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FG accuses opposition of planning to manipulate election

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday accused members of the opposition political parties of working with ‘’hostile foreign intelligence services to undermine’’ the general election.

In a similar vein, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, yesterday raised the alarm over the plot by ‘’subversive elements’’ in Nigeria, acting in collaboration with some ‘’foreign conspirators’’ to scuttle the poll.

But reacting swiftly to the minister’s allegation, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), the African Democratic Congress (ADC) and the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) described it as ‘’a false claim,’’ adding that many Nigerians no longer take the minister seriously.

Mohammed, who stated this while addressing some editors in Abuja, made reference to ‘’a particular presidential candidate,’’ who he alleged was holding ‘’suspicious meetings with some envoys’’ as part of his plans to instigate them against the outcome of the elections.

Specifically, he claimed that the oppositions are sending a delegation to some Western capitals, including London, Brussels and Washington DC, to push the “concocted line that the Buhari administration has perfected the plan to rig the polls, while pushing for a rejection of the results if the president wins re-election,” saying they are also predicting carnage in the event of the president’s victory.

“He (the presidential candidate) is doing this because he has seen the handwriting on the wall; that he will be defeated; they are very desperate,’’ the federal government’s spokesman added.

The minister recalled how on January 21 this year he alerted the nation, also via a press conference, to the plot by some opposition elements to scuttle the 2019 general election by instigating widespread violence across the country, basing his alarm on ‘’credible intelligence.’’

According to him, ‘’We revealed that the plan to scuttle the polls is part of moves to push the nation into a constitutional crisis, with the plotters hoping they can leverage on that to push for an interim government. When we raised the alarm, the opposition dismissed it. Of course, they were shocked to have been found out, so we understand their panic reaction.

‘’To underscore the seriousness of our alert, a week after our press conference, the National Security Adviser (NSA) met with state governors to also inform them of this same plan to scuttle the polls via widespread violence. As I said at my last press conference, the alarm we raised is based on credible intelligence.

‘’Today, still based on credible intelligence, we can reveal that the opposition is moving a step further. They are working hard to discredit the forthcoming election before, during and after the polls.

‘’Specifically, they are sending a delegation to some Western capitals, including London, Brussels and Washington, DC, to push the concocted line that the Buhari administration has perfected the plan to rig the polls. They are therefore pushing for a rejection of the results if the president wins re-election. They are also predicting carnage in the event of the president’s victory.’’

He accused the opposition of engaging in ‘’incendiary rhetoric and in making outlandish claims’’ using several fronts, including the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) which, describing it as nothing more than a ‘’reincarnated Association for Better Nigeria (ABN)’’ that played suspicious roles in the failed 1993 political transition process.

The minister said that the oppositions are targeted, for the attack, the two key institutions that are most critical to the success of the election: the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the police by using every ‘’malleable and malicious’’ personality to make wild allegations against INEC.

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#Nigeria Decides:NYSC warns corp members against gratification

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The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has again warned corps members against collecting gratification while on election duty, saying that anyone caught would be prosecuted.

Director-General of the corps, Maj. Gen. Suleiman Kazaure, gave the warning yesterday in Abeokuta, Ogun State, during the final phase of his nationwide sensitization programme for corps members participating in The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has again warned corps members against collecting gratification while on election duty, saying that anyone caught would be prosecuted

Director-General of the corps, Maj. Gen. Suleiman Kazaure, gave the warning yesterday in Abeokuta, Ogun State, during the final phase of his nationwide sensitization programme for corps members participating in the election.

Represented by NYSC Assistant Director, Human Resources, Mrs. Franca Olaleye, the NYSC boss said corps members must be diligent and upright in the course of their duty. “You are expected to handle this critical assignment with a high sense of patriotism, responsibility, and integrity.

“Your participation in the election as presiding and assistant presiding officers creates a unique opportunity to demonstrate the leadership skills, life molding and best practice you have been imbued with.

“You must bring to bear the value of training you have received from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the NYSC.

“Therefore, as agents of the democratic process, you are hereby charged to be transparent and neutral in your conduct before, during and after the elections.

“You must not collect any form of gratification from anybody. If you are caught you will be apprehended and prosecuted’’, Kazaure said.

He therefore, appealed to corps members and NYSC staff not to compromise but strive to uphold the corporate integrity which NYSC is known.

Ogun NYSC State Coordinator, Mrs. Josephine Bakare, said logistics arrangement had been finalised, adding that the welfare of all NYSC staff and corps members participating in the election would be adequately taken care of.

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Nigeria Decides: All land borders to be closed at 12noon

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Federal Government has ordered all land borders to be shut with effect from 12.00noon today to 12.00noon tomorrow.

A man casts his ballot as Nigerians vote for a second day in Lagos, Nigeria, Sunday March 29, 2015. Voting in Nigeria’s elections continued in certain areas on Sunday after technical problems prevented some people from casting their ballots on Saturday and despite extremist violence in the northeast and protests in the south. (AP Photo/Kunle Ogunfuyi)

Minister of Interior Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd), who gave the order, said there would be a restriction of movements across the borders during the election days.

Also yesterday, the Acting Inspector-General (IG), Muhammed Adamu, ordered the restriction of vehicular movement on the election day.

A statement issued by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) Comptroller-General Muhammad Babandede: “Further to the presidential election taking place on the February, 16, 2019, the Honourable Minister of Interior has directed the closure of all Nigerian land borders with effect from 12.00noon of Friday, February 15 to 12.00noon of Sunday, February 17, 2019.

“This is to restrict movements across the borders during the election days. The public is to take note and ensure compliance.”

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Falana, PDP condemn Malami

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Femi Falana (SAN) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have faulted the Attorney General for the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on his letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In the said letter, Malami had advised INEC to postpone the general elections in Zamfara State, to accommodate a ruling of the Sokoto Division of the Court of Appeal, purportedly directing the electoral body to allow the Zamfara State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) field candidates for the upcoming elections.

Falana said by virtue of Section 158 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, INEC “shall not be subject to the direction or control of any authority or person”.

The lawyer said: “Furthermore, the proviso to Section 160 of the amended Constitution states that the powers of INEC ‘to make its own rules or otherwise regulate its own procedures shall not be subject to the approval or control of the President’.

“Therefore, the AGF lacks the vires to advise or direct INEC to postpone the elections scheduled to hold in any state of the federation. Since the judgment of the Court of Appeal on the nomination of APC candidates in Zamfara State admits of no ambiguity, INEC is advised to do the needful and ignore the directive of the AGF on the conduct of the elections.”

Also yesterday, the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, described the AGF’s letter to INEC as part of APC’s design to arm-twist the commission and the judiciary to take illegal actions in their favour.

Addressing a news conference at the Legacy House, the party’s Abuja campaign office, Secondus said what the AGF was seeking is not backed by law.

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Buhari says foreign observers are welcome

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President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja, dissociated his government from threats of death and intimidation against international observers from some individuals in the country, saying such acts did not represent the position of the federal government.

President Muhammadu Buhari

Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, had recently threatened that international observers who dared to interfere in Nigeria’s elections would return to their countries in body bags.

In the same vein, the spokesman of the president’s campaign organization, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, and presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, had persistently warned and threatened foreign countries not to intervene in the conduct of the elections.

Such remarks had generated reactions from both the international community and many Nigerians.

Consequently, Buhari promised to ensure the safety of foreign observers during the elections and restated his promise to ensure that this general election beginning tomorrow would be free, fair and peaceful, recalling how he had himself been a beneficiary of free polls by the former administration.

Buhari, who gave those assurances in a nationwide broadcast last night ahead of tomorrow’s presidential election, appealed to Nigerians to turn out very well during the elections and cast their votes.

He recalled how he had signed the peace accord with other presidential candidates and assured stakeholders that he would guarantee the conduct of the polls in a peaceful atmosphere.

He urged citizens to be part of the commitment to peaceful conduct of the polls and admonished the youth not to allow themselves to be used to perpetrate election violence, saying those who may want to use them for such heinous act only want to discredit the elections because of their fear of losing.

Reiterating that citizens have the responsibility to promote peace in their neighborhoods during the polls, Buhari reasoned that this election period is not the time to allow their participation to be driven by ethnic, religious and sectional sentiments.

He said: “And as your president and a fellow Nigerian, I ask that you come out and queue to fulfill this important obligation you have to yourselves and your fellow citizens – and to our common future.

“Let me at this point; reaffirm the commitment of the federal government to the conduct of free and fair elections in a safe and peaceful atmosphere. Just yesterday, I signed the Peace Accord alongside 72 other presidential candidates.

“I want to assure all Nigerians, the diplomatic community and all foreign election observers of their safety and full protection. Any comments or threats of intimidation from any source do not represent the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

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