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Igini to Nigerians: You’re not alone, I’m in pain too, I feel so disappointed



Mike Igini, outspoken former Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), in Edo and Akwa Ibom states, has come out to wash his hands of the outcome of the 2023 general elections, saying his advocacy for Nigerians to come out massively and participate was made in good faith, as he believed the process would be credible as promised.

Short of saying he was deceived, Igini, who pointed to his long years of agitation for credible elections, said he was as shocked as many Nigerians about the ugly turn the elections took and was disappointed over the outcome as well.

But the fiery lawyer, whose tenure in Akwa Ibom was marked with a university professor, who was fingered in manipulating elections being sent to prison, also said much of the remedy for rigging in elections rested on the judiciary, maintained that courts must play a role that would instil fears into politicians, who were the purveyors of electoral bad behaviour.

Igini, who spoke in an interview with Vanguard, gave example of Britain, where election rigging was the practice for several centuries until the courts entered into the fray to solve the problem, so much that in more than 100 years, there was no single election petition in the country.

Hear him: “I will never be part of any plot or design to deceive Nigerians, may such a day never come in my life time. My advocacy and passion for free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria did not begin in 2023. Those who have diligently followed my advocacy for election integrity will remember my zealous exertions and subsequent detention in Enugu before and after the annulment of the June 12 Elections in 1993, many also will recall my participation in CODER for electoral reforms after the fiasco that was described as the 2007 general election.

“Those who are keen about elections will also recall how I took the same passion to my supervisory roles in the regulation of the electoral process as a Resident Electoral Commissioner in Cross River, intervention missions in Anambra, lmo state guber elections in both 2011 and 2015, Edo, and later Akwa-Ibom states. Frankly, l don’t think l did anything wrong by the weekly voters’ and civic education that l gave to Nigerians without being paid a dime at a time that l had offers for consultancy that l politely declined because l wanted to be objective in seeing to the implementation of the process that l was part of putting in place before my tenure ended last year.”

“As a lawyer, l feel diminished and ashamed that politicians, majority of whom are not lawyers, semi-educated money-bag politicians could be allowed to bring our noble profession to this level of opprobrium, resentment and distrust from members of the public who no longer respect us because of the unethical conduct of some members of the bar particularly the bench.

“I repeat some members because we have shining members of both the bar and the bench who are exemplary and worthy of emulation. But the very bad ones have ruined our collective reputation. These politicians brag and boast about what they do with members of my constituency to get whatever they want and that is why they are quick at telling opponents to go to court after compromising collation and returning officers.

“Is it not surprising that politicians who go all out to undermine electoral laws and rig elections are the ones that will tell people to go to court ? As noted very correctly by the learned Silk Olisa Agbakoba, recent decision of the Supreme Court like others in favour of individuals that didn’t participate in party primaries has further affected public confidence and this is very unfortunate because of the timing of the decision so close to the 2023 election.”

Calling on the judiciary to always do justice, he added: “Judiciary must stand tall and mighty in defence of democracy and the rule of law. We have to go about solving this problem the way the United Kingdom(UK) itself that introduced Nigeria into election rigging ended electoral rigging and fraud such that for a period of almost 100 years precisely 99 years, there was no post election petition adjudication in England till 2010 with respect to Liberal D

“Historically, the UK was one of the notorious countries noted for vote-buying and election rigging and because of the concern that such practice of use of money could be used by politicians also to capture the judiciary in England by buying judges if the courts were to adjudicate on electoral disputes, allegations of electoral malpractices by way of election petitions were initially determined by parliament and not the courts to insulate the judiciary from potential corruption.

“However, parliament with majority party members expectedly could not deliver electoral justice to opposition petitioners for years. Consequently, it was decided that the courts in England should assume jurisdiction over post election petition, that was how the court became involved. But mindful of the fact that the ills of corruption that prevented justice from being served to petitioners in parliament could be transferred to the courts, parliament had to pass the 1872 secret ballot Act, Electoral corruption and illegal practice Act of 1872 as well as the 1883 ballot Act with range of consequences such as expulsion from parliament, a ban for seven years from politics or for life from politics.

“These were the laws that judges and the courts used strictly in England to do substantive justice to election petitions to discourage potential election rigger politicians in the UK and never hid under technicality that encourages election riggers in Nigeria who are quick to tell people to go to court. Because the courts in England were never a safe haven for election riggers, given that they, politicians linked to election rigging could be banned for life from participation in politics, and with various legislation to strengthen the electoral process free of manipulation and corruption in the UK then as we tried to achieve with the 2022 Act and the BVAS/IREV technology, politicians had to abide by the process because of fear of severe consequences from the courts.

“That is why for a period of almost 100 years, there was no post election petition adjudication in England. The fear of judges by politicians and their judgments on matters of electoral fraud, manipulation and deviation from established electoral laws in England brought sanity to the electoral process in England and ended election rigging.

“Politicians in England and America are afraid of the courts and judges but here in Nigeria, politicians brag about judges as their friends and will get whatever they want from the judiciary. Why can’t we emulate what judges and judiciary did to give meaning and purpose to the ballot as the best means of the expression of the will of the people in a democracy. The judiciary is now the last hope of putting an end to the culture of impunity and election rigging in Nigeria.”

On the criticisms against him that he deceived the public before the elections that the process was going to be credible, the former Edo state REC said: “I can understand the feelings of extreme disappointment, pains and frustrations of fellow country men and women particularly youths, over what was promised and the painful experience they went through during the elections and their unmet expectations.

“We are in this agonising moments of pains together. l have been down emotionally and still in shock over the level of deviation from established laws, issued guidelines and procedures that we all signed into and that l leveraged on, honestly and faithfully to call on Nigerians to participate fully to determine their leaders.”


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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