Tag Archives: Nigeria

Violence, ballot box snatching, vote buying hallmark guber polls in Kogi, Bayelsa

Bookmakers were, yesterday, proven right, when shootings, widespread violence and electoral malpractice took centre stage as Bayelsa and Kogi states went to the polls to elect new governors, and a senator.

In the build up to the exercise, the actions and inaction of some interested parties, forced many, including observer groups to express fears that bedlam may reign. It did, as reflected in at least two deaths, maiming, kidnapping, several cases of ballot box snatching, intimidation of voters, massive rigging and sundry electoral malpractice, which were recorded in both states.

The nadir of the violence in Kogi State, was the killing of two persons, Umoru Shuaib and Faruk Suleiman, at Barracks Polling Unit in Abocho Community, in Dekina Local Council.

Three persons, who were shot in Bayelsa State, have their stars to thank for still being alive, while another youth identified as Prince Odede, allegedly had his hand chopped off by political thugs at Ward 5, Opolo, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

In Kogi, which lived up to its reputation as a hotbed of political violence, an unidentified Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) official was allegedly kidnapped at the SUBEB Polling Unit in Lokoja.

The abduction allegedly occurred after gunmen shot sporadically into the air while voting was going on. As voters scampered for safety, the gunmen went away with the official. This happened not long after some suspected thugs reportedly attacked the polling unit where Senator Dino Melaye voted. The hoodlums reportedly broke one of the ballot boxes, carted away the other, and shot severally into the air as they departed in a black Hilux van.

Senator Melaye, who confirmed the development via his official Twitter handle, said that the incident did not happen while he was at the polling unit.

The gunmen, who killed the duo in Abocho, while they were about casting their votes, an eyewitness claimed, apparently came for Shuaib.

“They came in a bus while voting was taking place and were in police uniform. So, we didn’t suspect anything. Shuaib had voted and was chatting with Suleiman close to the poling unit, when the bus drove by. None of the occupants alighted from the vehicle, but all we just heard were gunshots and shouts from the victims, as well as onlookers. And in the ensuing pandemonium, the attackers drove off.

Sentamu chides oil companies in Niger Delta

THE Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, has accused oil companies that operate in Nigeria of “environmental genocide”.

Speaking at the launch of an interim report by the Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission — which works with industry and environmental experts to investigate the impact of oil spills and the environmental and social damage done by oil companies in Bayelsa State in the Niger Delta, Nigeria — Dr Sentamu accused Shell, AGIP, and other oil companies of causing devastation to the environment in the region.

The report states that 40 million litres of oil are spilled in the Niger Delta each year, eight times more than is spilled in the United States, which is the world’s largest producer and consumer of oil. This equates to one barrel a day for every man, woman, and child living in Bayelsa.


Kogi election: 11th-hour judgements won’t alter our plans- INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has foreclosed any adjustment to its arrangement for the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections on account of recently delivered court judgments.

Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, who disclosed this on Tuesday in Lokoja, during a stakeholders’ meeting/signing of peace accord among political parties and candidates, also assured INEC was ready to conduct next Saturday’s election.

He declared all non-sensitive materials had been delivered to the commission’s office in Lokoja while the sensitive materials had been delivered to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The INEC boss also emphasised the essential value of the Smart Card Readers (SRC), saying their use is mandatory in accordance with the regulations and guidance of the commission for the conduct of elections.

Yakubu however, appealed to all stakeholders to help the INEC in making the exercise a peaceful and successful exercise, saying that all the efforts of the commission to deliver a free, fair and peaceful election require the support and commitment of all stakeholders.

According to him: “I would like to assure the people of Kogi State that our preparations will not be affected by the judgement delivered five days ago in which a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ordered the Commission to include a political party on the ballot.

“Although the judgement is at variance with the decision of another Federal High Court in Abuja delivered ten days earlier which affirmed the propriety of the Commission’s action in a similar case by another political party, INEC has a consistent record of obeying court orders.

“However, we will consider legitimate steps to address the conflicting judgements by courts of coordinate jurisdiction in the interest of our electoral jurisprudence.

“Furthermore, with four days to the Governorship elections, two more cases challenging the decision of the Commission on the validity of candidates’ nominations have been reserved for judgement in Bayelsa and Kogi States.

“In addition, there are twelve (12) cases of intra-party disputes filed by aspirants from different political parties challenging the conduct of their own primaries and nomination of candidates, some of which have been reserved for judgement in the next few days.

“I must admit that the plethora of court cases and conflicting judgements delivered on the eve of elections in Nigeria are stressful to the Commission and costly to the nation.

“However, I wish to reassure the people of Bayelsa and Kogi States that learning from experience, the Commission has taken steps to ensure that the elections on Saturday in the two States are not affected by any eleventh hour judgement.

“With only four days to the election, how prepared is the Commission? The short answer is that we are ready.

“So far, the Commission has successfully implemented 12 out of our 14-point plan for the election as required by law.

“The Commission has delivered all non-sensitive materials for the election to our office here in Lokoja.

“The sensitive materials for the Governorship and Kogi West Senatorial Re-run elections are also ready.

“As usual, they are being handled by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The normal process of inspection and distribution of sensitive materials within the State will be done in the presence of party agents, security agencies, observers and the media.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Kogi State will communicate the date and time for stakeholders’ inspection and the arrangements for deployment in line with the Commission’s established procedure.

“For emphasis, let me reiterate that the Smart Card Readers (SCRs) have been configured.

“It is mandatory to use the SCRs for voter accreditation and authentication in line with the Commission’s regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections.

“Let me also reiterate that voter inducement in all forms, including vote-buying at polling units is a violation of the law.

“The ban on the use of mobile phones and other photographic devices in the voting cubicles is still in force and will be strictly enforced and monitored.”


Nigerian forces attack Zakzaki supporters during Arba’een mourning rituals

Security forces in Nigeria have attacked the followers of Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), during a religious procession in the capital, Abuja, arresting at least four people.

The security forces used tear gas and live ammunition against Zakzaky’s supporters, who were taking part in a procession to commemorate Arba’een, the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH) — the third Shia Imam — on Friday.

One of the mourners was reportedly injured in the attack.

Nigeria has been cracking down on the IMN for several years.

Sheikh Zakzaky has been in detention since December 2015 after his home in Zaria was brutally raided by Nigeria’s forces, during which he was beaten and lost his left eye.

During the violent crackdown, three of his sons lost their lives, his wife sustained serious wounds and more than 300 of his followers were killed.

IMN members regularly take to the streets of the Nigerian capital to call for the release of the sheikh.


Nigeria Releases 25 Children Cleared of Suspected Ties With Boko Haram

MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA, – The Nigerian army released 25 children Thursday after clearing them of suspected ties with armed Islamist groups in the country’s restive northeast region, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said.

Nigeria has fought an insurgency by militant Islamist group Boko Haram in northeastern states that has killed more than 30,000 people over the past decade. It is not clear how many children in total have been drawn into armed groups, including Boko Haram, or how they have been recruited.

UNICEF said 23 boys and two girls were released by the army and handed to authorities in Borno, the state worst affected by the insurgency.

“These are children taken away from their families and communities, deprived of their childhood, education, health care, and of the chance to grow up in a safe and enabling environment,” said UNICEF Nigeria Acting Representative Pernille Ironside.

Earlier this week, police in Lagos said they had freed 19 women and girls who had mostly been abducted and made pregnant by captors planning to sell their babies.

Last week, around 400 boys and men — some as young as 5 and many in chains and scarred from beatings — were rescued from a building in the northern city of Kaduna that purported to be an Islamic school.

Ironside said UNICEF was working to ensure that all children affected by the conflict were reunited with their families.

A total of 2,499 people, including 1,627 children, have been cleared of association with non-state armed groups in Nigeria since 2016, UNICEF said.


NBC fines 20 stations in second quarter of 2019

Twenty stations violated the nation’s broadcasting codes in the second quarter of 2019, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has said.

The stations were fined for breaching the provisions of the broadcasting code on hate speech.

A breakdown of the offences, which were allegedly committed between April and June, according to NBC’s Director General Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, include breaching broadcasting code on hate speech, use of vulgar lyrics and obscene content.

Kawu berated African Independent Television (AIT) for defying all actions to ensure compliance with the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.

Sections of the breached codes are: Section 1.16.1(f): The law of contempt, relating to matter pending before law court’s, and Section 5.1.12: News and current affairs programme shall be guided by the ethical standards of journalism.

Kaduna Zone recorded the highest in obscenity, while Abuja Zone topped the chart in hate speech.

In the area of unverified claims, the Ibadan Zone recorded the highest.

On fines meted out to the errant stations, Abuja Zone recorded the highest with 47.17 per cent, Ibadan Zone came second with 15.09 per cent and Benin came third with 13.22 per cent while the lowest was Enugu Zone with 1.89 per cent.

Forty-five stations were fined in the first quarter of the year for similar offences.

Addressing reporters on the second quarter monitoring of broadcast stations’ profile, Kawu said: “Coming shortly after the National and State Elections in the first quarter of the year, the report indicates that though there is a drop in breaches related to hateful, abusive and inflammatory broadcast, which peaked during the elections, and for which as many as 45 stations were fined, the second quarter indicates that the trend has continued among certain stations, especially in political programmes.

“Therefore, 20 stations were fined in the second quarter for breaching provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code on hate speech.

“Other breaches were in the area of Obscene and Vulgar Lyrics – 10 stations were fined for infractions related to use of vulgar lyrics and obscene content. It is worth mentioning that the programme, Big Brother Naija (BBN4) was cautioned against unwholesome content on its broadcast.

“Use of unsubstantiated and misleading claims by advertisers, especially trado-medic advertising, also dropped significantly from the last quarter, but a total of 30 stations were fined for infractions related to same.

“Ten broadcast stations were fined for breaches related to station announcers turning themselves into advertisers, hypers and promoters of products.”

On AIT, Kawu said: “Our monitoring activities indicate that some stations, especially AIT, are deliberately meddling in the cases before the election tribunal. It is trite knowledge that the media cannot comment on or discuss the details of any matter in court. The Broadcast Code in Section 1.16.1(f) requires all broadcasters to comply with the law of contempt relating to matters pending before the law courts.”


Protesters demand Ambode’s probe

SCORES of protesters under the aegis of Lagos Youth Vanguard (LYV) on Tuesday protested at the Lagos State House of Assembly complex demanding the probe of former governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

The protesters, who chanted solidarity songs, were led by the Patron of LYV, Mr. Rasak Olokooba, and the President of the Group, Mr. Ibrahim Ekundina.

Some of the placards carried by the protesters read: “Ambode, submit yourself for probe,” “Ambode must be probed,” “EFCC, do your job.”

The LYV stated in its leaflets distributed to journalists that Ambode “deliberately laid landmine through the obvious improper, inappropriate and insufficient content in his handover note that should serve as a guide to the incoming administration in the tradition of every civilised public officer.”

The group accused Ambode of flouting official procedures, saying that he refused to abide by the procurement laws.

He was accused of wrong priority in policies and programmes as well as abandoning the track that could bring about development in the state.

The LYV said: “We call for his probe and investigation with a view to apportioning appropriate penalties.

“We want to assure the good people of Lagos State, and all the people that care about Lagos that we will continue to pursue every legitimate means until justice is done.”

The group’s Patron Olokooba said it was good to be fair to every administration.

Olokooba added that they had watched events for 90 days and that there were clear indications that the former governor had been making attempts to sabotage the current administration.

He said: “For every government that is going out, you leave a template for the coming government to succeed. Ambode handed over a very rickety handing over note that cannot assist the current administration.

“If you go round the state today, you will see that there is no governor that would inherit such state and the people of the state would be happy with him, but thank God the goodwill enjoyed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is still intact, if not, by now the people of Lagos State would have been complaining bitterly.”


No more non-performing loans, CBN warns banks

There is no room for money changers in the banking sector of the financial economy, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), told banks on Tuesday.

CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele said the banks should be major players in growing the economy, and warned that the era of armchair banking was over.

According to him, the days of non-performing loans (NPLs) had become history in the country “as anyone who benefits from any facility must pay back”.

Adding bite to the NPL issue, Emefiele appealed to the judiciary to support efforts towards ensuring that bank debtors pay back what they owe.


Nigerian President orders evacuation of citizens from South Africa

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday ordered the immediate evacuation of all Nigerians who are willing to return home from South Africa due to the xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals, Xinhua news agency reported, quoting the presidential office.

Buhari’s decision came after he received the brief of a special envoy to South Africa, who was on a mission to convey the deep concern of the president about intermittent violence against Nigerians and their property or business interests in that country, according to a presidency statement.

The president stressed the need for the South African government to take visible measures to stop violence against citizens of brotherly African nations, said the statement.

“Buhari is worried that the recurring issue of xenophobia could negatively affect the image and standing of South Africa as one of the leading countries on the continent if nothing is done to stop it,” the statement said.

The Nigerian leader also expressed to the South African government of Nigeria’s readiness and willingness to collaborate with them to find a lasting solution to the involvement of “a few Nigerians in criminal activities”.

“Nigeria would partner with the South African government to protect the lives and property of the larger groups of other law-abiding Nigerians and indeed Africans in general, against all forms of attacks including xenophobia,” said the statement.

Buhari further ordered the foreign ministry to continue to engage with appropriate authorities on the concrete measure the South African government is expected to take toward finding a lasting solution to the attacks.

South Africa has recently witnessed a wave of riots that mainly targeted foreign-owned shops, including Nigerian businesses.

South Africa’s telecommunication giant, the MTN Group, and supermarket chain Shoprite have closed all stores and service centers in Nigeria after their premises were attacked.

Buhari will pay a state visit to South Africa next month following the wave of xenophobic attacks in both countries.


Civilians flee violence in northeast Nigeria


Scores of civilians have fled the volatile Lake Chad area following the introduction of new counterterrorism measures late last month by the Nigerian military.

The war against terror and insurgency in Nigeria’s northeast region is entering its 11th year but attacks on communities and military locations by the Boko Haram terror group have yet to abate despite military claims of winning the war.

More than 30 soldiers and military officers have been killed in the last three months in gun battles with terrorists, two senior military officers told Anadolu Agency.

At least three soldiers were killed and one dozen wounded in an ambush by Boko Haram along a road in northeast Borno State last Friday, according to army spokesman Col. Sagir Musa.

“I’m fleeing. The place is no longer safe,” said Ali Modu Gubio, a resident of Gubio, a town in the Lake Chad area. Residents usually add the name of their towns to their names.

Boko Haram raided Gubio on Aug. 20 and burned public and private buildings. Two people were reportedly killed and many civilians and security personnel were injured in the attack.

Modu said he was not particularly worried about the attack. But he fears the terrorists could return at any time without resistance because the military has withdrawn troops from many communities in the area.

“Boko Haram was attacking our area while soldiers were there. It could be worse now without soldiers. It may not be safe to stay there now as they are leaving our area,” he said.

New model

The military is creating a new operational model in the northeast region, where Boko Haram unleashed terror for more than a decade. The area covers about 59,000 miles (95,000 kilometers). The military said the new strategy entails withdrawing troops from more than 100 units in many communities where they were previously based in fewer locations called “Super Camps.”

Nigerian forces were stationed in more than 150 units in the area.

“This decision is not wise,” says Babagana Zulum, the governor of Borno, shortly after meeting President Mohammadu Buhari last week at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

It was one in a series of sharp criticisms after the government announced super camps.

Zulum said the withdrawal of troops fueled Boko Haram attacks on Gubio and another town, Magumeri, forcing many residents to flee.

The commander of the counterterrorism operations in the northeast, Maj. Gen Olusegun Adeniyi, said the super camps concept is to ensure “fast mobility, quick reactions and long reach” of the troops.

The strategy will make troops more mobile and not susceptible to Boko Haram attacks, he said.

Some unconvinced

Defense Minister Bashir Magashi, a retired general, flew to the area over the weekend with Army Chief Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai to assure civilians of the efficacy of the plan.

Magashi held discussions with community leaders on the new strategy, barely a week after his appointment to the post.

But Nigerians appear not to be convinced about the military’s justification for adopting the super camps.

“This action has made our remaining communities more vulnerable,” says Zanna Hassan Boguma, a traditional chief and senior government official.

In an open letter to the Buhari, Boguma said residents are already fleeing their homes and the threat of insecurity created by the withdrawal of soldiers and military equipment could give Boko Haram a “clear course” to attack other towns including Maiduguri, Borno’s capital. Maiduguri has population of about 1.4 million people.

Farmers say they are scared to go to their farms and dozens of farmers abandoned their land and fled to safer areas near Maiduguri last week.

“It is risky because there is no protection,” Abba Kale, a farmer and agro-allied entrepreneur declares.

He told Anadolu Agency in Maiduguri farming activities around the Lake Chad have been suspended. 

“Many displaced persons returned to farms last year but they have fled again now because it the security situation,” he says.

When insecurity forces people to flee their homes, economic activities are affected and development is hampered, said Sharafadeen Dauda, a communication expert at the University of Maiduguri. He insists the new concept will create more security threats. 

“[The] government cannot move to the area to rebuild infrastructure destroyed by the terrorists because the area is not safe. People do not have work and cannot go to farms and poverty increases daily.”

About 3 million people have been displaced by the violence in Nigeria’s northeast with the Lake Chad area having the highest number, according to the 2018 displacement tracking matrix of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Dauda said insecurity in the area has pushed out many children from school and created high unemployment. “When parents flee, they move with their children into camps for displaced persons. They are already missing out of schools,” he says.

UNICEF said 2.8 million children are in need of education-in-emergencies support in the state. “In northeast Nigeria, at least 802 schools remain closed and 497 classrooms are destroyed,” it said of the region which borders three African nations — Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

Some Nigerians say they fear the crisis in the region may prolong with renew attacks by the group, which is allied with the Islamic State of West Africa (ISWA).