Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Nigeria: Court won't be used to change poll outcome - CJ

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, Tuesday, assured that under his leadership, the judiciary would not subscribe to any plot to change the outcome of elections through the instrumentality of the court.

The CJN who stated this while swearing-in Justice Ishaq Bello as the new Chief Ju‎dge, CJ, for the Federal Capital Territory, ‎said he was aware that “some unpatriotic citizens may wish to use the courts to stop the electoral process”.

He said: “Permit me to use this opportunity to again assure all Nigerians that, under my leadership, the Judiciary remains resolute and committed to do its constitutional duty during this election period.
Justice Mahmud Mohammed
Justice Mahmud Mohammed

“‎We will not be swayed or distracted from the course of justice in any election matter that is before or comes before the justice system.

“‎It bears reminding to all heads of courts that you are primarily responsible for the preservation of our nation’s democracy. I strongly advise all judicial officers not to allow any party or politician to use the courts to truncate our nation’s democracy.

“We are ‎aware that some unpatriotic citizens may wish to use the courts to stop the electoral process and I wish to warn in clear terms that we shall not be used as a tool for the breakdown of law and order in our beloved country”, the CJN added.

Meantime, the CJN, while congratulating the new CJ for the FCT High Court, Justice Bello, used the occasion to lament on the rising number of corruption cases in the country.

‎According to the CJN, “As your Lordship takes the oath of office and the oath of allegiance, it bears reminding that this oath is not to a man only but is: “A solemn appeal to God”. 

“It is therefore to God that you will be ultimately responsible.  It is from this oath that your duties and responsibilities spring forth and has a binding effect.  It is an ethical undertaking to do Justice as well as uphold the Rule of Law in our Courts.

“As such, my Lord, yours is an especially onerous position, but one which I believe that you are eminently qualified and capable of excelling in.

“My Lord, as you are aware, your immediate predecessor is the first Chief Judge of the FCT to retire and benefit from a valedictory session. I urge you as the incoming Chief Judge to see this as a challenge and aim to serve and retire with honour.

“To re-iterate, yours is a position of utmost responsibility.  This means that in all that you are going to do, you are liable to be called upon to account.  Full responsibility is an enormous challenge to take on, and it can feel overwhelming. However, I am confident in your ability and desire to excel.

“It is important to emphasize that in leadership, certain indispensible qualities must stand out.  Your lordship must be thoughtful, considerate and temperate in judgment.  You must be aware that you are now in the dock, as it were.

“As a leader, you are responsible for everything that happens in your Court, and you may, quite rightly, be held accountable for everything that happens, good or bad.  I therefore urge you to be thorough and diligent in the administration of the courts, knowing full well that praise or condemnation is largely determined by your conduct.

“I note with particular concern the number of corruption cases that are pending before the FCT High Courts and the number that have been returned by the Supreme Court to the trial courts. It bears reminding that posterity does not wear a human face in its judgment.

“I counsel you to ensure that your work remains like sterling silver that becomes more valuable with age.  I therefore urge you to be proactive in seeking out ways to improve justice delivery especially as pertains to the case disposal rate in the FCT High Court of Justice”.

Justice Bello is taking over from the former CJ of the FCT high court, Justice I.M. Bukar, who bowed out of active judicial service yesterday having clocked the 60 years mandatory ‎retirement age.

Earlier, a valedictory session was held in honour of the retiring CJ, Justice Bukar by the FCT high court.

- www.vanguardngr.com

Nigeria: Ghana' ex-president calls for continuous peaceful mood

Ghana’s former President John Kufuor, who is leading an ECOWAS Election Observer delegation in Nigeria has asked Africa’s most populous country to continue in its peaceful mood as the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) collates results from Saturday’s general polls.

“Nigeria so far has been at peace with the process and so we appeal to Nigeria to continue in this mood through the entire process so that at the end of the day the people of Nigeria will be satisfied with themselves that they used the process to give themselves the government they want, [and the Government] they deserve,” Mr Kufuor told journalists.

The incumbent party, PDP earlier Tuesday threatened to reject the final results. Its agent at the collation centre Mr. Godsday Orubebe, a former Minister of State seized the microphone during the collation process and launched an acerbic attack on the head of the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attahiru Jega, accusing him of bias.

According to Mr. Orubebe, Prof Jega gave audience to a protest raised by the APC as far as results in Rivers state were concerned, but has swept similar protests raised by the PDP in four states under the carpet.

“Mr Chairman APC protested to you and you sent a delegation to Rivers state to see what is happening there...

“Mr Chairman we are beginning to see that you are very very selective. You are getting very very partial.

“Mr Chairman we have lost confidence in what you are doing. If we can send a protest to you and you cannot take up that protest then why are we here because the essence of we sending any protest to you is to enable you to look into the matter and see whether it has merits or demerits.

“But when the APC brought their own you went all out to send a delegation…We have complained about Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Kaduna; you have not done anything. Mr Chairman we are not going to take that. We have lost confidence in you because you are partial, you are selective Mr Chairman.

“We don’t believe in you anymore, and we cannot go on the way you are going. You are compromised and we will not take it from you. Until something is done to our letters, until you do something the way you did with APC we will not continue with you.

“You are selective, you are tribalistic, you are partial…until something is done, we will not allow you to continue with this thing. Nigeria will not allow you do this.

"Every protest must be taken seriously,” the angry PDP agent said.
Collation stalled for a while.

Meanwhile partial results, according to the BBC give ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari a narrow lead over the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan.

With more than half of Nigeria's 36 states declared, Gen Buhari's All Progressives Congress (APC) is ahead by half a million votes.

A victory for Gen Buhari would make President Jonathan the first incumbent to lose an election in Nigeria.

BBC Correspondents say it is likely the loser will allege foul play.
More than 800 people were killed in protests after Mr Jonathan beat Gen Buhari in the previous election.

Results so far:

Gen Buhari: 10,454,137 votes;

Passed 25% threshold in 16 states
Mr Jonathan: 9,953,432 votes;

Passed 25% threshold in 20 states

Results from 25 states Abuja
Candidates needs 25% in 24 states for first-round victory

Source: Ghana/StarrFMonline.com/103.5fm with files from BBC

Nigeria: Opposition leader leads in partial poll results

Partial results from Nigeria's election give ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari more votes than the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan.

However, populous states such as Lagos and Rivers are yet to declare.

With just over half of Nigeria's states declared, Gen Buhari's All Progressives Congress (APC) was reported to be ahead by some two million votes.

More results are due to be announced from 10:00 local time (09:00 GMT) on Tuesday.

Nigeria's election commission (Inec) suspended its declarations late on Monday night, after giving the results for 18 states and the capital Abuja.

President Jonathan's People's Democratic Party (PDP) gained 6,488,210 votes and Gen Buhari's APC party received 8,520,436 votes.

Several key states have yet to declare in the south, where Mr Jonathan, a southerner, enjoys strong support, .

The candidate with the most votes will only avoid a run-off if they gain at least 25% of the votes in two-thirds of Nigeria's 36 states.

The BBC's Will Ross in Abuja says that at this point, neither side is mentioning the possibility of losing the election.

Our correspondent says that international observers have broadly praised the conduct of the vote but there has been some concern over possible efforts to rig the outcome during the count.

Source: BBC

Monday, March 30, 2015

Nigeria: Vote-counting under way after close poll

A few months before Nigeria's national elections, both main candidates embraced and promised a peaceful election. That pledge is now under serious threat.

Protesters fired gunshots and torched a local electoral office in Nigeria's oil-rich Rivers state as they marched to protest national elections held to elect Nigeria's next President.

"There's been so much violence in Rivers state that it's just not tenable," said Lai Mohammed, spokesman for the main opposition party, the All Peoples Congress.

The All Peoples Congress says the vote has been rigged, voters intimidated and demanded that the elections held in Rivers state be canceled.

The ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, refutes the accusation, saying the election was "credible and the result reflects the overwhelming wish of the people of Rivers state to support President Goodluck Jonathan."

Heavy rain eventually forced the protesters home, but there are fears that it will take more than rain to stop further protests and violence.

"We are concerned by what seems to be happening," said Attahiru Jega, Nigeria's election chairman, about events in Rivers state.

Nigeria has just held what are thought to be the closest elections since a return to democracy in 1999 after decades of military rule. The two main candidates are incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and retired general Muhammedu Buhari.

What is at stake in the protests in Rivers state is not whether Nigeria can hold an election, but can it hold a "close" election.

Voting is now over and the results are being counted. Jega says the final result will likely be announced within 48 hours.

The fear is that the results may not be accepted by whomever loses.

And if the opposition believes it has been rigged out of victory by the ruling party, then the protests in Rivers state could spread to northern Nigeria. Over 800 people were killed in post-election violence across the north after the 2011 elections were thought to be illegitimate.

And so both candidates have taken to social media to call for calm.

"I want to urge all Nigerians to also wait patiently for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to collate and announce results," stated Jonathan on his Facebook account.

"Fellow Nigerians, I urge you to exercise patience and vigilance as we wait for all results to be announced," said Buhari on Twitter.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Nigeria polls: Bomb explosion in Enugu State

A bomb went off Saturday morning at the WTC primary and secondary school premises as Nigerians prepared to vote in the 2015 presidential elections. There are five polling booths in the WTC complex and according to a female witness, who lives very close to the premises, the first bomb went off with a deafening blast at 7.38am.

The noise attracted policemen and residents around the area to the sight of the blast including early voters. But the regular policemen, worried that there could be more bombs, warned people off while they waited for the arrival of the police bomb squad.

With the arrival of the Bomb Squad, it was learnt that the first bomb was planted in a Honda saloon car. The Commissioner of Police who was drafted in the area for the election exercise, Dan Bature was at the scene as well.

As at the time of filing this report, the Bomb Squad had detonated three other bombs and were still trying to detonate others.

Addressing journalists, Bature confirmed that a Honda Accord car with registration number KUJ 971 LB was abandoned in the WTC “and our men were alerted. The Bomb Disposal Department discovered some well-placed Improvised Explosive Devises (IED).

Bature said: “We don’t know their motives or who they are. No lives were lost. We are here in full strength and we are on top of the situation. All is well and we will ensure those who are here to vote will vote.”

Source: ngrguardiannews.com

Nigeria: Electoral Commission's website hacked

The website of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Nigeria has been hacked by a group calling itself "team Nigerian Cyber Army".

The group claimed responsibility for the attack. All content on the site has been replaced with: "FEEL SOME SHAME ADMIN" and a warning which reads: "WE GAT ACCESS TO OTHER HIGH RANKING NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT SERVERS BUT WE ARE NOT HERE FOR THAT TODAY!"

The hacking coincides with the presidential polls of Africa’s most populous nation.

Voting is currently underway in the oil rich country with incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP and former head of state Mahamudu Buhari of the APC being the lead contenders.

Voters have to validate their voting cards using a fingerprint reader.

But technical problems with some readers are causing delays.

President Jonathan tried for some 50 minutes to register in his home village of Otuoke.

Source: Ghana/StarrFMonline.com/103.5fm

Boko Haram gunmen kill 6 voters in northeast Nigeria

DAMATURU, Nigeria (Reuters) - Islamist Boko Haram insurgents launched two deadly attacks on voters in northeast Nigeria on Saturday, police and a security source said, killing six people in an election in which insecurity is a major issue.

One attack was in Ngalda, Yobe state, state police commissioner Danladi Marcus told Reuters by telephone. The other was in an ethnic Fulani village called Woru in Gombe state, a security source said.

In both attacks gunmen opened fire on voters as they trekked to their polling stations, killing three in each.

Nigeria: Polls open in tight elections

Voting is ongoing in Nigeria’s Presidential and National Assembly elections expected to be the most competitive since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999. The presidential poll is seen as a straight fight between incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) General Muhammadu Buhari.

Polls opened at 07:00 GMT this morning for accreditation (voter verification) with 68,833,476 voters eligible to cast their ballots for 14 presidential and 739 senatorial. Voting will starts 12:30 GMT and voters must vote in the same Polling Unit they completed their voter registration.

Opinion polls are divided as to who will win the elections but most of the results favor Ex-Military Leader Buhari. Analysis has shown that while votes in the South East and South-South votes are for Jonathan, the north and South-West would mainly go to Buhari.

Analysts predicts Buhari is to win 15 states in the north, 3 states in the South-West and 1 state in the south-south, while Jonathan is expected to win 1 state in the North and 7 states in the East and South -South. The other deciding states and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja are too close to call and could go either way.

President Jonathan is expected to win Bayelsa and Cross River in the South-South, Taraba state in the north, clinch Anambra, Abia Enugu, Ebonyi, in the East, Delta.

According to analysts, Buhari, the main contender is expected to win in Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Nassarawa, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara all in the North. In the South-West, Buhari is likely to win in Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, and Edo in the South South.

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is for the first time in Nigeria using card readers which is meant to curb vote rigging. Meanwhile, INEC has accredited about 88 foreign and local observer missions to monitor the elections including the African Union, European Union, ECOWAS, United Nations Women, All Nigerian Nationals in Diaspora and the International Republican Institute.

A presidential candidate requires 25% of valid votes from two-thirds of the oil-rich country’s 36 states and the capital to win the race.


Stay with the African elections twitter handle twitter @africanelection and facebook page for regular updates with the hashtags #NigeriaDecides #Nigeria2015 for updates on twitter

Friday, March 27, 2015

Nigeria: Election result to be declared within 48 hrs

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, yesterday disclosed that the results of today’s presidential and National Assembly elections will be declared within 48 hours.

He said the commission is making all efforts to ensure that results are disclosed much earlier than in 2011, adding that the confidence the commission has in the 48 hour period for the election results was based on the improvements the commission has made since 2011.

Jega stated this during a joint press conference with the director general of the National Youth Service Commission (NYSC), Brig-Gen. Johnson Olawumi, on last minute preparations for the polls.

He however added that not all states will be able to get results within 24 hours.

The INEC boss also debunked allegations that a purported master key for the commission’s database has been compromised, noting that INEC’s database does not use a master key, but a source code for encryption and decryption.

Jega, who was replying to an allegation by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Council that the master key was in possession of the APC, said only the producers of the database infrastructure of INEC have the source code.

He said the company, Act Technologies Limited, was approved by the Federal Executive Committee and was never blacklisted.

The INEC chairman further regretted that the allegations over the compromise of its database was baseless and has the propensity to threaten the credibility of the elections.

Jega also noted that the award of the contract to the company passed all required due processes.

He said “it is regrettable and a pity that people can say all sorts of things and get away freely with it.”

He said “it is a last minute attempt to undermine the credibility of the elections.”

He further stated that there is no disagreement with the Inspector General of Police, Suleman Abba, over whether “to vote and go or vote and stay”, noting that voters would have the choice of waiting or staying after casting their votes.

He however said the presence of voters during the counting of votes would enhance the credibility of the polls.

Jega however advised corps members recruited by INEC for the election to take up the assignment with all the seriousness it deserves, noting that their security and welfare have been taken care of.

He hailed the role of corps members in enhancing the electoral process.

On his part, the DG of the NYSC, urged the corps members to handle the assignment with high integrity, while advising them to stay away from any acts that may tarnish the image of the scheme, their families and the nation.

The DG also assured corps members of their welfare and security, noting that while INEC has disbursed 100 per cent for the corps members, the NYSC has disbursed 50 percent of that amount pending the completion of their assignment.

He underscored that the decision to give them some part of the money was to enable them resist any form of pressure from politicians to compromise.

He said the non-payment of corps members allowance is now a thing of the past.

Presidential Poll: We’ll deal with perpetrators of violence, Jonathan warns

* Says security forces are ready

President Goodluck Jonathan has warned those nursing plans to cause violence during today’s presidential poll and the April 11 governorship elections to have a rethink, saying the country’s security forces are fully prepared to deal decisively with culprits.

According to him, while democracy gives room for dissent, encourages differences and disagreements, elections “must never be mistaken for war or an opportunity to set fellow citizens against each other, or tear the country apart”.

Speaking in a nationwide broadcast aired live on television and radio stations, Jonathan noted that he was under oath to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians in the country and as such would not tolerate any form of violence.

Reiterating his popular stance that no political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian, he said Nigeria, under his watch, will never give up its democracy for any other form of government, and urged Nigerians to go out and vote those they want to lead them in tomorrow’s elections as well as the April 11 election.

He said, “Let me warn, however, that as president and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, I am under oath to protect the lives of all Nigerians and the security of our country at all times. I will never abdicate my responsibilities in that regard.

Elections“Those who may harbour any intentions of testing our will by unleashing violence during the elections in order to advance their political ambitions should think again as all necessary measures have been put in place to ensure that any persons who breach the peace or cause public disorder during or after the elections are speedily apprehended and summarily dealt with according to our laws.

“The nation’s security agencies are also fully prepared and ready to deal decisively with any group or persons who attempt to disrupt the peaceful conduct of the elections or cause any form of public disorder.

“I will like to restate my belief that no political ambition can justify violence or the shedding of the blood of our people.”

Reaffirming his readiness “to ensure fair play during the elections and to deploy the resources and institutions of state only in the manner prescribed by our laws”, he said today’s election is another important milestone as the country continues to march towards the fulfilment of its God-given potential for greatness.

The president continued: “The election offers us another opportunity to empower leaders of our choice once again, and to show the world that genuine democracy is alive and well in our beloved nation.

“Our dear country, Nigeria is the largest democracy amongst black nations of the world. We are a nation of great accomplishments, with a proud history of evolving affinities. Let us go out tomorrow to vote peacefully and set a fitting example of political maturity for other emerging democracies to follow.”

He added that all Nigerians have worked hard “to nurture and strengthen their democratic institutions and promote the good governance practices which were designed to deliver for the wellbeing of our people”.

Noting that all Nigerians cherish the democracy they now have and will never willingly give it up for any other form of governance, Jonathan urged the electorate “to troop out en masse to peacefully perform your civic duty of voting for leaders of your choice tomorrow”.

“As we do so, let us all-political party leaders, contestants, party members, party agents, supporters and ordinary voters alike-be very conscious of the fact that the eyes of the entire world are on us. We must therefore comport ourselves in a manner that will further strengthen our democracy and consolidate our place in the comity of truly democratic nations,” he stated.

He said on assumption of office, he made a commitment to progressively deliver freer, fairer and more credible elections in the country, which he has fulfilled.

He said, “In keeping with that commitment, the federal government has given the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) all necessary support to ensure that it conducts very successful elections tomorrow and on April 11.

“We have all been assured that INEC is fully ready for the elections. I believe that we can all trust that they are certainly more ready now than they may have been before security issues and other concerns necessitated a re-scheduling of the dates for the 2015 general elections.

“As an administration, we welcome the fact that millions of Nigerians who were yet to receive their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) as at February 14, and would therefore have been unfairly disenfranchised if the polls had gone ahead on that date, have seized the opportunity of the re-scheduling to collect their cards and can now exercise their right to vote tomorrow.”

He expressed delight the Armed Forces have successfully stopped the capturing of Nigerian territories in the northeast by the Boko Haram sect.

His words: “They (the military) have recaptured most of the communities and territories formerly occupied by the insurgents, making it possible for thousands of internally-displaced Nigerians to begin returning to their homes and communities.

“I heartily commend the very courageous men and women of our Armed Forces for the immense sacrifices which they continue to make in defending the nation and protecting its citizens.”

20,000 policemen deployed to northeast

About 20, 000 police officers and men have been deployed by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Suleman Abba, for the general elections in the northeast. This was disclosed by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG), Hillary Okpara, while briefing newsmen at the Bauchi police command.

Okpara, who was posted to coordinate security put in place in the six states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe in the zone, said that the policemen have been adequately trained.

The DIG of police in charge of administration was posted to supervise the security personnel in the zone made up of Zone 12 with headquarters in Bauchi and Zone 3 with headquarters in Yola, for the elections.

“We have enough policemen and apart from the number we have resident in the northeast the IG has sent some additional units of Police Mobile Force (PMF) to come and augment the policemen in the northeast,” he said.

He said that the policemen have been adequately trained, assuring that there was no need for his men to be afraid of Boko Haram insurgents, stressing that provisions have been made to protect Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as well.

The DIG said: “The military are there. There is always a procedure. When the police go out the military will move in. Right now the military are there so the police cannot go in.

“I am not afraid of any threat from Boko Haram. When I leave here (Bauchi), I am going to all the states in the northeast zone. Like I said my chopper will arrive any moment from now and I will take off.”

DIG Okpara said his men would be supported by other security agencies drawn from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Nigeria Prisons Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Road Safety Corps, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

He urged voters from the region to come out and vote, but advised that eligible voters should stay at least 200 metres from the polling units after casting their votes.

“We have provided adequate security for the electorate, local and international observers. The parties have their agents to represent their parties, that is why we are saying for the safety of the results; for the safety of the electoral materials and men; for the safety of all, after casting the votes, voters should keep off.

“Where you have two or three policemen in a polling unit and you have a large crowd hovering over them what do you think will happen? That is why we say there is no point hanging around the polling units after voting.”

On the allegation by the All Progressives Congress (APC) that the Bauchi State governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda has recruited over 3,000 vigilantes and equipped them with uniform to intimidate the electorate to vote against their choice, the DIG explained that there was no need to fret.

DIG Okpara said: “The IG has made it clear that only statutorily empowered security agencies will monitor and ensure security in these elections.

“If you go out there, you will see them patrolling. We don’t want any other security agencies to get involved in these elections. The IG has made it clear while briefing the press in Abuja. So we don’t want to see any other person in any uniform not authorised coming out for the elections. If you do that the security agencies will arrest you and charge you to court.”


Nigeria: Jonathan and Buhari sign peace pact

Nigeria's two main presidential candidates have signed an agreement to prevent violence in tightly contested elections due on Saturday.

Ex-military ruler Abdulsalami Abubakar brokered the deal in talks between President Goodluck Jonathan and his main challenger Muhammadu Buhari.

The two promised to respect the outcome of a credible poll and urged their supporters to refrain from violence.

Some 800 people were killed after the 2011 contest between the two rivals.

Mr Jonathan is facing a strong challenge from Gen Buhari, with some analysts predicting a photo-finish.

Thursday is the final day of campaigning and the government has closed its land and sea borders to ensure a peaceful election.

'Embrace peace'

The meeting between the two candidates came after Nigeria's National Peace Committee, chaired by Gen Abubakar, warned on Monday that campaigning had been marred by hate speech that could trigger a crisis in the oil-rich state.

Jump media playerMedia player helpOut of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.

The BBC's Tomi Oladipo reports from the capital, Abuja, that both candidates shook hands and hugged.

They called on their supporters to embrace peace, regardless of who won.
But concern remains in Nigeria over whether the electoral commission is ready for the huge logistical exercise in sub-Saharan Africa's most populous state, our correspondent says.

The polls were due on 14 February, but were postponed to 28 March to give the commission more time to prepare for the polls and for regional forces to regain territory from militant Islamist group Boko Haram in the north-east.

Campaign group Human Rights Watch says Boko Haram had killed some 1,000 people this year alone.

On Wednesday, army chief Kenneth Minimah said adequate security arrangements had been made for the polls.

Anyone who caused conflict would meet "organised violence" from the security forces, he added.

Meanwhile, Doha-based al-Jazeera reports that two of its journalists, Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustafa, have been detained by government forces in the city of Maiduguri, the former headquarters of Boko Haram.

It quoted the military as saying the journalists, both Nigerian nationals, were operating without "protection, accreditation or due clearance".

Al-Jazeera said both men had been accredited by the electoral commission to report from anywhere in Nigeria and it demanded their unconditional release.


Nigeria: Candidates conclude campaign ahead of elections

Campaigning wound to a close in Nigeria's presidential elections, with the two leading candidates delivering their final messages to supporters before the crunch vote.

Land and sea borders were shut at midnight on Wednesday (2300 GMT) as part of stringent security measures that also include an eight-hour restriction on movement when polling stations are open.

Nigeria has a history of election-related unrest and both candidates appeared keen to prevent a repeat of 2011, when 1,000 people were killed in clashes after the results were announced.

This time round, fears of Boko Haram suicide attacks and bombings at vulnerable targets, including polling stations, have seen unprecedented calls for vigilance from the security services.

- 'Peace deal' -

Jonathan and Buhari signed a pledge of non-violence in January and on Thursday repeated their commitment to peaceful elections, with the campaign due to formally end at midnight.

"Now that the campaigns have come to an end, we meet to renew our pledge for peaceful elections," read a document signed by the two men at a hotel in Abuja and made available to reporters.

"We therefore call on all fellow citizens of our dear country and our party supporters to refrain from violence or any acts that may in any way jeopardise our collective vision of a free, fair and credible election."

The country is almost evenly split between a Muslim-majority north and largely Christian south, with Buhari and Jonathan traditionally pulling support from their respective regions.

Acceptance of the result is seen as key to preventing violence and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said it had been working with the parties to tone down often violent rhetoric.

"All this will add up when the elections are through and the results are announced and we see that they conduct themselves in accordance with the pledges and promises that have been made," INEC spokesman Kayode Idowu told AFP.

- Final messages -

View galleryA campaign billboard of Nigerian President Goodluck …
A campaign billboard of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and candidate of the ruling Peoples Dem …
Jonathan published a "thank you" message to Nigerians on the front page of many national newspapers, with a 40-page colour pull-out detailing his claimed achievements.

But the president recognised the challenge from Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) which could see his ruling party defeated for the first time since the end of military rule in 1999.

"Right now there are only a few more hours to the election. I cannot recall an election more important than this in the history of our nation and I need your support," the 57-year-old wrote.

"I need you to vote for me in this election, not just because of me, but so that we consolidate on the progress we have made."

Jonathan is campaigning for continuity and has vowed to complete the work he has started in his first four years in office.

Buhari, 72, who headed a military government in the 1980s and describes himself as a "converted democrat", has for his part pushed an agenda of "change".

View galleryOfficials check voting materials at the Independent …
Officials check voting materials at the Independent National Electoral Commission offices in Port Ha …
He criticised "insecurity, broken infrastructure and growing inequality", vowing action against Boko Haram and corruption, which he said had made Nigeria "a laughing stock of the world".

"Rebuilding the army and other security agencies will... be a top priority of my government. I will ensure that never again will terrorists find a safe haven in Nigeria," he added.

He said he would also reunite the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the group in April last year with their families.

- INEC on track -

The electoral commission charged with organising the election in Africa's most populous nation meanwhile said it was on track for a smooth operation.

Some 68.8 million voters out of a total population of some 173 million are registered to vote in Nigeria, which is also Africa's leading economy and top oil producer.

Ballot papers and election materials, including for the first time handheld readers to scan biometric voter identity cards, had been sent to the country's 36 states and capital territory.

"Everything is in place," said the INEC's Idowu.

The INEC has come under scrutiny for its preparedness, even after the initial February 14 vote was postponed because of military operations against Boko Haram in the northeast.

Jonathan's PDP voiced concern about the distribution of voter cards and the card-reading technology.

But Idowu said the election "will be as flawless as humanly possible", and that results would be announced within 48 hours of polls closing on Saturday.

In an interview with AFP, Buhari said he did not think the election could be tampered with but warned of "consequences" if there is foul play.

Meanwhile the US said its top diplomat for Africa Linda Thomas-Greenfield will travel to Nigeria to observe the elections, an unusual move for Washington as it closely monitors the country's Islamist crisis.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Togo: Electoral body to issue 500,000 specimen ballot papers to voters

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has to print 500,000 specimens of the ballot that will be presented to voters during the campaign to familiarize them with their use.

These newsletters will be distributed to representatives of five candidates, they can use them during meetings, briefings and to appear on posters and brochures.

The report shall include the name of each candidate with his photo and logo of his party.

Voters can make their choice by placing their mark in the appropriate box.


Nigeria: Ghana ex-president heads ECOWAS observer mission

The leader of the ECOWAS election monitoring and observation team, former President John Agyekum Kufuor would arrive in Nigeria on Wednesday to oversee the conduct of Saturday’s presidential elections in that country.

Mr Kufuor and his team would stay until the end of the elections, monitoring what happens before, during and after the polls.

President John Dramani Mahama, who is the chairman of ECOWAS made this known at a media briefing in Abuja last Monday after meeting the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.

Mr Mahama, was on a one-day pre-election visit to Nigeria as the chair of Authority of Head of States of ECOWAS, to solidarize with the people on the upcoming elections and especially get the political leaders and other stakeholders to make the elections free fair and credible.

Early on Monday, Mr Mahama met with President Goodluck Jonathan and the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, "and we discussed all issues that has to do with the coming election and I had firm assurances that everything is set to go and on March 28."


Togo: ECOWAS calls for new voter's register

Ghana's President and Chairman of Ecowas, John Mahama, has helped resolve a threatening political dispute in Togo by endorsing a decision to postpone the election originally scheduled for April 15 to May 25, 2015.

His intervention was in response to calls from Togo's opposition parties over the credibility of the voters register which they allege is bloated.

President Mahama urged the Togolese authorities to agree to an independent audit of the voters register of Togo, arguing that it was important Togo goes into the election with a register which enjoys the confidence of all parties.

Opposition parties in Togo have some time now questioned the credibility of the country's voter's register.

They said they suspected the grounds were being laid for President Faure Gnassingbe to win the elections through a questionable voters register and called for a review of the register to ensure confidence in the process.

Last Tuesday, members of the opposition parties paid a courtesy call on Ghana's former President, J.J Rawlings.

The former President in a meeting with the leadership of Togo's National Alliance for Change Party (ANC) said as a Ghanaian he was naturally interested in developments in Togo.

An official statement said he counseled the leadership of The National Alliance for Change (ANC) to consult ECOWAS Chairman, President John Dramani Mahama to pass on all their concerns.

The Togolese delegation was led by Jean-Pierre Fabre, the party's president, Mr. Latevi Georges Lawson, Special Advisor and Octave Koffi Anthony, a cabinet member.

Former President Rawlings said they would also prompt President Mahama to look into the matter but stressed the need for the concerned Togolese parties to channel their grievances to the ECOWAS leadership.

Former President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Victor Gbeho who was at the meeting said he was happy that the Togolese opposition was using peaceful channels to express their concerns.

-Source: Office of the President

Nigeria: Borders closed over security concerns ahead of Saturday's elections

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered the closure of the country's land and sea borders ahead of this weekend's general election, the interior ministry said Wednesday.

The closure will take effect from midnight on March 25 until the same time March 28, after polling closes for presidential and parliamentary elections.

"President Goodluck Jonathan has approved the closure of all Nigeria's land and sea borders ... to allow for peaceful conduct of the forthcoming national elections," permanent secretary at the ministry Abubakar Magaji said in an emailed statement.

On Tuesday, Nigeria's federal police chief ordered the "total restriction" of vehicles between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on election day, apart from the emergency services and others on "essential duties.”

Nigeria is bordered by Benin to the west, Cameroon to the east and also had borders with Chad and Niger in the north.

Security is always a major issue at Nigerian elections, with politically linked violence often flaring between supporters of rival parties. Concern is especially high this year due to an increase in violent attacks on civilians by the armed group Boko Haram.

In the last elections in 2011, about 1,000 people were killed in clashes, mostly in the country’s violent north, after Jonathan beat opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari for the presidency.

The two men are again contesting this year's election, with many predicting that the vote — delayed for six weeks because of military operations against Boko Haram — is too close to call.

Nigeria watchers expect the results of the election to be a challenge for authorities.

“Victory by either candidate will certainly throw up new security challenges,” wrote Nnamdi Obasi, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. “The main candidates and many of their supporters strongly reject even the possibility that they could lose.”

The threat posed by Boko Haram is far greater to the country this time around, and as a result of their insurgency against the central government, thousands of Nigerians have fled the country to neighboring countries, mostly from Nigeria’s north where Boko Haram has its power base.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Wednesday that more than 74,000 people had fled to Cameroon, with another more than 100,000 having left for Chad and Niger.

The U.N.'s refugee agency says the crisis is one of the most underfunded in the world. In February, the agency asked for $71 million to assist displaced people in Nigeria and the neighboring countries; already that figure appears to be too low, it said this week. Thus far, it has received only $6.8 million in donations.

Nigerian, Chadian and Niger forces have driven Boko Haram fighters out of a string of towns in simultaneous offensives over the past month in a sign that the government may be gaining some ground against the group. Nigeria says all but three of the 20 local government areas occupied at the beginning of the year have been freed.

But in a sign of the group’s still very potent capabilities in the country, a government official said Wednesday that Boko Haram had kidnapped hundreds of Nigerian civilians, many of whom were children, earlier this month.

Al Jazeera and wire services

Nigeria: Card readers to expose fraudulent politicians in polls

The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has assured Nigerians that his commission had made all the necessary preparations for transparent and credible elections on March 28 and April 11, 2015.

Prof Jega made the comments in Abuja yesterday during the inauguration of the Civil Society Organisations’ (CSOs’) Situation Room, where CSO representatives, under the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room, would receive and analyse reports of the elections.

The INEC boss, who said the use of card readers would help to expose fraudulent politicians, also disclosed that his commission had evolved various electronic measures to limit fraud in the elections, but it would delay to apply them till 2019, apart from the card reader which would be used now.

According to him, those opposed to the deployment of the card reader in this year’s elections are those who fear that their fraudulent conduct will be detected.
He assured that the commission had done “everything possible to ensure that the 2015 general elections are successful, and, in particular, we have done everything possible to ensure that we have prepared operationally and logistically for the conduct of the elections.”

Jega further revealed all the non-sensitive materials had earlier been taken to all the local government offices, and that from today (yesterday), “the sensitive materials will be received from the vault of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and taken to our state offices, accompanied by agents of political parties. Then, later this evening, till tomorrow morning, these will be distributed various local governments.”

The coordinator of the Situation Room and executive director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Clement Nwankwo, urged INEC to do all within its powers to ensure that it rectified all the lapses experienced in past elections.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Togo: ECOWAS proposes presidential poll delay

The Head of State of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, President of the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) visited a few hours Tuesday in Lome through an assessment mission the electoral process.

According to the communiqué issued at the end of this movement, 'the current chairman of ECOWAS took note of the progress of the electoral process and expressed the fervent hope that efforts could be prosecuted for the holding of presidential elections in a peaceful climate and transparent, to allow the people of Togo to continue its economic and social development in a spirit of cohesion and national harmony. '

Mr. Dramani Mahama noted the measures taken by the government to secure the whole process. He also noted the concerns raised by some candidates and which relate in particular to the electoral lists and ballots. He asked the political class to provide every assistance in a republican spirit, for the success of the next presidential election.

After his various interviews with all stakeholders and in order to defuse the atmosphere on the eve of the election campaign the boss of the ECOWAS has proposed postponing ten days of the originally scheduled presidential election April 15, 2015. A decision that is ultimately the Togolese authorities.

The Head of State met with Ghanaian 5 candidates for president and members of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

Source: http://www.republicoftogo.com/

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Togo: EU supports presidential elections with experts

The European Union (EU) on, Monday presented 2 electoral experts to help Togo in the electoral process for the April 15 presidential elections. The EU Leader of Delegation in Togo, Nicolas Berlanga Martinez, made this known when he met the Prime Miniter of Togo, Arthème Séléagodji Ahoomey-Zunu.

According to the EU ambassador, this is purely a technical support mission to dialogue in relation to their commitment to help Togo improve the quality of electoral processes.

"We explained to the head of government two objectives of this mission. The first is to be available to the head of state if he would like to call this mission and the second is that these technical experts will prepare a report which will not be public and that will establish dialogues that the European Union will take after the elections " Berlanga said.

The military installed the sitting President, Faure Gnassingbe, into power after the death of his father in 2005, but together with his father have ruled Togo for nearly five decades. About 7 opposition candidates are contesting for the presidential post.


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Nigeria: Election factsheet for 2015 elections

Nigeria gained independence from the British on 1st October 1960. In 1963, the country transitioned itself into a Federal Republic with Nnamdi Azikiwe as the first president. Nigeria has enjoyed an uninterrupted civilian democracy since May, 1999, the longest period of civilian rule in the country’s history after the end of a 16-year consecutive military rule. The oil rich country runs a British-model parliamentary system from 1960 to 1966. Nigeria adopted a U.S.-model bicameral U.S. congressional system in 1999.

The National Assembly is made up of two chambers: the House of Representatives with 360 members, elected for a four-year term in single-seat constituencies. The Senate comprises of 109 members, elected for a four-year term: each of the 36 states is divided into 3 senatorial districts, each of which is represented by one senator; but the Federal Capital Territory is represented by only one senator.

Below are some facts and figures about the May 2014 elections:

• Nigeria will go to the polls on Saturday, March 28, 2015, to participate in Presidential and National Assembly elections.

• The elections were postponed by 6 weeks from the initial February 14 to the current date due to security concerns.

• The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is the ruling political party.

• The PDP has ruled for 16 years since the country returned to democratic rule in 1999.

• The main political parties include: PDP, All Progressives Congress (APC), Labor, and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

• A candidate needs to garner at least a quarter (25%) of valid votes in two-thirds of the oil-rich country’s 36 states and the capital.

• Goodluck Jonathan is Nigeria’s current President, 57, sworn into office in May 2010.

• Goodluck Jonathan won the 2011 elections with 57% of the vote translating into 22.5 million votes.

• There are 150,000 polling across the nations, up from the 119,973 in 2011.

• The 2011 elections were the most violent in Nigeria’s history with 800 fatalities in three days and over 65,000 people displaced.

• INEC trained an estimated 1.2 million ad-hoc staff to help conduct the General Elections peacefully.

• PDP currently controls 23 out of the 36 states and has been in power since the country’s return to democracy in 1999.

• The 2015 election is seen as a two horse race between sitting president, Goodluck E. Jonathan, 57, and Muhammadu Buhari, 72, of the APC.

• In 2013, the 4 biggest opposition parties (the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA)) overcome their ethnic, religious and regional differences to form the All Progressive Congress (APC).

• According to the INEC, the official number of registered voters for 2015 elections are 68,833,476.

• 739 and 1,780 candidates will contest for the Senatorial elections and House of Representatives respectively.

• 14 Presidential candidates will contest the polls

• INEC will use card readers for the first time in the history of Nigerians elections

• INEC conducted registration in all the 119,973 registration Centres across the country

• According to security agencies about 360,000 security operatives (300, 000 police officers, 60, 000 of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps) and 25 sniffer dogs would be deployed across the country during the general elections.

• The police will use about 2,000 patrol vehicles during elections.

• Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the 7th most populous country in the world

• Nigeria has had 3 democratically elected presidents since the end of military rule in 1999.

• The sitting president, Goodluck Jonathan became acting president in May 2010 after the untimely death of President Umaru Yar'Adua. Jonathan then won the presidential elections held in 2011 on the ticket of PDP.

• The Senate and House of Representatives elections will be held on April 11, 2015.

• Out of the 3 presidents Nigeria has had, 2 of them are christains , namely: Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan while the late Umaru Yar'Adua was a Muslim.

• Under the auspices of the former UN Sectrary-General, Kofi Annan and former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, all 14 participating parties signed “the Abuja Accord”on January 14, 2015 which commits them to non-violence and the acceptance election results.

• INEC has given Eighty eight (88) Observer groups the approval to participate in both the ‘Presidential and National Assembly’ and ‘Governorship and House of Assembly’.

• The election is threatened by the insurgency of the militant group, Boko Haram in especially the North-East of Nigeria. The group has been estimated to have killed 10,000 people since 2009.

• Nigeria has the biggest economy (GDP) in Africa worth over $500 billion and the 21th in the world.

• Nigeria is Africa's leading oil producer.

• The candidate who wins would have to deal with the country’s incessant energy crisis, inadequate security, corruption, the current free fall in oil prices oil business, and the long-standing infrastructure issues.

• The Mach 28 polls will be the strongest test to the dominance of PDP due to the alliance by key opposition parties.

• Out of the 32,718,943 women eligible to run for office, only one (1), Remi Sonaiya, is contesting for the Presidency of a country in which women make up nearly half of the population. She holds a PhD in linguistics.

• The 2003 elections had the highest number of female presidential contestants - 2.

• The average age of contenders is 52 years while the oldest candidate is 72 years.

• Only one of Nigeria’s 6 geopolitical zones, the troubled North-East, has not produced a presidential candidate for the February 14 polls.

• Out of the 14 presidential candidates, 12 have a degree or above whilst 2 have O’ Level certificates. There are 5 PhD and 1 professor holders running for president

• 10 out of 14 vice-presidential candidates are men representing 71% while 4 are females representing 29%

• 56.4m eligible voters representing 81.98% have collected their PVCs for this week’s elections.


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Togo: ECOWAS chair visits Togo ahead of elections

The Head of State of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, the current president of the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) is expected in mid-morning in Lome.

The delegation of ECOWAS comes to discuss the electoral process to ensure that the voting will take place in a peaceful climate.

The Togolese authorities are open to all comments and suggestions that can offer maximum guarantees in the presidential election of 15 April.

ECOWAS officials intend to support all countries in the region that hold an election this year, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso in particular.

Source: http://www.republicoftogo.com/


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Nigeria: Ballot papers for polls arrive tomorrow

Ballot papers for this Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections are to be moved from Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN vaults from tomorrow, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has said.

Mr. Kayode Idowu, chief press secretary to the INEC chairman, told Vanguard yesterday that already, all the non-sensitive materials have been distributed while the ballot papers where kept in the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) branches across the country.

Mr. Idowu also dismissed any effect on the election arising from the theft of a card reader in Zamfara State as he said that the particular reader stolen had not been configured and will be useless to the thieves.

He also confirmed that the ballot papers for the different positions and locations had been customised in such a way that it will be difficult to be faked by anybody.

The commission he said, is ready with the logistics that will enhance a free, fair and credible polls across the country.

“The non-sensitive materials have long been sent to locations for onward distribution to polling units for the polls while the sensitive materials which are the ballot papers have been at the Central Bank vaults, and by this Wednesday, they will be distributed to the states. From the state offices they will be taken to the local government offices on Thursday and from there we distribute to ward levels on Friday. And by 5 am on Saturday people will move them from the wards to the polling units,” Mr. Idowu said.

“So the commission is ready for the polls, we have concluded the training of the staff that will man the various polling units, so we anticipate a very successful outing this weekend.” Idowu stated.

- Source: www.vanguardngr.com


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Nigeria: ECOWAS chair urges candidates to accept poll results

ECOWAS Chairman and President of Ghana John Mahama has urged the various candidates in the upcoming Presidential elections in Nigeria to “accept the results in good faith” when declared by their electoral body.

According to Mr Mahama, the peace of Nigeria is crucial to the stability of the entire ECOWAS sub-region.

“This is a critical election for Nigeria and it will be one more indication to the world that Nigeria is a democratic country ruled by the tenets of rule of law.

“And so we would want to wish you all the best. We expect that there will be no post-election violence and all the parties involved in the election will accept the results in good faith when declared.

“Nigeria is a very important member in the ECOWAS sub-region and so Nigeria’s security is the security of the entire ECOWAS sub-region and so all the President of ECOWAS will wish that all the people of Nigeria will come out and vote,” Mahama stated when he addressed the Press in Nigeria, where he is on a one-day state visit.

Africa's most populous nation is due to vote in presidential elections on Saturday.

President Goodluck Jonathan is facing a strong challenge from the opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari.

Key election issues include security and the threat from Boko Haram.

Source: Ghana/StarrFMonline.com/103.5FM


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Nigeria: Voting procedure for 2015 general elections

It is imperative for the voters to know that no person shall be allowed to vote at any Polling Unit other than where he/she had registered and was duly accredited.

Accreditation begins at 8 am and ends by 1 pm or until the last person on the queue before 1 pm is accredited. After that, voting commences at 1:30 pm or whenever the accreditation process ends.

The Presiding Officer, after setting up the Polling Unit layout in the approved manner shall explain the voting procedure to the voters by informing them that the voting process is about to begin.

The presiding officer is expected to at this point remind the people that the voting in the unit is for only those that registered there as well as haven been accredited.

The presiding officer will equally educate the voters on what they should be issued with including; a stamped, signed and dated ballot paper because if any of these is mistakenly omitted, the person’s vote would be rejected and would not count.

When casting the vote, it is important that the voter thumb-prints in only one box, that is the box of his or her chosen party, also a ballot paper folded vertically inward would be given to the voter, it is highly important that the voter folds it in the same manner after thumb-printing and place it in the ballot box. This is to ensure that the thumb-print does not smear on another party and render the vote invalid.

The voter must also be very careful not to write anything or make any other mark on the ballot except for his or her thumb-print as anything to the contrary will invalidate the vote.

The presiding officer while maintaining the first come, first served order, should however give priority to the physically challenged persons, nursing mothers and the elderly who cannot stay long on the queue.

Also he must check the cuticle of the appropriate finger/thumb-nail of the voter to confirm that he or she has been accredited and received the number tag for easy location of voter’s name on the Register.

Source: Shttp://www.vanguardngr.com/


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Togo: Ex Ghana president calls for peaceful elections

Ghana’s former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, has in a recent meeting in Accra with the leadership of Togo’s ANC party called for a free and fair polls as Togolese prepare for their next Presidential election.

The former President said as a Ghanaian he is naturally interested in developments in Togo, but counseled the leadership of The National Alliance for Change (ANC) to consult current ECOWAS Chairman, President John Mahama to pass on all their concerns.

The Togolese delegation led by Jean-Pierre Fabre, the party’s president, Latevi Georges Lawson, Special Advisor and Cabinet Member Octave Koffi Anthony expressed disquiet about developments in the run up to the elections on April 15.

They were convinced that the grounds were being laid for the incumbent Faure Gnassingbe to win the elections through a questionable voters register. They called for a review of the register to ensure confidence in the process.

Jean-Pierre Fabre intimated that all they were seeking was a just and free electoral process.

Former President Rawlings indicated that he will also prompt President Mahama to look into the matter but stressed the need for the concerned Togolese parties to channel their grievances to the ECOWAS leadership.

Former President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Victor Gbeho who was at the meeting was happy that the Togolese opposition was using peaceful channels to express their concerns. He indicated that what happens in Togo concerns all Ghanaians and stated that the concerns raised will be channeled to the appropriate quarters.

-Source: mediaexcelghana

Monday, March 23, 2015

Nigeria: Pres Obama inspires Nigeria ahead of elections

As preparations for the general elections in Nigeria are getting heated, starting on Saturday March 28, the United States President, Barack Obama, on Monday sent a special message to Nigerians, urging a credible and peaceful polls.

President Obama Sends Message To Nigerians Urging Credible Polls

In a video posted on Youtube today by US Embassy Nigeria, President Obama reminded the people about their struggle for the country’s independence from colonialism, the struggle against military dictatorship and the need to turn the country’s diversity into a source of strength.

Read the full text of President Obama’s Message to the Nigerian People below:

Hello. Today, I want to speak directly to you—the people of Nigeria. Nigeria is a great nation and you can be proud of the progress you’ve made. Together, you won your independence, emerged from military rule, and strengthened democratic institutions. You’ve strived to overcome division and to turn Nigeria’s diversity into a source of strength. You’ve worked hard to improve the lives of your families and to build the largest economy in Africa.

Now you have a historic opportunity to help write the next chapter of Nigeria’s progress—by voting in the upcoming elections. For elections to be credible, they must be free, fair and peaceful.

All Nigerians must be able to cast their votes without intimidation or fear. So I call on all leaders and candidates to make it clear to their supporters that violence has no place in democratic elections—and that they will not incite, support or engage in any kind of violence—before, during, or after the votes are counted. I call on all Nigerians to peacefully express your views and to reject the voices of those who call for violence.

And when elections are free and fair, it is the responsibility of all citizens to help keep the peace, no matter who wins. Successful elections and democratic progress will help Nigeria meet the urgent challenges you face today. Boko Haram—a brutal terrorist group that kills innocent men, women and children—must be stopped. Hundreds of kidnapped children deserve to be returned to their families. Nigerians who have been forced to flee deserve to return to their homes.

Boko Haram wants to destroy Nigeria and all that you have worked to build. By casting your ballot, you can help secure your nation’s progress. I’m told that there is a saying in your country: “to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done.” Today, I urge all Nigerians—from all religions, all ethnic groups, and all regions—to come together and keep Nigeria one. And in this task of advancing the security, prosperity, and human rights of all Nigerians, you will continue to have a friend and partner in the United States of America.

- http://www.naij.com/

Nigeria: Parties spend $24.5 million on political adverts

With just five days to the March 28 elections, advertising spend on political campaigns has been estimated to have cost political parties, friends and well wishers of those seeking elective offices a princely N4.9 billion ($24,530,674) so far. However, federal and state advert regulatory agencies have expressed displeasure over publications of unapproved advert materials.
According to data gathered from different advert agencies and reports from advert regulatory bodies, the print media have so far raked in about N1.382 billion of the advert spend, with the All Progressives Congress, APC spending N332.503 million on its presidential candidate, while its Peoples Democratic Party, PDP counterpart spent N1.049 billion, which is 65.5 per cent higher than the amount spent by APC. Field reports further put other expenses on campaign rallies for PDP and APC at N1.057 billion and N595.082 million respectively. Both parties also spent N224.36 million on outdoor campaigns.
The broadcast campaign coverage for the presidential candidates were put at N508.35 million and N391.05 million for PDP and APC. Electronic media adverts were N733.9million for PDP and N555.6 million for APC respectively, bringing the total amount to N2.5 billion. In summary, a total of N4.973 billion has been spent on campaign expenses, with PDP and APC spending N3.549 billion and N1.424 billion respectively.
Last year, the Advertising Agencies Association of Nigeria, AAAN had projected that the 2015 general elections will contribute billions of naira to the advert industry, an amount it said will form major part of the advertising spend for the 2015 advertising year. But from recent development and the run of political campaigns so far, the projection has been surpassed in terms of adspend. However, advert practitioners feel the estimate is much less than what has been spent, going by the inability of heads of sectoral bodies in the advert industry to track the amount spent by politicians, as a result of the haphazard nature the adverts were given out.
It would be recalled that in 2014, former president of AAAN and Chief Operating Officer of 141 Worldwide, Bunmi Oke, predicted a bright future for any ad agency that puts its act together to tap into the windfall expected from the election year and the huge budget politicians would earmark for the 2015 political campaigns.
Worried by the bulk of political campaign materials, Financial Vanguard sampled the opinions of stakeholders who were particularly disappointed at the manner unapproved political materials litter advertising spaces in the country.
It is a fact that Nigeria has a history of not coming out with election spending figures, and data are equally unavailable on the actual spending of politicians on campaigns. But going by the volume of materials churned out through the different media of communication for political parties, it is no longer in doubt that billions of naira were spent in the 2015 election campaigns.
The AAAN members observed with great concern the spate of unhealthy smear campaigns by the political parties and shadow interest groups across the various media channels.
AAAN said: “In obvious disregard of the advertising code and ethics of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, APCON, a body saddled with the responsibility of regulating and controlling advertisement in the country, and the AAAN, most of these political advertisements have been exposed without going through the vetting procedures and consequent approvals from the Advertising Standards Panel, ASP, of APCON.
“Our concerns are that the professional values of the advertising practice and indeed, public sensibilities, as well as the very stability of the polity have been severely undermined by the continued character assassinations, wanton abuses, unrestrained attacks, threats and counter- threats that have become the bane of political communication building up to the elections,” AAAN said in a release.
Kayode Olagesin, Managing Director of Towncriers, an activation agency said: “There is no time in the history of the country that we have witnessed this volume of campaigns. I tell you, I don’t see them spending less than N5 billion on each of the presidential candidates.
“If you look at the way they have used the press, wrap around that costs millions, there are lots of heavy charges paid, lots of them up to N20 million for one material, five or more pages of newspapers in a day, and you have several days in a week, I tell you, they have spent billions, but the truth is that it is difficult to know exactly how much they are spending. Mind you, the spending still continues, so you do not know yet, may be after the whole campaign, you can sit down and calculate and put some figures to it.
“What is more interesting is to find out what portion of the advertising materials that passed through professional advertising practitioners in Nigeria. I daresay, a lot of it did not pass through the professional advertising practice. So it will not, therefore, have added that much value to the revenue of advertising agencies in the country.” He went on to say that the impact on advertising agencies is minimal through third hand or second hand, passing to the agencies. “I do not think agencies are on the table, the strategy and the energy are disbursed to agencies outside. I think a few agencies in Nigeria are actually having those direct contracts with political parties. We should urge the political parties to do what is right; to appoint proper Nigerian agencies to run their campaigns. That is what needs to happen.
“I do not know the elements of it that are produced and done outside. I don’t know the details of that, but I know that the direct contact have not been given to Nigerian advertising agencies, a lot of them are given to people who are probably politicians to help them broker it through first, second or third party agents,” he stated.
On the other hand, the OAAN, on their part, said all political adverts posted on their billboards were duly vetted by APCON’s ASP.
Also disturbed were state regulatory agencies. For example, the Oyo State Signage and Advertisement Agency, OYSAA, complained that adverts posted in different sites and unauthorised places, including lamp poles around the city, is a flagrant breach of the extant laws and regulation of the agency.
This, however, prompted the Director-General, Mr. Yinka Adepoju to direct all political campaign organisations/committees to apply and obtain approval of OYSAA before posting their campaign materials in any location. The agency said the warning became necessary in order not to exacerbate the already tensed political climate in the country, and to maintain the pervading peace enjoyed in the state.
Speaking on the development, Mr. Adigwe Iwuala, Deputy Managing Director, Orlick Communications, said: “This will remain a conjecture until the elections are over. What you will get from any person now is an estimated amount which may be low or high.
“The print industry may be pocketing about N900 million for various adverts. If you aggregate this by the number of newspapers and magazines in the different parts of the country, you may find out that it is running to above N900 million.” On social media, Michael Uze, a public commentator, observed that the social media ad spend cannot be tracked as there is no registered body saddled with the responsibility to track what is spent on that platform.
Reacting to the issue of non- disclosure of amount spent on the 2015 elections so far, Mr. Andre Nduneche, Lead Consultant, Image Machine Advertising, said Nigerians can only speculate as politicians are secretive when it comes to disclosing budgets on advertising. “The politicians are very secretive about these things. They will not want you to know how much they are putting into it, but from all indications, you can tell by the volume of contents in all the advertising platforms which is running into billions of naira.
“The 2015 electioneering campaign period is just the Christmas of advertising. Everybody waits for years, and that too, increases the price of advertising as it is only in four years that such opportunity calls. Money that should have been spent in four years is now spent within a short period of time. So we are looking at a very substantial amount of money,” he said.
Corroborating, Mr. Ewat Okonokon, a brand analyst with Brand Campaign International, said that during electioneering periods like this, advertising contents across various advertising platforms prior to elections are increased. He noted also that the 2015 election has attracted more advertising than any period of election in the country, pointing out that politicians are beginning to understand the power of advertising in shaping the minds of people.
He went further to say that the close contest between PDP, APC and other fringe parties in 2011, did not experience a strong competition like 2015, and this has impacted greatly on the advertising industry.
It will be recalled that the issue of non-disclosure of the amount political parties spend on the 2015 election prompted the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, to institute an action demanding that all political parties make full disclosure of sources of their campaign funds, a way of invoking the Freedom of Information bill, an action seen as a step in the right direction for public accountability. It is still in doubt whether that move will yield any positive result.

- http://www.vanguardngr.com

Friday, March 20, 2015

Togo: Opposition leader goes to court over voters register

Jean-Pierre Fabre, President of the National Alliance for Change ANC candidate in the next presidential election in Togo, and his party filed a complaint in Brussels against a Belgian IT company specializing in biometric registration of voters.

The political parties Opposition and civil society organizations have always called for the audit of the electoral register which according to them would contain nearly 30% of fictitious voters. This complaint with civil party in the hands of Brussels investigating judge, follows the analysis of the electoral roll used in elections in the country since 2007 and is currently under review for the next presidential election scheduled for April 15, 2015.

The results of the analysis conducted by the experts of the ANC are final because they have highlighted serious anomalies. Jean-Pierre Fabre, the main challenger of President Faure Gnassingbe, candidate for his own succession for a third term maligned in the country, counting on the Belgian courts to establish the liability of the company, and force him to the full audit of the electoral roll before the next presidential election in Togo.

After the request for a thorough audit addressed March 7, 2015 at the International Francophone Organisation (OIF) by CAP2015, a group of political parties that supported the candidacy of Jean-Pierre Fabre, the battle of the latter for the transparency of the upcoming elections is entering a new phase of unprecedented .

For this action, Jean-Pierre Fabre enlisted the services of Mr. William Bourdon, Lawyer at the Paris Bar, and Georges Henri BEAUTHIER, Lawyer at the Brussels Bar. On March 17, 2015 Masters William Bourdon Lawyer at the Paris Bar 156 Rue de Rivoli 75001 Paris Tel +33 1 42 60 32 60 Georges Henri BEAUTHIER Brussels Bar Lawyer at 89 rue Berckmans1060 Brussels Tel +32 2 538 90 10

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Nigeria: US collaborating with Nigeria on Mar 28 elections

Chairman Senate Committee on Ecology, Senator Bukola Saraki, has said the visit of   US congressman, Stephen Lynch, shows that the United States is interested in Nigeria holding credible elections and urged for further collaboration and cooperation.

Just as the the United States has begun a review of its security in its embassies  following the new threat posed by the alleged alliance between Boko Haram terrorists and those fighting to propagate an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

US congressman, Stephen Lynch, made this known when he met with Senator Bukola Saraki at the National Assembly to on a way to work together to bring an end to the activities of Boko Haram.

According to Saraki “It further shows the interest that the world and particularly, the United States, has in Nigeria and the need for further collaboration.

“Like he said, he is here in Nigeria to see how the world is focusing concern in some of our challenges in the area of security and their cooperation and we appreciate that. “

“ particularly, we appreciate the United States in the security support they have given even in the electoral processes to ensure that we have credible elections.

hink the key thing is that we must see that the world is looking at us and that we have a key role to play. We must ensure that we have live up to that standard. For us, it is just to emphasise that they are interested in Nigeria and we appreciate that and I think that is the point of their visit here.”

Lynch said he is in Nigeria to meet with United States security and counter terrorism personnel and Nigeria leaders to review embassy security following recent bombings in Maiduguri and Boko Haram’s pledge to join forces with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).