Monday, March 30, 2015

Prisoners and Advocacy Groups Win Right to a Trial
On Constitutionality of the Silencing Act (PA SB508)

This morning, Chief Judge for the federal court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Christopher Conner, will hear the cases Abu-Jamal v. Kane and Prison Legal News v. Kane in a trial that willl determine the constitutionality of PA SB508 "the Silencing Act".  Defendant PA Attorney General Kane will be hard pressed to argue the constitutionality of the Silencing Act, a censorship law targeted at Mumia Abu-Jamal and other currently and formerly incarcerated people.

Defendant Seth Williams was dismissed from the case based on his explicit disavowal of enforcing the act until a court of competent jurisdiction rules on the constitutionality of the statute. His dismissal does not hinder Plaintiffs ability to obtain the relief of invalidating this law, as a favorable ruling on the First Amendment issue against Defendant Kane will achieve the same result. Williams' disavowal of enforcement is a far cry from his political grandstanding in support of this bill's passage in the fall.

The judge has ordered that this trial will include Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction merged with a trial on the merits, meaning that if we win we will be granted a permanent injunction against the statute, and the statue will be invalidated.

“Silencing prisoners is one more way of dehumanizing them,” said Amistad Law Project Policy Director Nikki Grant. “We need the voices of the marginalized to shed light on injustice.”

The trial is set for this morning March 30 in Harrisburg, PA approximately 5 months since former Governor Corbett signed this ill-fated bill into law.

 The Abolitionist Law Center, Amistad Law Project, and the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University School of Law filed the lawsuit on Nov. 10th to stop enforcement of the law. The law firms represent Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio, Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal, Kerry “Shakaboona” Marshall, Robert L. Holbrook, Donnell Palmer, Anthony Chance, and Human Rights Coalition.

The Silencing Act, also known as 18 P.S. § 11.1304, allows the Attorney General, county District Attorneys, and victims of personal injury crimes to bring a lawsuit in civil court against the person convicted of the personal injury crime to enjoin conduct that “perpetuates the continuing effect of the crime on the victim”. The actions that could prompt a lawsuit include “conduct which causes a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish.”

“This law is unconstitutional,” said David Shapiro of MacArthur Justice Center. “The facts are on our side and the law is on our side. The Silencing Act targets a huge amount of constitutionally protected speech based on who is speaking.”

After a prerecorded commencement speech by journalist and prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal was played for graduates at Goddard College in Vermont, the Pennsylvania legislature passed and outgoing Governor Corbett signed into law the Silencing Act on October 21st, 16 days after the commencement speech.

Abu-Jamal has spent 33 years in prison, 29 of which were in solitary confinement on death row after being convicted at a 1982 trial that Amnesty International said “failed to meet minimum international standards safeguarding the fairness of legal proceedings.”

Robert L. Holbrook, who is serving a death by incarceration, life without parole, sentence he received as a child, had this to say about the law: “there are people in prison who will stop writing, stop publishing, stop speaking out because of this law.”

Bret Grote       bretgrote@abolitionistlawcenter.org    412-654-9070
Ashley Henderson ashley@amistadlaw.org          215-310-0424
Noelle Hanrahan info@prisonradio.org         415-706-5222
David Shapiro david.shapiro@law.northwestern.edu        312-503-0711

Amistad Law Project is a West Philadelphia-based public interest law center.
Our mission is to fight for the human rights of all people by providing
legal services to people incarcerated in Pennsylvania’s prisons.
www.amistadlaw.org | @amistadlaw | 267-225-5884

The Abolitionist Law Center is a public interest law firm inspired by the struggle of political and politicized prisoners, and organized for the purpose of abolishing class and race based mass incarceration in the United States.   412-654-9070

Prison Radio has recorded Mumia and other political prisoners for over 25 years, and we are pulling out all the stops to keep these voices on the air.   415-706-5222

Please donate today to amplify prisoners' voices far and wide beyond the bars:
Support Prison Radio: prisonradio.org/donate
Defeat SB 508: bit.ly/defendfreespeech
Powerful Doc 'Black Panther Woman' Makes NYC Premiere at New Voices in Black Cinema Festival
By Tambay A. Obenson
Shadow and Act
March 29, 2015 at 1:12PM

Set to make its New York premiere tonight, March 29, 2015, at 9:30pm, at the New Voices in Black Cinema Festival, at BAMcinématek in Brooklyn, NY, is "Black Panther Woman" - director Rachel Perkins' documentary on the little known Brisbane chapter of the Black Panther Party, which was directly inspired by the American Black Panthers.

Central to the film is Marlene Cummins (photo above), who was introduced to Australia’s Black Panther Party in 1972, when she met and fell in love with its leader, beginning her education into the Black Power movement.

 This Australian chapter of the Black Panther Party adapted the politics and style of the American Black Panther Party, from the clothing to their defiance, attracting the attention of the local authorities. Yet, unlike their American comrades, who numbered in the thousands across America, the Australian chapter comprised of just 10 members - young Aboriginal people who staged educational theatre shows, kept watch on the police on what they called ‘pig patrols,’ and were at the forefront of demonstrations, including the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.

According to director Rachel Perkins, what began as a straightforward story, recounting the Black Panther Party in Australia, slowly revealed itself as something more. The tensions around the movement and her personal life tightened around Marlene, and finally led to the break up of her relationship with the party’s leader. Marlene filled the vacuum with alcohol and quickly spiralled into a cycle of addiction that left her vulnerable on the streets. Her vulnerability and her belief in the movement made her a target for black men in power. Marlene recalls the incident of her rape, by two Indigenous leaders, after which she made the difficult decision to stay silent. Dedicated to the cause, and distrustful of police, she, like other Aboriginal women facing abuse, chose to stay silent to protect the movement from criticism.

Forty years later, and still struggling with addiction, she looks back on her involvement in the Aboriginal protest movement from her housing commission apartment in the community of Redfern. In the film, she journeys to New York to an international gathering of Black Panthers - a journey that takes her back in time, to her love affair, her time with the Panthers, and the question of the place of women in the movement.

Now a grandmother and no longer afraid, she speaks out about her experiences, breaking a forty year silence, to tell the story of her abuse in the Australian Black protest movement, to overcome her demons today.

5 years in the making, the film, "Black Panther Woman," presents her attempt to heal herself and her ongoing battle with addiction, and to add her voice to those calling for a halt to the abuse of black women from within their own community.

Director Rachel Perkins, who is an Australian of Aboriginal heritage, founded Australia’s premier Indigenous production company, Blackfella Films in 1992, and has contributed extensively to the development of Indigenous filmmakers in Australia and, more broadly, to the Australian film and television industry.

She says that, this film, like all the films she's worked on to date, is intended for an Aboriginal audience first, adding that the premise of it is, of course, relevant for all: "To have a fair and just society, we must have leadership with integrity," she states.

Marlene Cummins is currently a blues singer/songwriter in Australia, after studying as a blues saxophonist and songwriter at the Berklee College of Music in Boston in the mid-1990's. In addition to her musical talent, she has been a regular broadcaster on Koori Radio for years, with her renowned blues show, "Marloo’s Blues."

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Nigerian Election Results Ready Today –INEC
by OLAJIDE OMOJOLOMOJU, ABIODUN NEJO, OMEIZA AJAYI, UBONG UKPONG, BOLADALE BAMIGBOLA, THEOPHILUS ONOJEGHEN AND ABDULGAFAR OLADIMEJI on Mar 30, 2015
Nigerian National Accord

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has expressed optimism that results of the presidential and National Assembly elections would be announced on a national level today.

Accordingly, final collation of the results would start by 12pm at the National Collation Centre in Abuja.

INEC said it will only declare results when they have been collated from the states.

According to the commission, in spite of the several glitches that marred the exercise in some parts of the country, most results had been collated and were being expected at the commission’s headquarters last night.

Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega stated this last night in Abuja when he gave a preliminary assessment of the polls.

Several challenges, including the late commencement of elections, accreditation issues and security breaches forced the postponement of the polls in 387 polling units spread across the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Lagos, Kebbi, Niger, Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Jigawa and Taraba states.

While the elections in the affected polling units were concluded yesterday, collation was still being done at the local government level as at the time of filing this report.

This came even as the INEC boss vowed to identify and sanction one of its Presiding Officers in Taraba State, who allegedly allowed under-age voting in his polling unit during Saturday’s elections.

On the Taraba incident, Jega said under-age voting is against the law.

“We are investigating the reports and we will take measures once this is done.

“There was one clip that has been in circulation since yesterday (Saturday) afternoon about an underage voter said to be from Taraba and we have mandated our Resident Electoral Commissioner to investigate it thoroughly and identify where this happened and to also identify the polling official who did it because it is clearly illegal to allow and underaged person.

“There were a few other reported cases in which some observers said they have seen under aged voting, we are yet to see details which would have enable us to investigate these malpractices,” he said.

On the challenges encountered in Rivers State, the INEC boss said All Progressives Congress, APC, wrote the commission yesterday, calling for the cancellation of the polls.

The INEC boss also dismissed concerns that the commission was under intense pressure to declare inconclusive elections.

While he said the failure of the card readers was a big shock to him, he added that it was very probable that many of the electoral officials had not been trained in handling the device.

He also evaluated the situation in Delta State and said the commission has received reports that its ad hoc staff were substituted but that investigations were already ongoing to ascertain the veracity of the claims.

On claims by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that it was leading in 23 states, Jega said he would not know where the party got its own results.

“I do not know where the PDP spokesman got his source, but we have not collated results in 23 states,” he said.

Jega called on Nigerians to disregard any result that does not emanate from the commission.

He urged Nigerians to avoid listening to such announcements from people that are clearly partisan.

“The Commission warns strongly against unofficial announcements and declaration of results by unauthorised persons and channels, particularly online sites. Only INEC is empowered by law to announce results and it is an offence for anyone to preempt the Commission”.

He said the Commission has taken notice of hitches that were experienced during the election ranging from difficulty in using the card readers to late arrival of INEC officials to the polling units and security challenges, adding that efforts would be made to avert such in future elections.

In another development, Nigerians and the international community were yesterday alerted by APC of alleged ongoing plans by the PDP and President Goodluck Jonathan to tamper with the results of Saturday’s elections and circumvent the people’s will.

Speaking through its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement issued in Lagos yesterday, APC said it has information to the effect that some clandestine meetings were being held with the sole aim of changing the result of the election.

“The information that we have received since we issued our last statement is to the effect that the Jonathan administration is holding clandestine meetings with security chiefs and others with the sole aim of altering or scuttling the results, which they consider to be highly embarrassing and unpalatable, using malleable Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs,” Mohammed said.

Warning that nothing but the authentic results held by the party’s agents and all other stakeholders will be acceptable, and that whoever is planning to do otherwise should weigh its implication on the survival of the nation’s democracy, APC said the moves to manipulate the results are also being replicated in some states, including Bauchi, where everything is being done to reverse the outcome, and Imo, where many aides of Governor Rochas Okorocha are being brutalised and arrested in hordes.

Mohammed said: “We know they are stunned dizzy by the crushing defeat which has been inflicted on them across the nation, going by the results in the hands of our agents.

“We know they have activated their paid media channels to seek to confuse Nigerians by making outlandish claims that their presidential candidate is leading in the elections.

“We know they are counting on malleable RECs to thwart the will of the people, and we know they have no qualms about plunging the nation into crisis just because of narrow interests.

“This is why we are putting on red alert all the good people of Nigeria who trooped out in large numbers, defying the sun and the rain and against all odds, to vote for change.

“We are also by this statement calling on the international community to urgently prevail on the Nigerian authorities not to tamper with the results of the elections as expressed by Nigerians.

“As we have said many times, we will accept the outcome of the elections if they are free and fair. What we will not accept is the manipulated outcome of the polls.”

In a related development, security forces have been deployed in readiness for any attempts to breach the peace across the country, after the announcement of the results of the presidential elections today.

Our correspondent learnt from top security sources that more operatives have been drafted by various agencies to reinforce operations in any eventual attempt by miscreants to break the law.

The source said that security chiefs were not taking chances over the result announcement and as such, were battle-ready.

It was learnt that the security chiefs have already advised that curfew must be imposed with immediate effect in any state where there is imminent breakdown of law and order.

The source said that State of Emergency across the country was not ruled out in view of the alleegd desperation and agitation that have characterised the electioneering processes.

Already in Abuja and environs, there has been massive deployment of security, both on the highways and within the city as well as the hinterlands.

Soldiers and police operatives were sighted intensifying road blocks on the highways into Abuja, delaying commuters to ascertain their movements.

Checks have been intensified along the Keffi-Abuja roads, Kaduna-Abuja, Lokoja- Abuja roads, as well as any known routes leading into the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

Equally, military and police operatives are carrying out surveillance in notable black spots in the territory and environs as well as in the hinterlands where miscreants have been identified.

Our correspondents learnt that plain clothed security operatives, including operatives of Department of State Services, DSS and Directorate of Military Intelligence, DMI, have been deployed to fish out all categories of trouble makers for immediate arrest.

Defence Headquarters, DHQ, has said that citizens need not fear as security forces will ensure that lives and property are protected.

In a tweet on its twitter handle, the DHQ said that it was prepared to safeguard democracy, indicating that it would go after all trouble makers.

Meanwhile, results coming in showed Gen. Muhammadu Buhari still leading President Goodluck Jonathan in the presidential race.

In Osun, Ogun, Oyo and Kano states, results so far released showed Buhari leading, while President Jonathan cleared Ekiti State, where he polled 176,474 votes to beat the APC candidate, who garnered 120,332 votes.

Buhari is coasting to victory in Kano after results from 20 local governments were released.

The APC candidate secured the large chunk of the results from the 20 local governments announced at the state INEC headquarters, on Hajj Camp road.

The returning officers from the 20 local governments took turn to present the results to the state collation officer, Prof. Muhammadu Hamisu, with party agents and observers in attendance.

The local governments, which results were announced are, Kibiya, Gabasawa, Albasu, Bagwai, Kunchi, Tsanyawa, Gaya, Tofa, Rano, Wudil, Bunkure, Makoda, Gezawa, Garun Mallam, Kura, Kumbotso, Dawakin Tofa, Ajingi, Madobi and Kabo.

The results showed that 798, 821 people voted on Saturday, with Buhari, securing 686, 981 votes, while Jonathan scored 91, 687 votes.

About 16, 997 votes were declared invalid.

PDP won all the three senatorial and the six House of Representatives seats in Ekiti.

With the development, two APC senators seeking re-election, Senators Olu Adetumbi (Ekiti North) and Anthony Adeniyi (Ekiti South) lost their bids as well as their House of Representatives counterparts: Hons Bimbo Daramola, Oyetunde Ojo, Robinson Ajiboye, Bamidele Faparusi, and Ife Arowosoge.

In Ogun East, Prince Buruji Kashamu of the PDP was declared winner with 99, 540 votes to beat his APC challenger, who polled 84, 001, while the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP scored 12, 972 In Ogun Central, APC candidate, Prince Lanre Tejuoso is leading.

Senator Sola Adeyeye, APC, won the Osun Central Senatorial District with 137,379 to PDP’s candidate, who scored 82,529

In Lagos, INEC has declared the candidates of APC, winners of Lagos Island Federal Constituencies 1 and 2.

Mrs. Martha Amadi, the Returning Officer for the Lagos Island Federal Constituency 1, said that Mr. Enitan Badru of the APC polled 15,389 votes to beat Mr. Lukman Oladipo of the PDP who secured 5,732 votes.

The Returning Officer for Lagos Island Federal Constituency 2, Mr. Adekunle Salvador, said that Mr. Yakubu Balogun of the APC got 16,437 votes while Mr. Rahman Salawe of the PDP secured 7,305 votes.

The Returning Officer for Lagos Central senatorial election, Mr. Adebisi Adegbola, told journalists that the election was inconclusive on Saturday in one council area.

In Delta State, Deputy Leader, House of Representatives, Leo Okuweh Ogor was declared winner of Isoko Federal Constituency election.

Ogor who is being reelected for the fourth term on the platform of PDP defeated three other contenders.

While declaring the result, the Returning Officer for Isoko Federal Constituency, Dr Omosode Osafile said Ogor polled 79,052 to defeat his closest rival, Mr. Daniel Oyovwe of the APC, who polled 6,626 votes, while the candidate of SDP came third with 4,257 votes.

Meanwhile, reports from Ondo State indicated that Governor Olusegun Mimiko lost the state Central Senate seat to the opposition candidate.

The result which gave the APC candidate the advantage further confirms the inability of the governor to deliver the state to President Goodluck Jonathan even as the coordinator of his campaign in the South-West.
ECOWAS: Elections Free, Fair
March 30, 2015
Written by Our Reporter
Nigerian Nation

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Observer Mission (EOM), has declared that Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections met the acceptable criteria of being free and transparent.

The declaration was made by the mission’s head and former President of Ghana, John Kuffour, in Abuja yesterday.

Mr. Kuffour expressed satisfaction with the commitment made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, security agencies and various entities on the electoral process.

He observed that the turnout of voters was generally high with a laudable participation of women and young people who displayed commendable level of patience and discipline.

“Security agents were present at most of the polling stations and on patrols in and around the cities as peaceful atmosphere prevailed in most parts of the country,’’ he said.

The mission also noted that INEC officials demonstrated good knowledge and compliance with voting procedures.

He also noted that agents of the major political parties, including All Progressives Congress (APC), Labour Party (LP) and the People Democratic Party (PDP), were in attendance in most polling units.

His words: “The process of counting at the polling stations and the subsequent collations at designated centres were successful and in accordance with the Electoral Act.

“Some of the challenges the mission observed during the exercise included the late arrival of INEC officials in many polling stations and malfunctioning of Card Readers across the country.’’

Mr. Kuffour further said the elections were still ongoing in some affected polling units were elections had been extended by one day.

He said the mission also observed that there was insufficient and/or non-availability of electoral materials in some polling units which led to delay in accreditation and voting processes.

Kuffour said: “Cases of attempt to snatch ballot papers were reported in some polling stations leading to instances of uproar, shootings and sporadic violence in the affected polling stations.

“Despite efforts by the relevant agencies to secure the electoral exercise, explosions were also recorded in some parts of the country.’’

The EOM is part of the ECOWAS sustained efforts to support the consolidation of democracy and good governance in Nigeria.

The mission is also in line with ECOWAS guidelines on election-monitoring.
Buhari Ahead in Kano, Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Four Others
March 30, 2015
Written by Our Reporter
Nigerian Nation

•Jonathan leads in Ekiti, Enugu, Nasarawa, Benue                
•UN lauds elections

All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari took an early lead yesterday as results of Saturday’s poll trickled in.

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Returning Officers announced results in some states.

The APC candidate is ahead in Kano, Ogun, Osun, Kogi, Oyo, Borno,   Ondo and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Results in 23 local government areas of Kano State’s 44 were declared last night. All were won by the APC candidate.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is ahead in Nasarawa State. He won in the six of the nine local government areas where results were declared. The APC won in Wamba, Keffi and Awe. PDP won in Akwanga, Nasarawa Eggon, Obi, Keana, Kokona and Doma.

Dr. Jonathan won only in Marte, one  of the 16 local government areas where results were declared in Borno State.

Jonathan also won with wide margins in Enugu State where results in three local government areas were released.

In Ekiti State, the PDP candidate won in all the 16 local government areas.

In Ogun State, the APC candidate won in 13 of the 20 local government areas.

A breakdown of the figures showed that in Remo North, APC polled 6,164.  PDP got 9,278. In Ewekoro, APC had 9,626 and PDP polled 3,227. For Obafemi Owode, APC got 15,207 and PDP secured 5,786.

At Imeko Afon, APC polled 7,657 with PDP scoring 12,153. At Ijebu Ode local government, APC polled 14,043 while PDP got 8,962.

For Sagamu, APC got 15,761 and PDP had 17,263. In Odeda Local Government, APC had 11,102 while PDP had 4,456. In Odogbolu, APC had 11,623 and PDP (11,405).

In Ijebu North East, APC won 7,638 and PDP got 6,163.

But, despite the challenge faced by 125,483 registered voters in Abeokuta North in collecting their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), APC dusted PDP with 21,213 votes to 5,742 in an election cast by 29,107 valid voters.

In Ogun Waterside, APC won  7,076 votes  and PDP got 8,063. In Ado-Odo Ota, APC (37,385), PDP (15,252); Abeokuta South APC (35,878), PDP (10,062); Ijebu East APC (9,109) PDP (10,045)

Also, in Egbado South,  APC: 14,169 and PDP: 10,491; Ijebu North, APC:  14,410 and PDP: 20,500;  Ifo, APC: 27,353 and PDP: 8, 645; Egbado North, APC: 16,459 and PDP: 13,408; Ikenne: APC: 8,443 and  PDP: 11,503;  Ipokia  APC:17,974 and PDP: 15,546.

Director – General of Amosun Campaign Organisation(AMCO), Chief Bode Mustapha, hailed the performance of the state chapter of the APC in the concluded presidential and National Assembly polls.

Mustapha, who is also the APC returning Officer in the state, said the party’s performance was quite impressive and served as pointer to what lies ahead in the forthcoming April governorship election.

He ascribed the performance to the performance of the governor in the last 44 months coupled with his robust and energetic campaign around the wards and 20 local governments in the state.

The APC candidate is also leading in Oyo State, with results from 23 out of the 33 local government areas declared. The APC won in 19. Jonathan won in four – Oriire, Ogo Oluwa, Surulere and Itesiwaju.

In Ona-Ara, the local government where PDP governorship candidate Senator Teslim Folarin and Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Jumoke Akinjide hail from, the APC won by over 5,000 votes.

The local governments won by the APC are Atisbo, Saki East, Iwajowa, Oyo West, Ibarapa East, Atiba, Iddo, Oluyole and Kajola.

Others are Afijio, Oorelope, Irepo and Iseyin.

In Ondo State, Gen. Buhari won in eight of the 14 local government areas where results were declared.

He won in Akoko North West,  Ifedore Local Government,   Akure North, Owo, Akoko Southeast, Idanre, Akoko South and Akure South.

Jonathan won in Odigbo, Ese Odo, Ile Oluji/Oke Igbo, Ondo West, Ireleand Ose.

In Benue State, Jonathan ahead in Ogbadibo, Agatu, Ado, Okpokwu, Ohimiri local government areas.

The PDP candidate is slightly ahead in the results of four local government areas of Benue State Zone C declared yesterday. In Ogbadibo, the PDP polled 6937 to APC’s 6257.

In Agatu, PDP got 9,555 votes to APC ‘s 3,627. In Ado Councils the PDP scored 7, 382 to APC’s 2, 328.

It Okpokwu Local Government, PDP got 12,103 as against APC’s 4,757.

PDP also won in Ohimini Local Government, scoring 5909 to APC ‘s 4,734 votes.

All the local governments are in Benue State, where the APC is believed to be weak, its strongholds  being Benue North and Central.

The results from other parts of the state had not been released last night.

In Osun State, with 30 local government areas declared, Gen. Buhari won in 28. PDP won in Ife East and Ife Central local government areas.

In Kogi State, the APC candidate won in six of the nine local government areas so far declared. There are 21 local government areas in the state.

The councils won by the APC are Dekina – where Governor Idris Wada hails from – Ogorimagongo, Adavi, Okehi, Idah, and Mopamoro. The PDP won in YagbaWest, Igalamela/Odolu and Mopa Bassa.

In Sokoto State, the APC candidate swept the polls in the three local government areas announced last night. These are Kware (APC 25,286, PDP 6,918);  Dange/Shuni (APC 31,036, PDP 5,339) and Goronyo (APC 28,950, PDP 7664).

Results from five local government areas in Kaduna State were released yesterday. The APC candidate won in two Soba and Sabon Garin, while the PDP won in Kaura, Jaba and Sanga. The votes as announced by Returning Officer Prof. Ja’afaru Kaura are Soba APC 61656, PDP 1998, Kaura APC 7101, PDP 27502, Sabon Garin APC 71022, PDP 10845. Jaba APC 5342, PDP 18314 and Sanga APC 12817, PDP 22858.

In the FCT, the results from four of the six Area Councils were declared yesterday. The APC candidate won in Abaji, Gwagwalada and Kwali. President Jonathan won in Kuje.
INEC Cancels Election Results of Two Polling Units in Kano
By NAN on March 29, 2015
Nigerian Guardian

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Kano on Sunday announced the cancellation of election results of two polling units in two local government areas of the state
The INEC Assistant Director Public Affairs, Alhaji Lawal Garba, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kano on Sunday.

Garba said the results were cancelled following the tampering of the results by suspected thugs in the areas.

“The results were cancelled in a polling unit in Kibiya Local Government Area and Jodade Polling Unit in Kunci Local Government Area.”

He said that some people suspected to be thugs forced the electoral officers to change the election results.

Garba also said that the commission had conducted election in 13 polling units in two local government areas of the state following the hitches recorded during the Saturday’s elections.

He said the election was held in five polling units in Shanono Local Government while in Tudun Wada Local Government the election was conducted in eight polling units.
INEC Results Expected From Monday in Nigeria Election: Commission
By AFP on March 29, 2015

First results of Nigeria’s presidential election could be given from Monday, the head of the country’s electoral commission said on Sunday, as voting went into a second day after technical glitches.

“Our hope is to be able to declare within 48 hours (of polls closing on Saturday) and hopefully within less time,” said Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

INEC later said that collation of results from states across the country would begin in Abuja from 12:00 pm (1100 GMT).

Technical problems with new devices to “read” biometric voter identity cards plus the delayed arrival of election material and officials forced INEC to extend voting into a second day on Sunday.

Jega said that 348 polling stations across the country were affected, including 90 in the financial hub of Lagos in the southwest, and two in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.

President Goodluck Jonathan is hoping for a second term of office but is facing a strong challenge from the main opposition candidate, former military general Mohammadu Buhari.

Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) have traded accusations since Saturday evening about irregularities in voting.

Jega said that INEC had received reports of alleged rigging in some places, including the use of under-age voters, and also a request from the APC to re-run the vote in the southern state of Rivers.

He told a news conference that the reports would be investigated but said that INEC was confident that its objectives of holding a “free, fair, credible and peaceful” election were “on course”.

“We appeal to all Nigerians to remain peaceful as they await the return of these results,” he added, with fears of a repeat of post-poll violence that in 2011 left some 1,000 people dead.

On the handheld voter identity card readers that left voters, including Jonathan, unable to accredit, Jega played down the scale of the problem.

“We received reports that some card readers were not reading. 0.25 percent of the total card readers were reported to have failed,” he said.

“We have deployed 150,000 card readers and 0.25 percent statistically is insignificant.

“If out of 150,000 card readers that we have deployed and 374 did not work, obviously you should commend this achievement.”
INEC RESULT: Nigeria in Tense Vote Count After Second Day of Polling
By AFP on March 29, 2015

Nigeria counted ballots in its closely fought general election on Sunday after failures in controversial new technology pushed voting into a second day, with officials calling for calm in the tense wait for a winner.

Military fighter jets and ground troops also pounded Boko Haram fighters in the northeastern state of Bauchi after a series of attacks on polling stations on Saturday and Sunday.

The presidential election in Africa’s most populous nation is the closest in the country’s history, with the first credible challenge from an opposition party.

Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been in power since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999 but is being pushed to the wire by former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.

First results could be given from Monday, the head of the country’s electoral commission said Sunday night.

“Our hope is to be able to declare within 48 hours (of polls closing on Saturday) and hopefully within less time,” said Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The prospect of a democratic transfer of power — plus economic woes caused by the slump in global oil prices, concerns about corruption and fears about insecurity — has energised the vote.

One government spokesman claimed there was a “record turnout” and voting was largely peaceful despite sporadic pockets of unrest mainly in southern states such as the key battleground of Rivers.

The technical difficulties, however, set the tone for a potential dispute as the PDP has opposed the use of the devices to authenticate voters, saying they were not sufficiently tested.

Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) supports the new system as a means of curbing voter fraud that has marred previous elections.

– ‘No shenanigans’ –

Wrangling over the results has already begun after counting on Saturday, some of it by flashlight with Nigeria regularly plunged into darkness by daily power cuts.

There has been a flurry of claimed constituency successes from both sides, and APC spokesman Lai Mohammed warned about vote manipulation.

“There must be no shenanigans,” he said.

In the southern state of Rivers, thousands of opposition supporters demonstrated on Sunday to call for the cancellation of the elections locally because of alleged irregularities.

At the same time, the ruling PDP has described the failure of the technology to read biometric data such as fingerprints on the president’s own voter identity card as a “huge national embarrassment”.

Jega has conceded there were “challenges” but added: “From our general assessment, out of the 150,000 card readers which we have deployed, only about 450 were affected.”

The devices were used again on Sunday but voters could also be processed manually if further glitches occurred.

Jega told a news conference on Sunday INEC was confident its objective of holding a “free, fair, credible and peaceful” election was “on course”.

“We appeal to all Nigerians to remain peaceful as they await the return of these results,” he added, with fears of a repeat of post-poll violence that in 2011 left some 1,000 people dead.

According to Jega, 90 polling units were unable to accredit voters and allow them to vote in Nigeria’s financial hub of Lagos in the southwest.

An electoral officer in the Kosofe local government area told AFP: “We had challenges yesterday with the card readers but it is working fine now.”

Wheelchair user Emily Adeyemi, 69, was accredited before others at her polling station.

“I was disappointed when I could not vote yesterday. But I am happy that I have been accredited to vote today,” she said in Yoruba, which is widely spoken in the southwest.

All ballots were expected to be cast by Sunday night, with nearly 69 million people registered to vote.

To avoid a run-off, presidential candidates need to have won the most votes and at least 25 percent support in two thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.

– Bauchi fighting –

Boko Haram has dominated the campaign, with military operations against the militants forcing a six-week delay to the scheduled February 14 election.

On Sunday, residents and a military source said soldiers supported by two fighter jets intercepted the militants at Dungulbe village, seven kilometres (four miles) from Bauchi city in the northeast.

“The fighter jets are pounding the enemy position while ground troops are engaging them,” said a military officer in the city, who asked not to be identified, in an account supported by residents.

“The operation is still ongoing but the terrorists have suffered serious losses and are in disarray,” the officer added.

The militants were believed to have come through the town of Alkaleri, 60 kilometres away, where there was a dawn raid on Saturday.

Gunmen in several vehicles attacked public buildings, security checkpoints as well as the office of the paramilitaries and the local electoral commission premises.

Bauchi police spokesman Haruna Mohammed confirmed that polling stations in nearby Kirfi were attacked on Sunday and election materials were destroyed.

A series of suspected attacks on polling stations in neighbouring Gombe state on Saturday killed at least seven.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has vowed to disrupt the election, calling it “un-Islamic”.
Thousands Call for Vote Re-run in Nigeria’s Rivers State
By AFP on March 29, 2015

Thousands of supporters of Nigeria’s main opposition party on Sunday demonstrated in the oil-rich state of Rivers, calling for the cancellation of elections locally because of alleged irregularities.

The demonstrators from the All Progressives Congress (APC) converged on the local offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state capital, Port Harcourt.

“We are here to register our protest that there was no election in Rivers state yesterday (Saturday),” Rivers state governorship candidate Dakuku Peterside told the crowd.

Peterside alleged that APC supporters across the southern state were “disenfranchised by INEC, working in connivance with (the) PDP (Peoples Democratic Party)”.

Results sheets, which in Nigerian elections are given at every polling station to both party representatives and the local electoral commission after the count, were not provided, he alleged.

“INEC in collaboration with (the) Peoples Democratic Party hijacked the materials and were filling them in private homes for the PDP,” Peterside claimed.

“Since the results sheets were not available, we did not vote. If there was no voting, there is no way they can declare any result.”

Peterside called for the presidential and parliamentary election to be re-held in Rivers on a new date.

Rivers state in the oil-producing Delta is seen as a key battleground for the presidential election, in which APC candidate Muhammadu Buhari is fighting President Goodluck Jonathan of the ruling PDP.

At the last election in 2011, the state was won by the PDP but governor Rotimi Amaechi switched to the APC two years later and there has been bad blood between the two parties ever since.

– ‘Bad losers’ –

Amaechi, who is heading Buhari’s presidential campaign, was among those who refused to vote after being told that results sheets would not be made available.

The supporters shouted anti-INEC slogans and “we must vote” against a heavy police presence.

Local INEC spokeswoman Tonia Nwobi told AFP before the protest: “It is not true that INEC has had any result to favour any party.

“We have received results from only one local government out of 23 (in the state).”

Nwobi’s boss, INEC chairman Attahiru Jega, told a news conference in the capital Abuja he had received a letter from the APC in Rivers calling for the election to be rescheduled in the state.

He promised a “thorough investigation” and for the decision to be communicated to the parties but he added: “We are concerned about what seems to be happening in Rivers state.

“There are many alleged cases of malpractice and we certainly pay a lot of attention to… it and if any of our staff are involved, we will apply appropriate sanctions.”

The Rivers state chairman of the PDP, Felix Obuah, dismissed the APC’s allegations, saying in a statement that the vote was “credible” and reflected the will of the people.

“Rivers state is a traditional PDP state and even if the elections are conducted a million times, the PDP will win here,” he added, saying the call to reschedule was “the behaviour of bad losers”.
Nigerian Laureate Wole Soyinka Laments ‘Vicious, Unprincipled’ Election
Nation’s foremost man of letters warns in interview of ‘a very sinister force in control’ of the incumbent president

David Smith in Lagos
Sunday 29 March 2015 19.15 EDT
Guardian

Not for Wole Soyinka, Nigeria’s foremost man of letters, a gentle retirement or attempt to separate art from politics. The 80-year-old spent election day in Africa’s biggest democracy working the phones late into the night, gathering reports of technical glitches, irregularities and violence. There was plenty to keep him awake.

“We’re talking about a very positive response by the public in terms of determination to register and vote but, you know, this has been one of the most vicious, unprincipled, vulgar and violent election exercises I have ever witnessed,” Soyinka reflected sadly. “I just hope we won’t go down as being the incorrigible giant of Africa.”

A Nobel laureate and former political prisoner, Soyinka could be described as the conscience of the nation. In an interview with the Guardian in the commercial capital, Lagos, on Sunday he railed against what is thought to have been the most expensive election in African history, revealed intriguing details of a recent meeting with president Goodluck Jonathan (“He jumped up as if his seat was on fire”) and warned a “very sinister force” could exploit disputed results to mount something approaching a coup.

Jonathan is fighting for his political life against opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari in the most hotly contested poll in Nigerian history. Voting spilled over into a second day after widespread technical hitches on Saturday that saw Jonathan himself initially denied registration.

Tall and thin with a shock of white hair and Socratic beard, Soyinka said: “The stakes appear to be so high that all scruples have been set aside and it’s very distressing to compare this election with the election of 1993, which was one of the most orderly, civilised and resolute elections we ever had. This one was like a no-holds-barred kind of election, especially, frankly, from the incumbency side. One shouldn’t be too surprised anyway given the kind of people who are manning the barricades for the incumbent candidate.”

Countless millions of dollars have been lavished on the election campaigns, with commercials dominating television and newspapers for the three months. Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) produced a so-called documentary savaging Buhari’s character and last week paid for a 36-page advertising supplement in leading newspapers. Cities have been coated in placards and posters on a breathtaking scale.

“Most expensive, most prodigal, wasteful, senseless, I mean really insensitive in terms of what people live on in this country,” Soyinka continued. “This was the real naira-dollar extravaganza, spent on just subverting, shall we say, the natural choices of people. Just money instead of argument, instead of position statements.

“And of course the sponsoring of violence in various places, in addition to this festive atmosphere in which every corner, every pillar, every electric pole is adorned with one candidate or the other, many of them in poses which remind one of Nollywood.

“I get a feeling sometimes that some of these candidates were just locked in their wardrobes and they were told: ‘Just take selfies in there and don’t come out until you’ve finished the entire wardrobe.’ All kinds of postures. Just ridiculous. It has been an embarrassing exercise in terms of electioneering.”

The writer fears that Nigeria’s multi-millionaire tycoons will continue to call the tune. Nigeria is ranked 136th out of 174 countries on Transparency International’s corruption perception index.

“Obviously this money didn’t come from personal pockets only, there’s no question. It’s been bankrolled by lots of businesspeople – many of them I’m sure have been taxed indirectly – and they’ll be expecting some returns for this outlay, and so how are we actually going to get rid of this thing called corruption, if the electoral process itself has been so corrupted? It’s a money election. How on earth is that bugbear going to be lifted from the neck of society? I just don’t know.”

Soyinka was imprisoned for almost two years during one of Nigeria’s spells under military rule in 1967. He became the first African to win the Nobel prize for literature in 1986. He remains politically active and a constant thorn in the side of authority, although he insists that he lacks the temperament to ever run for office himself. He told how he was recently invited by Jonathan, who has a “boyish charm”, to discuss various issues.

“We even discussed life after power, whenever that takes place,” he recalled. “It was difficult for me to decide from his side how readily he might accept defeat. He absolutely swore that if he lost he was going back to [his home] Otuoke village. If I take him literally, I think he will accept the result, but I’ve learned never to trust any politician from here to there, even if they’re just coming out of communion. So I really don’t know.”

He added: “I think Nigerians have had a very rough time over the last few years with [the Islamist militant group] Boko Haram and all kinds of insecurity, failure of governance and so on. I think we deserve to have this period as a period of comparative tranquillity and peace of mind to reconstruct and address some really fundamental issues of society. So I really hope the result, however gracelessly or grudgingly, will be accepted by the loser.”

If it is not, however, chaos could ensure. Although both leaders have sworn a peace pledge, it is unclear whether they can control their supporters, some of whom have threatened a violent backlash. Soyinka fears that political instability could be used as an excuse by figures in the state security apparatus to seize power. “Even before elections there had been discussions and preparation for ‘interim government’,” he alleged. “Why on earth such a card should be on the table at all beats me. I asked President Jonathan, ‘What is this business of interim government?’

“What he said was, ‘I could never be part of it. I would consider it a downfall, a demotion. Here I am president of the nation, I was voted in by the whole nation, why should I then accept an arraignment, which is by a few people? I would consider it degrading to what I have attained in life.’ That was his expression. But President Jonathan is in a cage. He didn’t strike me as being aware of the forces which surround him.”

The author cited an incident earlier this month when Morocco recalled its ambassador to Nigeria in a diplomatic spat over whether Jonathan was trying to use the king of Morocco to win over Muslim voters. The Moroccan royal palace said the king had declined a request for a phone conversation, while Nigeria insisted that the two leaders had spoken at length. Nigeria later backed down and admitted the conversation did not happen.

“Here is a situation where a president did not even know that a foreign country, a friendly country, had withdrawn its ambassador from Nigeria. I was the one who told him. He jumped up as if his seat was on fire. I couldn’t believe it … He was not aware that for about five days the media had been absolutely hysterical with this embarrassing situation between the two. It was that very night that he made a public statement about it for the first time.

“So when I say that there is a force around, I know what I’m talking about. There is a very sinister force in control and it is that sinister cabal which is responsible for caging him in and showing him what they think he should know about and keeping away from him things which are not in their interest, and this for me is the most dangerous situation that any nation can be in.”

Soyinka is scathing about Jonathan’s record as president, notably his mishandling of last year’s incident when 276 schoolgirls in Chibok were kidnapped by Boko Haram, prompting a worldwide outcry and social media campaign. “I think he is remorseful now, but at the beginning he took it very lightly. He himself has admitted as much in public. When you are informed that 200 children are missing, you don’t go to dinner until you have got to the bottom of it.

“But it took him I don’t know how many days to believe, but it certainly took him about 10 days to react. Now, for a leader of a people that is just totally unacceptable. Two hundred people. And then his wife was telling the police to go and arrest people who were protesting. The whole of that episode, I told him, whether you win the election or not, you’ve got to do something to assuage the feelings of people over that particular lapse. That was one horrendous lapse of which no head of state should ever be guilty. You send children to school to go and take an exam, and then you’re told they’re missing. For me, the entire nation should not sleep until an answer to that assault is provided.”

But while Jonathan is too weak, critics say, his opponent, Buhari, may be too strong. He ruled Nigeria as a military dictator for 20 months in the mid-1980s, cracking down on the media among others, but claims to be a “born again” democrat who has contested three previous elections, losing every time.

Soyinka admitted: “My memory of General Buhari has become rather mixed up. Four years ago I certainly wasn’t even prepared to consider the possibility of a genuine ‘born-again’. But at the risk of being proved wrong, I think we have a case here of a genuine ‘born-again’ phenomenon.”

The poet and playwright declined to say explicitly how he voted, but dropped a big hint by saying: “Maybe we should all try to be a little bit of Mandela. If Mandela could actually make a leap of faith towards the Boers after the atrocities committed against the black people [in South Africa], when the moment comes and the system under which we operate has thrown up just two candidates really … I think I asked myself: ‘Who would Nelson Mandela have voted for?’ and that’s the person I voted for. That’s all I’m going to tell you.”
Nigerian Presidential Vote is Extended Amid Glitches and Fears of Violence
Scores turned out Saturday to vote in a presidential election that analysts say is too close to call.

By Kevin Sieff
March 28 at 7:00 PM

KADUNA, Nigeria —Nigerians voted Saturday in the most bitterly contested election in the history of the country’s young democracy — a poll that will determine the next chapter in a long-standing fight against Islamist insurgents and the management of Africa’s largest economy.

Voting was extended Saturday in some polling stations because of technical glitches as the specter of post-election violence hangs over much of the country. Many worry that a conflict will erupt along the ethno-religious divide that consumes Nigerian politics. For now, President Goodluck Jonathan, a southern Christian, and the former military dictator, Muhammadu Buhari, a northern Muslim, appear to be in a dead heat.

This northern state has been a microcosm of the country’s volatile political rift. After the last presidential election, in 2011, Kaduna was devoured by violence that killed hundreds. Churches­ and mosques­ were torched, their skeletal remains still scattered across the state. Christians and Muslims fled in opposite directions.

Four years later, it’s unclear whether a contested election result will reignite those festering tensions. Over the past four years, while nongovernmental organizations and interfaith groups have launched peace building initiatives, Nigeria’s political elite have done little to bridge the divide. Jonathan and Buhari signed a pact Thursday, promising to avoid post-election violence, but many of their followers saw it as a hollow gesture.

“We’re scared,” said Rhoda Bala, standing in the charred remains of her home, which was destroyed after the 2011 election and never fully repaired. “Of course, we worry that what happened last time will happen again.”

Bala lives just miles from a polling site where Buhari had seemingly unanimous support and where a Jonathan victory appeared inconceivable to the voters.

“If Jonathan wins unfairly, this will be a country at war,” said Nura Hussaini, a carpenter. “And he can’t win fairly.”

The country is already at war with Boko Haram, an Islamist extremist movement that since 2012 grew steadily until its influence extended across northeastern Nigeria.

On Saturday, Boko Haram extremists killed 39 people, including a legislator, in the northeast, according to the Associated Press, in a deliberate attempt to disrupt the election. A multinational counter­­offensive has severely weakened the group in recent weeks, amid an emergency six-week election delay.

Jonathan supporters had praised him for the success of the anti-Boko Haram campaign, which culminated Friday in the taking of the group’s strategic headquarters. His detractors ask why it took so long to execute.

Already, Buhari’s party has said that if Jonathan, who has been in power since 2010, is declared the victor, it will set up a “parallel government.”

The Nigerian army’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah, issued a warning at a news conference, saying that anyone who provokes conflict will meet “organized violence” from authorities.

While many Nigerians view politics through the prism of regional or religious loyalty, the election’s result will have an impact across much of West Africa, where the country is a massive cultural and economic force. It is a region dominated by Nigerian film and music, and one where oil revenue turned Nigeria into an engine of growth.

The falling price of oil, though, has raised new questions about Nigeria’s financial future, adding urgency to calls for an end to systemic corruption. Jonathan’s Central Bank chairman accused the government of losing $20 billion in revenue.

The next chapter in the fight against Boko Haram also remains a massive challenge. While the group appears to have been displaced from its former territorial strongholds, thousands of militants have fled into the Sambisa Forest and other rural enclaves, from which they could easily plan guerrilla-style attacks if the government’s counter­insurgency campaign dissipates.

But the next president’s greatest challenge might be convincing a divided Nigeria to accept his legitimacy. In Kaduna, even the most unifying figures expressed concerns about the coming days. Pastor Yohanna Buru, who has spent the years since the post-election violence in 2011 leading interfaith sessions, wonders what is next.

“The fact is, Christians want a Christian leader and Muslims want a Muslim one,” he said. “People are not educated on the issue of political violence.”

At a polling place where Jonathan supporters predominated, voters worried about a Nigeria with a Muslim leader.

“It would mean the Islamicization of Nigeria,” said Thomas Usman, an engineer. “We can’t allow it.”

Buhari has never given the impression that he will abandon secular rule in Nigeria. His party has publicly rebutted the idea, claiming that Jonathan supporters are attempting to divide the electorate along religious lines.

“I am not a religious fanatic of any sort, and I have never been,” he said at an interfaith meeting earlier this month.

Each side pointed to voting irregularities that appeared to favor the opposition — a shortage of ballots at certain sites, delayed openings at polling centers that left many voters in line for more than 10 hours.

“It’s a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise us because they know this is an opposition enclave,” said Danazumi Zakari, the chairman of the development association in Danbushia village and a Buhari supporter.

Zakari stood with hundreds of others in front of a local elementary school that was supposed to serve as a polling site. But by noon, five hours after many voters arrived, there were still no voting materials. Reports from Nigeria’s south, which is predominantly pro-Jonathan, also cited voting irregularities, suggesting that flaws were systemic and not politically calculated.

Voting ended Saturday without any sign of clashes between the two parties. But in Kaduna, voters remember the relative peace of Election Day 2011 and how quickly the state devolved into chaos after the results were announced.

Bala, 55, a Christian living in a primarily Muslim part of Kaduna, remembers returning to her home one day to find that it had been doused in gasoline and set on fire. She hasn’t found the money to fix it, so she and her children still live in the charred remains.

The words “Jesus loves you” can be made out in faded paint. This time, most of Bala’s relatives left Kaduna before the elections. Bala didn’t.

“I’m too scared,” she said. “And I don’t have anywhere else to go.”

Kevin Sieff has been The Washington Post’s bureau chief in Nairobi since 2014. He served previously as the bureau chief in Kabul and had covered the U.S. -Mexico border.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Card Reader Failure, Logistics Mar Polls
by OMEIZA AJAYI ABUJA PRISCILLA DENNIS, MINNA.CHRIS NJOKU, OWERRI JAMES DANJUMA on Mar 29, 2015
Nigerian National Mirror

 INEC says voting continues today
OBJ, IBB, Abdulsalami, Gowon, commend voting process
With preponderant hitches marring yesterday’s election exercise despite unprecedented massive turnout by many to vote in the presidential and national assembly election, the expectation is that voting would continue today, even as alterations were made in the voting procedures.

Speaking on this, National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Dr Chris Iyimoga, told Sunday Mirror that voting may continue today where elections could not be concluded as a result of the technical hitches after failure of its Smart Card Readers, SCR, to work according to popular expectation.

Iyimoga, who announced this in Abuja yesterday, lamented that whereas the process had been going well in some places, there were challenges in others, especially with the use of the card readers.

He said accreditation had been consequently slowed in some places while as at 4 p.m., it had not started in others.

According to him, even though the guidelines for the conduct of the elections provide that where card readers failed and cannot be replaced elections in such polling units will be postponed, INEC has decided to make the alterations.

“The scale of the challenge that we have observed has necessitated the reconsideration of the elections guidelines.

“The commission has therefore decided that as part of guidelines for the general elections, the polling units where the card readers have failed to work, the presiding officer shall manually accredit voters by marking the register of voters after being satisfied that the person presenting the permanent voter card is the legitimate owner of the card”, he said.

He said where accreditation was suspended till today; arrangements will be made for voters to exercise their franchise in accordance with both the electoral guidelines and the Electoral Act, as amended.

The commission reassured the voting public that it would thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the failure of the card readers, expressing commitment to the delivery of free, fair and credible elections in spite of these challenges.

INEC took the decision after hours of brainstorming on the way forward with regard to the challenge posed by the non-functionality of many of its card readers

Going by Sunday Mirror’s independent assessment by its team of election observers, yesterday’s exercise was not only peaceful, but also recorded an unprecedented turnout of voters for the ballot. But like a recurring decimal, incidents of glitches in the SCR, late arrival of voting materials and outright absence of INEC officials almost frustrated the exercise.

Evidence of this could be seen in selected towns and states visited by our correspondents.

Former heads of state of the country have expressed satisfaction with the accreditation process of eligible voters across the country, especially with the use of card readers despite complaints of glitches that attended the exercise yesterday.

For former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, IBB, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar and Gen. Gowon, the accreditation processes were satisfactory.

Obasanjo, in his reaction shortly after he was accredited to vote around 10.16 a.m. at his Ward 11, Unit 22 of the Olusomi compound polling centre at Oke-Sokori, Abeokuta, commended INEC, stressing that it was not possible to have a perfect situation.

“What I have seen here is satisfactory and I have also received similar views expressed by people I have talked to.

“I do hope that the same peaceful situation that obtains here will prevail in other parts of the country.

“We must allay the fears of those people who thought there will be violence or disturbance regarding this election.

“So I appeal to all Nigerians to maintain the peaceful process that we have had so far,” he said.

Obasanjo urged those who could not obtain their PVCs to be calm, adding that such situation did not confer any right on them to be violent.

He advised them to be patient and hope that the situation would have improved before the April 11 elections.

In their reactions, Generals Babangida and

Abubakar have urged Nigerians to conduct themselves peacefully, while voting their leaders and desist from any form of violence.

The two former leaders made the call shortly after undergoing their voting accreditation at their Uphill Water Tank polling unit, Minna, Niger State.

Fielding questions from Journalists, IBB expressed optimism that the election would be credible, honest and transparent and would be generally acceptable by not only the main presidential candidates, but by Nigerians as well.

On the election and his advice for Nigerians, he said, “for the election, so far so good. Nigerians should remain calm, desist from anything that will lead to violence.”

Also, commenting on the speed with which he was accredited with the card reader, General Abubakar said he hoped the machine would work in all other polling units.

Appealing to Nigerians on the need to maintain peace, Abubakar said, “my expectation is, please Nigerians, let us go and vote and maintain peace in this country. Violence does not do anybody any good. We should please help our leaders, the contestants, politicians to help themselves to maintain peace. I hope whatever way the election turns, like the contestants signed in the accord, they would accept the result.”

General Gowon also hailed the election conducted in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), describing it as the most peaceful election ever conducted in the history of the country.

It was observed that residents trooped out en masse to participate in the Presidential, Senate and House Representatives election across the territory.

Gowon, while fielding questions from journalists at Karu area of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), FCT said 2015 general elections have been conducted in a free, fair, peaceful and orderly manner.

According him, this election can be made possible by ensuring that Nigerians vote peacefully, creditably and their decision will produce who becomes the next president.

He said: “The election is going on very well in all the polling stations I have visited both in Karu, Nyanya and other places I have visited so far, the exercise has been going on well.

“The credit must also go to the National Youth Service Corps members who hasvemade us proud by sacrificing themselves for this country’s election.

“It is only through a very orderly election conducted according to the rules of the game that the continued peace and unity of the country can be guaranteed,” he said.

Sunday Mirror also observed that some residents in Chibiri ward in Kuje Area Council, Abuja, were made to wait for several hours as the voters card readers failed to capture their Bbiometric

But Niger State Governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, after accreditation, condemned the timing of adopting the electronic voting by INEC, saying it shouldn’t have been used in the main election.

He pointed out on the need to improve on the electronic process.

“Out of my 10 fingers, only one was caught, but I had to go through all the 10 fingers. I don’t know the value this might have added to this election,” Aliyu said.

He noted that since, he had his PVC with his picture on the papers, he believed with all the agents of all the parties around, the use of the card reader was just an unnecessary issue.

Abuja

In the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, accreditation for the Presidential and National Assembly elections at some polling units did not start at the scheduled time of 8 a.m. owing to the late arrival of INEC officials and materials.

The card readers were initially programmed to start working as from 8 only.

At New Capital School Polling Unit in Asokoro, for instance, INEC officials did not arrive until about 10: 18 a.m., while accreditation began at about 11 a.m. This was even as some voters had converged on the centre as early as 5 a.m.

Also at Aso Drive Roundabout Polling Unit within the Three Arms Zone, accreditation began at 9:35 a.m. with registered voters showing signs of good conduct.

Electoral officials at the unit however spent some valuable time removing posters of candidates pasted on the walls of the unit.

Lagos

The former federal capital witnessed a massive turnout of voters from as early as 7 a.m.

But like in Abuja and other parts of the country, the card reader problem continued to hobble voting process, even as clear absence of voting materials and officials worsened the scenario.

In most polling units in Ikeja, capital of Lagos, for instance, there were glaring cases of SCR malfunction.

At the Allen Avenue area of the place, an INEC official said that they have been unable to unlock the SCR because the code that would enable that is with their supervisor who was not within the vicinity.

Similar scenario was observed at Alimosho area of Lagos. This incidence led to a great deal of anxious moments when voters had to lash out at officials. This was however not the general scenario in Lagos.

Reacting to this scenario, a foreign journalist from France who, however, asked not to be mentioned by name said that the situation varies from place to place in Lagos. The journalist stated that there was preponderant ‘challenges, problems with access and delayed voting process’.

According to the journalist, the process could be ‘tiring’ for voters.

Imo

Hundreds of youths and party agents held Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC officials in two local government areas, Oru East and Mbaitoli in Imo State hostage over alleged short changing of electoral material including card readers meant for the conduct of the Presidential election.

The youths loyal to one of the political parties laid siege at the council areas blocking the movement of the INEC officials from distributing the materials for the election to commence as schedunled.

At Oru East the youths and party agents including the Commissioner for Primary Education, Mrs. Mma Nzeribe complained that the area had 147 polling units but instead of INEC releasing the same number of card readers to the voting points, they supplied 137 card readers shortchanging the area with 10.

However, the electoral officer in charge of the LGA, Mrs. Paulin Adaku Nwosu explained that the allocation for the area was137 being the actual number of the polling points in the area wondering how the agitating agents and restive youths got their inflated number.
Scores Killed in Rivers, Gombe …As Blasts Rock Anambra, Enugu
Tension heightened in Rivers, Anambra and Enugu states on Saturday following bombings,   killings and arrests in some polling units.

In Rivers State, a soldier and two civilians were shot dead by suspected political thugs at polling centres in Ozuoha and Kpite in Ikwerre and Tai Local Government Areas of the state.

Sources said the gunmen opened fire where prospective voters had gathered for accreditation and that a bullet hit the soldier, who died on the spot.

Brigade Commander Commander, 2 Brigade, Bori Camp, Port Harcourt,   Koko Essien, confirmed the incident when he spoke with Amaechi in Ubima.

One of the civilians, Sampson Wona, was said to have been shot dead   while waiting to be accredited at a polling unit in Ozuoha .

The second civilian, who like Wona, was   a member of the APC, was killed in Kpite, Tai LGA.

Shortly after these incidents, the APC in the state   alleged that scores of its members were killed, 100 arrested and many disenfranchised .

It said in a statement by Chukwuemeka Eze, the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Public Affairs to the State chairman, that the killings were carried out in Kpite and other parts of the state by hoodlums suspected to be acting for the PDP.

The party attached photographs of the slain persons to the statement     to prove its claim.

The statement read, “Today’s (Saturday) presidential and National Assembly elections have turned out to be a big nightmare for the APC in Rivers State, with the members being killed, attacked and disenfranchised in various parts of the state.

“Armed militias working for the PDP have intensified their killings of APC members. Scores have already been killed and several others marked for elimination.

“This (Saturday) morning in Kpite town, Tai Ward 2 and other areas of the state, five people were shot dead by PDP’s armed militia, and that was before accreditation commenced.

“It is sad that the PDP and its collaborators are targeting APC strongholds and chieftains for attacks and killings. To intimidate our people and contrary to the court ruling forbidding the use of the Army in this elections, there has been a massive deployment of soldiers in the state with clear instruction to shoot at sight any APC agent that refuses to comply with the evil plot of the PDP to write the results of the election at some designated areas of the state in favour of the PDP.”

The statement claimed that a former Commissioner and an APC leader, Chidiebere Okwuwolu, was arrested by the police and taken to Olu Obasanjo Police Station in Port Harcourt.

It added that 99 other APC members and leaders were being held in various police stations in the state.

The party also said that at Ubima, result sheets were “currently with Nyesom Wike, the PDP governorship candidate for the state.”

The Director of Communication, Greater Together Campaign Organisation, Ibim Semenitari, condemned the development, lamenting that some APC leaders in the state had also been marked for elimination.

Semenitari, in her statement said, “Armed militias working for the PDP have intensified their killings of   APC members. Scores have already been killed and several others marked for elimination.

“Specifically, the PDP armed men target APC strongholds for attack using heavy gunfire. The Greater Together Campaign Organisation, the campaign outfit for Dr. Dakuku   Peterside, has condemned this visit of terror on the state.

“On Saturday morning in Kpite Town, Tai Ward 2, two people were shot dead by the PDP armed militia, and that was before accreditation commenced.”

But the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP,   Samuel Nwanosike, told Sunday PUNCH that his party members   were not interested in attacking or killing anybody to win elections.

Nwanosike described the claim   of the APC   as mere propaganda, adding that while the PDP had been working hard to win elections, the APC had been making frivolous allegations.

In Enugu, there was   a bomb blast at the polling unit located inside WTC Primary School, Enugu North LGA at about 9am on Saturday.

The source of the explosion which made many prospective voters to flee was not known as of 8pm.
In Anambra State, voters who came for accreditation in the morning at Ayomna Okpala Primary
School in Awka scampered for safety following a bomb explosion there.

No casualties were recorded in the incident but the school building was badly damaged.

One of the eyewitnesses,   Chinenye Ibe,   said they were shocked when the explosion occurred and disrupted the exercise.

Earlier, there was an   explosion at Onitsha South which eyewitnesses said injured a number of persons.

The Women Coordinator, National Presidential Campaign of the PDP , Joy Emordi, said the Onitsha South blast was unfortunate.

She called on the indigenes ,   electoral officials   and monitors   in the state to be vigilant.

The Secretary of Anambra State Government, Oseloka Obazie, told one of our corespondents in an interview, that he was yet to get an independent confirmation of the blasts.

He said, “I pray these do not derail the electoral process here. Anambra State is a very peaceful state and I don’t know why these are happening.”

Obazie, however, assured Anambra indigenes that the government of the state was on top of the situation.

The elections   however claimed some lives in Gombe State where a member of the House of Assembly, Umar Aminu, and eight others were feared killed by Boko Haram insurgents   in Dukku and Nafada LGAs.

On Friday night, the insurgents killed 25 persons and injured 30 others   in a community in the southern part of Borno State.

Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, who lamented the incident, added that several houses were also razed by the terrorists.
Amaechi Clashes With Nigerian Army Boss, Stops Voting
by SAM OLUWALANA
Nigerian National Mirror
Mar 29, 2015

…APC rejects election, accuses INEC boss of complicity

The Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi yesterday clashed with the Brigade Commander in charge of the 2nd Brigade, Port Harcourt, Brigadier General Essien Essien, who tried to restrict his movement during the polls.

Amaechi also stopped the voting process in his local government when he was informed that several result sheets that was supposed to accompany voting materials to the polling areas were missing.

Amaechi ordered that voting should discontinue in all units in Ikwerre Local Government area of the state until the missing result sheets are produced by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

Amaechi, who gave the order at the declaration at Onute Playground in Omuanwa Ward, Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, was driving around monitoring the accreditation exercise when some of the voters who gathered at the unit waved him down and complained about the results sheets.

Things became rowdy at the polling booth when a shouting match ensued between some APC and PDP members at the venue over whether voting should take place with or without the Result Sheets.

Addressing journalists over the matter, Amaechi said, “You can see that the result sheets have not been brought here. The same thing is happening all over the local government area. We have therefore resolved not to be involved in the election until the result sheets are brought, this is my local government area and this is happening. The same thing is happening all over the place.”

After his interaction with journalists at the polling area, Amaechi, who was driving himself in a Government-issued SUV headed towards his Father’s house few kilometers to the School when his vehicle was flagged down by some heavily-armed soldiers led by the Brigade Commander, 2nd Brigade, Bori Camp, Port Harcourt, in front of his Father’s compound.

The Brigade Commander accosted Amechi and explained to him that he is not allowed to drive around during the election as he was not accredited by INEC to have unfettered movement in the state

The Governor, however tried to turn and drive towards Umunwa, but the soldiers blocked his convoy and there was a heated exchange ensued between him (Amaechi) and the Army boss.

Amaechi told Essien, “Brigade Commander, why you are mountings two road blocks near my father’s compound, were you being sent by President Jonathan to come and kill me? I had told the world that President Jonathan is trying to kill me and I am saying it again.”

Brig-General Essien however coolly replied that he has not being given any instruction to kill anybody but insisted that the Governor should return to his Lodge and stop moving about without the necessary official cover.

He said, “You Excellency, we have instructions not to allow people who are not duly accredited not to move around during the election. That is why we are advising you to go back to your house and wait there until the election is over.”
Card Reader Delays Nigerian Voting in Nasarawa State
By Online Ediitor on March 28, 2015
Nigerian Guardian

The independent national electoral commission INEC went through hurdles today, Saturday, as it battled with it’s card readers in most of the polling units in Nasarawa state to accredit eligible voters.
The card reader technology according to most of the voters who cued up early for accreditation is alien to the masses even as most of the ad -hoc staff of INEC were said not to have received proper training on the use of the card reader machine.

In places like Angwan Mission, Agwan Moyi Buba,Gidan Fulani public square and, Galadima polling units of Agwatashi ward and Kofar Mukunguji polling unit of Obi 1 ward in Obi local government area of the state, a good number of voters were stranded as it took between ten to fifteen minutes to accredit eligible voters.

The situation was not different at Agwan Moyi Buba when the senator representing Nasarawa south senatorial district, Sulaiman Adokwe was yet to be registered alongside other eligible voters at about 10:00 am.

The presiding officer in-charge of the polling unit, Stella Eze, attributed the problem to total failure of the Card Reader Machine.

“As you can see, I went there but the Card Readers is not working. Virtually every polling unit in Agwatashi ward is not working, that was why we kept insisting that this novelty of card reading that has not been properly tested is going to create a lot of problems for the elections” said Adokwe.

The Card Reader Adokwe insisted would undermine the elections but hoped that the INEC headquarters in Abuja would collect
the result nationwide and be able to decide as quickly as possible before Nigerians have a disaster in their hands.

North central zonal chairman of the peoples democractic party,PDP, Alhaji Yusuf Ayitogo, said INEC was not fully prepared with their Card Readers as it took five to ten minutes before a voter is cleared positing that the accreditation exercise would not be completed before the election commences thereby, disenfranchising many eligible voters.

Commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs, Mohammed Dan’Azumi, attributed the development to what he described as a deliberate attempt by INEC officials to frustrate the election as voters from his RCM primary school polling unit, Dadare, complained bitterly over the inability of the Card Reader to accredit a single voter as of 10:55 am.

Resident Electoral commissioner in the state Abdulahi Umar Danyaya, assured that all elible voters would vote saying the faulted Card reader Machines were only few and had been rectified.

He appealed to the eligible voters to remain calm as they will all be accredited to cast their votes as the incident form was handy to take care of any situation regarding the card reader.
Large Turnout, Late Arrival of Materials, Card-reader Failure Mars Election
By Online Editor on March 28, 2015
Nigerian Guardian

The General Election held in Anambra State yesterday, suffered set back due to late arrival of materials and card-reader failure although there was large turnout of electorates across the state.

A Guardian survey around the state shows that voters complained of late arrival of materials, characterized by late coming of the INEC officials in various polling centers including Akogoli square 11, Umudioka Ward 111, Amawbia Cenral School ward 1 and 11, Umuokpu ward 7, Nmini Ward 11 Nwafia, Enugu-Ukwu ward 1V and V, and Boys Secondary School, Nri Ward1.

While monitoring the election process in the 21 Local Government Areas of Anambra State, it was discovered that eligible voters gathered at the various polling booths as early as 8a.m on Saturday but could not do the accreditation process due to massive malfunctioning of the card reader.

Even it was also gathered that the machines were locked permanently, battery failure, etc, while INEC officials said they had already contacted headquarters in Awka for further instructions.

In most polling booths accreditation were not completed till 2pm, while actual voting started between 2.30 pm and 3.00 pm.

The Senatorial candidate for the PDP in Anambra Central, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife casted her votes about 3.30 pm at Boys Secondary School, Nri Ward 1 unit 002, while Sir Victor Umeh of APGA also vying for the same position voted at Aguluezigbo ward18 at 4 pm.

In his reaction, the Traditional Ruler of Enugwu-Ukwu, HRM Igwe Sir Ralph O. Ekpe called for total rejection or cancellation of the election, just as he advised INEC to go back to the drawing board and reschedule the election. Igwe Ekpe strongly warned that INEC is courting trouble for Nigeria which may lead to another crisis.

“If INEC continues in this way with the card reader not functioning properly, late arrival of election materials etc, it will not augur well for the country and may lead to a serious set back in our political process.

“I aspect INEC to say let us suspend this election, let us return to the manual system and reschedule the election for the next one week”, Igwe Ekpe who was not happy for not been properly accredited said.

Also in his reaction, HRH Igwe Chijioke Nwankwo of Nawfia, however, praised INEC for introducing the manual system which according to him, worked peacefully in his community.

Igwe Nwakwo, who praised INEC for doing a good job hoped that the election would be credible and also usher peace in the country.

Meanwhile, some groups of youths were seen playing football in school fields and open spaces in Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi, Ekwulobia across the state.

It was also gathered that all markets were shut, there was heavy vehicular and cyclists movements while few pedestrians were seen moving about.
Voting Suspended in Some places in Nigeria: Electoral Commission
By AFP on March 28, 2015

Nigeria’s electoral commission on Saturday said polling in the country’s presidential and parliamentary election had been suspended in some places because of glitches with new voter ID card readers.

The Independent National Electoral Commission said there had been “challenges” with the technology in “many” places, without specifying a number, forcing accreditation to be suspended.

“In polling units where accreditation was suspended to the following day in accordance with the existing guidelines, arrangement will be made for voters to vote tomorrow (Sunday),” information commissioner Chris Yimoga told reporters in Abuja.

Voters have reported long delays with the new handheld devices that “read” biometric data such as fingerprints on the cards to authenticate a voter’s identity and cut electoral fraud.

The most high-profile victim was President Goodluck Jonathan, who was forced to abandon his accreditation in his home town of Otuoke when the device repeatedly failed to recognise his details.

He was then accredited by hand and later voted, he said, for himself in the presidential vote and his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in parliamentary polls.

Jonathan said people should “sympathise with INEC”, adding: “INEC introduced the card readers to ensure we get credible elections. We should bear with them…

“INEC has to talk about their functions. I took the manual option. I am aware that INEC has directed its resident electoral commissioners to use manual option when card readers fail.

“As head of state, I don’t blame anybody,” he said but admitted: “I think the problem is national.”

Jonathan’s PDP repeatedly expressed concern about the level of distribution of new voter ID cards and the use of the “untested”readers during the election campaign.

The main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) backed the system.

INEC’s Yimoga said although accreditation had “gone well in several places… (it) has been slow in many places and has not commenced in others”.

Election guidelines already provided for accreditation to be postponed to the following day if card readers did not work and could not be replaced.

But he added that a revision was made because of “the scale of the challenge we have observed”, allowing both a 24-hour delay and the use of manual checking.