INEC to observers, don’t interfere, accredits 146,913 to monitor poll


• British govt vows to punish election riggers, others
• NCC unveils 622 as toll-free hotline for presidential election
• Let election outcome reflect wishes of voters, NLC tells INEC
• Go out to vote, shun vandalism, stop burning banks, group charges electorate
• Best way to achieve Biafra is through voting, Igbo elders tell agitators
• I will give Nigeria hope, work hard for them, Tinubu says

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said a total of 146,913 domestic and international observers will be deployed for the 2023 general elections. The Commission, therefore, warned observers against interfering in the elections.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this at the Commission’s briefing for observers in Abuja, yesterday. According to the INEC boss, the number of observers is the largest in the country’s history.

He said the Commission accredited 196 national and domestic organisations that deployed 144,800 observers and 33 international organisations that deployed 2,113 observers.

Yakubu, however, urged the observers to abide by the laws of Nigeria while discharging their duties on election day.

He said: “I wish to remind observers that there is a code of conduct for election observation. You are by definition observers. Do not interfere with the process or show partisanship.

“In addition, international observers must be guided by the fact that the election is conducted by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, whose sovereignty must be respected. I urge you all to keep to the rules.”

Yakubu also noted that the observations and recommendations from election observers over the years have helped to improve the country’s electoral process.

Speaking at the programme, the Regional Director, Africa, International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Clara Cole, said election observations provide improvements for election, pleading with both national and domestic observers to abide by the rules of INEC.

AHEAD of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly election, the United Kingdom has promised to deal with any individual, politician or not, who may want to use violence or engage in practises that may jeopardise the future of Nigeria’s democratic process.

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, made this known, yesterday, during an interview with Arise TV.

According to Laing, the British government has decided to toe the American government’s line, which promised earlier this month during a visit to INEC headquarters to impose a visa ban on an individual or group of individuals, who plan or get involved in violent activities that may jeopardise the Nigerian electioneering process.

“So, our policy is very similar to the Americans; and we are watching very closely even if we have evidence to suggest that an individual isn’t necessarily a politician by the way. Such an individual or group of individuals doesn’t have to be politicians but could be somebody from the security side; it could be an individual citizen who is not directly a politician.

“As long as the person is inciting violence or directly participating in violence, the British government, through the High Commission in Nigeria, can prevent such an individual from travelling to the UK.”

She added: “We also have a new tool in our armoury that is human rights-related — sanctions can be placed on that individual. You will see later today a statement on the election from our Development Minister and African Minister, Andrew Mitchel, and there will be a clear statement on this which will be coming out soon.”

IN view of the importance attached to the presidential election, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has dedicated its Consumer Toll-Free Number 622, to serve as 2023 Presidential Election Incident Hotline to enable voters and members of the public across Nigeria to report any issues that may affect them, or others, during the election on Saturday.

This was announced last night by Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who said the step is to support INEC in its commitment towards the conduct of hitch-free elections in Nigeria.

The Toll-Free Number 622 is the second-level complaints centre through which consumers of telecommunications services are allowed to make calls directly to the Commission, to resolve issues concerning their telecommunications services which the service providers are unable to do.

“However, in consideration of the critical nature of this election and to alleviate emergent issues that may arise at the voting centres, or any parts of Nigeria thereof, the Commission has considered it expedient to dedicate the Toll-Free Number 622 to accommodate all types of complaints on election day.

“This is with a view to resolving such issues by contacting and conveying such to relevant agencies, authorities, or organisations for timely resolution.

“The 622 Election Incident Monitoring Centre will be manned by top Management officials of the Nigerian Communications Commission. The hotline will be open to the public from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. during the Presidential and National Assembly elections. Members of the public are, therefore, invited to take advantage of the Election Incident Monitoring Centre Hotline, 622,” he said.

THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has advised INEC to ensure that the forthcoming elections reflect the wishes of voters. President of NLC, Joseph Ajaero, said this in a statement, yesterday, following meeting of the congress’ National Administrative Council (NAC).

He advised Nigerians to participate actively in the elections and also ensure they safeguard their votes.

“NAC warns that the disruption of the electoral process by parties, politicians or their aides or privies or by whoever, will not be acceptable to it or the generality of Nigerians who have invested their time and resources.

“NAC calls on security agencies to guarantee the safety of voters, observers, INEC officials and all those associated with conducting free, fair and credible elections across the country. NAC similarly urges INEC to ensure that the electoral processes are not only transparent and fair but reflect the wishes of voters.”

MEANWHILE, a group comprising thought leaders and intellectuals in the Western part of Nigeria, the Southwest Development Stakeholders’ Forum (SWDSF), yesterday, urged Nigerians, especially people of the region, to shun violence and stop burning of banks, but go out on election days to vote their conscience.

Chairman of the Forum, Dr. Adedayo Alao, made the call during presentation of the report and documentary of presidential parleys held for presidential candidates in Ibadan.

The presentation was an insight into the thinking and pledges of five presidential candidates who participated in its presidential parleys from January 17 to February 4.

Alao disclosed that seven candidates were invited but five featured. Presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar; New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwanso; Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Kola Abiola; Africa Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore and Adewole Adebayo of Social Democratic Party (SDP) featured at the parley, while Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP) who had been billed for the programme could not attend due to security challenges.

According to the Forum chairman, efforts to bring Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the parley were not successful.

ALSO, eminent Nigerians from the Southeast under the auspices of the Igbo Elders Consultative Forum (IECF) have said those calling for sit-at-home or boycott of the general elections in the region are enemies of Igbo.

The Forum, comprising former Chairman of Police Service Commission (PSC), Chief Simeon Okeke; former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, among others, insisted that elections must hold in the region and called on Igbo to come out en masse to vote for Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Obi.


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