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FACT CHECK: Is Amina Zakari In Charge Of Logistics For INEC?

Sahara Reporters - 16 February 2019 - 11:57am


Amina Zakari

Amina Zakari

Sequel to the one-week postponement of the elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), there have been speculations that Amina Zakari, a national commissioner, is to blame for the logistics delay regarding the electoral process.

Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, had said bad weather and delay in logistics was one of the reasons the polls had to be shifted by one week.

Before the elections, various stakeholders, especially the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had accused the commission of plans to rig the election by putting Zakari in charge of its national collation centre.

Zakari is related to President Muhammadu Buhari, albeit a distant relative. However, there had been calls for her sack from the commission, as there were claims that she could be biased as Buhari is seeking reelection on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

After INEC shifted the election, social media was awash with a screenshot depicting Zakari as INE's head of logistics, with the insinuation that she probably sabotaged the election to hand an advantage to the All Progressives Congress (APC). However, this is not true.

In 1997, she was appointed as a National Commissioner of INEC.

However, she was eventually redeployed, and contrary to speculations that she should receive major blame for the postponement of the elections, her office actually has nothing to do with logistics.

In October 2018, INEC re-organised the chairmanship of five of its 15 Standing Committees. As a result, Amina Bala Zakari’s position as Chairman of INEC’s Electoral Operations and Logistics Committee was changed to Health and Welfare Committee.

A statement by Mallam Muhammed Haruna, a National Commissioner on the re-organisation, read: “Barrister Festus Okoye, Information and Voter Education Committee; Prince Solomon Adedeji Soyebi, Board of the Electoral Institute; Dr Mohammed Mustafa Lecky, Planning, Monitoring and Strategy Committee; Mrs. Amina Bala Zakari, Health and Welfare Committee, and Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, Electoral Operations and Logistics Committee.”

In January 2019, she was appointed Chairman of the Committee on Collation Centre. Therefore, Zakari is NOT the head of INEC's losgistics as being peddled n social media.

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BREAKING: INEC Chairman Lists Reasons Why He Postponed Elections (Full Text)

Sahara Reporters - 16 February 2019 - 8:50am


Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has taken full responsibility for the postponement of the elections.

He cited bad weather and other logistics issues, as well as cases of law suits filed against the commission. He, however, restated the commitment of the commission to ensuring free, fair and credible elections.

He said the commission was confronted with myriad of challenges and had to resort to postponing the elections.

READ THE FULL SPEECH

l. About thirteen hours ago, I conveyed to Nigerians the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to reschedule the 2019 general elections by one week. Presidential and National Assembly elections earlier scheduled for 16th February 2019 will now hold on Saturday 23rd February 2019, while Governorship, State Assembly and FCT Area Council elections scheduled for 2nd March 20l9 will now hold on Saturday 9th March 2019. The one-week adjustment was a painful one for INEC, but necessary in the overall interest of our democracy.

2. Nigerians will recall that when this Commission was appointed in November 2015, we promised Nigerians two cardinal things. First, we shall work hard to consolidate the improvements made in the management of elections. Secondly, we shall always be open, transparent and responsive. We have strived diligently to keep these promises in very trying circumstances.

3. In keeping with our promise to consolidate the gains of the last two electoral cycles, the Commission has conducted 195 rerun and off-season elections across the country since the last general elections. Most of these elections have been generally adjudged to show progressive improvements in planning, execution and outcomes.

4. This commitment to continue to improve on election administration has informed our preparations for the 20l9 general elections. Our goal is to plan carefully, execute meticulously and bring stability into election management in Nigeria. Consequently, we announced fixed dates for elections in Nigeria to the effect that Presidential and National Assembly elections will always hold on the third Saturday in February of an election year. While the Governorship and State Assembly elections follow two weeks later. Having settled this, we began the planning quite early, with a Strategic Plan (SP), 3 Strategic Programme of Action (SPA) and an Election Project Plan (EPP). In fact, the plan for the 2019 general elections was ready in November 2017 and we subsequently issued the timetable and schedule of activities for the elections over one year ago on 9th January 2018. We carefully followed the timetable and implemented 13 of the 14 activities as scheduled. We kept to the timeframe and have not missed the date fixed for any single activity.

5. In preparing for the 2019 general elections, we have come face-to-face with the realities of conducting such an extensive national deployment of men and materials in a developing country like ours. It is said that elections constitute the most extensive mobilization of men and materials that any country could undertake in peacetime. The challenges of doing so, even under the best of circumstances, are enormous. Within a period of 16 months, we registered over 14 million Nigerians as new voters, collecting their names, addresses, photographs and their entire ten fingerprints. Beyond that, we prepared, printed and delivered their Permanent Voter Cards for collection. I should note that of the 14.28 million Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) made available for collection, about 10.87 million or 76.12% have been collected.

6. It is often not appreciated the magnitude of activities that the Commission undertakes during general elections. Not only have we recruited and trained about 1 million young people to serve as ad hoc staff, the magnitude of materials mobilized for our elections is enormous. For instance, the Commission has printed 421.7 million ballot papers for six scheduled elections, as well as 13.6 million leaves of result forms for the Presidential election alone. Indeed, managing 91 political parties and 23,316 candidates for whom votes will be cast in 119,973 polling units by over 84 million voters is certainly astounding. No doubt, preparations for the 2019 general elections have been extremely tasking for the Commission.

7. It is therefore not unexpected that such a tremendous national mobilization of men and materials will encounter operational challenges and we have had our own fair share of such challenges. There has been delay in delivering ballot papers and result sheets for the elections which is not unusual. However, I must emphasize that all the ballot papers and result sheets were ready before the elections despite the very tight legal timeframe for finalizing nomination of candidates and dealing with the spate of legal challenges that accompany it. In this regard, the Commission has been sued or joined in over 640 court cases arising from the nomination of candidates. As at today, there are 40 different court orders against the Commission on whether to add or drop candidates. The net effect of these is that there is usually roughly a one-month window for the Commission to print ballot papers and result sheets and either fly or transport them to several destinations until they finally get to each polling unit. Unfortunately, in the last one week, flights within the country have been adversely affected by bad weather. For instance, three days ago, we were unable to deliver materials to some locations due to bad weather. We therefore had to rely on slow-moving long haulage vehicles to locations that can be serviced by air in spite of the fact that we created five zonal airport hubs: Abuja (North Central), Port Harcourt (South South and South East), Kano (North West), Maiduguri and Yola (North East) and Lagos (South West) to facilitate the delivery of electoral logistics.

8. Apart from these logistical challenges, we also faced what may well be attempts to sabotage our preparations. In a space of two weeks, we had to deal with serious fire incidents in three of our offices in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of Abia State, Qu’an Pan Local Government Area of Plateau State and our Anambra State Office at Awka. In all three cases, serious disruptions were occasioned by the fire, further diverting our attention from regular preparations to recovery from the impact of the incidents. In Isiala Ngwa South, hundreds of PVCs were burnt, necessitating the re-compiling of the affected cards and reprinting in time to ensure that the affected voters are not disenfranchised. I am glad that all the cards were quickly reprinted and made available for collection by their owners.

9. In Qu'an Pan Local Government Area, our entire office was razed, destroying all the materials prepared for the elections printed register of voters, ballot boxes, voting cubicles and several electricity generating sets. 11 Registration Areas and over 100 polling units were affected by the fire. We recovered quickly and have since replaced everything destroyed. In addition, we secured a suitable building from which to conduct the elections.

10. Perhaps the most serious was the fire incident in our Anambra State Office at Awka, which destroyed over 4,600 Smart Card Readers being prepared for the elections. These Card Readers take at least six months to procure. Despite this setback, we have practically recovered from this by mopping up every available spare SCR across the country and within 24 hours delivered them for elections to hold in Anambra State.

11. All these challenges mean that there have been differences in preparations from one state to another. Our overall assessment is that if the elections went on as planned, polls will not open at 8am in all polling units nationwide. Yet, we are determined that polls must hold at the same time everywhere in the country. In this way, elections will not be staggered. This is very important to public perception of elections as free, fair and credible. We promised Nigerians that we shall be open, transparent and responsive.

12. Faced with these challenges, we initially thought that we only require a maximum of 24 hours to resolve the logistics issues involved and complete our deployment for the election. This would mean shifting the elections to commence on Sunday 17th February 2019. However, given the restriction of movement during elections, that could affect many voters who worship on Sundays. While the Commission was considering the following Monday 18th February 2019 as an option, our ICT Department advised us that it would require 5-6 days to reconfigure about 180,000 Smart Card Readers earlier programmed to work only on election day Saturday 16th February 20l9. It is for this reason that the Commission decided to adjust the election dates to Saturday 23rd February 2019 for Presidential and National Assembly elections and a consequential adjustment of Governorship, State Assembly and FCT Area Council elections to Saturday 9th March 2019.

 

13. Some sensitive materials have been distributed. However, all such materials have been retrieved and will be taken back to custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria. I want to assure you that there will be proper audit to account for all materials.

14. In the next few days, the Commission will work on the basis of the following plan:

S/No. Activity Timeframe

1. Completion/confirmation of deployment of materials (Monday l8th February 2019)

2. Configuration of the Smart Card Readers (Sunday 17th Thursday 21st February 2019)

3. Receipt and Deployment of sensitive materials to LGAs (Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21st February 2019)

4. Refresher training for ad hoc staff (Thursday 21st February 2019)

5. Deployment of personnel to RACs (Friday 22nd of February 2019)

6. Election Day (Saturday 23rd February 2019)

I want to appeal to Nigerians and all other stakeholders for their understanding in what has been a very difficult decision for the Commission. But we believe that ultimately this is for the good of our democracy and country. I wish to assure you of our commitment to free, fair and credible elections.

16. As Chairman of INEC, and on behalf of the Commission, we take full responsibility for what happened and we regret any inconvenience our decision might have caused.

17. Thank you and God bless.

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BREAKING: Bad Weather, Sabotage Responsible For Postponement Of Elections, Says INEC Chairman

Sahara Reporters - 16 February 2019 - 7:57am


Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says bad weather, sabotage, and a host of other factors caused the commission to postpone the elections.

Earlier on Saturday, the INEC Chairman had announced the postponement of the elections by one week.

Addressing a conference in Abuja on Saturday afternoon, he said the commission was prepared for the elections, but had to postpone, as a result of the challenges.

He also noted that sensitive materials had been returned to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

According to Yakubu, some materials were not delivered in due time because of bad weather, and such materials that should have been flown by air, had to be transported by road and as such, there was delay.

He also noted that there had been attempts to sabotage the efforts of the commission referenced in fire incidents that occurred at the commission’s offices in Abia, Plateau and Anambra states.

The meeting is still ongoing.

More to follow...

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FLASHBACK: How — And Why — INEC Postponed 2011 And 2015 Elections

Sahara Reporters - 16 February 2019 - 7:30am


The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has characteristically postponed Nigeria’s elections, earlier scheduled to hold on Saturday, February 16, 2019.

Few hours to when Nigerians were expected to cast their votes in various polling units, Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, said after “careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan”, the commission decided to postpone the presidential and National Assembly elections to February 23, 2019, while governorship and state House of Assembly elections will now hold on March 9, 2019.

This is not the first time major elections would be postponed in Nigeria. In 2011 and 2015, the commission cited late arrival of voting materials and insecurity, respectively, for the reason it postponed the elections it had years to prepare for.

In 2011, Voting Had Commenced in Some Places When INEC Announced Postponement

This fits into the pattern in which the 2011 elections were postponed. In the early hours of April 2, 2011, Professor Attahiru Jega, the then INEC Chairman, announced that the scheduled elections would not go on due to unavailability of materials.

At the time, the commission said the reason for the postponement was “the unanticipated emergency we have experienced with late arrival of result sheets in many parts of the country. The result sheets are central to the elections and their integrity… the Commission has taken the difficult but necessary decision to postpone the National Assembly elections to Monday, April 4, 2011.”

The exercises were again postponed to Saturday, April 16, 2011, for the presidential elections and April 26, 2011 for the state Houses of Assembly and governorship elections.

Security Chiefs Called for Postponement of 2015 Elections

2015 was not different. Only that time, the commission announced the postponement a week ahead of the scheduled time and gave insecurity as its reason.

The commission said since it could not guarantee protection for its personnel and materials, as well as voters during elections, it agreed to adjust the election calendar for the Nigeria’s security agencies to tighten up loss ends.

Jega said: “Consequently, the Commission has decided to reschedule the 2015 general elections thus: the national elections (i.e. Presidential and National Assembly) are now to hold on March 28th, 2015; while the state elections (Governorship and State Assembly) are to hold on April 11th, 2015.”

One would expect that the electoral commission would have developed a robust anticipatory strategy to militate against sudden postponement of election. However, eight years later, the commission claimed it reviewed its plans hours to elections and realised its own unpreparedness.

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NYSC Members Stranded As INEC Postpones Elections

Sahara Reporters - 16 February 2019 - 6:10am


Members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) co-opted as ad hoc staff for the 2019 elections have been left stranded, following the postponement hours before the scheduled presidential and National Assembly election.

Pictures of corps members sleeping on bare floors and in commercial buses have surfaced on social media since the postponement.

Nigerians on social media are raising funds to provide accommodation, security and feeding for them.

Woli Arole, a popular social media comedian, called on the stranded corps members to reach out to him for assistance.

He wrote on his Instagram page: “These are pictures of people that volunteered to be INEC officials today oooo. No accommodation, no security; many of them are CORPERS, and yet INEC postponed the ELECTION. Please what would these ones do when they get stranded? How would they feed? How would they transport themselves? This is so SAD. Abeg, if you are a CORPER or you are among any of these people and you are STRANDED, DM me quickly so I can support you in anyway I can. This is just SAD.”

The IG post was accompanied with pictures of a tight and overcrowded room, in a commercial bus, and on the bare floor in an open space.

The hasgtag, #corpersreachout2019, used by Nigerians to call attention on the corps members’ plight, has been trending on Twitter for a few hours.

Bankole Wellington, a musician and House of Assembly candidate contesting on the platform of the Modern Democratic Party (MDP), also called on Nigerians to “spare a thought” for corps members who are most affected by the development.

“While we are all frustrated, please spare a thought for people who are most affected by the postponement… like our corpers who had to spend the night in terrible sleeping conditions, people who had weddings or other milestone occasion planned, etc. May God help us all.”

Another Twitter user, @biolakazeem, claimed some corps members sleeping in an open field in Abuja almost got trampled by cows grazing on the field.

“Sitting with 3 youth corpers who slept on the grass outside INEC office, narrowly avoided being (sic) trampled to death at 3am by over 200 cows that were grazing nearby and approaching the field they were sleeping on. They were apoplectic that they will have to do this again next week”.

However, Segun Awosanya, convener of the #EndSARS movement and a human rights activist, called for the sack of the INEC official in charge of the NYSC members.

“I however must recommend that @inecnigeria relieves whosoever that is in charge of the youth corpers. The inhumane condition they had been subjected to is unforgivable. This must be addressed and corrected within the buffer period. This is unacceptable by all standards.”

He appealed to the corps members to see their plight as a sacrifice for the nation.

In a tweet thread, the social justice advocate, said: "I appeal in my personal capacity to all youth corpers to see this as one of the sacrifices made for our nationhood. You are all heroes and no one can take that from you… Let’s soldier on and in the end we will reap the benefits. INEC will make it up to you guys.”

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Can An Election Still Be Free, Fair When It Is Postponed 9 Hours Before Schedule? By Fredrick Nwabufo

Sahara Reporters - 16 February 2019 - 5:00am


Fredrick Nwabufo

Fredrick Nwabufo

On April 2, 2011, INEC shifted the national assembly election by seven days (to April 9), citing “logistics and operational” problems. And it took this decision while voting had already commenced in some parts of the country.

Really, what happened was that the electoral umpire had sent election materials meant for the governorship polls scheduled for April 16 to some states instead of those for the legislative election. This was an epochal, embarrassing logistics failure by INEC.

However, the Commonwealth Observer Mission in its report on April 18 said INEC managed to hold a “reasonable election” on the rescheduled date. In other words, that the exercise was shifted did not “totally negatively” affect its outcome.

“The experience of 2 April should not have happened. While INEC managed to hold a reasonable election on 9 April and improved its performance further on 16 April, it clearly needs to improve on its organisational capacity,” it said. 

In fact, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Washington DC, US, gave INEC some accolades for the conduct of the rescheduled national assembly election.

Here is what it said in its report: “Reports from NDI observers contrasted markedly with observations recorded during the 2007 polls, when systemic and widespread irregularities subverted the overall credibility of those elections.  In this election, (April 9 rescheduled national assembly election), polls were conducted in a generally calm and peaceful atmosphere, with many Nigerians demonstrating eagerness and determination to vote despite long queues and hats weather conditions.”

On February 7, the 2015 general election was shifted by five weeks, seven days before the exercise. Though INEC relied on security advice and not problems of logistics in taking the decision, the rescheduled election was largely free, fair and peaceful. This is according to some international observers.

So, it is clear that rescheduling an election may not colossally affect its turn-out or credibility. I know this is a difficult position to hold at this time that many Nigerians would like to have the head of INEC on a spike, but we must look beyond emotions and a bit into the nitty-gritty.

However, it is grossly irresponsible of INEC to have postponed the election nine hours before the schedule. Really, it is gravitationally sloppy of it. The electoral body had four years to prepare for the exercise; this tardiness can simply not be excused.

Importantly, INEC should not lease itself to political influence. Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, had pensively asked the electoral body to postpone conducting any election in Zamfara state so as to accommodate candidates from the APC. The party has been banned from fielding candidates in the state owing to the fraudulent primary elections it conducted.

As it is, if INEC succumbs to this wheedling, it will be clear that it did not postpone the election for logistics reasons, but for political reasons.

Fredrick is a media personality.

Twitter: @FredrickNwabufo

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Gunmen Kill Okowa's ‘Notorious’ Special Assistant On Youth Development

Sahara Reporters - 16 February 2019 - 4:55am



Lawrence Ngozi Akpomiemie, Special Assistant on Youth Development to Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State, popularly referred to as ‘Notorious’, has been killed by yet-to-be-identified gunmen.

SaharaReporters reliably gathered that Akpomiemie, popularly called Ngozi, was murdered in cold blood on Friday night in Ekpan, Uvwie Local Government Area of the state on his way from an undisclosed outing.

A source, who preferred not to be named, said the deceased was ambushed by the gunmen while returning from an outing with a lady suspected to be his girlfriend, on Friday night. However, it was not clear at the time of this report if the lady was also killed during the attack.

"You know Ngozi is a notorious criminal in Uvwie too. He has committed so many atrocities against humanity and it is said that he who kills with the gun must also die by the gun and that is what exactly happened to him. This was a man that was sentenced to Okere prison in Warri over murder-related cases and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa brought him from the prison three years ago and made him a Special Assistant on Youth Development all because of his second term election.

"Ngozi was shot repeatedly on his chest and head, and the gunmen waited to make sure that he was dead before leaving the scene. The killers also carted away huge sums of money given to him for mobilization of his gang for the elections. Ngozi was accused of leading a gang that made an attempt on the life of the senator representing Delta Central, Delta State, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, during an event in Effurun on July 15, 2017, where the senator was shot. But Ngozi later denied his involvement.”



Another source, who confirmed the killing of the aide to our correspondent, said: "Ngozi is one of the known hardened notorious gang leaders that ever lived in the area. Why and how Okowa brought him out from the prison and appointed him an aide still remains a shock to everyone. Okowa has a penchant for appointing persons with questionable character. Majority of the appointments the governor made in the state went to persons who have or have been involved in criminal-related cases. This is a fact; go and do a check on their profiles."

Our correspondent gathered that the killing of the "notorious" aide has sparked off heavy shootings in Ekpan by youth suspected to be loyal to the deceased.

When contacted, the acting Delta State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Chuks Orisewezie, said he had not be briefed on the issue. However, a Police source confirmed to our correspondent the killing of the governor's aide by unknown gunmen, adding that the command is only being careful with the issue, since the deceased is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) family in the state.

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BREAKING: Buhari 'Deeply Disappointed' In INEC

Sahara Reporters - 16 February 2019 - 3:47am


President Muhammadu Buhari says he is “deeply disappointed” in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for postponing the presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled to hold on Saturday.

Announcing the postponement at some minutes before 3am on Saturday, a few hours before the presidential and National Assembly elections were scheduled to begin, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said: “The Commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to Saturday, 23rd February 2019. Furthermore, the Governorship, State House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections is rescheduled to Saturday 9th March 2019. This will afford the Commission the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of our elections.”

However, Buhari expressed sadness at the development, stating that the commission had enough notice to prepare.

In a statement issued on Saturday in Daura, the President’s hometown, where he had gone to cast his vote, he said: “I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) postponed the Presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commencement.

“Many Nigerians have traveled to various locations to exercise their right to vote, and international observers are gathered.

“INEC themselves have given assurances, day after day and almost hour after hour that they are in complete readiness for the elections. We and all our citizens believed them.

“This administration has ensured that we do not interfere in any way with the work of INEC except to ensure that all funds were released to the commission.”

He, however, urged the electoral umpire to ensure that the postponement is worth it, and that the process is run smoothly for free, fair and credible elections.

He continued: “We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement, and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates.

“While I reaffirm my strong commitment to the independence, neutrality of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process and ballot, I urge all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment in our democratic journey.

“I, therefore, appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development.

“I have decided to move back to Abuja to ensure that the 14.00 hrs meeting called by INEC with all stakeholders is successful.”

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BREAKING: Nine Killed, 15 Injured As Bomb Explosion Rocks Maiduguri

Sahara Reporters - 16 February 2019 - 3:02am


Breaking News

Breaking News Sahara Reporters Media

Nine persons were killed, including a suicide bomber, while 15 others sustained injuries, when suspected Boko Haram insurgents launched an attack in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, on Saturday morning.

According to residents, the attackers stormed Polo Jidari area in Jere Local Government Area (LGA) of Maiduguri at about 5am, shooting sporadically killing 8 persons and 15 other sustain injuries.

They started hearing gunshots during the Muslim early morning prayer, before a bomber exploded his IED vest.

Lawan Babuji, a resident of Njidumari area of Polo, Maiduguri, said members of the civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) were affected, as he fled his home earlier on Saturday.

"There was pandemonium in Polo, when these evil perpetrators started killing people. One of our active JTF members was among the people who lost their lives," Lawan told SaharaReporters.

Another resident, Babagana Kuda, said: "It was surprising how they were able to beat the soldiers. We lost eight persons and 15 people were injured. As you can see, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole just left some minutes ago.”

Officials of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) have evacuated some victims to the State Specialist Hospital for immediate attention.

SaharaReporters gathered that more than 20 security vehicles are stationed at all the roads linking to the area, while journalists have been barred from the area.

It was also learnt that there were twin attacks in Gajiram in Nganhzi and Bama LGAs of Borno on Friday, but the details were not clear at the time of this report.

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We’re Disappointed, Disillusioned, Says APC Presidential Campaign Council

Sahara Reporters - 16 February 2019 - 1:57am


The All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council says it is “disappointed and disillusioned” by the postponement of the elections, earlier scheduled for Saturday.

This was contained in a statement signed Festus Keyamo, Director, Strategic Communications, APC Presidential Campaign Council, issued on Saturday morning.

According to Keyamo, the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone the election shows a seeming connivance between the commission and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The statement read: “We have just received with great disappointment and disillusionment the announcement by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of its decision to postpone the Presidential/National Assembly and Gubernatorial/House of Assembly Elections to Saturday, February 23, 2019 and Saturday, March 9, 2019, respectively.

“We condemn and deprecate this tardiness of the electoral umpire in the strongest terms possible. President Muhammadu Buhari had since cooperated fully with INEC by ensuring EVERYTHING it demanded to conduct free and fair elections were promptly made available to it. This news is therefore a huge disappointment to us and to our teeming supporters nationwide and around the world, many of whom have come into the country to exercise their franchise.

“We do hope that INEC will remain neutral and impartial in this process as the rumor mill is agog with the suggestion that this postponement has been orchestrated in collusion with the main opposition, the PDP, that was NEVER ready for this election. We note that all the major credible demographic projections have predicted a defeat of the PDP and it seriously needed this breather to orchestrate more devious strategies to try and halt President Buhari’s momentum. It did the same as the ruling Party in 2015, when it realized the game was up, by orchestrating the postponement of the 2015 elections by six weeks. Now, it may be up to its old trick again.

“We have earlier raised the alarm that the PDP is bent on discrediting this process the moment it realized it cannot make up the numbers to win this election. We are only urging INEC not collude with the PDP on this. We are truly worried because as early as Friday morning, some known PDP social media influencers unwittingly announced this postponement, but quickly deleted the message and apologized to the public that it was fake news. We do not want to be forced to a situation of announcing our total loss of confidence in INEC, because we know where that would leave our democracy.”

He, however, appealed to APC supporters to be patient, calm and resolute in the face of the “temporary setback”.

The statement continued: “It is in the light of the above that we wish to appeal to Nigerians and our supporters to be patient, calm and resolute despite this temporary setback. Let us not give anyone, especially the PDP, the opportunity to plunge this nation into crises, which is what they earnestly desire. Its imminent defeat is just a few days away.

“Lastly, we wish to draw the attention of INEC and the world to observe that the PDP has clearly and openly said it plans to announce parallel results through some funny device it has procured or developed. We wish to re-iterate that it is ONLY INEC that is legally and constitutionally empowered to declare results and it constitutes an offence for anyone to do so. We urge INEC to SPEAK UP NOW and warn the PDP to desist from this ignoble act that is capable of plunging the nation into crises of immeasurable proportions.”

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Atiku On Postponement Of Elections: APC Will Do Anything To Avoid Rejection By Nigerians

Sahara Reporters - 16 February 2019 - 1:28am


Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), says the postponement of the elections is an act of desperation by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration.

According to Atiku, the APC will do anything to “avoid rejection by Nigerians”.

He berated President Muhammadu Buhari for the postponement, noting that the administration had more than enough time to prepare.

The statement read: “As you know, the Independent National Electoral Commission has announced a postponement of the elections until 23 February and 9 March respectively.

“The Buhari administration has had more than enough time and money to prepare for these elections and the Nigerian people were poised and ready to perform their civic responsibility by voting in the elections earlier scheduled for Saturday, 16 February, 2019.

“This postponement is obviously a case of the hand of Esau but the voice of Jacob. By instigating this postponement, the Buhari administration hopes to disenfranchise the Nigerian electorate in order to ensure that turn out is low on the rescheduled date. Nigerians must frustrate their plans by coming out in even greater numbers on Saturday, 23 February and Saturday, 9 March respectively.

"Knowing that the Nigerian people are determined to reject them, they are desperate and will do anything in their power to avoid their rejection by the Nigerian people. Their plan is to provoke the public, hoping for a negative reaction, and then use that as an excuse for further anti-democratic acts.”

He, however, called on Nigerians to be patient, and not be discouraged, urging them to come out en masse and vote on February 23, 2019.

He continued: “As such, I call on all Nigerians to be patient. We have tolerated the maladministration of this government for four years. We can extend our tolerance a few more days and give them our verdict via our votes.

“Maintain the peace and be law abiding. Do not react to this provocation with anger, violence or any action that might be exploited by those who do not want this election to hold. Remain calm. We will overcome this. You can postpone an election, but you cannot postpone destiny.

“Please come out to vote on Saturday, 23 February and Saturday, 9 March respectively. Frustrate those who do not want this election to hold by coming out in very large numbers. That is the best antidote to their plans.”

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Buhari Only Shifted Judgment Day, Says CUPP On Postponement Of Elections

Sahara Reporters - 16 February 2019 - 1:01am


The Coalition of United Political Parties, (CUPP) says President Muhammadu Buhari only shifted his judgment day by the postponement of the elections.

The Coalition also stated that Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), showed courage by shifting the date for the general election.

Ikenga Ugochinyere, the CUPP spokesman, stated this in reaction to the postponement of the elections.

The presidential and National Assembly elections were scheduled to hold on February 16, 2019, but were postponed on Saturday morning by one week till February 23, 2019.

Announcing the postponement, the INEC Chairman also noted that the governorship and state House of Assembly elections will now hold on March 9, 2019.

Speaking on the development, Ugochinyere said: "We have raised the alarm many times that agents of the government were working hard to ensure that elections are not held or are declared inconclusive in areas they know that the All Progressives Congress will never win. We have been vindicated.

“We blame the international embarrassment this last minute postponement has caused the nation on the President, the desperate leaders of his party, APC, and the nation’s security agencies who failed woefully in their duties to protect electoral materials and INEC offices from attacks by these enemies of the nation.

“INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, has shown courage by shifting the election to avert national bloodshed because we are aware that APC wanted to proceed with election after compromising distribution and destroying materials in over 15 states.

“We make bold to say that with the postponement, President Buhari’s judgement day with the people has just been shifted."

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IN FULL: INEC Chairman’s Heartbreaking Election Postponement Speech

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 7:42pm


After much anticipation, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections, scheduled for Saturday.

Announcing the postponement at some minutes, before 3am, Professor Mahmood Yakubu read a statement to Nigerians, surrounded by national commissioners.

READ THE FULL SPEECH

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) met on Friday, 15th February 2019 and reviewed its preparations for the 2019 General Election scheduled for Saturday, 16th February 2019 and Saturday, 2nd March 2019.

Following a careful review of the implementation of its logistics and operational plan and the determination to conduct free, fair and credible elections, the Commission came to the conclusion that proceeding with the elections as scheduled is no longer feasible.

Consequently, the Commission has decided to reschedule the Presidential and National Assembly Elections to Saturday, 23rd February 2019. Furthermore, the Governorship, State House of Assembly and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections is rescheduled to Saturday 9th March 2019. This will afford the Commission the opportunity to address identified challenges in order to maintain the quality of our elections.

This was a difficult decision for the Commission to take, but necessary for the successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of democracy.

The Commission will meet key stakeholders to update them on this development at 2p.m. on Saturday, 16th February 2019 at the Abuja International Conference Centre.

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BREAKING: Finally, INEC Confirms Postponement Of Presidential Election To Feb 23

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 6:48pm

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has formally confirmed the postponement of the 2019 presidential election previous scheduled to hold today.

SaharaReporters had reported the postponement late on Friday evening, although it was still unofficial at the time.

Briefing newsmen beginning from 2:43am, Professor Mahmud Yakubu said "proceeding with the election as scheduled is no longer feasible".

Consequently, he said the presidential and National Assembly elections had been moved to February 23, 2019.

The governorship and state assembly elections were also moved by one week to March 9, 2019.

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BREAKING: 'We've Taken A Decision', Says INEC Chairman's Spokesman On Presidential Election

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 5:06pm

Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says the commission has taken a decision on the presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled to hold on Saturday.

He spoke with journalists keeping vigil at the commission’s headquarters, after a series of meetings that held late Friday night into Saturday morning.

According to Oyekanmi, a decision had been taken on the elections and it would be communicated to Nigerians soon.

He said Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, and 12 national commissioners attended the meeting.

When prodded to confirm if the elections had been postponed or not, he declined to comment. All he said was: "A decision has been taken, but you'd have to hear from the horse's mouth."

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BREAKING: INEC Postpones Presidential Election

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 3:29pm

The 2019 presidential election has been postponed, SaharaReporters can confirm.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has not yet officially announced the decision, but SaharaReporters understands it will be done in the coming minutes.

The announcement will also include the new election date.

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Your Vote Is Your Birthright, Genevieve Nnaji Tells Nigerians

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 3:27pm


Genevieve Nnaji, popular Nigerian actress, has called on Nigerians not to sell their votes as the country prepares to elect a new set of leaders.

The Nollywood actress made the call on her Twitter handle, @genevieveNnaji1, on Friday, urging Nigerians to exercise their civic duty.

She tweeted: “You are in control once every 4 years. Your vote is your birthright. Remember, you are not too small to make a difference.”

She accompanied the message with a photo quote that read: “If they are willing to pay for it, then it must be worth a lot. Don’t sell.”

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DEVELOPING: Elections To Proceed Or Not? INEC Holds Emergency Meeting!

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 2:08pm


Breaking News

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is currently holding an emergency meeting with security operatives, election observers and other stakeholders over the presidential election slated for Saturday.

SaharaReporters understands the meeting was convened to address the myriads of challenges noticeable so far in the final hours before the election, and the extent to which they can affect the integrity of the election.

As already reported by SaharaReporters in a live blog on the buildup to the election, there are already glaring loopholes that possibly may not be filled tomorrow.

As of 4pm at the INEC office in Sokoto central, INEC ad hoc staff had not yet been posted to their various polling units. They are stranded and waiting to be given necessary materials.

"We have been waiting patiently since morning but we don't know what's going on," Malam Musa, one of the stranded staff member said.

Due to transportation difficulties, in Kano, some ad hoc staff had to enter car booths to move themselves from the INEC office to their detsinations.

In Yola, capital of Adamawa State, most of the names shortlisted as ad hoc staff were replaced at the last minute, particularly in Metropolitan Local Government in Yola North. "Most of the people who were originally shortlisted just woke up on Thursday morning to discover that their names had been removed and replaced with names, majority of which were Muslims," a source had told SaharaReporters.

There was a similar complaint in Borno, with this even leading to a protest by more than 300 youth corps members.

Also in Adamawa, there were hevay complaints. "As of midnight on Thursday, both sensitive and non-sensitive materials delivered to Adamawa State were inadequate," an INEC source had told SaharaReporters. "You may wish to call the Resident Electoral Commissioner for confirmation. Please ask him to give you figures categorically. I'm telling you in all sincerity, ballot papers as brought to Adamawa are not complete. By the way, the situation is the same, virtually in all the states. You can find out."

In addition, there are similar complaints in Akwa Ibom, Taraba, Niger, Oyo, Edo and Rivers states.

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JUST IN: 15 Political Thugs Arrested In Kwara

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 2:06pm


DSP Okasanmi Ajayi, Kwara State Police PRO, speaking with SaharaReporters on Friday.

DSP Okasanmi Ajayi, Kwara State Police PRO, speaking with SaharaReporters on Friday.

The Kwara State Command of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) says 15 thugs working for different politicians in the state have been arrested in the build-up to the presidential and National Assembly elections.

Okasanmi Ajayi, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Kwara State Police Command, made the disclosure during an interview with SaharaReporters in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, on Friday.

Ajayi, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), said the thugs were nabbed at different locations in flashpoint areas of the state, noting that they would soon be charged to court.

He, however, refused to mention the names of the thugs, but said they are "well known names working for various politicians in Kwara State".

According to Ajayi, the Kwara State Police Command has been able to identify the "flash points" mostly in Ilorin, adding that officers of the intelligence units had been deployed to man the area in order to prevent violence on Saturday.

"We have flash points and the command has been able to fully identify them and our officers have already been deployed there.

"You would agree with me that there is no way a city like this will not have flash points, but the Police have make security available in these areas. So, the Police Commissioner in the state has ordered water-tight security in this area, and the hoodlums and bad boys in all these areas have been arrested.

“Prior to today, we have been making a lot of arrests, but I can tell you that we have arrested nothing less than 15 identified and confirmed hoodlums and political thugs that would be charge to court.”

He noted that the Police in the state was seriously working in collaboration with other sister security agencies in the state to ensure that the Saturday polls were free and fair.

Okansamni also disclosed that over 4,000 officers of the Nigeria Police Force from the Kwara State Command have been deployed to work with other sister security agencies in the elections.

In order to curb violence during the polls, the Kwara Police spokesman added that the stakeholders in the electoral process had been warned to avoid all forms of trouble during and after the polls.

"We have promised all the political parties level-playing ground on Saturday, and we also expect them and all their supporters to maintain decorum," he said.

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BREAKING: Two People Caught with Four AK-47 Rifles Set Ablaze In Zamfara

Sahara Reporters - 15 February 2019 - 2:03pm


Two suspected arms smugglers have been burnt alive by irate youth in Gusau, capital city of Zamfara State.

The incident happened at about 4pm on Friday, along Unguwar Dallatu road, close to the New Central Market in Gusau.

Multiple sources told SaharaReporters that young men around the market discovered that there were four AK47 in a red golf car and immediately pounced on the occupants.  

Isah Khamees, an eyewitness who spoke with SaharaReporters, said when the guns were discovered, the people around started shouting, which attracted more people.

One of the eyewitnesses, a Zamfara-based journalist, said: “They had started beating the people before the Civil Defence operatives came. They burnt the car, driver and one other person, while the remaining two are with the Civil Defence.

Another eyewitness said the Police did not come close to the scene. Instead, they stayed afar and watched.

Mohammedu Shebu, the Public Relations Officer of Zamfara State Command, did not respond to calls put through to him.

Apart from the banditry in the state, Zamfara has been brewing with intense political tension over the exclusion of the candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) contesting for elective positions in the state.

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