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Appeal Court Rules On Osun Gov Poll

The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has fixed today for judgment on the dispute arising from the September 2018 governorship election in Osun State.

The court, on yesterday, issued hearing notices for the judgment and had them served on all the parties to the four pending appeals relating to the disputed poll.

A five-man panel led by Justice Jummai Sankey had, on April 24, heard three appeals and a cross-appeal filed in relation to the Osun State governorship election and reserved its judgments on the appeal.

With Justice Sankey presiding, other members of the appeal panel which heard the four appeals were Justices Abubakar Yahaya, George Mbaba, Isaiah Akeju and Bitrus Sanga.

At the hearing on April 24, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State, his party, the All Progressives Congress, and the Independent National Electoral Commission urged the court to upturn the March 22, 2019 majority judgment of the state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, which nullified the governor’s victory at the September 2018 poll.

But the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Senator Ademola Adeleke, who were declared the winner of the election by the tribunal, urged the Court of Appeal to affirm the tribunal’s judgment.

INEC had declared Oyetola and the APC the winner of the Osun State governorship election on the basis of the cumulative results of the September 22, 2018 main election and the September 27, 2018 supplementary poll.

Dissatisfied with the result declared by INEC, the PDP and Adeleke had filed their petition before the three-man Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, contending that they were the true winner of the election as they had already won after the September 22, 2018 poll and that there was no need for the supplementary election held on September 27, 2018.

The tribunal, in its March 22, 2019 split judgment of two-to-one, nullified Oyetola’s victory and declared Adeleke and the PDP the winner of the election.

The tribunal’s chairman, Justice Ibrahim Sirajo, in his minority judgment, dissented from the majority judgment credited to Justices Peter Obiorah and Adegboye Gbolagunte.

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Politics

Reps To Probe Amnesty Programme

The House of Representatives has resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the alleged fraudulent activities  in the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

The resolution followed a motion presented by Rep Tajudeen Obasa (PDP-Lagos) at  plenary on Wednesday.

Moving the motion, Obasa expressed concerns over the outcry by some people, alleging massive looting at the Kaiama Amnesty Centre in Bayelsa State between February 14 and 16.

“The coordinator of the centre, in collaboration with security agents and other unknown persons, allegedly took away equipment worth billions of naira with the knowledge of the Special Adviser on Amnesty to the President. It has become imperative to investigate these allegations for the good of the Niger Delta people and that of the nation at large.The failure of the House to act in time will lead to the wrecking of the amnesty programme and the essence of it will be eroded,” he said.

Obasa noted that the programme was a lofty initiative by the Federal Government to quell arms struggles by the Niger Delta agitators.

He said the programme was meant for a better deal in the nation’s oil producing areas and the cardinal objective was to grant pardon to the agitators.

The lawmaker said further that it was meant to rehabilitate the agitators through productive ventures and build the capacity of the youths in the area.

Obasa said that government had spent huge resources in training the youths locally and abroad, adding that recently, N8.5bn was paid into the programme’s account to further implement the initiative.

The  Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, said that when the committee is finally constituted, it will turn in its report to the House within two weeks for further legislative action.

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Politics

Patience Jonathan Tackles EFCC

Former First Lady Dame Patience Jonathan Wednesday urged the Federal High Court in Lagos for time to respond to “weighty” allegations against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, on April 26, 2017, ordered the temporary forfeiture of $5.7million and N2, 421,953,522.78 allegedly belonging to Mrs. Jonathan.

The judge made the order based on an ex-parte application by the EFCC.

The commission said the N2.4billion was found in an Ecobank Nigeria Ltd account numbered 2022000760 in the name of La Wari Furniture and Baths Ltd.

Following the temporary forfeiture, Mrs. Jonathan, through her lawyers Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), appealed.

The Court of Appeal, last January 12, upheld the temporary forfeiture. Dissatisfied, Mrs. Jonathan appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court, on March 15, affirmed the Court of Appeal judgment. It directed the appellant to return  before Justice Olatoregun to show cause why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

The Supreme Court also rejected her prayer to strike down the provisions of Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, which EFCC relied on in securing the forfeiture.

  EFCC’s lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo said he received two affidavits from Ozekhome on April 29. One of them, he said, is a counter-affidavit to the motion on notice for final forfeiture; the other is a further affidavit. He said EFCC filed and served its reply to the SAN’s motions on Tuesday.

Responding, Ozekhome said: “We got their affidavit at 5.5pm on Tuesday. A plethora of exhibits were attached. Their affidavit is replete with new facts. 

Granting the adjournment, Justice Olatoregun said there must be an end to litigation.. Justice Olatoregun adjourned until May 24.

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Politics

Journalists Decry Marginalization In Service

Journalists have decried the marginalization of media practitioners in the country.

This was the conclusion of speakers and media practitioners during the occasion celebration of the 2019 World Press freedom day held at the Ernest Ikoli Centre, of the Nigerian union of journalist (NUJ) in Port Harcourt.

Former Vice President of NUJ, Mr. Vincent Ake who was the chairman of the occasion said the yearly event was instituted to acknowledge the enormous role of the journalism profession in information dissemination and social stability.

Ake who is the General Manager of the Rivers State Newspapers Corporation, publishers of The Tide Group of Newspapers, regretted the conditions under which journalists operate in the country, stressing that journalism as a profession has become the weeping child of other professions.

Earlier in a welcome address, chairman of Rivers State chapter of the NUJ, Mr. Stanley Job Stanley, said the occasion is in line with the United Nations declaration on the freedom of information and its importance to the advancement of the society.

While reviewing the critical roles of journalists in socio-political and economic development, the NUJ chairman emphasized the fundamental role media practitioners played in the just concluded elections in the country.

Job expressed dissatisfaction at the maltreatment and harassment of journalists during the exercise.

He regretted that most journalists who covered the elections were subjected to unwarranted public intimidation, assault and others forms of harm and damage to their personnel effects by overzealous security agents.

The chairman stated that in the elections of 2019, journalists covering the conduct of elections were barred from accessing polling and collation centres; thereby depriving the public of the needed information’s on the elections.

“Many journalists at various times have been detained and tortured by the authorities over the content of their stories and reports and in some case forced to disclose the source of their reports”.

The chairman insisted that this should never be accepted as it goes against the ethics of the profession.

He charged practitioners to resist such obnoxious acts of repression from any quarter, and described such actions as quiet inimical to the tenets of democratic practice worldwide.

The World Press Freedom Day with the theme: ‘Media, Democracy and Election in Times of Disinformation’ also featured series of lectures. The lecture on the topic, “The challenges of reporting politics in times of disinformation’, was delivered by Dr. Chris Ochonogor of the Linguistics and Communication department, University of Port Harcourt.

The second lecture which dealt on’ “objectives in reporting in the era of media commercialization”, was delivered by Dr. Faustinus Nwachukwu also of the linguistics and communication department, of the same University.

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Politics

The Imperatives Of Rivers Elders’ Conference

The victory of Governor Nyesom Wike in the governorship election in Rivers State may have come and gone, however the drama and the shenanigans that characterized the exercise will linger for long. There are indeed fundamental lessons to imbibe from the entire episodes of the tragic comedy.

For one the elections and outcome after weeks of suspense and gerrymandering go to buttress the salient point that the will and power of the people will always triumph over the narrow interests of the few who believed that violence, bloodshed and intimidations have the capacity to cow the people to submission in a democracy.

Also the scenario that ensued all through the election debacle in the state seemed to have brought to the fore the realities and critical facts that Rivers State is in dire need of true elders and statesmen who can hold their voices up, without dancing to the wind, when critical occasions demand. We need to face the facts that “Rivers today, lacks elders with the courage and wisdom of its founding fathers. The creation of Rivers State in 1966, was the result of hard work, commitments and sacrifices of great elders and statesmen such as the sagacious Chief Harold Dappa Biriye, Chief G. K. Amakiri, Senator Obi Wali, Justice Nabo Graham Douglas, Chief Nwobidike Nwanodi, Senator Francis Ella, Chief E. J. Oriji, Professor Isaac Dema, Chief Paul Birabi, G. B. Leton, Chief E. N. Opurun and Ken Saro Wiwa among other personalities of that era.

To painstakingly list these persons is to elucidate the high quality of individuals who staked their lives for the state. Unfortunately, those to whom these great men handed over the baton seemed to ignore the wisdom, tact and courage to lead the new generation in a manner devoid of parochial interest and political bias.

Since 1999, when politics and elections took the centre stage of Nigerian democratic process, the state has watched in dismay the actions and body language of elders and statesmen who rather than build cohesiveness among the numerous and diverse ethnic constituents in the state, choose to engage in fanning the embers of social divisiveness. Thus the adage that elders do not sit at home while the female goat delivers while tied explains the role of some elders while the election face-off in the state lasted.

The fact of the matter was that elders of the state who as statesmen should have passionately tackled the crises that arose from the election bearing in mind the interests of the state, decided rather to remain ominously silent or play to the gallery

So worrisome, it is in Rivers of today that notable and respected elders have unwittingly fallen into the odious conspiracies of the political class, taking sides on political issues in a bid to feather their nepotic interest to remain relevant to the source of what firmer governor Ayo Fayose described as stomach infrastructure. In African tradition and culture, it is infidelity of the mind and debasing for elders in the community to abandon their crises-ridden homefront, and go abroad in frantic search for strange solutions to critical family and community issues confronting the people.

Men of wisdom and courage do not run away from troubling issues of the community but would rather consciously galvanize the people, building  and confidence in the people towards charting pathways out of seeming intractable situations. This is done so that the society can move forward peacefully into the next level development.  

The critical political and social situation confronting Rivers State have risen to the crescendo due largely because elders abandoned their esteemed responsibility while the younger generation of men and women who forcefully took over the mantle of leadership seem to lack the requite knowledge to sustain the values that brought the state to its enviable height.

Today, our highly revered treasure base of the nation is obviously riding in the crest of socio- political mess it has found itself because those to whom the people looked for direction and guidance have somehow surrendered their roles as social stabilizers and are now chasing shadows and rats.

It is on this note that one could opine that those men and women in the name of Rivers Elders who took the flight to Abuja to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the  political standoff following the March 9, governorship and state Assembly elections cannot be said to have acted as true elders of the state. Preposterous as it was, the whole episode was a drama taken too far. For the elders to leave the crises at home and embark on such expedition, amounts to a man who ignited fire on his clothes and goes about calling on the bystander to rescue him from the flame.

Inviting the president of Nigeria to intervene in the political situations occasioned by the March 9 elections in the state exposed the elders and their promoters as a group lacking the wisdom of Solomon and proper political calculation.

President Buhari himself from all ramifications would have known that he would be committing illegal and unconstitutional acts if he had yielded to the biddings of such promptings. It is common knowledge that the contradictions that attended the March 9, election were precipitated by desperate politicians from the state who believed that force and brutality were the instruments needed to wrest power from an incumbent to prove that the touted political strength already portrayed was no fluke. This is the truth and these elders know it. Rivers people had expected that rather than go to Aso Rock, these Elders should have sought home-grown solution to the issues. The point is that, we must wake up from this self-pity that we have invariably imposed on ourselves as Rivers people, selling out our incapacitations instead of making use of the roundtable in solving problems.

By implications the elders were calling on the president to declare a state of emergency on the state; as a way to ease out the incumbent from being reelected. Quite unfortunate. How this will benefit anybody is open to conjectures

Significantly, the two antagonists in the political battles in the state, the incumbent Governor Nyesom Wike and former Governor Chibuike Amaechi were offshoots and props of these elders of yester-years politics. When these two men prior to the 2015 election fell apart and began to build fortresses of loyalties, none of these elders stood boldly to seek for a truce or a compromise at least in the interest of the state.

In the words of Chief A. K. Horsfall, the attempts of some Rivers elders to bring the warring politicians to a roundtable prior in the just-concluded elections in the state did not materialize. According to him while Governor Nyesom Wike positively responded to their overtures, the Minister of Transportation failed to respond. Chief Horsfall, while berating the two men for causing so much pain to the state, as a result of their acrimonious political activities, also warned that both of them cannot continue to behave as if they were too big to answer to the calls of the Elders of the State.

The point to be situated here is that elders in Rivers state are obviously in confusion and disarray on how to handle matters of the state. President Muhammadu Buhari, it must be noted, despite his position as the leader of Nigeria is a total stranger in solving certain socio-political issues in the state. The Amaechi-Wike political onslaught can only be resolved by genuine Rivers people who actually know the genesis of the problems. No stranger can be more Rivers than the Rivers people.

What is required of the Governor, Nyesom Wike is to remain magnanimous in victory and ensure that the olive branch he has raised to his opponents, stands unwavering. The time of reconciliation should begin in earnest. The government should during this period constitute a truly elders council that will comprise  all senior and elder citizens of the state irrespective of political, religious or social affiliation.

Governor Wike should also as a matter of urgency convene an all Rivers Conference  of ethnic nationalities to discuss all issues confronting the state, including the issue of political power rotation and succession among the divides of upland and riverine areas of the state. These are issues that true statesmen can deliberate upon and bring the needed enduring peace and political conviviality to Rivers State because peace is an indispensable necessity to move Rivers State to the next level of growth and prosperity.

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Politics

Groups Apologise To Army Over Elections

Some civil society organisations and Human Right groups have apologized to the Nigerian Army over the conduct of the governorship elections in Rivers State.

The civil society organisations and Human Right groups in conjunction with some concerned youths in Rivers State,  embarked on a   solidarity march to the Headquarters of Six Division of the Nigerian Army.

The groups particularly requested for more support from the military and other security agencies for the peace and security of lives of the Rivers people.

In a letter delivered to the Six Division by the Chancellor, International Society for Social Justice and Human Right, Omenazu Jackson, the groups apologised to the Nigerian Army over what they described as unguarded and ill-fated comments from some individuals and selfish politicians in the state.

The groups insisted that like the 2015 general elections, without the military in this year’s elections, Rivers State would have recorded more deaths and violence  and   requested for more involvement of the military in elections and other activities in the state.

  Colonel A.D Abubakar, who received the letter on behalf of the General Officer Commanding Six Division Nigeria Army, Port Harcourt, commended the people and assured that their letter will get to appropriate authorities.

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Politics

NASS Leadership: APC Insists On Winner Takes-All

National Publicity Secretary of the APC Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu said the party does not envisage an election on the floor of the Senate. saying “it is winner takes all. Once you win, you take whatever you won. There is no room for power sharing. We do not need it because we do not need them (PDP) to run this government”.

 Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu who stated this in Abuja, while reacting to PDP’s press statement, staid, “I have listened to the PDP react to this and in their usual style, they exhibited gross ignorance. What we practise in Nigeria is called the Presidential System of Government and in such a system, it is winner takes all. Once you win, you take whatever you won. There is no room for power sharing. We do not need it because we do not need them (PDP) to run this government.

We have enough number to run this government and in any case, when we were campaigning, we never told Nigerians that we were going to share power with any other party. We told them, ‘please, entrust power to us fully’. And Nigerians have graciously assented to that. It would be a betrayal of that trust to go ahead and start sharing power with a party, particularly the PDP that has been rejected by Nigerians.

 “We are starting from the experience of the last four years, precisely what happened in 2015 when some traitors in the APC fold sold our birthright to an opposition party and some people now considered that to be the new normal. It is not. In fact, that was undemocratic. It was treachery and we thank God also that Nigerians have punished the people that are involved. They were rejected. Many of them are now on compulsory retirement from politics.

That is the verdict of the people of this country for those who dared to compromise basic democratic principles which says that in a presidential system of government when you have the majority, you have the trust of the people to form a government without conceding anything to the people they have rejected. If they wanted PDP, they would have voted for the PDP.

We patterned our Presidential system of government after the United States of America USA. When last did you see them go to the floor to elect the Speaker? Any party that has the majority automatically has the speaker. If you remember, Pelosi was the Speaker of the US House of Representatives. Immediately, the Republicans got a majority, she became the Minority Leader. It is automatic except where you have traitors; people who do not have a commitment to values whose only interest is to foster their own selfish desires. In the last election in the US, when Democrats became the majority, Pelosi reverted and became the Speaker”, he explained.

We don’t envisage an election “All the Principal Officers are determined by the simple majority and because Nigerians have given us more than what we had even in the outgoing dispensation, we have enough to elect all our officers. We do not need a single vote from the PDP and in any case, we don’t actually envisage any election on that day because we are going to present to our members to occupy these positions and it is the collective position of the party and all our members are very experienced politicians who understand what this means. When they get to the floor, they are going to read out the names and if the PDP so desire, they can bring a candidate and follow that candidate with the number they have got. So, it will be an exercise in futility for PDP to nurse the ambition to share from what Nigerians have taken from them. \

“It is not the party that will determine whether there will be an election or not. By the time we announce these names, having a clear majority on the floor, anyone that wants to oppose would have to present his candidates, backing them up with numbers. So, there is only one person being put forward and then you have a consensus. So, even if there is going to be an election it would just be a mere formality. We do not envisage a situation where two APC senators would stand as candidates for a position. That would only happen if this party has done its homework”, Issa-Onilu added

He said Sen. Ali Ndume who has been reported as expressing interest in contesting against Lawan was merely expressing his democratic rights, but that he must subscribe to the dictates of the party.

“The day he subscribed to be a member of the APC, he signed off to abide by the dictates of the party and we take what has happened in the last 24 hours as an expression of how badly the news hit him, but we are also conscious of the fact that Sen. Ali Ndume is a respected member of the APC, he is a leader in this party and we know he knows the right thing to do and on whose side he rightly belongs and that also includes any other person who has such grievances”, he added.

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Politics

Jonathan, 62 Others Bag Ijaw Heroes Award

The former president of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who bagged a grand award of “Ijaw Man of All Seasons” was among 62 others that were honoured by the Ijaw Republican Assembly (Patriotic Front) in conjunction with Ijaw Media Action Initiative for their various meritorious services and contributions to the nation in different stratas of life.

The ceremony with its theme, “Scions to Icon” was held at Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt on Saturday.

The Vortex correspondent gathered that Mr. Atedo Peterside, Prof Nimi Briggs, Prof. Kimse Okoko AIG Hilda Harrison (Rtd), Amb. Boladei Igali, Odein Ajumogobia (SAN), Dr Doris Cowan, Senator Inatimi Rufus Spiff, Ken Etete, Ndutimi Alaibe, Tele Ikuru, Dr Stanley Lawson and Amaopusenibo Bobo Sofiri Brown bagged the distinguished awards of Ijaw Excellence Award while the Presidential Adviser on Amnesty Programme, Prof. Charles Quaker Dokubo was honoured as the Ijaw Man of the Year.

The first military governor of Old Rivers State and Amanyanabo of Twon Brass in Bayelsa, HRH, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, Prof. Joe Ebiegberi Alagoa, Justice Francis Tabai, Alabo T.O. Graham – Douglas, HRH D. M. Fubara, Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo clerk, Amb – Nne Kurubo and Coach Monday Sinclair were honoured with life Time Awards. Chief Dumo Lulu – Briggs and Senator Ben Murray Bruce also bagged Merit Awards as politicians.

Post Humous Awardees were Prof Eyo Ita, Mr. Ernest Sissei Ikoli, Jonathan Adagogo Green, Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson, Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro, Prof. Tekena Tamuno, Prof. Lawrence Ekpebu, Mrs Christiana Graham Douglas, Justice Ambrose Alagoa, Chief Melford Okilo, DSP Alamieyeseigha, High Chief Lulu- Briggs and Amb. Joseph Iyalla while Iconic Development Partners of Ijaw Nation Award was bestowed on Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther and Prof. Kay Williamson.

Other awardees include Owei Lakemfa with best Journalist award, Anthony George Ikoli (SAN) and Iboroma Akpana Esq with Legal Luminary award, Iniruo Wills and Dr. Mina Ogbanga – Environmentalist award and Dr. Dagogo Jack – Medical Practioner award while Ifie Sekibo, Arobo Michael, Ms. Boma Godhead, Rosemary Naimgba and Yibo Koko bagged Finance, Entrepreneur, Legislator, Ijaw Woman, Innovative Artist and Producer awards respectively.

Burna Boy (Ogulu), Ibinabo Fiberesima and Timaya were honoured with Entertainers’ award as Amaopusenibo Stephen Benstowe and Anthony Otokito bagged Ijaw Diaspora Archivist awards.

The Youth award was presented to Dabesaki Ikemenjima and Oraye St. Franklin while the Public Servant Award goes to Dr. Dakuku Peterside and Arch. Amagbe Kentebe.

Speaking with newsmen at the occasion, the President of Ijaw Republican Assembly (Patriotic Front), Alatubo Charles Harry said time has come for the Ijaw people to celebrate their own for their numerous services and achievements to their fatherland.

Charles Harry noted that Ijaw people must recognized and honour themselves as people of great nation and believed strongly that Ijaw issues must be intellectualize and not militarilize as they are the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria.

According to him, it is time to hold their own and stop the attitude of complaining and wining as most of our problems are self-inflicted.

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Politics

Re-Elected Umahi Denies Plot To Defect To APC

All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship candidate in Ebonyi State in last Saturday’s election, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji has alleged that Governor David Umahi would defect to the APC on or before May 29.

 Ogbuoji made the allegation in Enugu, at a press conference on the outcome of the February 23 governorship and state assembly elections in Ebonyi state described the elections as a mock exercise, where people were coerced to reject a happy future. 

He accused some  APC members as moles and denied he worked for victory of his opponent at the polls.

“We therefore reject in its entirety, the shambolic exercise, the processes that led to it and the result or outcome. I am aware also of those among us that desired the change we targeted to bring, seemingly worked for it but in the actual sense worked in contrary direction and deliberately frustrated the change they claimed to belong to.

 “A clearer picture of this is the information we have now that while the governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, had acted as a mole in PDP all along, he has started making moves to ditch PDP and cross over to the APC on before May 29.

“We are aware that the votes that enthroned Umahi were procured with the connivance of the system, a reason there are gloomy faces all over the state after the announcement of the claimed victory,” Ogbuoji alleged. 

Governor Umahi’s spokesman and Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Uzor however denied the claim, saying “It’s one of the new propaganda of the APC, having been rejected by the people of the state. Umahi is more concerned on delivering quality development to the state and thinks less about politics.” 

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Politics

How Soldiers Stopped Us From Monitoring Polls- EU

The European Union Observation Mission to Nigeria says soldiers barred them from monitoring elections in Rivers State. The observers made the allegation in their preliminary report in Abuja on Monday.

Addressing journalists, the Chief Observer, Maria Arena, noted that they came to Nigeria on the invitation of INEC to monitor the elections and make recommendations.

Arena, who is a member of the EU Parliament, however, faulted the elections. She said, “Observers, including EU observers, were denied access to collation centres in Rivers, apparently by military personnel. This lack of access for observers compromises transparency and trust in the process.

“In Rivers, INEC suspended until further notice the elections due to violence in polling units and collation centres, staff being taken hostage and election materials, including results sheets, seized or destroyed by unauthorised persons. There is no doubt that the electoral process there was severely compromised.”

Arena lamented the violence, underage voting and vote-buying that marred the governorship and House of Assembly elections in some states.

She said the EU deployed 73 observers following voting, counting and the collation of results in 22 states. The chief observer said they monitored 223 polling units in 81 collation centres.

According to Arena,”although election operations improved, the elections were also marked by an overall low turnout and violence, including against election officials and voters. However, at eight polling units observed, we saw indications of vote-buying. Eight cases of obvious underage voting were also observed. Our observers saw that the counting of ballots transparent overall”.

“Positively, in almost all cases, party agents received copies of the result forms, although they were often not displayed. The environment for these elections has been difficult, with cases of violence and intimidation, including attacks on election administration officials.”, she said.

She stressed the need for electoral reforms in the country, adding that the problems evident in the 2019 electoral process had shown that there was a  need for an inclusive national discussion on reforms for greater electoral integrity and participation.

Arena also noted misuse of power of incumbency by the governors of the All Progressives Congress and Peoples Democratic a Party on state-owned media houses.

She added, “While there can be many reasons for a low turnout, and it is not for me to speculate, it is surely disappointing that overall, only a relatively small portion of what is by far and away Africa’s largest electorate actually cast a vote on both election days. We hope that after these elections, parties and institutions look at what is needed to make voters want to take part in elections.”

Also speaking the Deputy Chief Observer, Hannah Roberts, criticised INEC for not providing specific information on the cancellation of votes in the February 23 elections.

She said, “While this number did not affect the outcome given the margin of win, this was not a good process. INEC did not provide sufficient information on these cancellations, the specific reasons for them, and the precise local government areas affected. This undermines public confidence in the process.”

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