2023: Why FG, Closed  Land Borders Across Nigeria , CBN, Releases Cash To INEC

By Suleiman Umaru

President Muhammadu Buhari , who has relocated to Daura, his home town , in Katsina state, to vote in the Saturday, Fbruary , 25, Presidential and National Assembly elections, appear determined to support the Independent National Eletoral Commission, INEC, under the close watch of Prof Mahmood Yakubu, to conduct a free, fair and credible elections.

Prf. Yakubu: INEC ,Chairman

Ulike in the previous elections where the Nigerian borders with the neighbouring West Afican countries of Benin Republicger, TChad and the Central African country  of Cameroon, would be  closed and manned by the  security agencies personnel , but that was how far the government could go.

This time around it is a different ball game because of the tight security at the country’s Land border Areas.The Katsina state born Nigerian President , who is not happy  with the security he was getting  that people from the neighbouring  West African countries  and the Central African country of Cameroon,  are coming into the country without taking  taken  into consideration that they needed to respect the country’s sovereignty  now that it is holding  elections to elect the next Nigerian President  and suspend coming into the country for any transactions.

Aregbesola:Minister Of Interior

The  Nigerian President may have given a matiching order to Rauf Ogbeni Aregbesola, a former governor of Osun state and minister of Interior, to close the land borders  across the country. The minister in turn, was said to have directed  Jere Idris, Comptroller General, Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, to close the borders across the country throughout Saturday, till after the Presidential and National Assembly before it can be reopened again for free movement of goods and service.

A top Immigration officer who spoke to the Value News disclosed that the directive had affected the   closure of the official and   over 1000, unofficial routes, that that are scattered all over the border states, particular,  Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, and Katsina, Buhari, home state, used by  foreigners to enter the country. Take for instance in Illela Community a border town, between Nigeria and Niger, alone, there are over 100 illegal routes. 

 Alo, in Ogun, home state of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the NIS, official disclosed that there are over 140, illegal routes, between Nigeria and Benin Republic,that are open to use by Nigeriens to enter into the country to transact their business without documents.

 Idris, the NIS, Comptroller General, may have known that that the service cannot afford to fail that he has ordered the Commission Comptrollers, across the country, to tighten up security at the nation’s Land borders with the neighbouring  west and Central African countries   from 00:00 hours,  on Saturday , February 25, 2023, to 00.00,  hours on Sunday, February 26, 2023, to forestall free movement of persons and cargoes that may disrupt the elections.

The NIS, Comptroller General was said to have made it clear to the service Comptrollers that they must ensure strict enforcement  of the Federal Government, FG, order  on the border closure to avoid be sanctioned.  Visitor to Idiroko, a  land border Community  in Ogun state would be surprised at the large array of NIS , Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, Nigerian Police Force, NPF and the Nigerian Army  stationed at strategic locations in different parts of the border area in the state. The situation is not different in the border Communities in Zamfara, Kebbi, Katsina and the Illela, Area of Sokoto state.

The seriousness with which the Nigerian President has attached to the 2023, general elections and his directive to the security agencies, particular, the NPF, which is the lead agency to provide security and conducive environment for Nigerians to exercise their Franchise speaks volume.

 Tukur Gusau, a Brigadier General, and Director, Defence Information,  may have given an insight to the President’s directive when he disclosed that  the security agencies  are fully  prepared  to use  strong force  on anyone  caught  trying  to subvert the elections in any part of Nigeria, particular, the land border areas, to frustrate those  foreigners , who have the Nigeria PVC,and who  might want to force their way into the country to vote.

  Brig.Gen. Gusau, may have sent a message to the citizens of the neighbouring West and Central African countries to watch it as the nation’s Land borders may not be open to all Dicks and Harry to enter and transact their business for the next 24, hours, because  the Army and other security agencies personnel  are determined  to crush them to ensure  the conduct  of a peaceful general elections in Nigeria.This is bad news for the Beninois, Nigeriens, TChadians and Cameroonians, who find their way to the border states to vote for their preferred Candidates, thus making nonsense of Nigerian electoral system.

   Brig. Gen.Gusau, the Defence spokesperson, has made it clear to those that cares to listen that the non-state actors operating in the north eastern states of Borno and Yobe , will not be able to  enter the country , let alone disrupt the elections in the two north eastern states , and parts of Adamawa, home state of Atiku Abubakar, Presidential Candidate of the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, for the 2023, general elections.  He was emphatic that that there will be a free, fair and transparent conduct of the elections in Borno, Yobe and other states of the Federation, including the FCT.

Even when INEC , has not mobolised both their staff and  adhoc personnel for the conduct of the elections, in the 36 states of the Federation and Abuja, the  FCT, the Defence spokesperson ,  had informed Nigerians that the security agencies  have recovered large quantities of  arms and a munitions  from Bandits  and political thugs . He may have alluded to the recent arms seizure in Delta and Kano states. 

Despite the tight security that had been provided by the lead security agency, NPF, for the 2023, elections, Bandits and political thug are still carrying out their nefarious activities. The recent attack and killing of Barrister Oyibo Chukwu, the Labour Party, LP, Senatorial Candidate, in Enugu North, Senatorial District, is an indication that the security agencies personnel need to step their operations to avoid  a repeat of the Enugu incident in the future.  

Joe Biden, the North American country of the United States President, who has called fora peaceful and credible elections in Nigeria,  has urged all the Candidates  ‘’to respect  the election results  and back a peaceful transition’’.  The US President had tweeted that ‘’all Nigerians deserve a chance  to choose  their  new leader through  a free, fair , transparent  and peaceful process’’.

Aware that the Electoral umpire needed  cash to conduct the 2023 general  elections without running into a hitch, the INEC,  Chairman, Prof. Yakubu, who  has been on the neck of Godwin Emefiele, over the last couple of months had, confirmed   the receipt of substantial part of the N305 billion approved by the National Assembly   for the conduct of the 2023, elections.  The release of the undisclosed amount to the Commission was said to have come   barely two weeks after the INEC, boss and Emefiele, the apex bank governor met on February 7, 2023.

 The duo had met to address the cash need of the Commission for logistical operations in the conduct ofthe Presidential and National Assembly elections. Prof. akubu was said to have told the CBN, governor, that though the   Commission does most of payments through online transfers, but that there are some specific services that require instant cash payment.

Emefiele: CBN Governor

 The INEC , helmsman, was said to have further told  Emefiele, the CBN, governor,  that the Commission needed cash  rather bank transfers  ‘to sort out many of their activities’’. He may have alluded to the transporters who are required to be paid cash because of the nature of their business. He was said to have also made Emefiele, to understand that ‘’there may be emergency situations on the Election Day which may require the use of cash to solve by the Commission and the CBN, governor may have seen reason with him.  He has no option but to release cash to the Commission.

.An elated Prof. Yakubu, had confirmed that the bulk of the small cash that it had requested from the apex bank   has been released and which is currently being distributed to the Commission’s offices nationwide to facilitate he movement of the sensitive materials from the CBN, offices in the states to the 774 Local Government Areas across the country. The materials were said to have been moved to the registration area centres , and to the polling units for voting the Presidential and National Assembly elections  on Saturday, February, 25, 2023.  

Adeniran Teller, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in Oyo state, has confirmed that that the state INEC, has secured cash from CBN, for the conduct the Presidential and National Assembly elections in the state. Other states and The  FCT, RECs, were said to have also secured cash from the CBN, that had facilitated the movement of the sensitive materials to their respective LGAs,   and polling units.      

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