Tuesday, March 31, 2015

United States Provides Further Confirmation of Support for Egyptian Coup Regime: More Arms to Flow to Al-Sisi
New York Times
MARCH 31, 2015

WASHINGTON — Seeking to repair relations with a longtime ally at a time of spreading war in the Middle East, President Obama on Tuesday lifted an arms freeze against Egypt that he had first imposed after the military overthrow of the country’s democratically elected government nearly two years ago.

Mr. Obama cleared the way for the delivery of F-16 aircraft, Harpoon missiles and M1A1 Abrams tanks, weapons prized by Egyptian leaders, who have smoldered at the suspension. In a telephone call, Mr. Obama assured President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt that he would support the full $1.3 billion in annual military assistance the Cairo government traditionally receives, even as others seek to cut it, the White House said.

The decision signaled a trade-off for a president who has spoken in support of democracy and human rights but finds himself in need of friends at a volatile time in a bloody part of the world. The White House made no effort to assert that Egypt had made the “credible progress” toward democracy that Mr. Obama demanded when he halted the arms deliveries in October 2013. Instead, the decision was justified as being “in the interest of U.S. national security,” as the White House put it in a statement.

Administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations, said the timing of the move was not directly related to the swirling crosscurrents now roiling the Middle East, including the widening conflict in Yemen, the rise of extremism in Libya, the battle with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq or the possible nuclear deal with Iran.

But they said the broader perils of the region, particularly militant attacks in the Sinai Peninsula, had played an indirect role. “Given that higher level of threat, we felt it particularly important to make sure Egypt had all of the equipment it could possibly need to defend itself from these threats,” one of the officials said.

Beyond Sinai, Egypt faces multiple security issues. In February, it conducted an airstrike against Islamic militants in Libya in retaliation for the beheadings of a group of Egyptian Christians. Egypt has also said it will send ground troops into Yemen if necessary to support the Saudi-led operation against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. And Egyptian leaders agreed in concept to create a combined military force with other Arab states.

Mr. Obama’s move will release 12 F-16 fighter jets, 20 Harpoon missiles, and the shells and parts necessary to assemble up to 125 M1A1 Abrams tanks that Egypt had previously paid for but that have been held up since 2013. The F-16s are especially important to Egyptian leaders, who have bitterly raised the issue with their American counterparts at nearly every opportunity.

Intended or not, experts said Mr. Obama’s decision would be interpreted as an effort by Washington to bolster a fragile position in the region. “The U.S. is facing quite a few challenges, and it needs to shore up relations with allies,” said Steven Simon, a former Middle East adviser to Mr. Obama now affiliated with Dartmouth. “The assistance to Egypt was always predicated on its foreign policy, not its domestic policy. That was certainly the Egyptian understanding of it.”

But other experts and human rights advocates said Mr. Obama had effectively capitulated to Mr. Sisi, a former general who helped lead the military overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013 and then won the presidency in an election tainted by wide-scale arrests of opposition figures. They compared Mr. Obama’s decision to lift the arms freeze to past instances when he did not live up to his own words, citing the “red line” he drew against Syrian use of chemical weapons in its civil war.

“Unsurprisingly, in this case you see that national security priorities, broadly defined, trump virtually everything else,” said Sarah Margon, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch. “And that’s a very myopic, short-term approach to fighting terrorism. Human rights abuses are actually a very bad counterterrorism strategy.”

According to Human Rights Watch and an Egyptian group called the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, the Egyptian authorities arrested more than 40,000 people after Mr. Sisi’s removal of Mr. Morsi and have never provided a full accounting of the detentions.

Mr. Sisi’s government has cracked down on nongovernmental organizations that take foreign money and has authorized military courts to hold mass trials in terrorism cases that the rights groups call a way of suppressing protesters.

Amy Hawthorne, a senior fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council in Washington, said Mr. Obama’s decision would be seen as a victory by Egyptians who wore down American officials’ resistance.

“This isn’t their intention, but it will be read by Sisi as acceptance of his legitimacy and a desire to satisfy his demands in their relationship,” she said. “I’m still trying to understand, how do our concerns factor in?”

Mr. Obama’s decision does include elements that may irritate Mr. Sisi, however. Until now, Egypt and Israel were the only countries permitted to buy American arms by drawing credit from future foreign aid. Mr. Obama said he would halt that for Egypt, barring it from drawing in advance money expected in the 2018 fiscal year and beyond. He will also channel future military aid to four categories — counterterrorism, border security, maritime security and Sinai security — rather than give Egypt broad latitude to decide how to use it.

The change in policy is intended to wean Egypt away from large, expensive weapons systems that signal national prestige but are not suited to fighting the sort of insurgent and terrorist threats it now confronts, American officials said.

Without its aid already spoken for years in advance, Egypt will have more flexibility to make arms purchases to deal with immediate challenges. The United States will also have more flexibility to cut it off if future actions warrant, officials said.

Indeed, some scholars said the end of cash-flow financing, as it is called, was the most significant element of Mr. Obama’s announcement because the resumption of aid had been expected eventually.

“Now the military aid could be much more easily discontinued in the future,” said Michael Wahid Hanna, a researcher at the Century Foundation in New York. “This is a very far-reaching step.”

Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said the release of the weapons did not mean that the United States would stop pressing Egypt to ease its domestic repression of dissent.

“We will continue to engage with Egypt frankly and directly on its political trajectory and to raise human rights and political reform issues at the highest levels,” she said.

David D. Kirkpatrick contributed reporting from Cairo.
APC Gets 64 Senate Seats, PDP 45
by GEORGE OJI on Apr 1, 2015
Nigerian National Mirror

All Progressives Congress, APC, has secured 64 senators to Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s 45 after Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections.

The Senate resumed yesterday from a two-week break to participate in the elections and immediately adjourned till April 14 for lack of quorum.

Some of the PDP senators who lost to APC include Senators Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna North), Deputy Senate Leader, Abdul Ningi (Bauchi South), Smart Adeyemi (Kogi West), Hosea Agboola (Oyo North) and Zaynab Kure (Niger South).

Following outcome of the polls, which has seen APC take over majority in the Senate, there are concerns over what becomes the fate of the Senate President, David Mark, who has made history as the only senator to be elected for the fifth time since commencement of the current democratic dispensation.

The same fate also awaits Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.

National Assembly watchers are concerned that Mark and his deputy, who are presiding officers, would relinquish those exalted offices and return to the floor of the Senate, where they would at best hold principal offices as minority senators.

After the botched sitting yesterday, Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma- Egba, while fielding questions from journalists urged Nigerians to remain calm and law-abiding.

“My advice is that we should be lawful in our conducts, we should not take the laws into our hands and election is a process, so no matter the outcome, after the process, we still have further processes so, we should follow the law,” he said.

Commenting on the fate of the 2015 budget proposal, which is now before the National Assembly, the leader explained that the National Assembly has up till June to pass the budget.
Buhari Wins Nigerian Presidential Elections
Nigerian National Mirror
Apr 1, 2015

Nigeria entered the record books yesterday when for the first time in its history, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP presidential candidate and incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan was defeated by the All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, in a keenly contested election, held across the nation on Saturday.

Buhari polled a total 15,426,921 votes and scored the constitutionally mandated 25 per cent in 29 states to Jonathan’s 2,853,162 votes as announced by the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof Attahiru Jega.

Declaring Buhari winner of the election, Jega said:

This would be the record fourth time the retired General would be contesting for the nation’s Presidency and the second time he would be running against President Jonathan.

It is the first time he would be running on the platform of APC, a coalition of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA.

Buhari won outright in North-East states of Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Bauchi, and Gombe; North-Western states of Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa; North-Central states of Niger, Benue, Kogi and Kwara and South-Western states of Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ondo and Lagos.

He polled more than the constitutionally mandatory 25 per cent in Ekiti, Nasarawa, Plateau, Edo and Taraba states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

Jonathan won outright in South-South states of Edo, Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states; South-East states of Enugu, Imo, Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi; North-Central state of Plateau and North-East state of Taraba.

Jonathan also scored the mandatory 25 per cent and above in Lagos, Ondo, Benue, Adamawa, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Kwara and Kogi states.

Buhari would be sworn in on May 29 this year for a four-year first term in office.

The President Jonathan has conceded victory to the All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.

APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, confirmed that President Jonathan called Buhari about 5.05 p.m yesterday as the collation was still in progress to congratulate him, thus putting paid to all anxieties and concerns over a possible debacle.

Following the historic victory, APC has roll- out the drums to celebrate its victory with a reception for the President-elect at the party’s national headquarters in Abuja.

As soon as it became obvious that Buhari was coasting to victory with the majority of the results from states already announced, the leadership of the party started making arrangements to formally receive Buhari and the Vice President-elect, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

Among the leaders of the party who came early to congratulate the President-elect were Governors Tanko Al’Makura (Nassarawa), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Rochas Okorocha (Imo).

The party secretariat was decorated with newly procured Nigerian flags and APC flags with a red carpet laid out in wait for the triumphant entry of Buhari.

The atmosphere in the place was charged as the secretariat staff and supporters who besieged the place kept singing and drumming.

At the residence of the former military leader at Aso Drive in Asokoro, a crowd of reporters kept tumultuous vigil in celebration of the victory.

Former Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar described the president as a great man for quickly accepting defeat.

As the results of the Presidential election were being announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday, the president was meeting behind closed-door with members of the National Peace Committee on 2015 General Elections, led by Abubakar.

Also at the meeting were former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe; former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Pricilla Kuye; Primate of Anglican Communion, Nicholas Okoh; Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan; the President of Dangote Group, Aliko and former Director General of the National Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, NIALS,  Amaze Goubadia.

The committee had last Wednesday met with Jonathan at the Presidential Villa on the need to ensure free, fair and credible elections.

Jonathan and Buhari later signed a fresh peace accord and commitment to violence-free polls.

The fresh accord which took place at the Sheraton Hotels and Towers in Abuja was facilitated by the committee.

The two, as well as other presidential candidates in the elections, had earlier signed a peace accord on January 14.

Before the closed door meeting, journalists were invited to cover the opening ceremony.

The president looked calm and unruffled while receiving the team before they went into the closed door session.

After the meeting, Abubakar confirmed to State House correspondents that Jonathan had conceded defeat and congratulated Buhari.

He said: “We were spell bound and the reason we have come here is to thank President Jonathan for this statesmanship.

“In the history of Nigeria, I think this is the first time where a contestant has called his rival to congratulate him and through this point, President Jonathan maintained a point that the blood of Nigerians is not worth his presidency and by his action he has proved that.

“He has proved that he is a man of his word‎ because during our interaction on this peace committee he has always maintained that he is going to accept the result of the elections whichever way it is done and he has proved this.

“I think we need Nigerians, all of us to join hands in making sure we assist him in the peaceful handing over.

“And I will appeal to all politicians, ‎those who are celebrating and those who are sorrowing to please give peace a chance to be moderate.

“In any contest, there is always going to be a winner and President Jonathan has accepted that he lost and we want to thank him.

“On behalf of Nigerians, I want to thank President Jonathan for being the statesman that he is, he has approved that he is a statesman and he has the love of this country in his heart. So Nigerians should please help him to ensure this is real.

“For any Nigerian who is aggrieved, the electoral laws have procedures for those seeking re-address, so if anybody has ‎any grievance he should apply through the law.

“I appeal again to our youth, to everybody to please give peace a chance and accept that the chief contestant himself has accepted. So nobody please go and raise any eyebrow and cause any destabilization of this country.”
Jubilation in Ibadan, Lagos, Kano, Minna, Uyo, Others
by Our Reporter
The Nation, Nigeria

NIGERIANS took to streets yesterday in Ibadan, Lagos, Kano, Niger, Lokoja, Kaduna, Sokoto, Maiduguri and others jubilating from the moment it was confirmed that All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) would be declared as the country’s president-elect.

Men, women, youths and children, in joy, shouted: “Sai Baba, Sai Buhari” as they celebrated.

At Sabo area of Ibadan, residents, most especially northerners, brought out brooms, shouting “Sai Baba”, “Sai Buhari” as motorists had hectic time linking Adamasingba due to gridlock.

Some of the celebrants were on bikes, riding up and down the streets. A cow with the logo of the APC was bought for residents’ entertainment. A disc jockey was on hand to entertain the people.

It was the same story at Challenge, Gate, Iwo-Road, Felele, Ojoo and other areas.

Lagos residents also trooped  out in their thousands yesterday night to celebrate the emergence of the APC presidential candidate and his running mate, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

The Hausas took over Ketu and Mile 12 axis of Ikorodu road, shouting: “Say Baba, Say Buhari”.
Lining up the two sides of the express road, they carried high the campaign banners of Buhari/Osinbajo and the state APC governorship candidate, Akinwunmi Ambode from Mile 12 market towards Ketu/Ojota shouting: “Sai Baba, Sai Buhari”.

The crowd caused gridlock among vehicles going to Owode/Ikorodu, forcing motorists to chorus the victory slogan.

Some northerners also took to beating drums and playing their traditional flutes as others danced in circles in celebration.

In Kano, it was wide elation, as the news of Gen. Buhari’s victory filtered into town. Youths in their hundreds stormed the streets in celebration.

Some of the youths engaged in acrobatic display with their motorbikes and tricycles, with majority of them waving brooms – the symbol of the APC.

Minna, the Niger State capital, was also enveloped with joy as the youth, party members and supporters rejoiced.

As soon as the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Returning Officer for the presidential election, Prof. Attahiru Jega, adjourned sitting for the collation of result from Borno by 6pm, the youth took to the streets.

In what was like an instantaneous reaction, horn blaring cars and motorcycles with jubilating youths took to the streets, waving brooms and APC flags, Buhari’s banners and posters.

From Chanchaga through Tunga to Mobil, Bosso and Tundu-Fulani, the jubilating teams took over the roads.

At Maitumbi, Saiko, Limawa, Nikangbe, Dutsen Kura, Maikukunle and Kapgunku, youths were seen rejoicing and celebrating.

Thousands of APC supporters also trooped to the streets of Kaduna in wild jubilation.

The supporters, who were on motorcycles, bicycles, Keke NAPEP and cars, carried brooms and started chanting ‘Sai Baba’ and sweeping major Kaduna streets.

Though Kaduna city was very quiet in the early hours of yesterday, at about 4pm, APC supporters stated gathering at major junctions like Ungwar Sarki, Tudun Wada and Ahmadu Bello Way.

As at the time of filing this report, rumour of dusk-to-dawn curfew was going round, but the residents were unconcerned.

In Sokoto, thousands of APC supporters and well-wishers of its presidential candidate yesterday started jubilating the anticipated victory of the candidate before the official announcement by Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega.

The streets of Sokoto, the state capital, were agog with jubilant youths, most of who entertained the crowd with their bikes.

Maiduguri and Emir Yahaya roads were taken over by the youth.

Residents also took to the streets in Lokoja, even as results from Borno State were yet to be officially announced by INEC.

Thousandsof Maiduguri residents also rejoiced before Gen. Buhari was officially declared winner of the election.

Security operatives also joined in the celebration, shooting sporadically in the air and blowing sirens on high speed with their vehicles on the streets of Maiduguri.

In Yobe State, Damaturu, the state capital, also went into wild celebration as APC supporters trooped out to celebrate the victory.

The youth besieged the Damaturu central roundabout and major streets, chanting party slogans.

The Nation gathered that Potiskum, Gashua, Nguru, Geidam and other major towns were also in celebration mood.

Many of the people were happy that their votes counted.

In Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, supporters of APC were not left out.

They brandished brooms, singing and dancing along the major roads in the state capital.

The state APC governorship candidate, Umana Okon Umana, described the victory as a historic moment for Nigeria.

Umana explained that Gen. Buhari has the required skills, experience and capacity to turn Nigeria around economically and politically.

Also, a member of the Board of Trustees of PDP, Don Etiebet, said the victory was as a result of rebellion against the PDP.

Etiebet described President Goodluck Jonathan’s action in congratulating Gen. Buhari victory as a new beginning for the nation’s politics.
A New Dawn in Post-Elections Nigeria
The Nation, Nigeria

For 16 years, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) dominated the political space like an octopus. Its leaders boasted that it will rule for 60 years. But yesterday, the table turned. In a free and fair election, power shifted to the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), signaling the end of an era. Group Political Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU writes on the significance of the new dawn, its lessons and implications for the practice of the two-party presidential democracy.

THE progressives have made history. Since Independence, they have been sharpening the opposition arrows. But, the status quo collapsed yesterday, following the declaration of the results of the historic presidential election. The symbol of the victory is Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, a former military Head of State and standard bearer of the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). He defeated President Goodluck Jonathan, who wielded incumbency power. It was the triumph of hope and courage for a man, who had failed in three previous elections. It was the first time an incumbent civilian President and Commander-in-Chief would be defeated by his challenger. It was a turning-point in national history.

It was also the end of an era for the Ijaw-born politician. Acknowledging the reality of the new dawn, the President conceded defeat to the victor. Instantly, he became a statesman by according respect to the wish of Nigerians who voted him out. He congratulated the President-elect, the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and other opposition arrowheads on phone. Through that singular effort, he ultimately changed the perception of people about him as a desperate leader itching for a fresh mandate by all means and at all costs. His conciliatory move, despite the acrimony that characterised the contest, would herald a peaceful transfer of power on May 29.

March 28 was the defining moment. The credit goes to the sanctity of the ballot box. During the presidential election, democracy was insulated from colossal assault by master riggers and electoral terrorists. The commitment of the electoral agency and its novel Smart Card Readers (SCRs) saved voters from the nightmare. With the outcome of the election, a precedent has been set. The change of government at the centre by popular vote is now possible in democracy. The Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) is the potent weapon of choice. Gone were the days when the ruling party can go away with its impunity. The lesson is very instructive. Change will always be inevitable whenever the government fails to live up to expectation. But, another factor is also crucial. Only an unbiased umpire can safeguard the integrity and credibility of the electoral process.

The analysis of the results released by the by Prof. Attahiru Jega-led Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)  reflected a change in the voting pattern. Old alliances and traditional voting trends were altered. The issues that shaped the 2011 polls, including the sympathy for a ‘shoeless boy’ from Otuoke; the consideration for power shift to the minority ethnic group in the South; the rejection of ‘power shift to North’ slogan and the promise by the embattled President to live up to expectation, gave way. But, after four years, it was evident that the ethnic and religious solidarity were misplaced. The goodwill evaporated. As Nigerians groaned under the lean period, with the economy lying prostrate, critical sectors wobbling and unemployment soaring, public confidence waned. The nation thirsted for a new lease of life under a new leadership. The disconnect between the government that has squandered a popular mandate and the bewildered people resulted into bitterness.

Consequently, voters waited till the poll day to vent their anger. In a society ravaged by poverty, misery, want and frustration, money was doled out to woo the electorate. The strategy failed as it could not save the President from a looming electoral disaster.  The results underscored the decline in the strength of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has been in power at the centre for 16 years. Ironically, its leaders had boasted that the hitherto octopus party will rule for the next 60 years. The election was a referendum on the performance of the President in the last six years. To analysts, the outcome confirmed the rejection of the inept leadership, which they believe, has plunged the beleaguered country into the abysmal pit of corruption, economic strangulation and hopelessness.

The poll was conducted across the six geo-political zones in an atmosphere of ethno-religious strife and rancour. Never has the fledgling nation-state been so divided along ethno-religious lines in the post-civil war era. This presents a challenge. In their quest for power, leading lights in the polity across the six regions participated in the election, not as Nigerians bubbling with national outlook, but as Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Junkun and Kanuri, reminiscent of the pre-colonial days of ethnic wars coordinated by tribal champions.  Therefore, the President-elect, as the new face of the country and the symbol of unity and cohesion, has to brace for the challenge of national reconciliation.

However, the euphoria of change or power shift notwithstanding, the outcome of the poll has brought some issues to the front burner. Observers may  be cautious in placing the new mandate, within the context of bitter struggle for power and lack of meaningful consensus. Unlike the June 12, 1993 mandate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) presidential candidate, the late Chief Moshood Abiola, the mandate conferred on Gen. Buhari may not be viewed as a pan-Nigerian mandate, owing to the voting behaviour along ethnic and religious leanings. Also, the election lacked ideological underpinning. The dichotomy between the blocs – Northern Peoples Congress (NPC)/Action Groug (AG); National Party of Nigeria (NPN)/Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and Social Democratic Party (SDP)/National Republican Convention (NRC) – has been absent. Some political scholars have pointed out that there is no marked difference between the two dominant parties, although APC leaders tend to lay claim to superior manifestoes and sound pedigree of its governors who are role models.

Unlike before, the elite were not aloof. They showed unprecedented interest in the electoral process. To this category of informed citizens, the last six years of the Jonathan administration have been very boring. They believed that the ship of state was sinking under Dr. Jonathan and that Gen. Buhari was on a genuine rescue mission. The response from the Muslim-dominated North to the presidential battle was obviously shaped by its clamour for power shift. Conversely, the voting behaviour of the Southsouth and the Southeast was also influenced by ethnic and religious appeal. But, the resolve to change a non-performing government had a stronger appeal among the wide spectrum of stakeholders.

This is also reflected in the comparative analysis of the 2011 and 2015 election results. In 2011, Gen. Buhari, who ran on the platform of a seemingly fragile Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) got 12, 214, 853 votes, trailing the President, who got 22, 495, 187 votes. The election sharply polarised the country into pro-Jonathan and pro-Buhari supporters. While the North voted for Buhari, the Middle Belt and the South, with the exception of Osun State, voted for Buhari. Osun’s vote went to the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.  In that election, Buhari got majority of votes in 12 states namely: Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Niger, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Bauchi, Jigawa, Yobe, Gombe, and Yobe. President Jonathan won in 23 states.The states were: Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo, Kwara, Kogi, Nasarawa, Plateau, Adamawa, Taraba, Edo and Delta. Others were Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi, Abia Enugu, Cross River, and Rivers. He also won in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

But, this year’s result is a wide departure. There is a clean break from 2011. The President was defeated in five Southwest states of Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo. He lost in Kwara, Kogi, and Benue. The seemingly natural alliance between the North and Southeast/Southsouth, which predated the First Republic, was erased. For the first time, Southwest and the North were in political marriage.

In 2011, Jonathan had 1,281, 688 votes in Lagos. In this year’s election, there was a diminishing return. He got a little over 500,000. But, Gen. Buhari, who scored 189,983 in 2011, moved up. He got over 600,000 votes. In Oyo, Jonathan polled 434, 758 voted in 2011. Yesterday, it dropped to 303,376. But, Buhari moved up from 92, 396 to 528, 620. In Kogi, while Buhari, who got 132, 201 in 2011, scored 264, 851, Jonathan, who got 399, 816, could only garner 149,987. For Gen. Buhari, the 2011 pattern was sustained in highly populated Northern states of Kaduna, Kano and Katsina.

The West, which was more or less perceived as the deciding factor, tended to play contrasting roles. It was not influenced by ethnic and religious factors, although Hausa/Fulani in Agege, Apapa, Obalende, and Idi-Araba areas voted for Buhari in Lagos while Igbo in Festac/Amuwo-Odofin, Ojo, Isolo, Okota and some parts of Surulere gave their votes to the President. But, generally, the Southwest states of Ekiti and Ondo were tormented by the PDP arsenal.  There were financial inducement, voter’s intimidation and repression in the last six weeks. In Lagos, voting pattern reflected the induced ethnic tension between Igbo and Yoruba, aided by the  heavy naira and dollar rain by the PDP. In Ekiti, the governor, Ayo Fayose, who had objected to Buhari’s candidature and campaign vigorously for Dr. Jonathan, was combative throughout. He single-handedly influenced the way the people voted in Ekitiland. But, in Ondo State, Jonathan’s campaign coordinator, Governor Olusegun Mimiko, could not re-enact the 2012 feat, despite the enormous power and resources at his disposal.

Also, in the West, the President struck a deal with wrong persons. His romance with the traditional rulers, factional Afenifere leaders – Pa Rueben Fasoranti, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, Dr. Femi Okurounmu and Basorun Seinde Arogbofa – did not yield the desired dividends. In the same vein, his fraternity with both factions of the controversial ethnic militia, the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), was counter-productive. It revealed, in part, his shallow understanding of the Southwest politics and knowledge of its true, popular and respected political leaders. Apart from Fayose and Mimiko, others who claimed to be working for the President in the region could not have successfully mobilised for councillorship candidates in the zone.

According to observers, the events of the last three years have served as the background to power shift.  The crisis in the PDP  led to its disintegration. Since the defection of governors Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Abdulfathah Ahmed (Kwara) and Rabiu Kwakwanso) from the party, the PDP chapters have not remained the same. Also, the defection of prominent PDP chieftains, including Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Senator Bukola Saraki, and Senator Danjuma Goje, created a vacuum in the party.

Another factorthat accounted for the success of Gen. Buhari at the poll was the rise of a viable platform for the opposition. With the emergence of the APC, the two-party system was restored. The new two-party system does not mirror the two-party system imposed on the polity by former military President Ibrahim Babangida in the ill-fated Third Republic. Unlike the defunct SDP and the NRC, the two dominant parties – the PDP and the APC – evolved from the people. Their manifestoes were also not written by the military.

In this Fourth Republic, the scattered opposition forces have discovered the strength in unity. The prediction of the indomitable leader, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, came into fulfillment. After the 1983 elections, which was won by the NPN, because the progressives could not float a joint platform, he peeped into the future. Awo said a time will come when progressive forces will come together to present a common front to displace the conservative fold in a power struggle.

When the leaders of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the CPC and a section of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) made sacrifices by dissolving the rival progressive platforms  to pave the way for a bigger, broader and formidable party, the stage was set for a titanic contest. Historians will always allude to the Tinubu factor in the evolution of the mega party.  The former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, was the motivator, inspirer, and arrowhead of the progressive forces that challenged the ruling establishment to a duel. Working with other patriots, including Gen. Buhari, Chief Bisi Akande, the former APC Interim Chairman, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Prince Tony Momoh, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, and the determined governors and chieftains from the PDP, he sold the platform to Nigerians as a credible and better alternative.

However, the euphoria of victory should quickly wither away. There is much work for the next President to do. A lot of damage has been done by the out-going government. Buhari’s second coming is more significant. He will not rule by the barrel of the gun, unlike 1984/85. He will inherit a country in despair. The national treasury is empty. The debt profile is huge. Youths are in a futile search for elusive jobs. The infrastructure battle must be fought. Nigerians may also not be patient with him. They will want a quick action.

Besides, the two-party system has implications. It has made democratic self-renewal possible. But, it will always make the electoral process competitive.
APC Victory: Few Thought it Possible
April 1, 2015
Written by Adekunle Ade-Adeleye
The Nation, Nigeria

Of all the fairy tales that ever came out of Nigeria, yesterday’s victory by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, in the presidential election is probably the most spectacular. Thirty years after he was ousted in a military coup d’etat, the retired general and former head of state will assume office in May as elected president, the culmination of an incredible, breathtaking journey from three past presidential elections defeat. Tenacious, soft-spoken and generally taciturn, the Daura, Katsina State-born Gen Buhari, 72, won the March 28 election by a an appreciable plurality of about two million votes to beat the incumbent, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, an Ijaw from Bayelsa State. Gen. Buhari swept the Northwest, Northeast, North-Central and Southwest to put the election far beyond dispute. The shape and texture of the victory may also help Nigeria begin the process of healing from self-inflicted injuries caused by probably the most bad-tempered campaign since the inauguration of the Fourth Republic in 1999.

For a campaign that began inauspiciously in January, projections of a Buhari/APC victory were thought to be exaggerated. The APC was formed in February 2013 from a union of some four parties, registered as a political party in July that same year, and presented its road map and code of ethics about a year later. Derided and goaded by the ruling PDP, the party struggled through internal disagreements and defections to hold a surprisingly successful convention in December 2014, from which Gen Buhari emerged as candidate. He was later joined on the ticket by Yemi Osinbajo, a professor of law and former Lagos State Attorney-General, who was selected as his running mate after tough negotiations lasting a few days. Together with their reinvigorated party, the candidates began a gruelling and financially handicapped campaign in January to win office.

The President-elect and his party will, however, face two pressing problems in the next few months. First, given the scale of the damage done to the economy by the outgoing Dr. Jonathan administration, Gen. Buhari and his team will struggle to justify huge public expectations. Quick fixes will not work, nor are they even available. Indeed, in the short run, the new administration will have to take tough choices that may in the immediate future cause a serious backlash and electoral problems. And because everyone’s patience will wear thin, the new president may take options that will make many question his democratic credentials, especially with a wounded PDP unaccustomed to the inconveniences of opposition politics.

Second, having come a fairly short way from formation to winning the presidency, rather than a long and testy stay in the wilderness, the APC and its leaders in and out of office will struggle valiantly to manage their stupendous success. There will be disagreements in sharing the spoils of war, and the party will have to devise new and ingenious ways of rewarding those who midwifed the party’s success, including the legacy parties that formed the new behemoth and the individuals that defected from other parties, some as late as one or two weeks to the epoch-making poll.

But perhaps more importantly, the party will have to find ways of rolling back the decay, confusion, indiscipline and stagnation that have entrenched themselves ingloriously in the system for nearly two decades. It will be helped by its dominance of the legislature and the expected success in the state polls of April 11. The security services, which have compromised themselves and become irrationally subjected to the whims of the ruling party, will have to be reformed, reoriented and rejuvenated. Had Dr Jonathan not been defeated, the country would have inexorably marched towards a revolution. The APC will, therefore, have to assemble a crack team of politicians and technocrats to snatch the country from the jaws of anarchy and disaster. Luckily for them, they have a long list of eminently qualified and patriotic Nigerians to pick from. The task is urgent, and the job onerous and demanding. The president-elect must use the about two months left before inauguration to concretise what he plans to do, and the men and women he hopes to use in order to hit the ground running.

What stands the party out, and probably accounts for its quick and colossal electoral success, is its intrinsic and even intuitive ability to dare and envision great things. It owes this fine attribute to the presence in the party of a few people who imbue the struggle and the party with their modernising and expansive views of issues and new political and developmental paradigms. Their talents will be in great demand if the party is to succeed in the challenging tasks ahead.

And considering the almost anticlimactic end to the presidential and legislative elections, which are expected to set the tone for the next set of elections, the victorious party must recognise that after an intensively divisive campaign, a healing process devoid of the fanfare and extravagance of the South African-type truth and reconciliation commission is needed. That process, surprisingly, was kick-started by Dr Jonathan himself when he called the president-elect and congratulated him even before the final ballots were officially counted, thus taking the wind out of the sail of troublemakers. The task of redeeming and reclaiming the country from the hands of antidemocratic forces and mediocre economic managers is truly urgent. Gen Buhari, the beneficiary of an historic election, the kind never witnessed in Nigeria, must now rise boldly and courageously to the historic challenge before him.
Iraqi Forces Drive Islamic State Out of Central Tikrit - PM

(Reuters) - Iraqi troops aided by Shi'ite paramilitaries have driven Islamic State out of central Tikrit, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said on Tuesday, but the fight to retake all of Saddam Hussein's hometown continued.

Government forces have been in a month-long fight for the city, which became a bastion for the Sunni jihadists who are at war with Baghdad and have been targeted by U.S.-led air strikes.

Hundreds of insurgents ready to fight to the death are still holed up in Salahuddin province's capital city and at least three neighbourhoods remain under Islamic State control, along with a palace complex in the city's north.

The further Iraqi forces push into the city, the greater the risk of ambushes.

"Our security forces have reached the centre of Tikrit and they have liberated the southern and western sides and they are moving towards the control of the whole city," Abadi said in a statement.

The U.S. Defense Department said it could confirm Iraqi security forces' "advancement into Tikrit to liberate the city centre as well as other parts of the city" from Islamic State.

In their push from southern Tikrit, security forces and paramilitary fighters retook the governor's headquarters and the main hospital, which had been occupied by Islamic State.

Reuters journalists travelling with the police passed houses scarred by bullets, mortars and rockets as well as five or six corpses that security officers said were Islamic State fighters, adding that they might be rigged with explosives.

Iraqi officials suspect the militants have planted scores of bombs and are using snipers and a network of underground tunnels and bunkers to slow the government advance.

Tuesday saw Shi'ite militia groups return to the battle after suspending operations last Thursday when U.S.-led air strikes were requested by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi.

The Iranian-backed armed factions had opposed U.S.-led strikes, insisting that their paramilitary forces could retake Tikrit, seized last June by Islamic State militants as they raced across northern Iraq.

Anti-American groups Kata'ib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq said they had joined federal police and army forces in going deeper into the city on Tuesday after Abadi, a moderate Shi'ite Islamist who became prime minister last year, agreed to halt U.S. air strikes.

They said air strikes in the city on Tuesday were being carried out only by the Iraqi military. A federal police officer made a similar claim.

But the prime minister's office said no such order had been issued and U.S. officials said they were not aware of any military freeze.

The U.S. government, which deeply mistrusts the pro-Iranian Shi'ite militias, has sought ways to participate in the Tikrit battle without acknowledging working with forces backed by Tehran.

U.S. officials have insisted on an Iraqi government military command for the fight, even as Shi'ite militia forces remain the strongest presence on the ground.

(Additional reporting by Saif Hameed, Ahmed Rasheed, Ned Parker and Peter Cooney; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Ken Wills)
Iraqi Forces Take Large Parts of Tikrit From ISIS, Prime Minister Says
Published March 31, 2015

Iraqi troops aided by Shiite and Sunni forces reached the center of Tikrit Tuesday in an offensive against the Islamic State for control of the city, the country’s prime minister announced.

“Our security forces have reached the center of Tikrit and they have liberated the southern and western sides and they are moving toward the control of the whole city,” Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said in a statement released by his office, according to Reuters.

Abadi said U.S. and Iraqi-led airstrikes have helped reclaim ground.

But Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, the commander of the operation, said his forces fighting in from the west were still 325 yards from the center of Tikrit.

An Associated Press reporter embedded with Iraqi security forces saw soldiers surround the iconic presidential palace in Tikrit on Tuesday, as well as surround the provincial government headquarters there.

Ammar Hikmat, deputy governor of Salahuddin province, said more than 40 percent of Tikrit was under the control of Iraqi forces by Tuesday afternoon.

"Our security forces are now pushing forward toward the presidential complex and have already entered parts of it," Hikmat said. "I think the whole city will be retaken within the coming 24 hours."

The large-scale operation to recapture Saddam Hussein's hometown began on March 2 and is seen as a key step toward eventually recapturing Mosul, the country's second largest city, which lies further north.

Iraqi military commanders said Monday they retook a hospital in southern Tikrit. The officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief journalists, said the military's three-pronged offensive is progressing toward the center of Tikrit slowly because of booby traps and suicide bomb attacks.

At least four suicide bombers tried to ambush one of their positions in southern Tikrit on Monday, but the attack was repelled.

The ground offensive to retake Tikrit has been waged by Iraqi troops and Shiite militias advised by Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's elite Quds Force.

The leader of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units, a collaborative force made up mostly of Shiite militias, also said Tuesday his fighters had rejoined the Tikrit operation, less than a week after announcing a boycott over U.S. involvement.

Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis told The Associated Press that his fighters participated in the southern offensive Tuesday and would be joining the offensive on the northern and western fronts shortly.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Italy Deploys Ships To Monitor Libyan Coast
By Tom Kington
3:31 p.m. EDT March 28, 2015
Defense News

ROME — As fighters from the Islamic State group build beachheads in lawless Libya, Italy is sending a naval fleet to monitor the Libyan coast and protect Italian shipping and oil rigs from jihadi attacks.

The mission, dubbed Mare Sicuro, or Safe Seas, will likely involve a landing helicopter dock vessel, two FREMM-class frigates, a patrol vessel and Predator UAVs, a defense source said.

A contingent of marines will join the mission, and use high-speed craft to intercept and board suspicious shipping, he added.

Speaking in parliament on March 19, Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said the assets would also be used for the "surveillance of jihadi formations." The source said that could involve monitoring ISIS communications in Libya and radar monitoring of shipping.

Italian Predators will fly surveillance missions from Sigonella air base in Sicily where US Global Hawks already operate. Italian Predators previously flew missions over Libya from Sigonella during the NATO air campaign in 2011, which led to the ousting of longtime leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

Since then, Libya has descended into chaos, with two rival governments claiming power — moderate Islamists in Tripoli and an internationally recognized government in Tobruk. Between them, ISIS fighters have set up in Derna and Sirte.

Fears that ISIS fighters would try to attack Italian ships or rigs, or even try to reach Italy on migrant vessels that sail from Libya, grew in Italy following a March 18 terrorist attack in Libya's north African neighbor, Tunisia.

Two gunmen burst into a museum in the capital Tunis and killed 20 foreign tourists before being shot dead by police. Although Tunisia emerged from the 2011 Arab Spring with a stable, democratic government, experts have said an attack was to be expected after more than 3,000 young Tunisians headed to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS.

After the attack, ISIS claimed responsibility, although the Tunisian government blamed a local group with ties to al-Qaida. But it was also revealed that the gunmen had trained in Libya, making it the first recent terror attack on Western targets launched from Libya.

Although Pinotti said there was still no proof that ISIS fighters would sail to Italy from Libya, she added that the Tunisia attack helped prompt the establishment of Mare Sicuro.

Additionally, she told parliament that Italy would supply Tunisian security forces with night vision goggles, on loan from the Italian Army, to help them control the Libyan border

Not all were convinced Mare Sicuro made sense.

"Without an international mandate. we won't be able to stop arms shipments at sea. And in any case, the militias are already very well armed," said one Italy-based analyst who declined to be named.

"Secondly, we cannot stop the oil tankers leaving Libya, which are financing militias. And if our ships get mixed up with saving migrants whose boats sink at sea, it will interrupt their military mission," he said.

"And what are the rules of engagement?" he added.

"The mission seems a bit paranoid," said Habib Sayah, a Tunisian political analyst. "Individual members of ISIS have spoken about attacks on Italy and we cannot rule it out, but there are no serious indications that there is a plan underway," he added.

On the other hand, an investigation by magistrates in Sicily has reportedly established links between Libyan militias and the people smugglers who make millions loading African migrants in rickety vessels that often sink.

In February, the Italian coast guard, picking up migrants at sea, was confronted by armed traffickers who arrived on a separate boat and ordered the Italians to hand over the migrant vessel once it was unloaded.

Additionally, Italy has a strategic reason to patrol international waters off the Libyan coast. State-controlled energy firm ENI manages oil and gas rigs just offshore and helped lay a gas pipeline that enters the Mediterranean west of Tripoli and emerges in Sicily, bringing important gas supplies to Italy.

The chances of a national government being formed in Libya look as faint as ever, despite a UN representative working hard this month to kickstart negotiations between the Tripoli and Tobruk factions.

"The distance between the diplomatic situation and the real situation on the ground is getting bigger," said Gabriele Iacovino, an analyst coordinator at the International Study Center in Rome.

Iacovino said a Libyan military leader, Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who ostensibly commands forces for the Tobruk government, was impeding talks.

A former Gadhafi soldier who later tried to oust him, Haftar spent years in the US before returning to Libya as Gadhafi fell.

"Tobruk is finding it harder to control Haftar," said Iacovino. "As they talk to the UN, he is bombing Tripoli airport. But he has Egyptian backing and Egypt has no intention of negotiating with the Islamists in Tripoli, which makes Haftar stronger."

Monday, March 30, 2015

Prisoners and Advocacy Groups Win Right to a Trial
On Constitutionality of the Silencing Act (PA SB508)

This morning, Chief Judge for the federal court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Christopher Conner, will hear the cases Abu-Jamal v. Kane and Prison Legal News v. Kane in a trial that willl determine the constitutionality of PA SB508 "the Silencing Act".  Defendant PA Attorney General Kane will be hard pressed to argue the constitutionality of the Silencing Act, a censorship law targeted at Mumia Abu-Jamal and other currently and formerly incarcerated people.

Defendant Seth Williams was dismissed from the case based on his explicit disavowal of enforcing the act until a court of competent jurisdiction rules on the constitutionality of the statute. His dismissal does not hinder Plaintiffs ability to obtain the relief of invalidating this law, as a favorable ruling on the First Amendment issue against Defendant Kane will achieve the same result. Williams' disavowal of enforcement is a far cry from his political grandstanding in support of this bill's passage in the fall.

The judge has ordered that this trial will include Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction merged with a trial on the merits, meaning that if we win we will be granted a permanent injunction against the statute, and the statue will be invalidated.

“Silencing prisoners is one more way of dehumanizing them,” said Amistad Law Project Policy Director Nikki Grant. “We need the voices of the marginalized to shed light on injustice.”

The trial is set for this morning March 30 in Harrisburg, PA approximately 5 months since former Governor Corbett signed this ill-fated bill into law.

 The Abolitionist Law Center, Amistad Law Project, and the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University School of Law filed the lawsuit on Nov. 10th to stop enforcement of the law. The law firms represent Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio, Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal, Kerry “Shakaboona” Marshall, Robert L. Holbrook, Donnell Palmer, Anthony Chance, and Human Rights Coalition.

The Silencing Act, also known as 18 P.S. § 11.1304, allows the Attorney General, county District Attorneys, and victims of personal injury crimes to bring a lawsuit in civil court against the person convicted of the personal injury crime to enjoin conduct that “perpetuates the continuing effect of the crime on the victim”. The actions that could prompt a lawsuit include “conduct which causes a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish.”

“This law is unconstitutional,” said David Shapiro of MacArthur Justice Center. “The facts are on our side and the law is on our side. The Silencing Act targets a huge amount of constitutionally protected speech based on who is speaking.”

After a prerecorded commencement speech by journalist and prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal was played for graduates at Goddard College in Vermont, the Pennsylvania legislature passed and outgoing Governor Corbett signed into law the Silencing Act on October 21st, 16 days after the commencement speech.

Abu-Jamal has spent 33 years in prison, 29 of which were in solitary confinement on death row after being convicted at a 1982 trial that Amnesty International said “failed to meet minimum international standards safeguarding the fairness of legal proceedings.”

Robert L. Holbrook, who is serving a death by incarceration, life without parole, sentence he received as a child, had this to say about the law: “there are people in prison who will stop writing, stop publishing, stop speaking out because of this law.”

Bret Grote       bretgrote@abolitionistlawcenter.org    412-654-9070
Ashley Henderson ashley@amistadlaw.org          215-310-0424
Noelle Hanrahan info@prisonradio.org         415-706-5222
David Shapiro david.shapiro@law.northwestern.edu        312-503-0711

Amistad Law Project is a West Philadelphia-based public interest law center.
Our mission is to fight for the human rights of all people by providing
legal services to people incarcerated in Pennsylvania’s prisons.
www.amistadlaw.org | @amistadlaw | 267-225-5884

The Abolitionist Law Center is a public interest law firm inspired by the struggle of political and politicized prisoners, and organized for the purpose of abolishing class and race based mass incarceration in the United States.   412-654-9070

Prison Radio has recorded Mumia and other political prisoners for over 25 years, and we are pulling out all the stops to keep these voices on the air.   415-706-5222

Please donate today to amplify prisoners' voices far and wide beyond the bars:
Support Prison Radio: prisonradio.org/donate
Defeat SB 508: bit.ly/defendfreespeech
Powerful Doc 'Black Panther Woman' Makes NYC Premiere at New Voices in Black Cinema Festival
By Tambay A. Obenson
Shadow and Act
March 29, 2015 at 1:12PM

Set to make its New York premiere tonight, March 29, 2015, at 9:30pm, at the New Voices in Black Cinema Festival, at BAMcinématek in Brooklyn, NY, is "Black Panther Woman" - director Rachel Perkins' documentary on the little known Brisbane chapter of the Black Panther Party, which was directly inspired by the American Black Panthers.

Central to the film is Marlene Cummins (photo above), who was introduced to Australia’s Black Panther Party in 1972, when she met and fell in love with its leader, beginning her education into the Black Power movement.

 This Australian chapter of the Black Panther Party adapted the politics and style of the American Black Panther Party, from the clothing to their defiance, attracting the attention of the local authorities. Yet, unlike their American comrades, who numbered in the thousands across America, the Australian chapter comprised of just 10 members - young Aboriginal people who staged educational theatre shows, kept watch on the police on what they called ‘pig patrols,’ and were at the forefront of demonstrations, including the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.

According to director Rachel Perkins, what began as a straightforward story, recounting the Black Panther Party in Australia, slowly revealed itself as something more. The tensions around the movement and her personal life tightened around Marlene, and finally led to the break up of her relationship with the party’s leader. Marlene filled the vacuum with alcohol and quickly spiralled into a cycle of addiction that left her vulnerable on the streets. Her vulnerability and her belief in the movement made her a target for black men in power. Marlene recalls the incident of her rape, by two Indigenous leaders, after which she made the difficult decision to stay silent. Dedicated to the cause, and distrustful of police, she, like other Aboriginal women facing abuse, chose to stay silent to protect the movement from criticism.

Forty years later, and still struggling with addiction, she looks back on her involvement in the Aboriginal protest movement from her housing commission apartment in the community of Redfern. In the film, she journeys to New York to an international gathering of Black Panthers - a journey that takes her back in time, to her love affair, her time with the Panthers, and the question of the place of women in the movement.

Now a grandmother and no longer afraid, she speaks out about her experiences, breaking a forty year silence, to tell the story of her abuse in the Australian Black protest movement, to overcome her demons today.

5 years in the making, the film, "Black Panther Woman," presents her attempt to heal herself and her ongoing battle with addiction, and to add her voice to those calling for a halt to the abuse of black women from within their own community.

Director Rachel Perkins, who is an Australian of Aboriginal heritage, founded Australia’s premier Indigenous production company, Blackfella Films in 1992, and has contributed extensively to the development of Indigenous filmmakers in Australia and, more broadly, to the Australian film and television industry.

She says that, this film, like all the films she's worked on to date, is intended for an Aboriginal audience first, adding that the premise of it is, of course, relevant for all: "To have a fair and just society, we must have leadership with integrity," she states.

Marlene Cummins is currently a blues singer/songwriter in Australia, after studying as a blues saxophonist and songwriter at the Berklee College of Music in Boston in the mid-1990's. In addition to her musical talent, she has been a regular broadcaster on Koori Radio for years, with her renowned blues show, "Marloo’s Blues."

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Nigerian Election Results Ready Today –INEC
Nigerian National Accord

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has expressed optimism that results of the presidential and National Assembly elections would be announced on a national level today.

Accordingly, final collation of the results would start by 12pm at the National Collation Centre in Abuja.

INEC said it will only declare results when they have been collated from the states.

According to the commission, in spite of the several glitches that marred the exercise in some parts of the country, most results had been collated and were being expected at the commission’s headquarters last night.

Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega stated this last night in Abuja when he gave a preliminary assessment of the polls.

Several challenges, including the late commencement of elections, accreditation issues and security breaches forced the postponement of the polls in 387 polling units spread across the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Lagos, Kebbi, Niger, Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Jigawa and Taraba states.

While the elections in the affected polling units were concluded yesterday, collation was still being done at the local government level as at the time of filing this report.

This came even as the INEC boss vowed to identify and sanction one of its Presiding Officers in Taraba State, who allegedly allowed under-age voting in his polling unit during Saturday’s elections.

On the Taraba incident, Jega said under-age voting is against the law.

“We are investigating the reports and we will take measures once this is done.

“There was one clip that has been in circulation since yesterday (Saturday) afternoon about an underage voter said to be from Taraba and we have mandated our Resident Electoral Commissioner to investigate it thoroughly and identify where this happened and to also identify the polling official who did it because it is clearly illegal to allow and underaged person.

“There were a few other reported cases in which some observers said they have seen under aged voting, we are yet to see details which would have enable us to investigate these malpractices,” he said.

On the challenges encountered in Rivers State, the INEC boss said All Progressives Congress, APC, wrote the commission yesterday, calling for the cancellation of the polls.

The INEC boss also dismissed concerns that the commission was under intense pressure to declare inconclusive elections.

While he said the failure of the card readers was a big shock to him, he added that it was very probable that many of the electoral officials had not been trained in handling the device.

He also evaluated the situation in Delta State and said the commission has received reports that its ad hoc staff were substituted but that investigations were already ongoing to ascertain the veracity of the claims.

On claims by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that it was leading in 23 states, Jega said he would not know where the party got its own results.

“I do not know where the PDP spokesman got his source, but we have not collated results in 23 states,” he said.

Jega called on Nigerians to disregard any result that does not emanate from the commission.

He urged Nigerians to avoid listening to such announcements from people that are clearly partisan.

“The Commission warns strongly against unofficial announcements and declaration of results by unauthorised persons and channels, particularly online sites. Only INEC is empowered by law to announce results and it is an offence for anyone to preempt the Commission”.

He said the Commission has taken notice of hitches that were experienced during the election ranging from difficulty in using the card readers to late arrival of INEC officials to the polling units and security challenges, adding that efforts would be made to avert such in future elections.

In another development, Nigerians and the international community were yesterday alerted by APC of alleged ongoing plans by the PDP and President Goodluck Jonathan to tamper with the results of Saturday’s elections and circumvent the people’s will.

Speaking through its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a statement issued in Lagos yesterday, APC said it has information to the effect that some clandestine meetings were being held with the sole aim of changing the result of the election.

“The information that we have received since we issued our last statement is to the effect that the Jonathan administration is holding clandestine meetings with security chiefs and others with the sole aim of altering or scuttling the results, which they consider to be highly embarrassing and unpalatable, using malleable Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs,” Mohammed said.

Warning that nothing but the authentic results held by the party’s agents and all other stakeholders will be acceptable, and that whoever is planning to do otherwise should weigh its implication on the survival of the nation’s democracy, APC said the moves to manipulate the results are also being replicated in some states, including Bauchi, where everything is being done to reverse the outcome, and Imo, where many aides of Governor Rochas Okorocha are being brutalised and arrested in hordes.

Mohammed said: “We know they are stunned dizzy by the crushing defeat which has been inflicted on them across the nation, going by the results in the hands of our agents.

“We know they have activated their paid media channels to seek to confuse Nigerians by making outlandish claims that their presidential candidate is leading in the elections.

“We know they are counting on malleable RECs to thwart the will of the people, and we know they have no qualms about plunging the nation into crisis just because of narrow interests.

“This is why we are putting on red alert all the good people of Nigeria who trooped out in large numbers, defying the sun and the rain and against all odds, to vote for change.

“We are also by this statement calling on the international community to urgently prevail on the Nigerian authorities not to tamper with the results of the elections as expressed by Nigerians.

“As we have said many times, we will accept the outcome of the elections if they are free and fair. What we will not accept is the manipulated outcome of the polls.”

In a related development, security forces have been deployed in readiness for any attempts to breach the peace across the country, after the announcement of the results of the presidential elections today.

Our correspondent learnt from top security sources that more operatives have been drafted by various agencies to reinforce operations in any eventual attempt by miscreants to break the law.

The source said that security chiefs were not taking chances over the result announcement and as such, were battle-ready.

It was learnt that the security chiefs have already advised that curfew must be imposed with immediate effect in any state where there is imminent breakdown of law and order.

The source said that State of Emergency across the country was not ruled out in view of the alleegd desperation and agitation that have characterised the electioneering processes.

Already in Abuja and environs, there has been massive deployment of security, both on the highways and within the city as well as the hinterlands.

Soldiers and police operatives were sighted intensifying road blocks on the highways into Abuja, delaying commuters to ascertain their movements.

Checks have been intensified along the Keffi-Abuja roads, Kaduna-Abuja, Lokoja- Abuja roads, as well as any known routes leading into the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

Equally, military and police operatives are carrying out surveillance in notable black spots in the territory and environs as well as in the hinterlands where miscreants have been identified.

Our correspondents learnt that plain clothed security operatives, including operatives of Department of State Services, DSS and Directorate of Military Intelligence, DMI, have been deployed to fish out all categories of trouble makers for immediate arrest.

Defence Headquarters, DHQ, has said that citizens need not fear as security forces will ensure that lives and property are protected.

In a tweet on its twitter handle, the DHQ said that it was prepared to safeguard democracy, indicating that it would go after all trouble makers.

Meanwhile, results coming in showed Gen. Muhammadu Buhari still leading President Goodluck Jonathan in the presidential race.

In Osun, Ogun, Oyo and Kano states, results so far released showed Buhari leading, while President Jonathan cleared Ekiti State, where he polled 176,474 votes to beat the APC candidate, who garnered 120,332 votes.

Buhari is coasting to victory in Kano after results from 20 local governments were released.

The APC candidate secured the large chunk of the results from the 20 local governments announced at the state INEC headquarters, on Hajj Camp road.

The returning officers from the 20 local governments took turn to present the results to the state collation officer, Prof. Muhammadu Hamisu, with party agents and observers in attendance.

The local governments, which results were announced are, Kibiya, Gabasawa, Albasu, Bagwai, Kunchi, Tsanyawa, Gaya, Tofa, Rano, Wudil, Bunkure, Makoda, Gezawa, Garun Mallam, Kura, Kumbotso, Dawakin Tofa, Ajingi, Madobi and Kabo.

The results showed that 798, 821 people voted on Saturday, with Buhari, securing 686, 981 votes, while Jonathan scored 91, 687 votes.

About 16, 997 votes were declared invalid.

PDP won all the three senatorial and the six House of Representatives seats in Ekiti.

With the development, two APC senators seeking re-election, Senators Olu Adetumbi (Ekiti North) and Anthony Adeniyi (Ekiti South) lost their bids as well as their House of Representatives counterparts: Hons Bimbo Daramola, Oyetunde Ojo, Robinson Ajiboye, Bamidele Faparusi, and Ife Arowosoge.

In Ogun East, Prince Buruji Kashamu of the PDP was declared winner with 99, 540 votes to beat his APC challenger, who polled 84, 001, while the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP scored 12, 972 In Ogun Central, APC candidate, Prince Lanre Tejuoso is leading.

Senator Sola Adeyeye, APC, won the Osun Central Senatorial District with 137,379 to PDP’s candidate, who scored 82,529

In Lagos, INEC has declared the candidates of APC, winners of Lagos Island Federal Constituencies 1 and 2.

Mrs. Martha Amadi, the Returning Officer for the Lagos Island Federal Constituency 1, said that Mr. Enitan Badru of the APC polled 15,389 votes to beat Mr. Lukman Oladipo of the PDP who secured 5,732 votes.

The Returning Officer for Lagos Island Federal Constituency 2, Mr. Adekunle Salvador, said that Mr. Yakubu Balogun of the APC got 16,437 votes while Mr. Rahman Salawe of the PDP secured 7,305 votes.

The Returning Officer for Lagos Central senatorial election, Mr. Adebisi Adegbola, told journalists that the election was inconclusive on Saturday in one council area.

In Delta State, Deputy Leader, House of Representatives, Leo Okuweh Ogor was declared winner of Isoko Federal Constituency election.

Ogor who is being reelected for the fourth term on the platform of PDP defeated three other contenders.

While declaring the result, the Returning Officer for Isoko Federal Constituency, Dr Omosode Osafile said Ogor polled 79,052 to defeat his closest rival, Mr. Daniel Oyovwe of the APC, who polled 6,626 votes, while the candidate of SDP came third with 4,257 votes.

Meanwhile, reports from Ondo State indicated that Governor Olusegun Mimiko lost the state Central Senate seat to the opposition candidate.

The result which gave the APC candidate the advantage further confirms the inability of the governor to deliver the state to President Goodluck Jonathan even as the coordinator of his campaign in the South-West.
ECOWAS: Elections Free, Fair
March 30, 2015
Written by Our Reporter
Nigerian Nation

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Observer Mission (EOM), has declared that Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections met the acceptable criteria of being free and transparent.

The declaration was made by the mission’s head and former President of Ghana, John Kuffour, in Abuja yesterday.

Mr. Kuffour expressed satisfaction with the commitment made by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, security agencies and various entities on the electoral process.

He observed that the turnout of voters was generally high with a laudable participation of women and young people who displayed commendable level of patience and discipline.

“Security agents were present at most of the polling stations and on patrols in and around the cities as peaceful atmosphere prevailed in most parts of the country,’’ he said.

The mission also noted that INEC officials demonstrated good knowledge and compliance with voting procedures.

He also noted that agents of the major political parties, including All Progressives Congress (APC), Labour Party (LP) and the People Democratic Party (PDP), were in attendance in most polling units.

His words: “The process of counting at the polling stations and the subsequent collations at designated centres were successful and in accordance with the Electoral Act.

“Some of the challenges the mission observed during the exercise included the late arrival of INEC officials in many polling stations and malfunctioning of Card Readers across the country.’’

Mr. Kuffour further said the elections were still ongoing in some affected polling units were elections had been extended by one day.

He said the mission also observed that there was insufficient and/or non-availability of electoral materials in some polling units which led to delay in accreditation and voting processes.

Kuffour said: “Cases of attempt to snatch ballot papers were reported in some polling stations leading to instances of uproar, shootings and sporadic violence in the affected polling stations.

“Despite efforts by the relevant agencies to secure the electoral exercise, explosions were also recorded in some parts of the country.’’

The EOM is part of the ECOWAS sustained efforts to support the consolidation of democracy and good governance in Nigeria.

The mission is also in line with ECOWAS guidelines on election-monitoring.
Buhari Ahead in Kano, Oyo, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Four Others
March 30, 2015
Written by Our Reporter
Nigerian Nation

•Jonathan leads in Ekiti, Enugu, Nasarawa, Benue                
•UN lauds elections

All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari took an early lead yesterday as results of Saturday’s poll trickled in.

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Returning Officers announced results in some states.

The APC candidate is ahead in Kano, Ogun, Osun, Kogi, Oyo, Borno,   Ondo and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Results in 23 local government areas of Kano State’s 44 were declared last night. All were won by the APC candidate.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is ahead in Nasarawa State. He won in the six of the nine local government areas where results were declared. The APC won in Wamba, Keffi and Awe. PDP won in Akwanga, Nasarawa Eggon, Obi, Keana, Kokona and Doma.

Dr. Jonathan won only in Marte, one  of the 16 local government areas where results were declared in Borno State.

Jonathan also won with wide margins in Enugu State where results in three local government areas were released.

In Ekiti State, the PDP candidate won in all the 16 local government areas.

In Ogun State, the APC candidate won in 13 of the 20 local government areas.

A breakdown of the figures showed that in Remo North, APC polled 6,164.  PDP got 9,278. In Ewekoro, APC had 9,626 and PDP polled 3,227. For Obafemi Owode, APC got 15,207 and PDP secured 5,786.

At Imeko Afon, APC polled 7,657 with PDP scoring 12,153. At Ijebu Ode local government, APC polled 14,043 while PDP got 8,962.

For Sagamu, APC got 15,761 and PDP had 17,263. In Odeda Local Government, APC had 11,102 while PDP had 4,456. In Odogbolu, APC had 11,623 and PDP (11,405).

In Ijebu North East, APC won 7,638 and PDP got 6,163.

But, despite the challenge faced by 125,483 registered voters in Abeokuta North in collecting their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), APC dusted PDP with 21,213 votes to 5,742 in an election cast by 29,107 valid voters.

In Ogun Waterside, APC won  7,076 votes  and PDP got 8,063. In Ado-Odo Ota, APC (37,385), PDP (15,252); Abeokuta South APC (35,878), PDP (10,062); Ijebu East APC (9,109) PDP (10,045)

Also, in Egbado South,  APC: 14,169 and PDP: 10,491; Ijebu North, APC:  14,410 and PDP: 20,500;  Ifo, APC: 27,353 and PDP: 8, 645; Egbado North, APC: 16,459 and PDP: 13,408; Ikenne: APC: 8,443 and  PDP: 11,503;  Ipokia  APC:17,974 and PDP: 15,546.

Director – General of Amosun Campaign Organisation(AMCO), Chief Bode Mustapha, hailed the performance of the state chapter of the APC in the concluded presidential and National Assembly polls.

Mustapha, who is also the APC returning Officer in the state, said the party’s performance was quite impressive and served as pointer to what lies ahead in the forthcoming April governorship election.

He ascribed the performance to the performance of the governor in the last 44 months coupled with his robust and energetic campaign around the wards and 20 local governments in the state.

The APC candidate is also leading in Oyo State, with results from 23 out of the 33 local government areas declared. The APC won in 19. Jonathan won in four – Oriire, Ogo Oluwa, Surulere and Itesiwaju.

In Ona-Ara, the local government where PDP governorship candidate Senator Teslim Folarin and Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Jumoke Akinjide hail from, the APC won by over 5,000 votes.

The local governments won by the APC are Atisbo, Saki East, Iwajowa, Oyo West, Ibarapa East, Atiba, Iddo, Oluyole and Kajola.

Others are Afijio, Oorelope, Irepo and Iseyin.

In Ondo State, Gen. Buhari won in eight of the 14 local government areas where results were declared.

He won in Akoko North West,  Ifedore Local Government,   Akure North, Owo, Akoko Southeast, Idanre, Akoko South and Akure South.

Jonathan won in Odigbo, Ese Odo, Ile Oluji/Oke Igbo, Ondo West, Ireleand Ose.

In Benue State, Jonathan ahead in Ogbadibo, Agatu, Ado, Okpokwu, Ohimiri local government areas.

The PDP candidate is slightly ahead in the results of four local government areas of Benue State Zone C declared yesterday. In Ogbadibo, the PDP polled 6937 to APC’s 6257.

In Agatu, PDP got 9,555 votes to APC ‘s 3,627. In Ado Councils the PDP scored 7, 382 to APC’s 2, 328.

It Okpokwu Local Government, PDP got 12,103 as against APC’s 4,757.

PDP also won in Ohimini Local Government, scoring 5909 to APC ‘s 4,734 votes.

All the local governments are in Benue State, where the APC is believed to be weak, its strongholds  being Benue North and Central.

The results from other parts of the state had not been released last night.

In Osun State, with 30 local government areas declared, Gen. Buhari won in 28. PDP won in Ife East and Ife Central local government areas.

In Kogi State, the APC candidate won in six of the nine local government areas so far declared. There are 21 local government areas in the state.

The councils won by the APC are Dekina – where Governor Idris Wada hails from – Ogorimagongo, Adavi, Okehi, Idah, and Mopamoro. The PDP won in YagbaWest, Igalamela/Odolu and Mopa Bassa.

In Sokoto State, the APC candidate swept the polls in the three local government areas announced last night. These are Kware (APC 25,286, PDP 6,918);  Dange/Shuni (APC 31,036, PDP 5,339) and Goronyo (APC 28,950, PDP 7664).

Results from five local government areas in Kaduna State were released yesterday. The APC candidate won in two Soba and Sabon Garin, while the PDP won in Kaura, Jaba and Sanga. The votes as announced by Returning Officer Prof. Ja’afaru Kaura are Soba APC 61656, PDP 1998, Kaura APC 7101, PDP 27502, Sabon Garin APC 71022, PDP 10845. Jaba APC 5342, PDP 18314 and Sanga APC 12817, PDP 22858.

In the FCT, the results from four of the six Area Councils were declared yesterday. The APC candidate won in Abaji, Gwagwalada and Kwali. President Jonathan won in Kuje.
INEC Cancels Election Results of Two Polling Units in Kano
By NAN on March 29, 2015
Nigerian Guardian

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Kano on Sunday announced the cancellation of election results of two polling units in two local government areas of the state
The INEC Assistant Director Public Affairs, Alhaji Lawal Garba, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kano on Sunday.

Garba said the results were cancelled following the tampering of the results by suspected thugs in the areas.

“The results were cancelled in a polling unit in Kibiya Local Government Area and Jodade Polling Unit in Kunci Local Government Area.”

He said that some people suspected to be thugs forced the electoral officers to change the election results.

Garba also said that the commission had conducted election in 13 polling units in two local government areas of the state following the hitches recorded during the Saturday’s elections.

He said the election was held in five polling units in Shanono Local Government while in Tudun Wada Local Government the election was conducted in eight polling units.
INEC Results Expected From Monday in Nigeria Election: Commission
By AFP on March 29, 2015

First results of Nigeria’s presidential election could be given from Monday, the head of the country’s electoral commission said on Sunday, as voting went into a second day after technical glitches.

“Our hope is to be able to declare within 48 hours (of polls closing on Saturday) and hopefully within less time,” said Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

INEC later said that collation of results from states across the country would begin in Abuja from 12:00 pm (1100 GMT).

Technical problems with new devices to “read” biometric voter identity cards plus the delayed arrival of election material and officials forced INEC to extend voting into a second day on Sunday.

Jega said that 348 polling stations across the country were affected, including 90 in the financial hub of Lagos in the southwest, and two in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.

President Goodluck Jonathan is hoping for a second term of office but is facing a strong challenge from the main opposition candidate, former military general Mohammadu Buhari.

Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) have traded accusations since Saturday evening about irregularities in voting.

Jega said that INEC had received reports of alleged rigging in some places, including the use of under-age voters, and also a request from the APC to re-run the vote in the southern state of Rivers.

He told a news conference that the reports would be investigated but said that INEC was confident that its objectives of holding a “free, fair, credible and peaceful” election were “on course”.

“We appeal to all Nigerians to remain peaceful as they await the return of these results,” he added, with fears of a repeat of post-poll violence that in 2011 left some 1,000 people dead.

On the handheld voter identity card readers that left voters, including Jonathan, unable to accredit, Jega played down the scale of the problem.

“We received reports that some card readers were not reading. 0.25 percent of the total card readers were reported to have failed,” he said.

“We have deployed 150,000 card readers and 0.25 percent statistically is insignificant.

“If out of 150,000 card readers that we have deployed and 374 did not work, obviously you should commend this achievement.”
INEC RESULT: Nigeria in Tense Vote Count After Second Day of Polling
By AFP on March 29, 2015

Nigeria counted ballots in its closely fought general election on Sunday after failures in controversial new technology pushed voting into a second day, with officials calling for calm in the tense wait for a winner.

Military fighter jets and ground troops also pounded Boko Haram fighters in the northeastern state of Bauchi after a series of attacks on polling stations on Saturday and Sunday.

The presidential election in Africa’s most populous nation is the closest in the country’s history, with the first credible challenge from an opposition party.

Jonathan’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been in power since Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999 but is being pushed to the wire by former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.

First results could be given from Monday, the head of the country’s electoral commission said Sunday night.

“Our hope is to be able to declare within 48 hours (of polls closing on Saturday) and hopefully within less time,” said Attahiru Jega, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The prospect of a democratic transfer of power — plus economic woes caused by the slump in global oil prices, concerns about corruption and fears about insecurity — has energised the vote.

One government spokesman claimed there was a “record turnout” and voting was largely peaceful despite sporadic pockets of unrest mainly in southern states such as the key battleground of Rivers.

The technical difficulties, however, set the tone for a potential dispute as the PDP has opposed the use of the devices to authenticate voters, saying they were not sufficiently tested.

Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) supports the new system as a means of curbing voter fraud that has marred previous elections.

– ‘No shenanigans’ –

Wrangling over the results has already begun after counting on Saturday, some of it by flashlight with Nigeria regularly plunged into darkness by daily power cuts.

There has been a flurry of claimed constituency successes from both sides, and APC spokesman Lai Mohammed warned about vote manipulation.

“There must be no shenanigans,” he said.

In the southern state of Rivers, thousands of opposition supporters demonstrated on Sunday to call for the cancellation of the elections locally because of alleged irregularities.

At the same time, the ruling PDP has described the failure of the technology to read biometric data such as fingerprints on the president’s own voter identity card as a “huge national embarrassment”.

Jega has conceded there were “challenges” but added: “From our general assessment, out of the 150,000 card readers which we have deployed, only about 450 were affected.”

The devices were used again on Sunday but voters could also be processed manually if further glitches occurred.

Jega told a news conference on Sunday INEC was confident its objective of holding a “free, fair, credible and peaceful” election was “on course”.

“We appeal to all Nigerians to remain peaceful as they await the return of these results,” he added, with fears of a repeat of post-poll violence that in 2011 left some 1,000 people dead.

According to Jega, 90 polling units were unable to accredit voters and allow them to vote in Nigeria’s financial hub of Lagos in the southwest.

An electoral officer in the Kosofe local government area told AFP: “We had challenges yesterday with the card readers but it is working fine now.”

Wheelchair user Emily Adeyemi, 69, was accredited before others at her polling station.

“I was disappointed when I could not vote yesterday. But I am happy that I have been accredited to vote today,” she said in Yoruba, which is widely spoken in the southwest.

All ballots were expected to be cast by Sunday night, with nearly 69 million people registered to vote.

To avoid a run-off, presidential candidates need to have won the most votes and at least 25 percent support in two thirds of Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.

– Bauchi fighting –

Boko Haram has dominated the campaign, with military operations against the militants forcing a six-week delay to the scheduled February 14 election.

On Sunday, residents and a military source said soldiers supported by two fighter jets intercepted the militants at Dungulbe village, seven kilometres (four miles) from Bauchi city in the northeast.

“The fighter jets are pounding the enemy position while ground troops are engaging them,” said a military officer in the city, who asked not to be identified, in an account supported by residents.

“The operation is still ongoing but the terrorists have suffered serious losses and are in disarray,” the officer added.

The militants were believed to have come through the town of Alkaleri, 60 kilometres away, where there was a dawn raid on Saturday.

Gunmen in several vehicles attacked public buildings, security checkpoints as well as the office of the paramilitaries and the local electoral commission premises.

Bauchi police spokesman Haruna Mohammed confirmed that polling stations in nearby Kirfi were attacked on Sunday and election materials were destroyed.

A series of suspected attacks on polling stations in neighbouring Gombe state on Saturday killed at least seven.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has vowed to disrupt the election, calling it “un-Islamic”.