were credited them, amounted to wasted votes.
It ordered that candidates that got the second majority lawful votes at the election, should be sworn in as winners of the legislative seats.
Canada’s Abuja, Lagos Visa Centres Open – High Commission
The Canadian High Commission in Nigeria has said its Abuja and Lagos visa application centres remain open for the processing of immigration, refugee and citizenship applications.
The Canadian High Commission had on Tuesday announced the suspension of operations in its Abuja office following a fire incident at its generator house, which claimed two lives on Monday.
Nigerians had expressed fear that the operations suspension would hamper visa application processes.
But in a statement posted on its X handle on Thursday, the Canadian High Commission clarified that its Abuja and Lagos visa application centres remain open and operational.
In the statement by its public affairs staff, Demilade Kosemani, the commission said, “As we continue to mourn the passing of our dear colleague from the High Commission of Canada in Abuja, please note the following information below:
“Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada clients: processing of applications continues. Regardless of the suspension of operations at the High Commission of Canada in Abuja, the Visa Application Centres in Abuja and Lagos remain open.”
Meanwhile, a travel agency, , TMT Travels and Tours Limited, has sympathised with the Canadian High Commission over the Monday tragic fire incident.
In a statement on Thursday the agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Collins Onukwubiri, said, “We at TMT Travels and Tours Limited shares in the grief and sense of loss of the Canadian embassy in Abuja. The partial burning of the Canadian embassy in Abuja and the death of two workers there was most unfortunate.
“Canada, as a major player in the Nigeria’s travel and tours business, is an integral player in Nigeria’s economy. We know how devastating this unfortunate incident is to them but we want to say that we stand with them in this time and always. We specially condole with the families of the two persons who died in the process.”