In a bid to effectively monitor the conduct of next year’s general elections, the International Republican Institute (IRI), and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), are deploying a joint Pre-Election Assessment Mission (PEAM) to assess preparations ahead of the elections, scheduled for February, 2019.
The statement issued by the groups in Abuja, yesterday, said, the high-level delegation would visit Nigeria from July 12-20, 2018.
Members of the delegation will meet with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, civil society organizations and other stakeholders in Abuja to assess election preparations and explore ways of fostering peaceful and credible polls in the country.
“The delegation will also watch the voting process during the July 14 Ekiti state gubernatorial election. The PEAM will be led by Dr. Pauline Baker, president emeritus of The Fund for Peace (USA).
“Nigeria’s 2015 general elections were widely hailed as a positive step in the country’s democratic development,” Baker said.
“Another set of credible polls in 2019 would further consolidate Nigeria’s democratic gains.”
Baker is president emeritus of the U.S.-based Fund for Peace and a renowned expert in Nigerian politics.
Earlier in her career, Baker lived in Nigeria for 11 years and taught political science for seven years at the University of Lagos.
She has served as an election observer in five Nigerian elections since the restoration of democracy in 1999.
The delegation would include Lauren Blanchard, specialist in African Affairs, U.S. Congressional Research Service (USA); Christopher Fomunyoh, senior associate and regional director for Central and West Africa, NDI (Cameroon); Jan Surotchak, regional director for Europe, IRI (USA); and Terry Tselane, vice chairperson, Electoral Commission of South Africa (South Africa).
The mission’s findings would be presented at a press conference in Abuja on July 20, 2018.
Meanwhile, the coalition of election observers composing over 15 bodies, on Friday faulted police on its explanation that it dispersed a rally held by the Peoples Democratic Party at the pavilion in Fajuyi park last Wednesday.
The coalition said using teargas and live shooting to disperse the rally is undemocratic and urged the police to be more proactive by ensuring a more civilized approach in line with global practices.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition to newsmen yesterday, Dr. Nwambu Gabriel,Director General, Centre for Credible Leadership & Citizens Awareness, said: “ In world over, it is necessary to ensure that elections comply with International Best Practice and Globally Accepted Standard, hence, the essence of accrediting reputable Civil Society and Non Governmental Organizations to observe any election is to assess the degree of compliance of the electoral management body (INEC), the Political Parties as well as their supporters to the relevant electoral laws as provided by the Electoral Act of 2010 as Amended, Federal Republic of Nigeria. This essentially is to serve as a parameter for measurement and a term of reference to improving future elections. Thus, election observation increases the level of credibility of a well ordered process of power transition in any defined democratic state. Report of organizations also remains a potent tool in election tribunals or court of competent Jurisdiction.
Consequently, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as an electoral body saddled with the constitutional responsibility of conducting elections across Nigeria, after a thorough scrutiny accredited about fifty (50) reputable domestic Civil Society/Non Governmental Organizations and about seven (7) International Organizations to serve as election observers for the Ekiti State Governorship election of 14th July, 2018.
“ Ekiti state has a record of being a serial politically volatile state in Nigeria. This becomes manifest, before, during or after elections.
“ Some killings have been noted in the state in the midst of election campaign.
In all these, as at 9th of July, 2018, Ekiti state has a total number of 913,334 registered voters. A total of 667,064 voters has collected their PVCs, while 246,270 PVCs are yet to be collected. By this medium , we encourage the electorates in Ekiti state to collect their Permanent Voters Cards to enable them exercise their franchise on the 14th of July Governorship election.
“ As part of our pre election observation, we observed the violence and the use of tear gas and firing of live bullets to disperse a rally organized by the PDP. Although, the PPRO of the police in Ekiti state said in his statement that 2 political parties cannot hold rallies simultaneously. For us, the police ought to have used a more pro active way to address the issue.
“ The Ekiti Governorship Election fall into what we may call a staggered election and a precursor to the expectations in the 2019 General Elections. It becomes therefore inherent and a great onus on INEC to ensure that the process is smooth, transparent, free, fair and credible in line with internationally accepted standard.
In another devwlopment, the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers have expressed apprehension about alleged unwarranted attack on the sitting Governor of the state, Ayodele Fayose , just as it appealed to the Police to refrain from further harassment, intimidation and brutality of innocent citizens of the state till the end of election and beyond.
The traditional rulers who stated this in a communiqué issued at the end of their emergency meeting held in Ado Ekiti, implored the people of Ekiti State to be calm and go about their normal duties without fear of molestation.
They said if such a thing could happen to the governor, they wondered what will happen to the ordinary citizens of the state in the course of the election.
In the communiqué signed by the Chairman of the Council, Oba Oluwole Ademolaju, they noted that prior to the Wednesday incident; they had held several meetings with the stakeholders in the election. “Council met with the participating party leaders and the gubernatorial candidates with the Police, other law enforcement agencies, the INEC, the civil societies and the diplomatic community.
“During these meetings, the Traditional Rulers had preached peace implored all concerned to be neutral and unbiased. Most especially, we had requested the law enforcement agencies to refrain from intimidation, harassment and brutality of the people.
“We are therefore worried and disturbed that after all our appeal and entreaties, the police still went ahead to unleash mayhem on the Governor and innocent citizens right in front of the Government House.
“What happened yesterday showed that Ekiti State is under siege. We are not in a state of war and we don’t want Ekiti state to be turned into war zone. Election is a civil exercise and it should be so”.
In line with the directives of their national Secretariat, members of People’s Democratic Party in Adamawa State have taken to the streets in protest of police brutality against Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State.
The protesters who first assembled at the state Secretariat of the party, led a procession to the state police command to register their grievances, arising from police manhandling of the number one citizen in Ekiti State.
GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations
Against the backdrop of renewed piracy and hostage-taking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, have commenced a security engagement aimed at joint security initiatives to tackle the situation.
Speaking during the meeting held at Naval headquarters, Abuja, Vice Admiral Gambo said, “The Gulf of Guinea is currently bedevilled by the activities of criminal elements who take advantage of limited capability of the navies in the region to adequately secure the area.
“The threat posed by the activities of these criminal elements constitute a major challenge not only to the littoral states but equally undermines regional development and global trade.
“Notably, the trans-boundary and trans-national nature of maritime crime makes the security of the maritime domain a task beyond the capacity of any country acting alone.
“It is against this backdrop that this bilateral engagement was convened at the instance of the Heads of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Ghana towards addressing the maritime security challenges within the region”.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed belief that “the engagement would foster greater collaboration and burden sharing that is hinged on cooperative maritime security framework as envisioned in the 2013 Yaoundé Protocol to arrive at strategies that would help address the maritime insecurity for enhanced economic prosperity in the region”.
Declaring the technical session open, the CNS said, “In deliberations, please consider amongst others: maritime area of interest covering Zone E and integration of the capabilities of the countries in Zone E, emplacing a robust intelligence sharing mechanism and collaboration with international partners”.
On relations between both countries, Gambo said, “This good relation is equally manifest in the several interactions between the Nigerian Navy and Ghana Navy. I must not fail to mention the remarkable contributions of the Ghana Navy-CNS to manpower development during his tour of duty at the prestigious AFCSC, Jaji as a member of the Directing Staff. I have no doubt that this engagement would further strengthen the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana navies.
In his address, Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, noted that he and his delegation were in Nigeria at the behest of President Nana Akufo Ado to engage the Nigerian Navy and come out with collective strategies to tackle insecurity which is in the ascendancy in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We hope our navies will buy into this engagement to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea. We know our big brother Nigeria has bigger capacity to chart the way forward”.
He disclosed that, “Since year 2020, the situation has bot been good in the Gulf of Guinea”, noting that “Last May, two Ghanian vessels were attacked and 10 persons were abducted with investigations still ongoing”.
Consequently, the Ghanian Navy Chief said, “We are proposing an ECOWAS naval task force and joint maritime security architecture to checkmate these threats, adding that this was done in the past successfully during ECOMOG operations without problems with inter-operability and doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, he proposed the setting up of a ‘transit corridors’ where ships from fellow West African countries can go to anchor for assistance and joint naval assets will conduct regular patrols especially for protection of commercial fishing vessels.
Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered the destruction of all criminal hideouts in Ahoada, Elele, Eleme and Onne to prevent attempt to undermine security of the state.
The governor said criminals were already coming to terms with the reality that Rivers State was too hot for them to invade at will and detonate their foolish attacks on targeted security posts and personnel.
Wike, who made this assertion in a state broadcast, last Friday, disclosed that the state government has identified the hideouts, safe houses and secret places that provide both cover and comfort for the hoodlums to plan, execute and return to after operations.
“This was the reason we ordered the destruction of all the shanties and makeshift structures located along Elele to Ahoada expanse of the East–West Road to deny the criminals the opportunity to continue to undermine our security from these hideouts.
“We have equally decided to destroy all the shanties, illegal shops and mechanic sheds along the Eleme to Onne stretch of the East-West Road having discovered these places also as hideouts and operational bases for criminals and criminal activities in the state.
“Consequently, I hereby direct owners of such shanties and illegal structures along the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road to vacate the area within two weeks from June 11, 2021, as the state government will go ahead to destroy these structures without any further notice.”
Wike said the government was not unmindful of the economic effect these measures would have or may have had on residents carrying out businesses in the affected areas.
He, however, stressed that government was merely discharging its constitutional responsibility to advance the collective security of all with no ethnic targets in mind or attachment to political sentiments.
He explained that the existing curfew in Rivers State will not last one day beyond necessary, and pleaded with all residents to endure the temporary inconveniences in the interest of the state and collective wellbeing of all.
“We will continue to take the war on criminality and insecurity to the den of the criminals and we will neither yield nor lower the tempo of our assault until they are comprehensively neutralized. As a matter of fact, they want us to prematurely terminate the state wide night time curfew in order for them to have the leeway to operate again and roll back the gains of the last few weeks.”
Wike said he has received reports about the excesses of the State Task Force on Illegal Trading and Parks, especially the alleged shooting of motorists, extortions and abuse of the human rights of citizens.
He assured that government would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any member of the task force who crosses the boundaries of the law and rational behaviour.
The governor, who appealed to motorists and residents to be responsible road users by complying with the clear regulations against illegal trading, indiscriminate parking and irresponsible driving, noted that the situation where some motorists would have the effrontery to compete for traffic space with or even attempt to block his official vehicular convoy leaves much to be desired.
He has meanwhile, directed the management of the Rivers State Waste Management Authority to clear the state of filthiness within one week or be disbanded without any further notice.
Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers
The Nigerian Army, 6 Division, has announced that it would commence its annual range classification exercise from yesterday to Sunday, June 27.
The division’s spokesman, Lt.-Col. Charles Ekeocha, said in a statement in Port Harcourt, that the exercise aimed at ascertaining the professional competence of troops on the use of firearms.
He said troops from the division and its affiliated formations and units would conduct the exercise at the Army Shooting Range in Igwuruta and Elele Barracks, both in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
“The shooting exercise is a routine activity in the Nigerian Army which involves the firing of various calibre live ammunitions.
“Members of the public, especially residents of Igwuruta and Elele, as well as its environs, are advised to keep away from the general shooting area,” he stated.
The Army spokesman also advised the public not to panic over the movement of troops, military hardware and sound of gunshots.
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