INEC: Foreigners Not Prohibited from Political Campaigns

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Mahmood Yakubu
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

By Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has clarified that there is no law that prevents foreigners from coming to Nigeria to campaign for political candidates ahead of the forthcoming general election, noting, however, that they cannot contest or vote during the elections.

This is coming as the Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Austin Agbonlahor, has warned that military personnel have no business around the polling units during the elections.

The Plateau State CP, however, clarified that all other security agents may be deployed in the voting centres but not the Army, Air Force or the Navy.

Answering questions at an expanded stakeholders’ forum organised by INEC in Jos, the Plateau State capital, the electoral body’s Legal Officer, Ms. Carol Okpe, said there was no need for any agitation as the law is silent on whether or not a foreigner could participate in the campaign process for a candidate.

The INEC’s legal officer was responding to concerns raised by the presence of Governors Issa Moussa of Zinder State, and Zakiri Umar of Maradi State, both from the Republic of Niger, at the last Thursday’s re-election campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari in Kano.

“Our law is silent on whether or not a foreigner can campaign for a candidate during election.  Since the law is silent about it you cannot hold it as an offence against any candidate or anyone,” Okpe said.

Also speaking at the forum, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of INEC in the state, Mallam Hussaini Pai, said the commission will follow the provision of the law to the letters in the election, warning that INEC will not permit more than one party agent per polling unit, as it will also not permit any supervising agent going around polling centres.

He said, “No moving around by candidates of political parties; they are only allowed to cast their votes like every other voter, and thereafter go home.

“We would go to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to collect Sensitive Materials with party agents and security personnel, where they will take account of the total number of materials before they are moved out.

“Parties must submit names and passports of their agents to INEC a week before the elections, and parties must sensitise their supporters how to vote in order to avoid errors that could lead to cancellation.”

Pai, who said that he expects a hitch-free exercise across the 2,631 polling units in the state, however, added that the Situation Room will be open for any complain such as problem with Card Reader machine and the like.

He said, “We have in the state 2,480,455 registered voters, and total number of 512,532 PVCs; of these PVCs, 311,483 have been collected, leaving a balance of 201,049 uncollected as at January 31, 2019. There are 2,631 Polling Units and 4,989 Voting Points. For the IDPs still living in the camp, 26 centres have been created for them to vote so as to enable them exercise their franchise.”

Meanwhile, Agbonlahor, who disclosed that military personnel are not expected around the polling unit, also warned political parties against destruction of posters and billboards of opponents as that could breed hatred and violence.

He said, “I advise politicians and political parties to educate their supporters to be orderly during elections.

“If eventually you are the winner, be careful the way you celebrate so that the loser will not feel too bad. The losers are also advised to take it as the decision of the electorate and prepare to do better in the next election.

“The command has taken proper control of the SARS and its personnel shall be used appropriately. A Joint Operation room has been put in place at the Police Command Headquarters and it shall be managed by the personnel of all security agencies.”

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Tinubu, APC Leaders Halt Plan to Remove Ambode

Gboyega Akinsanmi

The National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, and other leaders of the party in Lagos State yesterday asked the State House of Assembly to drop its plan to remove Governor Akinwunmi Ambode from office.

Tinubu and the APC leaders also urged the leadership of the executive and legislative arms to always respect one another and build consensus and understanding, which according to them, would help the institutions function effectively and efficiently.

Tinubu and the party leaders brokered peace between the executive and legislative arms at a special meeting of Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) held at the State House, Marina yesterday, declaring that there was no longer removal questions against Ambode.    

Among others, the meeting was attended by the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Oluranti Adebule; Speaker Mudashiru Obasa; Deputy Speaker Wasiu Eshinlokun; Majority Leader Sinai Agunbiade; Chief Whip Rotimi Abiru.

After the meeting, Tinubu said: “The conflict between the governor and lawmakers has been amicably settled. The executive and legislative arms of government have resolved to work together in the interest of the state.

“We held a meeting on behalf of Lagos, the entire Lagos residents and APC leadership. In the last one week, there has been noise about the conflict between the executive and the state assembly. It is of great concern to all of us and particularly what Lagos represents across the country.

“We have been able to look into the source of various conflicts, which is not uncommon in politics. What is the genesis of those problems? We are one big family and as a big family, you will have some rumples, you will have some disagreement.

“As leaders of the party, we have looked into the disagreement between the executive and legislative arms. We have looked into areas where we have to compromise, discuss and build the institutions, encourage the institutions to really do what is right.

“We have resolved that there is no question of (removal) in Lagos State. Let the two arms of government communicate and continue to respect one another and build consensus and understanding. That is all about politics.

“Conflict and conflict resolution mechanism is inbuilt in any political system unless leaders are lacking in their responsibilities.”

He thanked the governor, his deputy and the assembly leadership for agreeing to the peaceful resolution of the conflict, saying it was evident that consequences of allowing such conflict to fester would have been dire not just for the state, but the entire country.

He added: “We thank the speaker and the entire members of the House of Assembly leadership. We thank the governor and the deputy governor who had demonstrated firm respect for the party leadership in Lagos State.

“You know when Lagos sneezes, the rest of the political equation catches cold and we are very happy that we are able to resolve amicably. The deputy speaker is also here. All of them put together, we are assured that things will start to run smoothly in Lagos both the House and the government.”

Also speaking after the peace meeting, Lagos Central APC Leader, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, corroborated Tinubu’s position, and expressed optimism that the House would soon meet to resolve other grey areas.

“The national leader has spoken and mine is just to confirm the decision. Conflict resolution is an essential ingredient of management. We have looked into the problem and the party has directed the two arms of government – the executive and the legislature to work together and very soon, the House will meet and resolve all grey areas,” Olusi said.