Monthly Archives: February 2015

We’ll prosecute voters with fake PVCs, says INEC

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Amb. Rufus Akeju, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Oyo State, says any voter caught with fake Permanent Voter Card (PVC) during the general elections will be prosecuted.

Akeju, who spoke to NAN in Ibadan on Sunday, vowed that INEC would not allow any form of rigging during the elections.

“Any voter who is thinking of voting with a fake PVC during the general elections should shelve the idea now because doing so would land them in jail,” he said.

NAN reports that the presidential and National Assembly elections would hold on March 28 while those of governorship and state Houses of Assembly had been slated for April 11.

The INEC boss also said mechanisms had been put in place by the commission to check rigging and ensure credible elections.

“For example, it impossible for anybody to steal ballot papers in the name of rigging because there cannot be more than 750 ballot papers in any polling unit,” he said.

Akeju also said that a total of 1,563,800 PVCs had been distributed by INEC in the state.

Jonathan, PDP likely behind Gombe attacks, says APC

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The All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused the Peoples Democratic Party of being mortally afraid of the forthcoming elections and thus involved in subterranean moves to foist an interim government on Nigeria.

The party also accused the PDP of sponsoring the circulation of leaflets urging the people of Gombe to stay away from the polling booths on election days or they will be in trouble.

In a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said it cannot put anything beyond the PDP and the Jonathan administration, because of their desperation to ensure that the general elections do not hold, at all costs.

It said even the attack on Gombe on Saturday was suspect, wondering how Boko Haram insurgents will drive on the highway from Maiduguri to Gombe in a convoy of many vehicles without being spotted or stopped at the myriad of military checkpoints dotting the area.

APC said it is curious that the Boko Haram terrorists, who have never mentioned the elections in their regular videos on YouTube, have suddenly started campaigning against the conduct of elections.

The party also noted that the local government elections in Yobe, one of the hotbeds of the Boko Haram insurgency, went without any incident in 2013, indicating there has not been a systematic campaign by the insurgents to attack voters.

“Part of the strategy of the PDP and the Jonathan administration is to depopulate perceived opposition strongholds through all sorts of dangerous measures, and this scaremongering, supposedly by Boko Haram, fits into that strategy. They are also the unseen hands behind the advertisement by faceless groups urging Muslims to vote for Muslim candidates. It is in line with their exploitation of religious and ethnic fault lines to divide Nigerians,” the party said.

APC said the alarm raised by Mike Omeri, the Coordinator of the National Information Centre, that some female suicide bombers may strike at polling units during the elections, also fits into the PDP/Jonathan Administration’s opposition stronghold depopulation strategy.

“It is now very clear to Nigerians that the PDP-led federal government does not want the forthcoming elections to hold, because it is guaranteed a shellacking. First the government sponsored a campaign to postpone the elections because of low PVC distribution. When they realized the number of PVCs collected was growing and that their argument might no longer be tenable, they suddenly used security as an alibi, abandoning their earlier push for the election shift on the basis of low PVC distribution.

“After they succeeded in forcing the postponement, they launched another campaign for the PVCs and the Card Readers to be jettisoned in favour of TVCs, because that will allow them to rig if indeed the elections proceed in spite of them. Those campaigning against the use of PVCs and Card Readers have forgotten that Ghana successfully used the same technology in its last elections, and that it is not rocket science,” the party said.

It also accused the PDP federal government of exhibiting the traits of elections phobia by continuing to clandestinely campaign for an interim government, even though the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has publicly denied such moves.

“It is an open secret that as we write this statement, their emissary is touring the north meeting with Emirs and others to push for an interim government. It has also been revealed how they plan to use the National Assembly to seek tenure elongation. Never before has a sitting government been this desperate to avoid elections. This election phobia by a sitting government is a first in contemporary history,” APC said.

The party urged President Goodluck Jonathan not to plunge Nigeria into crisis or give the country the Gbagbo treatment, all in pursuit of personal interest at the expense of national interest.

“The plot that landed Ivory Coast under Laurent Gbagbo in hot water, and for which Gbagbo is currently cooling his heels in a holding cell at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, was not as elaborate as that being pushed by the PDP and the Jonathan Administration. That is why we are urging them to tread softly and save Nigeria from crisis.

“We know Nigerians have seen through the games being played by the PDP and the Jonathan Administration. Nigerians and the entire world know those who are behind the election postponement, the myriad of court cases seeking to disqualify our presidential candidate, the ongoing efforts to depopulate opposition strongholds, the devilish advertisements seeking to use ethnicity and religion to divide Nigerians, the campaign to jettison the PVCs and Card Readers in favour of TVCs as well as the tenure elongation and interim government options

”That is why we are calling on all lovers of democracy to be vigilant in the run-up to the rescheduled polls, and for them to insist that nothing but the holding of the elections will be acceptable to Nigerians,” it said.

Arrest, investigate Obasanjo now, says Buruji Kashamu

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Prince Buruji Kashamu, Chairman, Organisation and Mobilisation Committee of the PDP South West has called for the arrest and investigation of former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo after he made comments about President Goodluck Jonathan wanting to say in power by refusing to hold elections in Nigeria.

At a press conference in Lagos, NAN reported that Kashamu called for the immediate investigation and arrest of Obasanjo for unguarded statements.

NAN reports that Buruji accused the former president of making unguarded utterances capable of heating up the polity.

He said Nigerians should not be deceived by the former president’s antics.

“Let us not be deceived. As well-intentioned as Chief Obasanjo’s homily may seem, it is all lies. It is an open show of his manipulative skills and his well-known egoistic craving for power and relevance” he said.

“I urge Nigerians to be wise and conduct their independent investigations on claims by politicians,” he added.

Warring forces in South Sudan ‘recruiting children’

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South Sudan government and rebel forces are both recruiting children as young as 13 to fight in the country’s civil war, a rights group said Monday in a report rejected by the government.

The government is “actively recruiting” teenagers, often by force, while rebels are also using child soldiers in the 14-month long conflict, said Human Rights Watch.

“Despite renewed promises by both government and opposition forces that they will stop using child soldiers, both sides continue to recruit and use children in combat,” said HRW’s Africa director Daniel Bekele.

Minister for Information Michael Makuei dismissed the report, saying there were plenty of men still able to fight.

“How can we recruit child soldiers at a time when we have sufficient manpower?” he told AFP. “We have no child soldiers.”

But HRW say that government forces are taking children, in some cases, such as in the northern war-damaged town of Malakal, “from right outside the United Nations compound.”

Malakal, in oil-rich Upper Nile State, has changed hands six times since the war started in December 2013, and 21,000 civilians have sought shelter and safety behind the UN’s barbed-wire fences.

The ruined city is currently under government control and HRW said some children were forcibly recruited from outside the gates of the UN base.

The UN children’s agency says that in the last year 12,000 children, most of them boys, have been recruited and used as soldiers by the army, rebels and allied militias.

Since the start of the year UNICEF has negotiated the release of 3,000 child soldiers from a rebel group commanded by David Yau Yau in the Pibor region of Jonglei, but many more still are fighting and recruitment is continuing.

In response to international pressure South Sudan’s government passed a 2008 law banning the use of child soldiers and setting a minimum age of 18 for recruitment or conscription.

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar headed the government that signed the 2008 law, but it was quickly flouted when fighting began and soldiers were needed.

Fighting broke out in December 2013 when Kiir accused Machar of attempting a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings across the country. War continues despite numerous ceasefire deals.

Egypt strikes Libya jihadists after beheadings video

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Egypt carried out air strikes against Islamic State group targets in Libya on Monday after the jihadists posted a video showing the decapitation of 21 Coptic Christians.

The air strikes in the early morning hit IS camps and stores of weapons, the military said, hours after the jihadists released the gruesome footage of the beheadings.

Witnesses told AFP there were at least seven air strikes in Derna in the east, a hotbed of militancy since Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi was overthrown in 2011. It was not immediately clear whether other areas were also hit.

It was the first time Egypt announced military action against Islamist targets in its western neighbour, having previously denied it targeted militants there.

“Your armed forces on Monday carried out focused air strikes in Libya against Daesh camps, places of gathering and training, and weapons depots,” the military said in a statement, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

State television showed footage of Egyptian fighter jets it said were taking off to conduct the strikes.

“Avenging Egyptian blood and retaliating against criminals and killers is a duty we must carry out,” the military said.

The air strikes came hours after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi threatened a “suitable response” to the killings of the Christians who had travelled to Libya seeking work.

Sisi, a former army chief who overthrew the Islamist president and then won elections touting his firm hand, faced a chorus of demands to retaliate after the beheadings.

Egyptian television repeatedly played the video without the beheadings, showing black-clad militants leading their captives in orange jumpsuits along a beach before forcing them to kneel down.

– ‘Unite against’ IS –

Images taken from the video of waves breaking on the beach turning red from the blood of the victims spread among Egyptians on social media, enraging many.

The White House led condemnation of the apparent beheadings, describing the killers as “despicable” and adding that the brutality shown “further galvanises the international community to unite against ISIL,” an alternative acronym for the group.

French President Francois Hollande, whose government is poised to sign a deal selling Egypt advanced Rafale fighter jets on Monday, expressed his “concern at the expansion of Daesh in Libya,” using another name for IS.

Libya’s embattled parliament, which is locked in a conflict with Islamist militias, expressed its condolences in a statement and called on the world to “show solidarity with Libya” against militants.

IS militants have been hammered by US-led air strikes in Iraq and Syria after taking over swathes of the two countries and the group has active affiliates in Egypt and Libya.

The Coptic Church issued a statement saying it was “confident” the Christians’ killers would be brought to justice, as it confirmed those beheaded were Egyptian Copts.

Al-Azhar, the prestigious Cairo-based seat of Islamic learning, denounced the “barbaric” killings.

The video, entitled “A message signed with blood to the nation of the cross”, has a scrolling caption in the first few seconds referring to the hostages as “people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian Church”.

The IS branch in Libya had claimed in January to have abducted 21 Christians.

The video makes reference to Egyptian woman Camilia Shehata, the wife of a Coptic priest whose alleged conversion to Islam sparked a sectarian dispute in Egypt in 2010.

It says the beheadings were in revenge for the treatment of Shehata, who Islamists claim was held against her will by the Church following her conversion.

The latest IS video comes after the jihadists released footage earlier this month showing the gruesome burning alive of a Jordanian pilot the group captured after his F-16 came down in Syria in December.