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2023 polls: Nigerians can go to sleep! Only credible votes will determine polls – INEC



A total of 530,538 security operatives would be deployed for the next general election across the country out of the 1,265,227 external officials sheduled to conduct the process, Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said on Tuesday.

Yakubu, at the Chatham House, London, United Kingdom, where he gave an update on the preparation for the polls, which would commence with the presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday, February 25, told his audience that 11 out of the 14 activities in its timelines for the exercise had been accomplished.

In his presentation, entitled, Nigeria’s 2023 Elections:  Preparations and Priorities for  Electoral Integrity and Inclusion,  he said the security operatives made up of policemen and the  Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps personnel, would man all the polling units, assuring that the election would be held as scheduled.

Giving a breakdown of the personnel that would be deployed  to take charge of the 1,265,227 polling units for the exercise, he said it would comprise of 707,384 presiding officers, 17,685 supervisory presiding officers and 9,620 collation/returning officers.

“For the 2023 general elections, the commission requires at least 707,384 presiding and assistant presiding officers, about 17,685 supervisory presiding officers, 9,620 collation/returning officers as well as 530,538 polling unit security officials, making a total of 1,265,227.

“These are not staff of the commission and must be painstakingly recruited and trained to ensure that they are both fit-for-purpose and non-partisan.

“However, the greatest number of election officials in Nigeria are these temporary or ad hoc staff recruited principally from among young Nigerian university and polytechnic graduates enrolled in the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps, students of tertiary institutions, staff of federal agencies and university lecturers. Preparing them adequately for their roles as polling officials, supervisors and result managers is central to a successful election,” he said.

He however explained that the commission would be relying on external agencies for the safety of the elections, including steming the tide of attacks on its assets, which he said were beyond the commission’s powers.

Admitting that the insecurity across the country posed a major security threat to credible elections, as it made deployment for elections difficult, particularly where some of the attacks were targeted at the electoral process and participants, he said the commission had been working with security agencies and other stakeholders to establish mechanisms to understand, track and mitigate security challenges, while at the same time, working on strategies to curb other untoward activities of politicians, such as vote-buying or voter bribery.

.“We are working collaboratively in the context of ICCES and we also have the Election Violence Mitigation and Advocacy Tool, which is a research and diagnostic tool for predicting and mitigating election violence before elections. In addition, there is the Election Risk Management Tool, which tracks and reports general risks to elections.

“In all, we feel assured by the actions we have taken and our collaboration with the security agencies. The 2023 general elections will proceed as planned. There is no plan to postpone the election. A more pertinent issue for the commission is the fate of displaced voters,” he said.

Regarding the areas where the residents had been sacked by violence and terrorism, he said the commission had always taken those displaced into account and had since 2015, made arrangements for them, adding: “If they are organised in camps, we can recreate the polling units and enable them to vote. It was done in 2015, and 2019 and only recently, we convened a meeting with stakeholders to validate the revised framework and policy for voting by IDPs.

“The difficulty we face is with those who are not living in the displaced people camps but are living with relatives in safer communities. It becomes difficult to organise elections for them. We have over two million persons in displaced camps across several states and we will organise elections for them the way we did in 2015 and 2019.”

Speaking on how the commission had been empowered by the new Electoral Act, which had made its job easier, he said INEC had recently received the last batch of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), machines which would be used in the election.

“That puts us on course to perform functional and integrity tests on every BVAS to be deployed for the election, which has been concluded in many states nationwide. In addition, we plan to conduct a series of mock trials of the BVAS with actual voters in real-time in parts of the country to further ascertain their functioning in actual election situations. Other sensitive materials such as the ballots and result forms are being printed. The commission is progressively taking delivery of them and deploying them to locations across the country.”

Yakubu, who also told his audience that 93.4m eligible voters, had been captured in its voters register, said many claims and objections led to the deletion of several names, adding that the clean-up of the register, was painstakingly conducted using the automated biometric identification system to detect and delete many multiple registrants.

“Expectedly, several other claims could not be backed by evidence for verification, as provided by law, thereby making it difficult for the commission to take any further action. However, the commission believes that it has a solid register for the election, which remains the largest database of Nigerians in existence. In any case, in every jurisdiction, improvement of the voter roll is a continuous process, and ours is no exception.”

He said that state offices of the commission had been directed to review the procedure and remove any barriers towards the collection of Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs), adding that the commission would deal with officials involved in shady practices, such as extortion, inducement of officials by registered voters seeking to collect their cards and discriminatory issuance of PVCs.

Yakubu spoke of how the commission, which had 1,689 cases, made up of 852 pre-election, 807 post-election and 30 electoral offences cases in 2019, was currently joined in 791 court cases involving intra-party elections and nomination of candidates by political parties as of January 6, 2023, adding that it would continue to obey clear orders of courts.


Speak now! Catholic priests want Kaduna gov’s reaction to El-Rufai’s Islamisation comments



Uba Sani, must either officially distance himself or affirm the declaration of his predecessor Nasir El-Rufai that Muslim-Muslim executive branch leadership, have come to stay or stand up to denounce it immediately.

These were the demands from Catholic priests in parts of the North, who as they expressed disgust at the statement, which showed the former governor captured in a video, which went viral last week, practically celebrating the continuation of an arrangement, which he first introduced in 2019, and which has now been sustained with the new governor having a Muslim deputy.

Clerics from Kaduna, Kafanchan and Zaria chapters of the Nigerian Catholic Diocesan Priests Association (NCDPA), in a public letter to Sani, urged him to declare his position on what they described as political supremacism in Kaduna state and Nigeria, as part of their reactions to the video, which has raised a lot of dust.

El-Rufai, who in his speech to Muslim clerics in the state, had recounted how after instituting an all-Muslim executive in the state himself and made it permanent in the state, the arrangement was pushed through at the national level with the election of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, as President and Vice President, respectively on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Informing that while Nigerians were actually believed that religion was not the issue in pushing through with the ticket, when it was in fact the case, the former Governor, who spoke in Hausa, declared that the arrangement had come to stay and would last for the next 20 years at the initial stage after Tinubu, adding that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), had been defeated by the outcome.

But an apparently thoroughly upset Catholic priests, in an open letter on Thursday, said: “Having soberly considered the contents and implications of such communication by a former state governor who is known to be your close ally, we feel compelled to write you, to know where you stand with regard to the commotions Mallam El-Rufai intends to propagate and perpetuate in our state,” the letter reads.

“We write you today because we are responsible stakeholders in the affairs of our beloved state with our own congregations and followers. Mr governor, we do not intend to conclude that you are in agreement with all the content of the former governor’s utterances, as you have given no explicit reason to suggest so (yet), even though you were present at the occasion! We therefore earnestly expect your direct official reaction to the utterances of your predecessor in office.”

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Buhari spent more than $19billion on revamping four refineries without result – Nasarawa gov



Barely two weeks after his exit, the records of former President Muhammadu Buhari, have come to to the fore with one of them indicating a damning verdict, as he was said to have sunk a whopping $19billion in trying to rehabilitate the nation’s four refineries, without anything to show for it.

Abdullahi Sule, Governor of Nassarawa State, who used the former President abysmal failure to make a case for supporting the removal on petroleum products, compared the huge wastage to the amount Dangote refinery, cost to give Nigeria a facility with the single chain production in the world.

None of Nigeria’s four refineries, located in Kaduna, Port Harcourt, and Warri is currently operational despite the huge amount sunk to resuscitate them, most of the funds borrowed from foreign lending agencies, the latest being the securing of $1.5million loan for that of Port Harcourt.

Bemoaning the situation, the governor, said: “Look at how much the President Buhari administration spent on fixing the refineries. In the eight years, he spent more money than the $19 billion that Dangote spent in building a refinery. That is one and a half times the size of our three refineries combined.”

A guest on Sunrise Daily, a breakfast programm of Channels Television on Thursday, Sule, pinned the payments of subsidy on Nigeria’s non-functional refineries, adding: “From the government side, I think we didn’t do a good job. When the (former) President (Buhari) came in in 2015, prices of crude oil dropped by less than 30 dollars. At that time, there was zero subsidy.

“Our three refineries in Nigeria today have a total of 450,000 barrels per day, Dangote is 650,000. He spent $19 billion on building it. We spent, not building a new one, but in maintaining these refineries; more than $19 billion in eight years, yet they have not been maintained.”

The Dangote Refinery, Africa’s biggest oil refinery, which took off in 2017, drew Nigerians and global personalities in different fields of life, including four African Presidents at its commissioning on May 22, 2023 by Buhari.

Sule, who also lamented the complexity of maintaining the refineries due to their diverse components, added: “The refinery is actually a component for water, crude, and diesel, about five or six different components that constitute a refinery. The moment the government says we are going to spend $2 billion this year on the refinery. The $2 billion is spent and as far as the President is concerned, they have given $2 billion.

“Now when it goes to the three refineries that we have in Port Harcourt, Warri, and Kaduna. Then they say, you now take $700 million, you now take $800 million – by the time they take that, it goes to fix maybe only one component out of the four components that are all bad. The ideal resolve would have been to allocate the major funds to one of the refining states to fix it totally before allocating the remainder to the other states.

“So, zero work is done. These are the true realities of what is happening, and that is why none of the refineries is working. These are truly the problem, we have not really managed this thing well.”

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Japan goes tough on asylum seekers, enacts new law to check abuse



Despite desperate attempts to block it, including a ruckus, which broke out in parliament Japan went ahead on Friday to enact an immigration law that would see the government deporting failed asylum seekers, even with members of civil society, joining in the pushback.

The law gives refugees only three chances to try after which they would face deportation, unlike before when applicants could stay in Japan during the decision process, regardless of the number of attempts they made to secure refugee status, reports, say.

The revised law will “protect those who must be protected while strictly dealing with people who have violated rules. There are many people who misuse the application system to avoid deportation,” Justice Minister Ken Saito, was quoted as saying, adding that this had persisted even when such people were not fleeing danger or persecution.

Last year, Japan accepted just 202 refugees out of some 12,500 applicants, and separately allowed 1,760 people to remain in the country due to “humanitarian considerations,” including more than 2,400 evacuees from Ukraine under a different framework.

Activists staged rallies against the revised law, but a protest from the opposition bloc in parliament was voted down by the ruling coalition, which holds a commanding majority.

“It is intolerable to deport people, even if they have criminal records, to countries that may violate their human rights” and where “their life and freedom would be in danger”, the Tokyo Bar Association said this week.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party says the revisions will bring better access to medical care and accommodation options for people whose asylum applications are pending.

Japan’s immigration detention conditions have been under scrutiny since the 2021 death of Wishma Sandamali, a 33-year-old Sri Lankan woman.

Sandamali was not an asylum seeker but had been held for overstaying her visa after seeking police protection, reportedly to escape an abusive relationship.

Her family are seeking compensation of more than $1 million from the government over her death.

Sandamali reportedly complained repeatedly of stomach pain and other symptoms, and campaigners allege she received inadequate medical care.

Controversy and political pressure over the incident led ruling lawmakers to drop a push to enact similar legal changes to immigration rules two years ago.

Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer for Sandamali’s family, told AFP on Thursday that the revised bill was “equivalent to having a button to execute those who seek refuge by deporting them”.

“Japan’s refugee recognition system is not working,” he said, with officials turning down applications quickly, sometimes without face-to-face interviews.

Amnesty International also said in March that Japan should scrap the proposed revision to immigration laws, calling the country’s detention policies “harsh” and “repressive.”

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