Nigeria 2019: Forum alerts INEC, Nigerians to activities of foreign manipulators
London, Dec. 31, 2018 (AltAfrica)-The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to keenly watch out for the influence of foreign manipulators in next year’s general election just as it asked the commission to resist pressures from those bent on sabotaging the elections who are allegedly asking for compromise of the polls.
This call was contained in a statement jointly signed by, Mr Yinka Odumakin (South-west), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South), Professor C. Ogbu (South-East) and Mr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt) who said
it may be possible that some forces are already in talks with some foreign mercenaries to interfere with the country’s electoral process
The fear of the group, according to the statement, stemmed from a publication by The Nation of Kenya of December 23, 2018 titled “Eyebrows raised over mystery Russian Plane at Wilson”
The fear of the group, according to the statement, stemmed from a publication by The Nation of Kenya of December 23, 2018 titled “Eyebrows raised over mystery Russian Plane at Wilson”.
The report stated that some 30 minutes to the closure of Wilson Airport on December 17, a twin-engine plane touched down at Khartoum, Sudan and five people were on board the British-manufactured Hawker 800XP registration M-VITO, according to the Director General of Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority, Gilbert Kibe.
“The Aircraft arrived from Khartoum on December 17, 2018 at 1956hours with a total of five on board. It departed for JKIA on December 20, 2018 at 1635hrs and later the same day at 1750hrs, it departed JKIA for Ndjamena- Chad with a total of seven on board,” the KCAA boss told the Nation.
“What raised the red flag about the plane’s movement was that the particular aircraft is reportedly owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, 57, a shadowy Russian and Kremlin insider with close links to President Vladmir Putin and whose name has prominently featured in the ongoing investigations into the 2016 US election meddling by agents of Moscow.
“Mr Prigozhin, a secretive businessman known as Putin’s cook/chef for his Kremlin catering work, was sanctioned by the US in 2016 and indicted in 2018 by Special Counsel Robert Muller who is investigating the Russian interference in the 2016 US elections,” the statement further revealed.
According to a European Union monitoring site for aircraft operators, M-VITO is Mr Prigozhin’s private plane but owned by Beratex Group Ltd, a Russian company. Mr Prigozhin is among 13 Russians charged by the US Justice Department with trying to sway the 2016 election.
“He has been accused of being behind the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Russian troll factory that spearheaded the efforts to meddle in the 2016 US elections.
In November, Bloomberg reported that Mr Prigozhin has become President Putin’s point man in efforts to reach across Africa by “offering security, arms training and electioneering services in exchange for mining rights and other opportunities.”
“He’s already active in or moving into 10 countries that Russia’s military already has relationships with: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Libya, Madagascar, Angola, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and the Central African Republic,” the Bloomberg report said.
SMBLF’s fear, the statement said, “is that Mt Prigozhin is being whispered to have come into Nigeria through the Chadian President in the course of these moves in relation to the 2019 elections in the country.”
Against this backdrop, SMBLF demanded a categorical statement from the Nigerian government on this “to assure the country that our electoral process is not about to fall into the hands of foreign manipulators just as we call on our people to remain ever vigilant.”