Leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, on Thursday, petitioned the United Nations and its relevant agencies over alleged human rights abuses suffered by its people at the hands of the Nigerian government.
A statement signed by IPOB’s Media and Publicity Director, Comrade Emma Powerful, which was made available to The PUNCH, in Abakaliki, hinted that there was hope that the UN and officials in Geneva, were giving adequate attention to the various human rights abuses allegedly perpetrated against members of the group.
The statement read, “The enigma championing the current restoration quest of Biafra and leader of the indomitable Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, today, the 18th day of September 2019, scored yet another mark as he led a delegation of Biafrans to an all-important series of meetings with various United Nations agencies and its officials in Geneva.
“He demanded urgent action against the numerous rights abuses inflicted daily upon Biafrans and the need to support the undeniable right of Biafrans to self-determination as enshrined in law, statute and various UN conventions. The case of RUGA settlement by stealth was also raised and the august body was left in doubt that Biafrans will never allow Fulani settlements in Biafraland.
“Every issue concerning our people is now before the various arms and agencies of the United Nations. Our case will no longer be ignored.
“‘Every issue concerning our people’ as mentioned by Kanu ranges from the incessant killing of Biafrans in their own land, extortion and killing of Biafran motorcyclists and commercial drivers.
“Exploiting the rights of indigenous people to self-determination as provided by the UN charter 2007, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in his usual charismatic poise has conscientiously pursued freedom for the oppressed people of Biafra.
“He also raised the issue of the continued illegal detention of Omoleye Sowore, the relentless persecution of the members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria led by Sheikh El-Zakzaky, ongoing tragic ethnic cleansing in the Middle Belt and plight of Christian minorities in core North. From every indication, there is palpable air of assurance that all the years of neglect of Biafra as a global issue requiring serious attention is now a thing of the past.”
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Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu has been officially invited for a meeting with the officials of the United Nations, a report from Radio Biafra says on Friday.
The meeting according to the report gathered by ORIENTAL TIMES is scheduled for Wednesday, September 18, 2019, at Geneva in Switzerland.
It would be recalled that Kanu on Tuesday took his agitation for the actualization of a Sovereign State called Biafra to the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.
The IPOB leader had disclosed in a statement on his social media accounts that he was “invited to the EU parliament by few members of the parliament to address the burning issue of IPOB agitation and what a new Biafra means for Africa.”
However after the meeting on Tuesday which saw top ranking IPOB members and many supporters of the pro-Biafra group outside the building of the European Parliament, Mazi Kanu tweeted on micro-blogging website, Twitter, that his next meeting would be at the United Nations. (Oriental Times)
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Despitethe Federal Government’s warnings that the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union should desist from interfering in the nation’s internal issues, the three top players in the international community have maintained their earlier position, saying that their interest is to see free and fair elections conducted across the country next Saturday and on March 2.
They expressed their views in separate interviews with Saturday Sun between Wednesday and Friday. The United States said it supports only free, fair, transparent, credible, and peaceful elections that reflect the will of the Nigerian people. Responding to Saturday Sun inquiry on the forthcoming polls and its earlier statements, the United States, through its Public Affairs Section, Embassy of the United States of America, Abuja, called on every Nigerian citizen, official, political party, and members of the security forces, to support peacefully, the democratic electoral process in accordance with the Nigerian law.
Recall that the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, drew the ire of the Federal Government in their positions on the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen. The trio had said the timing was wrong and would send a wrong signal as far as the forthcoming polls are concerned.
Earlier, the Governnent of the United States and the United Kindgom, issued a stern warning to would-be election offenders in the forthcoming elections, threatening visa sanctions to offenders and their relatives.
“The United States supports free, fair, transparent, credible, and peaceful elections that reflect the will of the Nigerian people. Our message has not changed.
“The United States does not support any individual candidate or political party.We support the democratic process and the work of the Independent National Electoral Commission in managing the elections.
“We call on every Nigerian citizen, official, political party, and member of the security forces, to support peacefully, the democratic electoral process in accordance with Nigerian law,” the United States said. It further said it looked forward to the impartial and professional activities of Nigeria’s security forces during the elections. “We welcomed the signing of the Peace Accord by leaders of the aspirant political parties and look forward to seeing that accord honored by all,” the United States further said.
This position was further reinforced on Friday by the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington, who tasked the government and people of Nigeria to ensure a peaceful and credible general elections because “the world is interested and watching”.
Symington stated this in Lafia, after meeting with Mr Labaran Maku, the Nasarawa State governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Noting that the responsibility of ensuring a peaceful, free, fair and credible polls rested with the government and all citizens, he said that Nigeria gained much credibility after the success of the 2015 general elections. “That election was credible; it lifted the country’s standing internationally. Nigeria must build on that because its citizens are desirous of a peaceful and credible election. All the candidates I have talked to, at all levels, have expressed the desire for a free, fair and credible elections, where all votes will count.”
According to him, peace is not just something you pledge but something that is planted and nurtured to growth using words and actions. “Truly, it’s up to each person to make a decision and take responsibility for doing what is right,” Symington said.
Also responding to Saturday Sun inquiry on its current position on the forthcoming polls, the UK, through its Senior Communications Officer, Press and Public Affairs, British High Commission, Abuja, TinuOluwa Adelegan, said the UK’s work regarding the elections; to support free, fair, credible and peaceful elections is focused on supporting the electoral process and the independent institutions. The UK further said it was working with civil societies to ensure that they are prepared to effectively monitor elections and call out problems when they see them. It added that in its advocacy role, the UK is speaking to all parties, including the two main parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), appealing to their leadership to live up to their obligations and to the peace accord.
The UK also said its appeal to all parties is that they ensure that the vote is conducted fairly and none of their supporters is involved in violence or vote buying, and ensuring that when it (UK) notices such issues, it calls them out. “We have over 100 observation groups covering the six geo political zones as part of our international election observation mission. They will be seeing the process for themselves first hand, and ensuring that all parties are behaving in a responsible way,” the UK further said.
On its part, the European Union Election Observer Mission (EU EOM) to Nigeria, said its recent comments on the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, was carried out in strict adherence to its code of conduct. The EU EOM denied any form of interference in the nation’s internal issues, stating that the EU election observation missions give commentary and analysis, and make recommendations about the electoral process.
In response to Saturday Sun inquiry on its current position on the forthcoming elections and the accusation of interference by the government, EU Deputy Chief Observer, Hannah Roberts said: “We are aware of the comments made, but it’s important to emphasise that the EU only deploys an election observation mission when it is invited to do so by the authorities of a country.
“The EU has been invited to observe all of the general elections in Nigeria since 1999. Thus, this is the sixth time the EU is observing elections in Nigeria, following an invitation from INEC.EU election observation missions give commentary and analysis, and make recommendations about the electoral process. EU election observation missions are impartial, do not interfere in the electoral process, and operate according to a strict code of conduct.”
When contacted, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, did not respond to the positions maintained by the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, saying the Federal Government will not want to join issues with them now. (The Sun)
The Federal Government has said that the statements by the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union Election Observer Mission (EU EOM) on the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, portends tolerance for corrupt acts and the downplaying of the anti-corruption crusade of the Buhari administration.
The government also said the statements signified alignment with the opposition and endorsement of its position that the ruling party, and by extension, the Federal Government of Nigeria, is working on rigging the forthcoming elections.
This is the third time the government is reacting to statements by the US, the UK and the EU, having earlier said that the presidency will not bend rules or allow interference, and that the US, UK and the EU were not properly informed over concerns raised by the suspension of Onnoghen.
In a statement by the spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, George Ehidiamen Edokpa, the government stated that the statements were inimical to the wellbeing and development of Nigeria, given their nuisance value of promoting sectional and religious divide in the country, anarchy and retrogression.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria notes with deep concern, statements made by representatives of foreign governments and international organizations resident in Nigeria, notably the Embassy of the United States of America, the High Commission of the United Kingdom, as well as the European Union Election Observer Mission, regarding the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), which demonstrate serious and unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of Nigeria.
“The various statements, especially of those referred to above, appear prejudicial and signify alignment with the opposition and endorsement of its position that the ruling party, and by extension, the Federal Government of Nigeria, is working on rigging the forthcoming elections in Nigeria. These statements also portend tolerance for corrupt acts and downplay the anticorruption crusade of the Buhari administration, knowing fully that the suspended CJN had not denied the charges against him and that probity requires of him to step aside while the case is under scrutiny.
“It is pertinent to underscore the unfortunate fact that statements, as referred above, are inimical to the wellbeing and development of Nigeria, given their nuisance value of promoting sectional and religious divide in the country, anarchy and retrogression. Now, more than any other time, Nigerians and true friends of Nigeria should be working towards repositioning Nigeria to realize her potential and sustainably provide the leadership expected of her.
“His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari had consistently demonstrated respect for the rule of law as a presidential candidate and as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and would engage in nothing to the contrary. He also remains a man of integrity who has severally pledged free and fair elections. It is therefore absurd to presume that the suspension of the CJN is geared towards rigging the forthcoming elections in favour of the ruling party.
“For the avoidance of doubt, be it known that on three occasions that Mr. President went to court as a presidential candidate and lost his case, in 2013, 2011 and 2007, the presiding judges at the Supreme Court were all northerners and Muslims: Justice Muhammad Lawal Uwais, Idris Lebo Kutigi and Dahiru Mustapha respectively. In fact, in one instance, the presiding judge at the Appeal Court was from Katsina State and the President’s former classmate, yet, he lost the case. The minority judgements in his favour were given by two judges, both of them southerners and Christians: Justices George Adesola Oguntade and Sylvanus Nsofor.
“Resident embassies and international organizations invited to observe the forthcoming elections must therefore be wary of being drawn into the camp of the opposition, otherwise their neutrality, which is the hallmark of election observers becomes questionable. It is indeed unfortunate that foreign missions would align with the opposition and seek to negatively interpret actions by the Federal Government, no matter their positive basis and intention. Had the Federal Government been high-handed, would the opposition have been able to express its views even to the point of pouring invectives on Mr. President? How best can the corruption in the judiciary, which has enormously undermined the rights of the common man and made justice available only to the highest bidder, be best tackled than by ensuring that known cases are fundamentally tackled? Where is the rule of law, if justice is applied selectively?” the government queried.
The government further raised pertinent questions which it said, the opposition and their sympathizers must reflect upon.
“Pertinent questions that the opposition and their sympathizers must reflect upon are: How has the action of Mr. President undermined the resolve for free and fair election? In what ways does it undermine the independence of the Judiciary, except in the minds of the opposition and its cohorts? What right has a representative of a foreign government to incense an already volatile situation on the grounds that her government has invested heavily in the elections? It is insulting for any foreign representative to claim the right to interference in Nigeria’s internal affairs, based on the premise that its government has invested heavily in the election,” the government added.
The government further said Nigeria had invested enormously over the years in election processes of many African countries and will continue to do so without interfering in their internal affairs.
The government also said interference in Nigeria’s internal affairs under any guise will therefore not be accepted.
“Representatives of foreign governments and organizations are therefore advised to tread with caution and desist from using the utterances and actions of opposition organizations and individuals as a vehicle to interfere in Nigeria’s internal affairs. Embassies and organizations accredited to Nigeria should desist from actions and utterances that can only create political, sectional and religious crises and divides,” the government warned. (The Sun)
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, says President Muhammadu Buhari and the cabal running his government have become jittery following the statements of condemnation issued by the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union over the suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications, Phrank Shuaibu, the former Vice-President urged Buhari to ensure that next month’s elections are free and fair or face the consequences.
He said, “Buhari’s cabal is unhappy with the statements from the US, the British and the EU because they know that these world powers have agreed to re-route their latest and most technologically sophisticated spy satellites, including the NAOL-47 satellite, to provide comprehensive coverage over Nigeria on February 16.
“The photographs these satellites will deliver cannot only show someone reading a newspaper but also which newspaper they are reading.”
Recall that the Federal Government had, in a statement through Garba Shehu, stated that, “The nation’s security forces will confront any attempt to interfere with the process by elements from outside the country.”
The PDP candidate, however, expressed concerns over the “desperation of the APC to rig the forthcoming elections;” and advised the Independent National Electoral Commission, the military and the Police not to allow themselves to be used by “those interested in turning Nigeria’s democracy on its head.” (Punch)
The European Commission has announced that “sufficient progress” has been made in the first phase of Brexit talks.The announcement came after Theresa May and David Davis made an early-hours journey to Brussels to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
The announcement came after Theresa May and David Davis made an early-hours journey to Brussels
It followed talks which continued into the early hours between the Prime Minister and Democratic Unionist Party, Arlene Foster, whose party scuppered a deal at the eleventh hour on Monday.
Mrs Foster said that “substantial changes” to the text rejected on Monday would mean there was “no red line down the Irish Sea” in the form of a customs barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Mr Juncker said that the decision on whether to move forward to talks on trade and the transition to a post-Brexit relationship was in the hands of the leaders of the 27 other EU nations, meeting in Brussels at a European Council summit on Thursday, but said he was “confident” they would do so.
The Commission president said: “I will always be sad about this development, but now we must start looking to the future, a future in which the UK will remain a close friend and ally.”
Mrs May said that intensive talks over the past few days had delivered “a hard-won agreement in all our interests”.
The Prime Minister said that the agreement would guarantee the rights of three million EU citizens in the UK “enshrined in UK law and enforced by British courts”.
She said that it included a financial settlement which was “fair to the British taxpayer” and a guarantee that there will be “no hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic, preserving the “constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom”.
She said that the agreement between the UK and the Commission, being published in a joint report, would offer “welcome certainty” to businesses.
Under the terms of the negotiations being carried out under Article 50 of the EU treaties, the European Council must agree that sufficient progress has been made on the divorce issues of citizens’ rights, the Irish border and the UK’s financial settlement before talks can move on to the issues of trade and transition.
The publication of the joint report makes it all but certain that EU27 leaders will approve this step on Thursday, marking a significant step forward in the process leading towards UK withdrawal in March 2019.
It eases pressure on Mrs May, who was facing the prospect of businesses activating contingency plans to move staff and activities out of the UK if no progress had been made by the end of the year.
Mr Juncker cautioned: “The joint report is not the withdrawal agreement. That agreement needs to be drafted by the negotiators on the basis we have agreed yesterday and today and then approved by the Council and ratified by the UK Parliament and European Parliament.”
He said that he and Mrs May had discussed the need for a transition period following the formal date of Brexit, and shared “a joint vision of a deep and close partnership”.
“It is crucial for us all that we continue working closely together on issues such as trade, research, security and others,” he said.
“We will take things one step at a time, starting with next week’s European Council, but today I am hopeful that we are all moving towards the second phase of these challenging negotiations and we can do this jointly on the basis of renewed trust, determination and with the perspective of a renewed friendship.”
Mrs May said that the negotiation process “hasn’t been easy for either side”.
“When we met on Monday, we said a deal was within reach,” said the PM. “What we have arrived at today represents a significant improvement.”
Mrs May said: “I very much welcome the prospect of moving ahead to the next phase, to talk about trade and security and to discuss the positive and ambitious future relationship that is in all of our interests.”
She added: “The deal we’ve struck will guarantee the rights of more than three million EU citizens living in the UK and of a million UK citizens living in the EU.
“EU citizens living in the UK will have their rights enshrined in UK law and enforced by British courts. They will be able to go on living their lives as before.”
On the issue of the UK’s so-called “divorce bill”, which is expected to total up to £50 billion, Mrs May said that in her landmark speech in Florence in September she had made clear the UK was “a country that honours our obligations”.
She said: “After some tough conversations, we’ve now agreed a settlement that is fair to the British taxpayer. It means that in future we will be able to invest more in our priorities at home, such as housing, schools and the NHS.”
And on the Irish issue, she said the UK would “guarantee there is no hard border and uphold the Belfast Agreement, and in doing so, we will continue to preserve the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom”.
Ireland’s deputy prime minister Simon Coveney said the government was content at assurances it had achieved about avoiding a hard border. He said there was now “no scenario” that would result in new border checkpoints.
“Ireland supports Brexit negotiations moving to phase two now that we have secured assurances for all on the island of Ireland,” he said.
He said the deal “fully protected” the Good Friday Agreement, the peace process and an all-Ireland economy.
Mrs May said that the agreement delivers on the principle, to which she and Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar committed themselves in talks on Thursday, that “there should be no barriers, either north/south or east/west”.
She said she would write to the people of Northern Ireland on Friday to set out the approach.
Mrs May said she was “optimistic” about the trade talks which will stretch through much of 2018.
“In the meantime, reaching this agreement now ensures that businesses will be able to make investment decisions based on an implementation period that offers welcome certainty,” she said.
Asked whether she had ever considered during negotiations that “maybe after all, this whole Brexit affair is a very bad idea”, Mrs May said: “In 2016, the British people were given in a referendum the opportunity to choose whether to stay in the EU or not.
“Parliament was united across all parties in Parliament. A significant majority agreed that that decision would be given to the British people. The British people voted and they voted to leave the European Union.
“I believe it’s a matter of trust and integrity in politicians. I believe the people should be able to trust that their politicians will put into place what they have determined. That’s exactly what we are doing and we will leave the European Union.”
Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster said “substantial progress” had been made from the text her party rejected on Monday.
Mrs Foster, who negotiated directly with Mrs May into the early hours of Friday, said Northern Ireland would now leave the single market and customs union and insisted there would be no border down the Irish sea, dividing Northern Ireland with the rest of the UK.
“There will be no so-called ‘special status’ for Northern Ireland as demanded by Sinn Fein,” she told the Press Association.
“Northern Ireland will not be separated constitutionally, politically, economically or regulatory from the rest of the United Kingdom and the joint UK-EU report at the conclusion of phase one makes clear that in all circumstances the United Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the UK internal market.”
But the DUP leader made clear there was “still more work to be done”. (Press Associaion)
Theresa May was told to commit to a Brexit divorce settlement within a fortnight or face a collapse in economic confidence in Britain, according to European business leaders at a confrontational Downing Street summit on Monday.
“We told them that they’ve lost a year because nothing happened. Now you have two weeks in which you have to be very clear,” said Emma Marcegaglia, president of BusinessEurope, which organised the 14-strong delegation.
“We appreciated the [prime minister’s] Florence speech but now you have to go from kind words to concrete, clear proposals,” she added, after more than an hour spent presenting their concerns to senior ministers in Downing Street.
May and her colleagues were told of specific concerns about the future of the automotive, aerospace and pharmaceuticals industries if high tariff barriers followed a hard Brexit and were presented with a CBI survey showing up to 60% of UK businesses would be forced to make contingency plans by this March.
“This is very, very bad,” said Marcegaglia, who was previously head of the Italian business lobby Confindustria. “If [businesses] don’t have certainty, they will simply go away.”
This is very urgent now,” added the CBI director general, Carolyn Fairbairn. “Firms will soon have no choice but to assume the worst in terms of planning for no deal.”
Downing Street said business leaders were told that progress was being made in the Brexit negotiations and that it shared their desire for a transition phase.
“The prime minister reassured the group that Brexit meant the UK was leaving the EU, not Europe, and reiterated her ambition for free and frictionless trade with the EU27 once the UK departs,” said a Downing Street spokesperson. “She also expressed her commitment to giving businesses the certainty they need by agreeing a time-limited implementation period as soon as possible.”
But those present at the meeting said participants were frustrated at the apparent lack of urgency.
Danny McCoy, the chief executive officer of Ibec, Ireland’s equivalent of the CBI, said its message to May was clear: “Business is increasingly frustrated and concerned at the lack of progress in negotiations. To move past the first phase of talks, which covers Ireland, the financial settlement and citizens’ rights, we need practical solutions and firm commitments, not just rhetoric.”
Speaking after the meeting, McCoy urged the government to stop treating Brexit like an opportunity for short-term gain and to focus on the long-term consequences.
“The polarised and fraught nature of the British debate is not conducive to the sophisticated compromises needed to steer the country away from a divisive, damaging divorce.”
Marcegaglia also said she saw little sign of movement by the British government, which did not mention the divorce bill and called instead for more movement from EU governments to clarify what they want.
“I am naturally optimistic otherwise I wouldn’t be a businesswoman but I didn’t really see any signal that they will change,” said the president of BusinessEurope.
Fairbairn said: “With UK-EU trade worth more than €600bn each year, business groups from across Europe used today’s meeting with the prime minister as a welcome opportunity to highlight the mutual importance of seeing real progress before Christmas.
“All business organisations present reiterated the damage a ‘no-deal’ scenario would do to trade,” she added. “While businesses welcomed the prime minister’s Florence speech, we now need to move beyond warm words if jobs, investment and living standards are to be protected.”
Business leaders also said they were concerned that any transition phase needed be longer than UK was proposing.
“One of the main concerns of the business community was to clarify the importance of a transitional phase for the continuity of business relations,” said Joachim Lang, the chief executive of Germany’s BDI. “Businesses’ idea of a transitional period differs from that of the British government. Two years is not enough to create the necessary legal framework.” (The Guardian)
The U.K.’s exit from the European Union should be prevented due to the “far-reaching impact” Brexit would have, Germany’s Council of Economic Experts, which advises Chancellor Angela Merkel, said Wednesday.
If Britain does leave the bloc, an agreement is needed that would minimize the damage for both sides, the council said in its annual report. With talks likely to drag on longer than the two years envisaged by EU rules, a one-time extension period should be granted, the experts said.
“Due to the wide-ranging impact of a U.K. exit from the EU, the council continues to urge that it be prevented,” the council said. “The economic cost of Brexit will hit the U.K. significantly harder than the rest of the EU.”
EU President Donald Tusk last month revived the notion Britain could remain a member of the bloc, saying the outcome was entirely in the hands of the British government. Germany and France have indicated the U.K. would be welcomed back if it decided to reverse the Brexit process. In order to do so, Britain would likely have to hold another referendum or elect a government led by a party that campaigned on a promise to stay in the EU.
The European Union will begin talks Wednesday on what the 27 countries want from a Brexit transition deal, seeking a united stance they can present to the U.K. once talks break out of the current deadlock. Both sides are hoping that talks on trade and the transition can move ahead after an EU summit in mid-December.
“There is still a risk of an uncontrolled exit and sudden adjustment reactions by economic agents,” the German government advisers said. “Conversely, the possibility of the U.K. staying in the EU can’t be completely excluded.” The council’s comments on Brexit made up about two pages of the more than 400-page report, which includes a detailed assessment of global economic conditions.
The advisers also urged the European Central Bank to end its bond-buying program earlier than planned and consider raising interest rates. They said that risks to financial market stability have increased even in the absence of deflationary threats in the 19-nation euro area.
“On the one hand there’s a risk of excessive asset prices, especially in the residential real estate and bond sectors, and on the other hand, the interest-rate change risk at banks has increased significantly,” the council said. “The ECB should therefore urgently communicate a comprehensive strategy for the normalization of its monetary policy.”
The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) for the 2015 Nigerian Election, has insisted that no centralised systemic fraud was observed in the conduct of the March 28, and April 11 2015 elections.
The EU said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), made commendable attempts to strengthen electoral arrangements, noting that systemic weakness left the process vulnerable to abuse by political contenders.
Presenting its final report on the 2015 elections in Abuja, Member of European Parliament and the Chief Observer of the EU EOM for the 2015 General Elections, Mr Santiago Ayxela Fisas, said in spite of the commendable efforts, procedural shortcomings abound.
“Procedural shortcomings were evident, in particular, during collation and from analysis of polling unit results. However, no centralised systemic fraud was observed,” the EU EOM said in its Executive Summary of the report.
“On 28 March election day, voters displayed commendable commitment. Overall in sites visited, polling passed peacefully with appropriate performance by security forces, although over 19 killings were reported.
“Generally, the process may be characterised as disordered and prolonged. Although polling procedures were insufficiently followed, EU EOM observers saw no evidence of systematic manipulations.
“On 11 April election day, there were increased security incidents, with at least 30 people killed, predominantly from inter-party clashes and attacks on election sites, with problems being most pronounced in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states. Again, EU EOM observers saw no evidence of centralised systematic fraud,” the EU insisted.
The report further said INEC gained credibility since the appointment of its former chairman, Prof Attahiru Jega, in 2010.
The EU however said it was not clear to what extent INEC had been reformed, even as it said that during the 2015 elections, INEC appeared to have performed impartially in challenging circumstances.
“However, given the insufficient requirements for transparency and full public accountability, as well as a lack of full institutional independence, the election administration remains vulnerable to partisan operations and/or weak delivery that risks exploitation by parties,” It added.
The report took a swipe at the government-owned National Television Authority (NTA) and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), saying that the two leading media networks with the widest coverage provided extensive exposure to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its officials.
In its recommendations, the EU EOM called for the establishment of a more inclusive parliamentary mechanism for cross-party involvement in the selection and approval of the INEC chairperson and national commissioners.
It also said INEC’s independence should be further developed through direct power to appoint and remove Resident Electoral Commissioners.
The EU also said after a thorough review of the 2010/2014 registration processes, there should be an elaborate plan for developing and maintaining the voter register to include improving biometric functionality, removal of the deceased, and extended enrolment of new registrants.
Such processes, the EU EOM added, should be subjected to stronger INEC supervisory checks with greater scrutiny from agents, observers and the media. (The Sun)
* Many pro-Leave people believe “no deal is better than a bad deal.”
* They’re wrong: “No deal” is the worst-possible deal Britain could get.
* Article 50 is structured like a trap in order to deliver a “no deal” scenario to any country that dares to leave the EU.
* Theresa May and Philip Hammond seem to be belatedly waking up to the fact that threatening to walk away without a deal is a really bad idea.
LONDON — This week, Peter J. North, the editor of the Leave Alliance blog, outlined how fantastic he thinks post-Brexit Britain will be, once the UK finally gets out of the EU in 2019:
“We can the expect to see a major rationalisation of the NHS and what functions it will perform. It will be more of a skeleton service than ever. I expect they will have trouble staffing it. Economic conditions more than any immigration control will bring numbers down to a trickle.
“In every area of policy a lot of zombie projects will be culled and the things that survive on very slender justifications will fall. We can also expect banks to pull the plug in under-performing businesses. Unemployment will be back to where it was in the 80’s.
“… Anyone who considers themselves ‘Just about managing’ right now will look upon this time as carefree prosperity. There are going to be a lot of very p***** off people.
“… Effectively we are looking at a ten-year recession. Nothing ever experienced by those under 50.”
“Admittedly this is not the Brexit I was gunning for.”
He is still in favour of Brexit, he adds. “Admittedly this is not the Brexit I was gunning for. I wanted a negotiated settlement to maintain the single market so that we did not have to be substantially poorer.”
The problem is that, like a lot of Leavers, North wasn’t banking on the government choosing “no deal” — and thus no access to the Single Market — as its main strategy. In fact, until recently, “no deal” was regarded as the worst possible outcome for precisely the fears that North describes.
Yet in the last few months, “no deal” seems to be the government’s target policy.
Back in May, Theresa May fought the general election with a Conservative manifesto that said: “no deal is better than a bad deal” for the UK in the Brexit negotiations with the EU.
The idea behind that phrase is that during the Article 50 negotiations Britain’s chief weapon would be the prime minister’s ability to get up from the table and walk away as if this were the thing that Europe fears most.
What if all the planes stopped flying?
But as her chancellor, Philip Hammond, said yesterday, “no deal” is an empty threat: The uncertainty of Brexit is already dragging down the British economy, and “it is theoretically conceivable that in a ‘no deal’ scenario there will be no air traffic moving between the UK and the European Union on March 29th, 2019.”
There are millions of hardcore Leavers out there who actually want this. They think “hard Brexit” is the best Brexit, and they are actively urging the government to leave with no deal. They think “no deal” is some sort of threat that the EU is trying to avoid.
“No deal” is not our backup threat to the EU. It’s the worst possible outcome for the UK.
No deal involves no access to the Single Market, tariffs and taxes on UK exports, restrictions on British people travelling and working in Europe, and major cross-national employers leaving Britain in order to maintain their ties to the much larger European market. There are almost no economic advantages to “no deal,” only the political advantage of not being bound by European law. (And even then, if we want to trade with Europe after Brexit, our exports will have to obey their laws.) It will shave several points off GDP growth, which right now is so weak that would mean a recession.
No deal is the bad deal.
It is the punishment Brexit. It is the deterrent to leaving, not the reward. “No deal” is what the EU wants “pour encourager les autres.”
“I think we should be aiming a tad higher than avoiding death”
May again referenced “no deal is better than a bad deal” in her Florence speech, in which she talked about “our preparations for our life outside the European Union – with or without what I hope will be a successful deal.” (Emphasis added.) But she went on to say, “Let us open our minds to the possibility. To a new era of cooperation and partnership between the United Kingdom and the European Union. And to a stronger, fairer, more prosperous future for us all. For that is the prize if we get this negotiation right.”
May was possibly hinting that she understands that “no deal is better than a bad deal” is like putting a gun to your head and shouting “stop or I’ll shoot!” The tactic is especially dumb when you understand that the Article 50 negotiation process is essentially structured like a trap, precisely in order to deliver a “no deal” scenario to any country that dares to leave the EU.
It will take several more months, and perhaps some grim job losses in Leave-voting constituencies, and among farmers, before Brexiteers realise just how wrong “no deal” can go.
Charlie Mullins, the extravagantly coiffed plumbing empire boss, said it best this week:
“The simple fact is that half a loaf is always better than starving to death, although personally, I think we should be aiming a tad higher than avoiding death.”