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Three things you should know about Nigeria’s postponed elections

What was behind the delay, what will the impact be and what is next?

News Central



INEC briefs stakeholders in Abuja on February 16, 2019 - News Central

The postponement of Nigeria’s presidential and parliamentary election by one week has set off a flurry of questions about what was behind the delay — and what happens next.

Who benefits from the delay?

Nigeria’s political establishment has criticised the postponement, which was announced about five hours before polls were to open.

Both President Muhammadu Buhari, who is standing for a second term, and the leading opposition candidate Atiku Abubakar, a former vice-president, have signalled their disapproval.

But behind the scenes, observers say Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) and Abubakar’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) both have complaints about how the election commission has handled preparations.

The PDP claimed repeatedly that the vote’s integrity was being undermined.

Meanwhile the APC has fumed over court orders that barred their legislatives candidates from running in the states of Zamfara and Rivers, because of disputes of primary polling.

The week-long delay could benefit either party, and some are openly suspicious that the APC orchestrated it, despite official denials from the electoral body that the decision was all theirs.

“Many people believe that the government created an enabling environment for the postponement,” Auwal Musa, executive director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre said in a televised interview.

Was Nigeria ready to vote?

People across Nigeria reacted with dismay to the last-minute announcement but signs of disorganisation were apparent in the days before voting was to start.

AFP journalists saw numerous polling stations that were only receiving ballot papers and voting card readers on Friday evening or had not received them at all.

“We had gone through training, preparation, we were ready,” said Austin Onwuosanya, who had been due to officiate in the commercial capital, Lagos.

But voting equipment never showed up at his polling station.

Election planning in Nigeria is often hampered by poor roads and the dilapidated power grid.

The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in part blamed bad weather and roads for a delay in the distribution of materials.

He insisted ballot papers and results sheets were ready.

But Cheta Nwanze, of analysts SBM Intelligence, said “INEC organisation has regressed under the current chairman”, and that it was possible politicians were deliberately undermining the preparations.

What does the delay mean for the election?

It seems certain the delay will affect the outcome of the final vote.

Many Nigerians travel from cities into the countryside to vote in their family homes, while others return from overseas.

But with most of the country impoverished, despite the country’s vast oil wealth, many Nigerians will struggle to recover from wasted transport money or days of lost work.

“This is really disheartening,” said Paul Emurotu, who travelled from Lagos to Warri in the oil-producing Niger delta region to cast his ballot.

He doesn’t know if he can afford to make the 450-kilometre (280-mile) journey a second time.

Thousands of INEC employees have also deployed across the country, some to hard-to-reach rural areas without electricity.

There, they organised voting materials by the light of their cellphones, then slept on the floor in order to open polls on time, only for voting to be postponed.

Udo Ilo, Nigeria director for the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, said it was now imperative that INEC safeguard the ballot papers and other sensitive materials distributed before the postponement to prevent tampering.

“What steps (are) INEC… taking to ensure the integrity of the material?” he asked.

Yakubu has assured all sensitive materials are being stored at Central Bank of Nigeria facilities until the rescheduled dates.

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East Africa News & Stories

Court in Kenya convicts 3 over involvement in Garissa massacre

The Garissa massacre was the second-bloodiest terror attack in Kenya’s history

News Central



Court in Kenya convicts 3 over Garissa massacre | News Central TV
Suspects Hassan Aden Hassan, Mohamed Ali Abdikar, Rashid Charles Mberesero and Sahal Diriye sit in the dock as they wait for the verdict where they were charged with helping those who carried out the attack on Garissa University in 2015; at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, Kenya June 19, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

A Nairobi court on Wednesday found three men guilty of abetting Somali jihadists who carried out a 2015 attack on Garissa University in northeast Kenya in which 148 people were killed.

A fourth individual was acquitted, Judge Francis Andayi said, adding that sentencing will be handed down on July 3.

The April 2, 2015 attack was carried out by four gunmen from Al-Shabaab, a Somali jihadist group linked to Al-Qaeda.

Firing their weapons, they stormed the students’ hall of residence at dawn.  

They first separated the victims according to their religion, letting Muslims go but keeping and then killing the others, most of whom were Christians.

It was the second-bloodiest terror attack in Kenya’s history, surpassed only by al-Qaeda’s bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998 that killed 213 people.

Andayi said the three — Kenyans Mohamed Ali Abikar, Hassan Aden Hassan and Rashid Charles Mberesero, a Tanzanian — “were members of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group whose members carried out the attack”.

Prosecutors had proven “beyond reasonable doubt” that they were involved in a conspiracy for “committing a terrorist act,” he said.

A fourth person, Sahal Diriye Hussein, was acquitted. In January, the court also acquitted a university guard who was accused of taking pictures during the assault — an allegation for which no evidence had been produced, the judge found.

During the trial, prosecutors placed 22 witnesses on the stand, most of them student survivors.

They also showed evidence that the three had been in contact with the gunmen, especially by telephone.

Mberesero, the Tanzanian, had been also been seen on the university campus three days before the attack, and on the day of the attack itself had been found under a bed in the hall of residence and was unable to explain why he was there, prosecutors said.

The three convictions are the first to result from a long-running investigation and prosecution.

All four gunmen were killed by security forces. The operation’s suspected ringleader, Mohamed Mohamud, also named “Kuno,” a former professor at a Koranic school in Garissa, was killed in southwestern Somalia in 2016.

The Shabaab said he had been killed by “US crusaders”.

Ruthless jihadists –

The Shabaab were chased out of Mogadishu in 2011 by the 22,000-strong African Union peace-enforcement mission, AMISOM.

They nevertheless control vast rural areas and remain the key threat to peace in Somalia. 

The group is fighting to overthrow the internationally backed government in Mogadishu but also regularly carries out attacks in neighbouring Kenya, which has troops in Somalia as part of AMISOM.

In September 2013, the Shabaab claimed responsibility for a dramatic raid on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi that killed 67 people over a four-day siege.

In June-July 2014 around 100 people were killed in raids in the coastal Lamu region in Kenya’s northeast, home of a once-popular tourist island.

In January 2016, the Shabaab overran a Kenyan army outpost at El-Adde in southern Somalia. Some estimates say that as many as 180 soldiers died.

And on January 15 this year, 21 people were killed and 28 injured when five Shabaab gunmen attacked the DusitD2 hotel and office complex in Nairobi.

The security response to Garissa was strongly criticised by many Kenyans. 

It took 16 hours for a special anti-terror unit to bring the attack to an end, their deployment slowed by a senior police officer who had commandeered the force’s plane for a family excursion.

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East Africa News & Stories

United States to ban corrupt Kenyans from entering country

“You cannot allow somebody to steal Sh20 billion and fine them Sh10 billion.” -McCarter



United States to ban corrupt Kenyans from entering country
(File photo)

Kenyans who have been implicated in corruption will not be granted entry into the United States, Ambassador Kyle McCarter has announced.

Speaking in Nairobi on Saturday, McCarter also said that their children and kin will not be allowed to travel or study in the US.

While speaking during the Junior Achievement Organization 100 year’s celebration, McCarter said that it is quite unfortunate that top government officials went unpunished after embezzling billions of shillings, while ordinary Kenyans are jailed over petty offenses.

“You cannot allow somebody to steal Sh20 billion and fine them Sh10 billion. We deal with thieves in a very brutal way, not even according to the law,” said McCarter.

“Somehow, we tolerate the theft of billions in Kenya. If we stop tolerating thievery, Kenya will be a shining star for democracy and prosperity in Africa.”

The ambassador further said that corruption prevents the country from achieving its development goals, including President Uhuru’s big four agenda.

“The cost of this is the same cost ironically as the Big Four. It could become a reality if we got rid of thievery.”

McCarter assured that Kenyan authorities had the full support of the US government in the fight against graft.

He also decried the high level of unemployment in the country and the slow growth of Kenya’s economy.

“We have a group of young people that are bitter and if we do not do anything, other people will employ them to harm,” McCarter added. 

US ambassador Kyle McCarter has been outspoken in his condemnation of what he has called “thievery”.

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North Africa

Turkey’s Erdogan claims ex-Egyptian president was killed

“Mohammed Morsi was on the ground of courtroom flailing for 20 minutes. The officials present there failed to intervene.” -Erdogan



Turkey's Erdogan claims ex-Egyptian president was killed
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Serhat Cagdas / Anadolu Agency

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed that Egypt’s former president, Mohammed Morsi, who collapsed in court and later died, did not die of natural causes but that he was killed.

Erdogan, while giving a speech in Istanbul, cited as evidence that the deposed Egyptian president allegedly “flailed” in a Cairo courtroom for 20 minutes on Monday and nobody came to his assistance.

On Wednesday, the Turkish president said: “Unfortunately, Mohammed Morsi was on the ground of courtroom flailing for 20 minutes. The officials present there failed to intervene. Morsi did not (die) naturally, he was killed.”

Erdogan said his country would do everything in its power to ensure Egypt faces trial in Morsi’s death. He also called on the Islamic Cooperation Organization to “take the necessary action” over the death of Morsi.

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