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Parties Warn INEC Against BVAS Problems Repeat



The Independent National Electoral Commission on Wednesday began the distribution of sensitive materials for Saturday’s governorship and house of assembly elections.

Also on Wednesday, political parties warned the electoral body against a repeat of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System glitches and other hitches that characterised the February 25 presidential and National Assembly polls.

The complaints about the conduct of the elections resulted in the rejection of the outcome of the polls by the parties which challenged the result in the court.

Findings indicate that the INEC has commenced deployment of sensitive materials in Lagos, Sokoto, Ondo, Ekiti, Edo, Bauchi, Kebbi, Osun and several other states three days ahead of the exercise.

The commission took delivery of the ballot papers and results sheets from the Central Bank of Nigeria in Lagos on Wednesday.

The exercise, led by the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner for Lagos state, Mr Olusegun Agbaje and the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Idowu Owohunwa, was monitored by various stakeholders.

NAN reports that electoral officers from the 20 local government areas were on the ground to circulate the materials to their respective local government area offices in the state.

Agbaje, in an interview with journalists, noted that INEC was ready to conduct free, fair and credible elections on Saturday, and called for the cooperation and support of stakeholders.

He noted that the onward distribution of the materials from the councils to the 245 wards of the state would begin on Thursday.

He said INEC wanted to ensure that materials got to Registration Area Centres and polling units on time on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

In Sokoto State, INEC Wednesday began the sharing of ballot papers and other materials with the 23 LGAs in the state.

Speaking at the event held at the premises of the CBN, the National Commissioner in charge of the state, Maj Gen Modibo Alkali (retd.), assured that the commission would improve on the previous exercise in the state.

Modibo who was drafted to the state following the suspension of the former REC, Dr Nura Ali, disclosed that the necessary arrangements had been put in place to ensure the exercise commences by 8 am in all the local governments.

The dissemination of the sensitive materials to all the local government areas of Benue State also started on Wednesday.

The Public Relations Officer of INEC in the state, Terkaa Andyar, said that the materials were received from the state CBN office and subsequently circulated to all 23 councils.

The administration of the election materials in Osun State was supervised by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Mutiu Agboke, at the CBN office in Osogbo.

Speaking before the exercise, Agboke assured that the commission would scale up its level of arrangement, procedures and security due to the high stakes attached to the poll, even though the governorship election would not be held in the state.

He explained that armed security operatives would be on duty at the collation centres across the state, adding that security operatives would also deploy more men to violent-prone areas.

Speaking further on the security arrangement for the election day, Agboke said, “where elections have been cancelled as a result of over-voting, we will not give any opportunity to anybody.

In Ondo State, the commission expressed readiness for the election, adding that it would deploy the BVAS for the exercise.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mr Oyekola Oyelami, stated this on Wednesday while supervising the distribution of the sensitive and non-sensitive materials ahead of the election, in Akure, the state capital.

Oyelami said, “By tomorrow (today), these materials would be batched from there while on Friday, the materials would arrive at the RAC (Registration Area Centres) before the polling where they would pass the night and as early as 6 am on Saturday, they would be moved to the various polling units for the election.’’

Political parties

The INEC commissioner explained that out of the 18 political parties that registered in the country, only 17 fielded candidates to participate in the house of assembly election in the state, noting that the leadership of the participating political parties had held a series of meetings with INEC in ensuring peaceful conduct of the election.

In his remarks, the state Chairman of the Inter-party Advisory Council, Mr Adesanya Olaoluwa, who also witnessed the distribution of the materials, said the political parties were ready for the election.

The commission commenced the deployment of election materials in the 18 local government areas of Edo State on Wednesday.

The exercise was supervised by the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Obo Efanga at the CBN office in Benin.

Efanga said the materials were being sorted and would be moved to the various LGAs immediately after.

He also disclosed that elections into Esan Central, Esan West and Igueben federal constituency that were postponed would be held on March 18.

Speaking after inspecting the election materials, the Peoples Democratic Party agent, Mr Osasu Omoragbon, said he was impressed while the All Progressives Congress, Ahmed Ekehide and his Action Democratic Party, Francis Obamwonyi also expressed satisfaction with the distribution exercise.

The distribution of the materials also commenced in Bauchi State on Wednesday with the transportation of the ballot papers to the 20 LGAs in the state.

The REC in the state, Alhaji Mohammed Nura, explained that the early distribution of the materials was to avoid a shortfall of materials.

Ekiti materials

The REC in charge of Ekiti State, Prof Ayobami Salami, also distributed sensitive materials for the state assembly election in the state on Wednesday.

The REC, who spoke at the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ado Ekiti Branch, while distributing the materials to the 16 local government areas said, “INEC is prepared, we are more prepared than we were during the presidential election and everything is in place to ensure a free, fair, credible and laudable election.’’

Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory Council in the State, Owoola Daramola, lauded the transparency of the Commission, as he urged them to be transparent during and after the election.

The election materials were distributed in Kebbi State on Wednesday but journalists were prevented from covering the exercise.

Though journalists were officially invited by the INEC in the state to cover the event via a letter signed by its Administrative Secretary, Alhaji Muhammad Ushama, they were not allowed to access the CBN venue of the distribution by security personnel who claimed they had no directives to permit the media to cover the event.

But the INEC office in Bayelsa State said that it would commence the distribution of electoral materials for the polls on Thursday (today).

Only the state House of Assembly election will be conducted in the state.

The Head of Voter Education and Publicity, INEC office, Yenagoa, Mr Wilfred Ifogah, said the commission had looked into the hitches that affected the last election and how they could be tackled in Saturday’s balloting exercise.

The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Chukwuemeka Chukwu, said Enugu State had received sensitive materials from its national headquarters, adding that the sensitive materials were kept at the CBN office, in Enugu.

He stated, “INEC Enugu will start moving the sensitive materials to its local government area offices on Thursday, March 16, from the CBN in presence of security personnel and political party representatives and the media.

“On Friday, March, 17; the same sensitive materials will be moved from the local government area offices to the various Registration Area Centres in the presence of security personnel, political party agents and the media.’’

Addressing journalists at the CBN office in Abeokuta on Wednesday, the REC in the state, Niyi Ijalaye, stated, ‘’INEC is more than ever prepared, we are on top of our game. As you are aware, there were challenges during the last election and the challenges associated with matters of this nature were merely logistical issues.’’

Just like it did during February’s Presidential and National Assembly election, the Katsina State Police Command on Wednesday announced restrictions on human and vehicular movements in the state during Saturday’s election.

The command in a statement said the restrictions were meant to ensure free and fair elections.

Delta closes schools

In Delta State, the government has mandated all primary and secondary schools to go on break from Friday to Tuesday.

The directive was contained in a circular dated March 15, 2023, and signed by Mrs Oderhohwo Kehinde, Director of Schools, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education.

Against the background of the logistics hitches that marred the last election, some political parties have called on the INEC to ensure that the BVAS machines were fully functional during the election.

The National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Debo Ologunagba said though the party was in court to challenge the process and outcome of the presidential election; it expected INEC to play by the rules on Saturday.

He said, “We expect INEC to stick with the provisions of the Electoral Act. Nigerians have expressed their disappointment with the conduct of the presidential election. It is now left for INEC to redeem its image by walking its own talk.”

Also speaking, the Chief Spokesman for Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko, said whether the BVAS was deployed or not, the onus was on INEC to right the wrongs of the last election by projecting the results live from each polling unit.

He said, “We hope INEC will stick to the rules of the game. We expect that security agents will play their part in protecting the citizens, especially in flashpoints like Lagos, Kogi and other states where people are afraid there could be violence and intimidation.’’

While justifying his fear, Tanko said many of their supporters had reported alleged harassment and intimidation in some states.

“This is why it is better for INEC to transmit the results in real-time according to what happens in each polling unit. Though the commission has promised fairness, as we know, promises are different from actualization. It is until we see them actualizing this that we will believe them,” he said.

However, the Director of Publicity for the All Progressives Congress, Bala Ibrahim, urged Nigerians to repose confidence in the commission.

He also waved aside the fear of imminent violence which he said was in the imagination of the opposition.

On its part, the Social Democratic Party said INEC had no reason to fail on Saturday.

National Chairman of the party, Shehu Gabam in an interview with our correspondent said, “The confidence we had in BVAS has drastically gone down, particularly in some states where it was evidently clear that the device was not used. Instead, manual sheets were used to file results.

‘’We made our point very clear to INEC and we have told them that no matter what, BVAS must be deployed in fulfilment of the law. Anything short of deploying BVAS, the law says such an election stands cancelled.’’

Similarly, the National Chairman of the Action Alliance, Kenneth Udeze told our correspondent that the Inter-party Advisory Council had advised INEC not to repeat the irregularities witnessed during the presidential election.

On his part, the National Chairman of the Zenith Labour Party, Dan Nwanyawu said, “There should be no shortcuts, there should be no attempt to bypass the BVAS and the results must be uploaded from the polling units in real-time.’’

Meanwhile, five political parties in Rivers State have vowed to resist any attempt to rig the governorship and state assembly election in the state.

The All Progressives Congress, the National Rescue Movement, the Labour Party, African Democratic Congress and the Action Alliance at a joint press briefing in Port Harcourt on Wednesday accused the INEC of colluding with the state government to compromise the election.

The APC governorship candidate, Tonye Cole also accused the state governor, at a press conference in Port Harcourt, stated, “Foreign missions and international observers should pay special attention to the elections in Rivers State because the Rivers State government in collaboration with INEC officials have perfected plans to rig the election on Saturday. There should be adequate security at the Local Government collation centres on March 18.”

But the INEC Head of Voter Education and Publicity in Rivers State, Mr Mark Usulor, dismissed the allegations as false and baseless.

The state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Chris Finebone said the parties were expressing unfounded fears and propaganda.


Credit: The Punch


Tanzania Announces Outbreak Of Deadly Marburg Virus Disease (MVD), Same Virus Family As Ebola



Tanzania has announced its first outbreak of the deadly Marburg virus disease (MVD), after five fatalities and three further cases were reported at a hospital in the country’s north-west Kagera region.

Through contact tracing, approximately 161 people have been identified as at risk of infection, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The government has deployed an emergency response team to the area and neighbouring countries have stepped up surveillance. No cases have yet been reported outside Kagera.

“The efforts by Tanzania’s health authorities to establish the cause of the disease is a clear indication of the determination to effectively respond to the outbreak,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa. “We are working with the government to rapidly scale up control measures to halt the spread of the virus and end the outbreak as soon as possible.”

Patients displaying symptoms of the disease were first detected last week in two Kagera villages, according to a health memorandum on Tuesday by the Tanzanian health minister Ummy Mwalimu.

MVD was first discovered in 1967 in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany and Belgrade, Serbia. It is from the same “virus family” as Ebola and causes a severe hemorrhagic fever, while fatality rates have varied from 24% to 88%. There have been several outbreaks since its discovery, with the worst being Angola in 2004-2005, where there were 252 cases and 227 deaths.

The virus is initially transmitted to people from fruit bats, and then from person to person through body fluids or contaminated objects. Family members and health workers are particularly vulnerable to infection.

Symptoms of the disease can range from fever, nausea and rash at the onset, to jaundice and severe weight loss as the disease progresses. It has an incubation period of up to 21 days.

There are no vaccines or treatments for the virus, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alleviating symptoms by rehydration or managing the patient’s blood and oxygen levels, can increase the chances of survival.

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is also supporting efforts to contain the outbreak. Tanzania is battling the virus for the first time, just a month after Equatorial Guinea confirmed its first case.

“These emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases are a sign that the health security of the continent needs to be strengthened to cope with the disease threats,” said Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, the director of Africa CDC. “We urge members of the public to continue sharing information in a timely manner with the authorities to enable a most effective response.”

Tanzania’s health ministry has called on citizens to take general precaution and follow health directives until the situation is brought under control.

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Tinubu Jets Out To France In Preparation For Inauguration As Nigeria’s 16th President



Indications that countdown to the swearing-in of 16th president of Nigeria and preparation for the ceremony is in full gear, the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, has left Nigeria for France to start engaging needed hands and foreign investors that would make tasks ahead easier for him as he aims to hit the ground running on good notes immediately after May 29.

It was gathered that Tinubu’s trip to France would enable him to share quality time with his team in studying how his government would be able to address issues of insecurity, revamp the economy, engage younger people, and also restore unity in the country.

The Guild learnt that the president-elect has lists of engagements that would preoccupy his short stay in Paris while on other hand, his also expected to be fully involved in preparation for his inauguration back home in Nigeria.

Whereas, findings by The Guild indicated that Lagos State former governor’s trip to France may not yet be disclosed to public and large number of his associates who may have been seeking to see Tinubu for political gains after governorship election.

Speaking to a female aide that accompanied Tinubu on the trip, she told The Guild that campaign was over and that the president-elect needed quality time with his team to study Nigeria’s challenges and know how they could be tackled decisively.

They indicated that the task ahead of Tinubu is huge and needed special attention in dealing with the problems on ground and that the concentration cannot be achieved if the president-elect remains in Nigeria till inauguration day.

Other sources on Wednesday explained that Tinubu’s team has lists of engagements for the president-elect to go through on daily bases and throughout the period of time he would be staying in France, including meeting with experts and both local and foreign investors.

As for the 2023 electoral crisis, another source stated that Tinubu had concluded plans to meet political leaders and their supporters, especially those that were not satisfied with the 2023 presidential poll outcome, to address all issues on the ground and to be able to forge ahead and bring everyone irrespective of their tribe and faith together.

While the President-elect was considering plans to unite all aggrieved candidates, they individually approached the Presidential tribunal to demand that the presidential election be either canceled or order a rerun between him and the President-elect, Bola Tinubu.

The candidates, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and his Labour Party (LP) counterpart, Peter Obi, also suggested to the tribunal that they should be declared winner of the February 25 poll, arguing that the president-elect as not the choice of the people.

However, Tinubu has appealed to Atiku, Obi, and other aggrieved candidates to accept the outcomes of the poll and join him to build a Nigeria that will be prosperous for everyone irrespective o their status in the country.

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BREAKING: Labour Party’s Alex Otti Wins Gubernatorial Election In Abia State



Labour Party Candidate, Alex Otti has won Gubernatorial Election in Abia State.

It was gathered that Alex Otti has claimed that Labour Party won by landslide but PDP is trying to manipulate Abia Governorship election results.

The governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Abia state, Alex Otti, has raised an alarm alleging manipulations of original polling booth results by the ruling People’s Democratic Party during the collation of results at some local government councils across Abia state.

Speaking to Channels Television at his country home in Isiala Ngwa Local Government Area of the state, he called on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, to bring the leadership of the electoral body in Abia state to order so they do not subvert the will of the people.

“Virtually all the results that have been uploaded and released, Labour Party won by a landslide.,” Otti insisted.

“Unfortunately, the PDP government has refused to allow some of the results to stand, and they are doing this with the active connivance of some compromised INEC staff and security agencies.”

“The local governments involved are Obingwa where the outgoing governor comes from, Osisioma, Aba North and Aba South where we won overwhelmingly. Obingwa is a very interesting case because, in the majority of the wards in active connivance with INEC, the BVAS was not used.”

Otti further alleged the PDP’s scheme was to flood the collation centre with counterfeit results.

“So they are making efforts to push fake results to the collation centre in Obingwa local government.”

He also called on the Inspector General of Police to intervene as quickly as possible to prevent any breakdown of law and order in the state if the will of the people is subverted.

“I want to use this opportunity to call on the Federal Government and particularly the INEC Chairman to ensure that the right thing is done in Abia State. INEC had indicated clearly that the BVAS will be used for voting in this election and BVAS was used,” he said.

“I expect that any result that is not coming out from BVAS accreditation will not be accepted. So, I like the INEC Chairman to prevail on the REC and all other officials of INEC to give peace a chance and do the right thing.”

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