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Presidential elections: INEC can’t change the rules, not uploading election results fatal – Aondoakaa



“Non-transmission of results is a problem because INEC rules have constitutional flavour. If you make rules, you must follow it. And there is a Supreme Court decision that says that INEC is duty bound to obey their own guidelines and if they don’t it is a violation of the electoral act and the constitution.”

These were the exact words of Michael Aondoakaa, former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF-MoJ), on Tuesday, as he weighed in on the current political situation in the country, particularly the outcome of the 2023 general election and the ongoing challenges instituted in court following the hiccups that trailed the outcome.

Aondoakaa bemoaned a situation where petitioners usually abandoned challenging the processes, procedures and guidelines that led to the elections, in preference to the results alone, saying that this had not been helpful adding that those who perpetrated electoral infractions must be punished alongside cancellation of such elections as a deterrent.

The former Minister, who was a guest of The Morning Show, a breakfast programme on Arise Television on Tuesday, said: “Our attitude has always been to scrutinise the outcome of the result. This person scored this number and that person scored this and therefore the infractions that occurres are targeted on the result – who has the majority. But the main corruption that occurs in an electoral process is the refusal to follow the procedures that leads to that result.

“Nobody will complain of an election if the procedure leading to that result that produced the winner is followed. Nobody will complain. If you see all the complaints, it is that the procedure that is supposed to follow like this, is not done. All the election cases, the complaint may not be about the overall result. But if you go to court the target is prove whether this overall result is correct or not forgetting that the main corruption is within the foundation upon which those results occur.

“An opportunity has come for the court to give a direct interpretation of that and, which is inbetween the two-thirds of the federation and the the Federal Capital. If they say it is conjunctive, it means that it is otherwise. But apart from this two rules, there is also the mischief rule with which the court can override what I’m saying and try to look at what is the purpose of what is going to happen, what is the mischief. The Supreme Court is a court of policy and law. So, they may decide to look at other things differently.

“The emphasis from us lawyers has been the way we present our petitions and the judges cannot go out of their way from what is presented to them. In most cases we go to court and we say at the conclusion, declare us the winner because we won majority of lawful votes. Basically the judge will not concern himself with the lawful votes and who has the majority of the lawful votes.

“We have not said nullify elections on the grounds that the procedure has not been followed to give the court an opportunity to say, look, you said this has to be done before an election could be said to be credible. You have not done so and so we nullify the election on that score. Most of the petitioners and us, our desire is to be declared the winner. And what we canvass in the court is what the court gives us. We lawyers, sometimes we fear to attack the procedure, because if we do that, we also will not be declared the winner and the election will have to be done afresh.

“But, the procedure is more important than the result or as important as the result because a corrupt procedure has already corrupted the electoral process and then violates the constitution because there cannot be a free and fair election otherwise. For instance, if INEC says, if I finish my election at the polling booth I’ll declare my result there and transmit the result first, then I’ll take the results to the collation centre and INEC does not do that, has it followed the procedure?

“These are the way we have to clean the system, because we cannot build a house without a foundation. Take the issue of Adamawa. Look at how the procedure was about to be violated and look how they had come back and do the right thing. But the initial move was I don’t care. Once I announce the results let them go to court.

“This is the time we should lay a solid foundation in this country. Look at the procedure. The Supreme Court has said in several cases that if there is a procedure of doing something and you deviate from that procedure, the end result should be vitiated. If there is a procedure to conducting an election and suddenly it is deviated from, don’t you think that it is important for us as lawyers to attack these procedures and make sure the right thing to be done.

“I thought we should not be in a haste to say let us do everything and finish before May 29. I said, let us invite the court to say let us look at these procedures and give us a verdict whether these procedures have substantially affected the results of these elections. Let us hear what the court will say. If they say it has substantially affected the results, then next time people will not do it.

“By common sense, there could be unforeseen circumstances, which if it happens, you tell the people what happened. But you keep silent, it is only the court that will interpret why you kept everyone in darkness. That is why everybody. INEC regulation said clearly that you vote, results will be announced, and copies will be scanned, sent to the BVAS, sent to the IReV, and then it is after you do that the results will be taken for collation.

“These are the condition precedent to take the results to the collation centre. I read the regulation and it used Shall, which means one condition is certain, you must send the results to the electronic portal before the result is announced. That was my opinion when I saw the Shall. That goes to the constitution. Does this regulation fit into the laws that can be obeyed and if they’re violated, it does not matter?

“Before now, the court said INEC’s regulations, guidelines and even circulars have constitutional flavour. They flow direct from the constitution and violation of those guidelines and rules is a violation of the constitution. And the court went further to say INEC staff are bound by the guidelines and regulations. I don’t know what the courts will say now. It is INEC which will tell the court why they made guidelines and deviated from it. Then the Supreme Court will look at their previous decisions that said INEC staff ought to follow their guidelines”

Aondoakaa, rebuffed the argument for more regulations and reforms of electoral laws, stating that the laws had been tampered with too frequently, and that instead, the focus should be on punishment for those who chose to break the laws, such as were experienced in the last elections.

“These are human problems. It is the punishment given to those actors that will create a deterrence. The laws are fair enough for a person who wishes to do the right thing. But a person with an evil mind, who is bent on violating the law, like the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Adamawa, who damned the consequences, the only deterrence is punishment, severe punishment. If say you’ll change the method and you bring any other method, that kind of deviant person, plays that role, will you change again. The law will have to take its course. The man will go to jail and no other electoral officer will do that kind of thing.”

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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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