Kano State Command of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has deported six Niger Republic nationals who were arrested attempting to get voter cards in the ongoing voter registration in the state.
Ahead of the April general election, the Canadian government has advised Nigeria to guard against falling into the mistakes of the past and ensure that it makes adequate preparations to conduct transparent and credible elections that will be acceptable to Nigerians and the international community.
Speaking to journalists while parading the suspects before their deportation in Kano yesterday, the state Comptroller of NIS, Dr. Brasca Emmanuel Ifeadi, said the surveillance team of the service, after a tip-off, arrested them at various registration centres within Kano metropolis.
According to Ifeadi, three of the arrested suspects had successfully registered, while the other three were attempting to get registered before the command’s intelligence officers arrested them.
Those arrested after they had secured the voter card were Murtala Yahaya, Mohammed Akilu and Yusuf Rabilu. The others, who were attempting to register before they were picked up, included Abdullahi Lawwali, Salisu Mohammed and Murtala Mokhtar.
Giving further details on the incident, Ifeadi said the service would work tirelessly for a successful conduct of the election by ensuring that all its personnel were at strategic locations to stop possible voting by foreigners.
The comptroller said the arrested Nigeriens would be repatriated to their country, because they entered Nigeria through illegal routes.
He said: “The six arrested Niger Republic nationals are not regularised because they don’t have travel documents and we will take them back to their country today (yesterday).”
Meanwhile, the Canadian High Commissioner in Nigeria, Mr. Chris Coota, has unveiled plans to mobilise no fewer than 8,000 observers to monitor the forthcoming polls across the country.
Speaking at the Project 2011 Swift Count, a coalition of civil society and religious groups, yesterday, Coota urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to avoid the trap of poor preparations for the April elections if the country hopes to ensure the elections are free, fair and credible.
The envoy said a situation whereby INEC appeared ill-prepared to conduct the voter registration, especially during the initial stages, does not augur well for the country, considering the bigger challenge of conducting the general election in just over two months’ time.
“We are happy that this time around, the Federal Government is committed to free and fair elections and we notice some efforts in that direction. However, the key thing is people’s participation and that is why the INEC must do something to improve the registration process. We hope you do a better job than you did in 2007. It is important to prepare well before commencing the election so as to avoid incidences of lack of materials or late arrival of election personnel,” he said.
According to the high commissioner, democracy remained the beauty of any federal system of governance because the system ensures checks and balances. Nevertheless, he said, the people must be made to participate in the process for it to be credible.
He described reports of numerous voters queuing at the various registration centres to get registered as a welcome development.
Coota recalled that Canada was disappointed during the 2007 general election when many people could not participate due mainly to the use of a poorly documented voter register.
He pledged that Canada would continue to lend technical and financial support to INEC and the Nigerian government to ensure that the goal of credible election was achieved in 2011.
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