INEC to observers, don’t interfere, accredits 146,913 to monitor poll

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said a total of 146,913 domestic and international observers will be deployed for the 2023 general elections. The Commission, therefore, warned observers against interfering in the elections.
National Commissioners of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu (left); Dr. Sam Oyemekun; Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and National Commissioner, Festus Okoye, during Yakubu’s briefing of accredited local and international observers on preparedness for this weekend’s presidential election in Abuja…on Monday.

• British govt vows to punish election riggers, others
• NCC unveils 622 as a toll-free hotline for the presidential election
• Let election outcome reflect wishes of voters, NLC tells INEC
• Go out to vote, shun vandalism, stop burning banks, group charges electorate
• Best way to achieve Biafra is through voting, Igbo elders tell agitators
• I will give Nigeria hope, work hard for them, Tinubu says

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said a total of 146,913 domestic and international observers will be deployed for the 2023 general elections. The Commission, therefore, warned observers against interfering in the elections.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this at the Commission’s briefing for observers in Abuja, yesterday. According to the INEC boss, the number of observers is the largest in the country’s history.

He said the Commission accredited 196 national and domestic organisations that deployed 144,800 observers and 33 international organisations that deployed 2,113 observers.

Yakubu, however, urged the observers to abide by the laws of Nigeria while discharging their duties on election day.

He said: “I wish to remind observers that there is a code of conduct for election observation. You are by definition observers. Do not interfere with the process or show partisanship.

“In addition, international observers must be guided by the fact that the election is conducted by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, whose sovereignty must be respected. I urge you all to keep to the rules.”

Yakubu also noted that the observations and recommendations from election observers over the years have helped to improve the country’s electoral process.

Speaking at the programme, the Regional Director, Africa, International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Clara Cole, said election observations provide improvements for election, pleading with both national and domestic observers to abide by the rules of INEC.

AHEAD of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly election, the United Kingdom has promised to deal with any individual, politician or not, who may want to use violence or engage in practises that may jeopardise the future of Nigeria’s democratic process.

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, made this known, yesterday, during an interview with Arise TV.

According to Laing, the British government has decided to toe the American government’s line, which promised earlier this month during a visit to INEC headquarters to impose a visa ban on an individual or group of individuals, who plan or get involved in violent activities that may jeopardise the Nigerian electioneering process.

“So, our policy is very similar to the Americans; and we are watching very closely even if we have evidence to suggest that an individual isn’t necessarily a politician by the way. Such an individual or group of individuals doesn’t have to be politicians but could be somebody from the security side; it could be an individual citizen who is not directly a politician.

“As long as the person is inciting violence or directly participating in violence, the British government, through the High Commission in Nigeria, can prevent such an individual from travelling to the UK.”

She added: “We also have a new tool in our armoury that is human rights-related — sanctions can be placed on that individual. You will see later today a statement on the election from our Development Minister and African Minister, Andrew Mitchel, and there will be a clear statement on this which will be coming out soon.”

IN view of the importance attached to the presidential election, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has dedicated its Consumer Toll-Free Number 622, to serve as 2023 Presidential Election Incident Hotline to enable voters and members of the public across Nigeria to report any issues that may affect them, or others, during the election on Saturday.

This was announced last night by Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who said the step is to support INEC in its commitment towards the conduct of hitch-free elections in Nigeria.

The Toll-Free Number 622 is the second-level complaints centre through which consumers of telecommunications services are allowed to make calls directly to the Commission, to resolve issues concerning their telecommunications services which the service providers are unable to do.

“However, in consideration of the critical nature of this election and to alleviate emergent issues that may arise at the voting centres, or any parts of Nigeria thereof, the Commission has considered it expedient to dedicate the Toll-Free Number 622 to accommodate all types of complaints on election day.

“This is with a view to resolving such issues by contacting and conveying such to relevant agencies, authorities, or organisations for timely resolution.

“The 622 Election Incident Monitoring Centre will be manned by top Management officials of the Nigerian Communications Commission. The hotline will be open to the public from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. during the Presidential and National Assembly elections. Members of the public are, therefore, invited to take advantage of the Election Incident Monitoring Centre Hotline, 622,” he said.

THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has advised INEC to ensure that the forthcoming elections reflect the wishes of voters. President of NLC, Joseph Ajaero, said this in a statement, yesterday, following meeting of the congress’ National Administrative Council (NAC).

He advised Nigerians to participate actively in the elections and also ensure they safeguard their votes.

“NAC warns that the disruption of the electoral process by parties, politicians or their aides or privies or by whoever, will not be acceptable to it or the generality of Nigerians who have invested their time and resources.

“NAC calls on security agencies to guarantee the safety of voters, observers, INEC officials and all those associated with conducting free, fair and credible elections across the country. NAC similarly urges INEC to ensure that the electoral processes are not only transparent and fair but reflect the wishes of voters.”

MEANWHILE, a group comprising thought leaders and intellectuals in the Western part of Nigeria, the Southwest Development Stakeholders’ Forum (SWDSF), yesterday, urged Nigerians, especially people of the region, to shun violence and stop burning of banks, but go out on election days to vote their conscience.

Chairman of the Forum, Dr. Adedayo Alao, made the call during presentation of the report and documentary of presidential parleys held for presidential candidates in Ibadan.

The presentation was an insight into the thinking and pledges of five presidential candidates who participated in its presidential parleys from January 17 to February 4.

Alao disclosed that seven candidates were invited but five featured. Presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar; New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwanso; Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Kola Abiola; Africa Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore and Adewole Adebayo of Social Democratic Party (SDP) featured at the parley, while Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP) who had been billed for the programme could not attend due to security challenges.

According to the Forum chairman, efforts to bring Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the parley were not successful.

ALSO, eminent Nigerians from the Southeast under the auspices of the Igbo Elders Consultative Forum (IECF) have said those calling for sit-at-home or boycott of the general elections in the region are enemies of Igbo.

The Forum, comprising former Chairman of Police Service Commission (PSC), Chief Simeon Okeke; former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, among others, insisted that elections must hold in the region and called on Igbo to come out en masse to vote for Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Obi.

Addressing journalists in Abuja, Okeke maintained that since Independence in 1960, this is the best chance of the Southeast to produce Nigeria’s president, and advised those agitating for Biafra that the best way to achieve it is through their votes.

“The peace you achieve with bullets from the gun is the peace of a graveyard. Your vote does a better job than the bullet from the barrel of the gun,” he advised.

Okeke warned that if Southeast is denied the opportunity to vote, “you perpetuate your problems and your detractors will mock and lord it over you until the next election (in four years) when you will have another chance to change your situation, using your vote to vote in your choice candidates.”

HOWEVER, Northern youths, under the auspices of Arewa Youth Assembly (AYA) has called on the Federal Government to immediately postpone the conduct of the elections, following the biting fuel and naira scarcity across the country and the hardship the situation has brought to Nigerians.

According to the Arewa group, both crises facing Nigerians may lead to the disenfranchisement of potential voters during the polls.

The Speaker, AYA, Mohammed Salihu Danlami, in a statement in Kaduna, said, “all known solutions proffered by the President Buhari-led Committee on Fuel Scarcity and recommendations by the National Council of State, National Assembly, and Nigeria Governors’ Forum on how to ease the suffering of the masses have defied answers.

“It has become imperative for the Arewa Youth Assembly to call for the immediate suspension of the elections to enable Nigerians, especially menial workers from our region who are littered all over the country in search of greener pastures to return to where they registered to vote.

We are worried that even those in the city, whose polling units are far away from their homes can’t transport themselves to cast their votes.”

It was a homecoming for the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday, at the party’s campaign grand finale rally in Lagos State.

President Muhammadu Buhari who was present at the rally lifted Tinubu’s hand, proclaiming him the next president of the country, God willing.

The rally was attended by an unprecedented crowd, which had besieged the Teslim Balogun Stadium Surulere venue of the rally from as early as 8:00a.m., while another large number lined the streets from the Presidential wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, where the aircraft carrying President Buhari’s and Tinubu landed, till they arrived in Surulere in a long convoy of vehicles.

Addressing the rally, Tinubu, facing the president, said: “As you worked hard for me, I will work hard for Nigeria. All the plans set out in our Action Plan for Renewed Hope for Nigerians will be pursued rigorously.”

He thanked President Buhari for standing firm for democracy, accountability, transparency and fairness.

He said: “The president asked all of us interested to go and contest the primaries of our party. After I was picked overwhelmingly by the delegates, he didn’t ask them to change the results because of my tribe or religion or because I’m not from Daura like him, he accepted me and celebrated with me, telling me ‘you are almost there now’.”

Tinubu also said when it was time for the choice of a running mate, the President turned down his offer to choose for him, telling him “you know better, you are very experienced and you know the kind of person who will assist you to run the country, so pick that person.”

Tinubu added: “Thank you Mr. President, you gave me the courage, the confidence and the will to pick right. The APC candidate said he chose as his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima who he described as a most knowledgeable and independent-minded person.

He said Shettima had shown determination and grit to perform and be different, describing him as a dependable, reliable and courageous man.
Tinubu promised to do all in his power to continue where Buhari would stop, and consolidate his achievements.

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu thanked the people of the state for turning out in large numbers to receive President Buhari and Tinubu and to also attend the rally.

He said with the massive turnout, they had shown their love for the ‘City Boy,’ asking them to go further on Saturday, February 25, 2023, to vote Asíwájú for president.

Those who addressed the rally also include: APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Director-General of the Tinubu-Shettima Campaign and Plateau State, Governor Simon Lalong and the wife of the APC candidate, Senator Oluremi Tinubu. Also present at the rally were Senate President Ahmed Lawan, House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, Vice Presidential Candidate, Senator Kashim Shettima, and Governors Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Mohammed Inuwa (Gombe), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) and Babagana Zulum (Borno). Others were former governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun) as well as former House of Representatives Speaker Dimeji Bankole, National Woman Leader, Beta Edu, Youth and Sports Minister, Chief Sunday Dare and Adamawa APC Governorship Candidate, Hajiya Binani.

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