President Muhammadu Buhari has called on police and security chiefs from the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) to share Intelligence to curtail violent crimes ravaging the subregion.
He said terrorist’s activities affecting Nigeria and the Lake Chad basin countries and Cameroun in central Africa have created new humanitarian problems and serious security threats.
The president made this known at the closing ceremony of the 16 Annual General Meeting of West African Police Chiefs Committee (WAPCCO) and Meeting of the Forum of Ministers in charge of Security in Abuja.
Represented by the Minister of Interior, Lieutenant-General Abdulrahman Dambazau, President Buhari noted that insecurity posed by corruption, terrorism, communal clashes, kidnap for ransom, organised crimes among were some of the vices threatening the peace in the region.
The President, who attributed the vulnerability of the region to criminal activities and other threats to peace and security to the vast borders and proximity to the Sahel, said that it was imperative for member-states to coordinate their security plans and activities, to enable law enforcement and other security agencies to contain and prevent these vices.
“We are aware of other threats to security such as climate change which brings with it environmental degradation, extreme poverty and poor governance,” Dambazau said, speaking for the President.
“However, as police chiefs, your focus is on security of lives and property in relation to law and order,“ he said.
Buhari noted that the fight against crime and criminality was vast and resource consuming, transcending national, regional and global levels.
He said that WAPCCO was a forum that affords the police and security chiefs the opportunity for cooperation and collaboration to proffer solutions to the security challenges confronting the region.
The President said that the fight against crime and criminality could only be achieved through the collective will and effort of member-states.
He said that resolutions in the meeting would become the standard measure of performance of the participants.
“It is pertinent to note that resolutions in the meeting would become the standard measure of your performances which in turn would help in safeguarding our nascent democracies.
“The knowledge they garnered here will also enhance your competences and capacities to successfully handle and resolve such incidences when they occur.
“Nigeria in the last four years has taken drastic measures and spared no effort in her resolve to fight corruption and her quest to defeat Boko Haram.
“We have led vigorous military campaigns against the terrorists by re-organising the multinational joint task force which had dislodged them.
“Working with our regional and international allies, we have denied them safe haven within and around the sub-region.
“We have also strengthened legislation against terrorism and corruption by equipping the ant-graft agencies in the country to be able to carry out their mandates,“he said.
He said that the measures adopted have yielded much dividends in reducing financial crimes and acts of terrorism in the country.
On his part, the President of ECOWAS Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Brou, said that the current security challenges in the sub-region required urgent attention.
He was represented by ECOWAS Commissioner in charge of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Gen. Francis Behanzin.
Brou said that results could be achieved in the fight against crime and criminality if it was handled by members-states with seriousness.
He noted that the security situation in the region was precarious due to terrorism, drug trafficking, arms proliferation and smuggling among others.
The president attributed insecurity in the sub-region to poverty, corruption and socio-political problems.
He called on member-states to collaborate with ECOWAS to hold the WAPCCO meeting annually.
Also speaking, Dambazau said that the region was faced with numerous regional and international security challenges.
Dambazau, who was represented by an official of the ministry, Mrs Georgina Ehuriah, charged the security ministers to provide lasting solutions to tackle them by providing leadership and formulating policies.
He said that all over the world, crime and criminality are assuming new and unimaginable dimensions that no country can effectively fight without the collaboration with others.
Countries in attendance were Bukina Faso, Cape Verde, Benin Republic, Cote I`Voire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Nigeria.
INEC continues to deny existence of server
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday insisted that the results of the 2019 general election were not transmitted electronically to its server, stressing that the commission only experimented with the technology during some staggered elections held in 2018.
The commission said that the clarification was necessary because of rising controversy on the transmission of 2019 presidential election results from states to the INEC server.
Speaking during the post-election retreat organized by the commission for its staff and ad hoc staff engaged for the last general elections in Osun State, INEC National Commissioner, Mr. Solomon Soyebi, explained that many factors forced the commission to drop the idea of electronic transmission of the results to a central server.
Soyebi added that INEC experimented with electronic transmission of results during Anambra, Sokoto and Osun States’ elections held before 2019 elections but the commission did not sustain the use of the technology during the 2019 general election.
He maintained that the late release of INEC’s budget for the 2019 elections and controversy over the Electoral Act, among other reasons, forced the commission to jettison the idea of using the technology to transmit results to the central server.
He explained: “We piloted the use of transmission of election results electronically in Sokoto, in Anambra, even in Osun. What happened was that we were trying to pilot to see the desirability of such technology in our electoral process.
“First, our budget came out very late; there was also issue (with) the Electoral Act. For these and some other reasons, the commission did not adopt that option. 2019 elections were conducted according to law.
“We used the Constitution of the Federal Republic; we used the Electoral Act and our guidelines for 2019 elections. If you look at the three instruments carefully, the issue of the server was not highlighted.
“Once in a while, you will see an experiment going on but we have to pilot it before we will deploy wholesale for election.
More foreign observers knock 2019 general elections
Two United States’ institutes that monitored the 2019 general elections said yesterday that the election did not meet previous standards and the expectations of Nigerians. In their Joint report, presented in Abuja, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) said that 2019 elections were marred by irregularities, such as intimidation of voters/electoral officials, vote buying and election-related violence.
They also condemned the suspension of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, saying the judiciary plays a crucial role in post-election matters.
“Although many new political parties nominated candidates for the 2019 elections, the polls were largely a contest between the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); the APC hoped to renew the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari and consolidate its majority in the National Assembly and of governorship. However, the party faced internal wrangling and defections of some key figures in the months to the polls.
“The PDP fielded former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as its standard bearer and, entering the process for the first time as an opposition party, challenged the APC: record, claiming the ruling party not kept its campaign promises to fight corruption, improve security and boost the economy’’, the report said.
The IRI/NDI observation mission said that the 2019 elections did not meet the expectations of many Nigerians.
On security and elections related-violence, the report said, “Ahead of the 2019 polls, the poor security situation in Nigeria, mainly attributed to Boko Haram’s resurgence in the North-east, inter-communal violence in the Middle Belt and widespread crime and banditry, raised concerns about the safety of voters and candidates.
“Increased politically-motivated violence and conflict in the pre-election period was also a concern, especially around political party primaries in some areas.’’
The report further stated that for many Nigerians, the 2019 elections-the sixth since the country’s 1999 transition back to civilian democratic rule, were an opportunity to consolidate democratic gains and build on sound electoral practices.
‘’Significant improvements in the administration of the 2011 and 2015 elections boosted expectations in the 2019 electoral process. Moreover, Nigeria’s first peaceful transfer of power between political parties following the 2015 elections underscored for Nigerians that credible elections matter,” the report said.
The joint report further said that the last-minute postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 16 showed that INEC had underestimated challenges associated with the administration of the elections.
According to the report, “the commission did not communicate sufficiently with political parties and the public about election preparations. Such a late postponement likely depressed voter turnout and created confusion about the duration of candidate and party.
‘’Most significantly, the delay also undermined public confidence in INEC. After the one-week postponement, it increased its public outreach and communications through regular press briefings. Since the polls, however INEC has been slow to release information, including detailed results.’’
The report said that the last-minute postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections on the morning of February 16, and delays in opening some polling units and other administrative challenges on February 23 undermined public confidence in INEC.
Ex-minister’s son abducted at gunpoint
Some unknown gunmen on Tuesday evening abducted Dayo Adewole, who is the son of the immediate past Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole. The military, the police, security agents and local hunters were already on the trail of the kidnappers as at press time.
The ex-minister has, however, been forced to cut short his trip abroad.
The abductors were yet to contact the family on their motive and the condition of their victim.
According to a source, Dayo was ambushed at gunpoint on his farm in Iroko, near Fiditi in Afijio Local Government Area of Oyo State at about 6 pm.
Although there were some employees with Dayo, the abductors went for him as a prime target.
It was gathered that the kidnappers later took Dayo away to an unknown destination.
A source said: “The villagers were alerted by the staff who survived the ordeal. Local hunters were mobilized by the Oniroko of Iroko.
“The hunters were said to have located the car of the abductors along the road to Iware village near Iroko
“But they are yet to locate Dayo’s whereabouts. It was suspected that the kidnappers might have changed their vehicle following persistent announcement on the radio after Oniroko had raised the alarm on air.”
Findings confirmed that the military, the police, and security agencies have joined forces with the villagers to search for Dayo.
A top official of the Federal Ministry of Health said: “We are in sad mood over the abduction. Dayo was a graduate of agriculture and he opted for farming.
“He has been managing his farm peacefully in Iroko until he was abducted by some gunmen on Tuesday.”
Responding to a question, the official said: “The ex-minister left for abroad last Thursday for recess but he is on his way back. He has cut short his trip.
“The military, the police, and other security agencies are on top of the situation.”
Imo Governor suspends LG chairmen
Imo State Governor Emeka Ihedioha has suspended chairmen, vice chairmen, councilors and political appointees of the local governments for six months. The suspension is contained in the instrument signed by the Governor, pursuant to the recommendation made to him by the Imo State House of Assembly.
This is in pursuant also, to the provisions of Sections 4, 5, and 6 of the Local Government Administration (Amendment) law, 2019 and S.73(3) of Imo State Local Government Administration Law No 15 of 2000 (as amended) and all other laws enabling him.
He set up Interim Management Committees to manage the affairs of each Local Government.
Consequently, the Directors of Administration and General Services(DAGS) of each Local Government have been directed to take over management, pending the confirmation of Interim Management Committees by the State Assembly.
He also removed the chairman and members of the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission (ISIEC).
This is following a resolution supported by a two-thirds majority of the State Assembly rendered on 6th June 2019 seeking their removal from office.
The action is also in accordance with the provisions of S.7(1) of the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission Law and all other extant laws of the State.
The Commission will be reconstituted in due course to put in place the machinery for conducting a credible election into the local governments.
The Governor further directed that these officers handover to the most senior civil servant in the Commission.
The governor also dissolved all statutory boards, corporations, agencies, and parastatals. This is in line with relevant enabling laws of the state.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary Chibuike Onyeukwu directed the chairmen and sacked to handover to the most senior civil servant in their various establishments.