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2023 polls fit for the gutters – NLC, CSOs *Say judiciary must save Nigerian democracy



Civil Society Organisation and the organised labour in Nigeria, practically threw the 2023 general elections into the gutters on Sunday with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), throwing the gauntlet to the judiciary to save the situation or have its name completely smeared forever.

With both agreeing that the election, particularly that of February 25 which produced Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the next President of Nigeria after his declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as winner, the NLC, threatened to set up what it called a hall of shame for judges that would compromise their responsibilities in the dispensation of justice because of pecuniary benefits.

Speaking in a press briefing by the Labour Civil Society Front, (LCSF), in Abuja, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero said that the judiciary in the country was seriously down, a situation that had led to the mantra “go to court” by corrupt people that stole the mandate of the people in the just concluded election.

Ajaero, who alleged that the judiciary had set many states and institutions on fire, citing an example with Imo where he said that it is still a mystery where someone that was not a candidate of a party was declared a governor by the Supreme Court, said: “The judiciary is clearly down. The judiciary has set so many states and institutions on fire. The judiciary has set Imo state on fire. Up till now, people are asking how can a person who is not a candidate of his party be declared governor? The judiciary has so many questions to answer.

”If they failed to answer those questions within a short time we would create a hall of shame for those judges that come up with such judgments and that will happen soon. There is need for the NBA, for all arms in the judiciary, to the bar benches, and all to speak out on what is happening in the judiciary. We doubt whether judiciary is still the last hope of the common man.

“Now the destiny of the country hangs. It is either they fulfil it or they betray it once again. There is a lot, the acronym go to the court these days is now shameful. When people tell you to go to court, they are telling you that’s the end of the matter.

“Somebody will steal your yam and say go to the court. On what basis are those statements being used? That’s the level of ridicule that the judiciary has been brought to and as Nigerians we all need to come out to rescue the judiciary, or else there’ll be no need to continue to go to court.

“The NLC identifies with this body, not necessarily on political basis but in order to rescue this country. We can see the youths struggling these days to see whether they can make an impact. You can see that there is a gulf between those governing end the youths, there is no connection anywhere. What the guys see as a module of governance, some of it they learnt from schools, and not what are being practiced,” it said.

In a statement signed by Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, Comrade Shehu Sani, Ambassador Nkoyo Toyo and Salisu Mohammed on behalf of the Labour Civil Society Front, titled: In the defence of Nigeria’s democracy and in solidarity with the Nigerian workers, the group said though the 2023 general elections had taken place its ripples and aftermath for promising democracy had been worrisome and frightening.

The text read by Ambassador Toyo, said: “Some of us, who are architects of Nigeria’s current democratic experience, being human rights leaders, political rights advocates, progressives, civil society and labour movement activists that fought the military for the restoration of democratic governance in Nigeria, have watched with utter astonishment, how the processes and procedures meant to consolidate our 24 years of democratic wins have been greatly eroded through the 2023 general elections.

“We entered this season of elections with a strong consensus by Nigerians that the New Electoral Act 2022 will improve the level of electoral accountability and that the huge financial investment of about N355 billion in electoral processes (involving the deployment of Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and the INEC Result Viewing Portal (IREV) technology), will make a marked difference to the elections. Sadly, the 2023 general elections became an anti-climax, dashing the hopes of Nigerians for credible elections and denying citizens the emergence of qualitative political leadership across Nigeria.

“Clearly, INEC in cahoots with some members of our political class have driven a death nail into the democratic experience of most Nigerians thus leaving the electorate despondent to resort to self-help in their effort to salvage whatever is left of their vibrant political engagement with the 2023 elections.  Unfortunately, majority of Nigerians, especially the youths who fought with patriotism to reset their country through the ballot box, are now wondering if elections have not become the tool for legitimising the corrupt takeover of Nigeria.

“This dark cloud of angst arising from a terribly mismanaged 2023 General Elections has jolted the confidence and hope of many Nigerians, thus propelling us as Citizens of Conscience to take the bold step of beginning to resist and mitigate the intended and unintended crisis looming over our dear country.

“We recall the hard-earned democratic reputation of many seated here today, who organized in the early 1990s through actions of coalitions of citizens’ groups, labour and human rights organizations for an end to military dictatorship. Their voices held sway as they resorted to citizens’ actions, demonstrations, strikes, global solidarity action and other civil resistance measures to compel the regimes of Presidents Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha to concede to the wishes of the citizens.

“From all indications, the 2023 General Elections has become a rude reminder of how quickly things can degenerate and that the emergence of what was then termed ‘gun powered democracy’, through which incumbent military regimes manipulated political processes to transmutate themselves into ‘elected democratic’ governments, has given way to corrupt money powered imposed rulership, using the trajectory of democratic processes and elections to capture and perpetuate themselves in power.

“In what we see as a democratic redemptive mission,  We the Vanguards of concerned citizens and democrats; with a front seat in the history of democratic transitions in Nigeria, are committed to ensuring that political leadership is not foisted on the country at the expense of the democratic gains made so far.

“As a first step, we have decided to signify our public displeasure at INEC and those behind the political coup against the well-laid out and established electoral norms and standards contained in the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act 2022. Therefore, we condemn the outright manipulation of the electoral process and abdication of responsibility by INEC as it has not only destroyed trust in the democratic process, but has rewarded wrongdoing, making it possible for persons of stupendous wealth, who lack legitimacy, to become the real beneficiaries of our electoral process.”

Describing Nigeria a decomposing democracy, the group said, “Prior to the 2023 general elections, INEC showed early signs of inconsistency by shifting electoral deadlines, which favoured the ruling party, adding: “INEC also discouraged new voters from registering through an abrupt decision to halt the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR). And as if that was not enough, INEC deployed technical personnel manning sensitive positions to non-technical roles, thereby interrupting the seamless and effective deployment of technology in the elections.

“As a decoy, INEC initially displayed a high level of preparedness during off season elections in Anambra, Ekiti, and Osun governorship elections. INEC’s use of technology in those elections gave Nigerians reason to believe that technology will apply in the subsequent 2023 General Elections thereby causing Nigerians to be caught off- guard.

“Though not unexpected, INEC and Security agencies failed to act when in some areas, such as Lagos, attacks on non-indigenous groups wanting to vote were unleashed by the ruling party. Similarly, the use of hate speeches and other criminal behaviours were treated with levity, thereby incentivizing the subsequent use of electoral violence, brigandage and outright impunity during the 2023 elections.

“To give one graphic example, the LP Senatorial Candidate for Enugu East was brutally attacked, set ablaze and murdered a few days to the February 25th Presidential and National Assembly election with little or no consequences.

“On 25th February as well as 18th March 2023, INEC operations were poorly carried out (see reports of various observer groups) as deployment of election materials to polling units witnessed deliberate lapses, while security personnel could not contain the criminal activities of well-armed thugs that took over some strategic polling units in violation of the Electoral Act 2022 and the 2023 Election Guidelines.

“These weaknesses were further worsened by huge and open enticement of voters with cash and gifts by political party operatives in the full glare of security operatives. Additionally,  the speed with which INEC and its officials were willing to disregard the provisions of Sections of the electoral act 2022 and their own electoral Guidelines to hurriedly announce election results, not minding the fact that the processes were severely undermined, gave grounds for deep concerns. For instance, Sec 60(5), and 149 of 2022 Electoral Act and Clause 38 of INEC 2022 Guidelines and Regulations for Conduct of the 2023 General Elections were ignored and manual accreditation of voters for both the presidential and governorship elections were endorsed thus opening the floodgate for the destruction of the sanctity and credibility of the 2023 elections.

“The most phenomenal failure by INEC was her refusal to upload the presidential election results from BVAS unto IREV at real time as stipulated by the Electoral Act 2022, as contained in INEC Guidelines for the 2023 elections as repeatedly espoused by the INEC Chairman. This happened even as the NASS elections conducted at the same time and on the same day were seamlessly uploaded, while INEC was unable to upload results of the Presidential elections as required by the law. These blatant inconsistencies by INEC in applying different electoral standards in conducting same day elections for Presidential and National Assembly elections point to a deliberate manipulation of NEC’s well publicised Guidelines, which INEC mindlessly replaced, opting for administrative arbitrariness.

“In summary, Nigeria suffered a monumental reversal in her electoral and democratic gains through the criminal mismanagement of the electoral process by the INEC and security agencies, who both compromised their duties and donated their power of election refereeing and law enforcement to unscrupulous politicians bent on imposing their self will over and above that of the people.

“A brazen and most shameful example was seen in Adamawa, where INEC emboldened by its many earlier infractions, decided to go for broke, by declaring Senator Binani as winner of an unconcluded governorship election.”



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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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