The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has turned down an appeal for an extension of the deadline for the conduct of primaries by political parties. The country’s 18 registered political parties, through the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC), on Tuesday, asked the commission to review its timetable and schedule of activities to afford member parties enough time to put their houses in order. The body’s appeal made at a quarterly meeting with the INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu. Mr Yakubu, on two different occasions last week, reiterated the commission’s stance of not changing its 3 June deadline for the primaries of the 18 political parties. INEC had reviewed its schedules for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria in February after President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the 2022 Electoral Act. In compliance with the new Electoral Acts, the commission fixed 4 April to 3 June for the election of flag bearers of all political parties for the 2023 elections. Against the INEC schedules, IPAC chairman, Yabagi Sani, on Tuesday, before leaders of other parties, noted the celebrations of Easter and Eid El Fitr (Sallah) holiday among their reasons for seeking a deadline extension. “By implication, the IPAC leadership is appealing to the INEC to extend the deadline for the conduct of party primaries and resolution of ensuing conflicts from the present INEC given date of 3rd June 2022 to 4th July 2022,” the IPAC chairman said at the meeting. The INEC chairman, Mr Yakubu, in reaction to the body’s appeal, told political parties leaders in attendance not to expect any extension from the commission. He said any attempt to review the timeline as requested by IPAC will alter the rest of the INEC schedule of activities ahead of the 2023 polls.

Nigeria’s Senate has amended the Electoral Act 2022 to allow statutory delegates to participate and vote in the conventions, congresses or meetings of political parties. The bill for the amendment, which passed the first, second and third readings at plenary on Tuesday, was sponsored by Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege. Statutory delegates in political parties include the President, Vice President, members of the National Assembly, governors and their deputies, members of the state houses of assembly, chairmen of councils, councillors, and members of the national working committee, among others. In his lead debate, Omo-Agege noted that the amendment was necessary because Section 84(8) of the Electoral Act 2022 “does not provide for the participation of what is generally known as ‘statutory delegates’ in the conventions, congresses or meetings of political parties”. “This is an unintended error, and we can only correct it with this amendment now before us”, he added. Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the amendment was necessitated by a deficiency created by the provisions of Section 84(8) of the extant Act. He noted the Senate convened the emergency sitting to ensure that statutory delegates who should participate in party primaries are not disenfranchised. He expressed hope that both chambers of the National Assembly would conclude legislative work on the amendment before Wednesday so that it could be signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has asked Nigerians to brace for petrol scarcity over non-payment of bridging claims by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA). IPMAN Chairman in Kano, Bashir Dan-Mallam told a press conference on Monday that the outstanding bridging claims owed to the marketers amounted to over ₦500 billion. According to him, the failure of the NMDPRA to pay the bridging claims, also known as transportation claims — for about nine months — had forced many of its members out of business due to the high cost of diesel. “The resurfacing of fuel queues in Abuja is just the tip of the iceberg with regard to the petroleum scarcity. Out of 100 per cent, only five per cent of the marketers can supply petroleum products because of the failure of NMDPRA to pay them.” He noted that after the amalgamation of DPR, PEF and PPRA to NMDPRA, the agency had paid the marketers only twice. Dan-Mallam added that Nigerians should not blame their members for the looming fuel scarcity but rather should blame NMDPRA. “We are not agitating for a transportation fee increase, we are only clamouring for payment of our bridging claims that is over N500 billion,” he said. Fuel queues for petrol surfaced in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) over the weekend. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said “low load outs” at depots contributed to the queues observed at petrol stations.

At least 14 people were killed in an overnight attack on a displaced persons’ camp in east Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri province, the latest violence in an area overrun by militants, the army and a civil society leader said on Tuesday. Rebels raided a site outside the eastern town of Fataki where hundreds of civilians have sought refuge in recent months, killing 14 people including children, army spokesman Jules Ngongo Tsikudi said. Civil society leader Dieudonne Lossa gave a provisional death toll of 15 and blamed a militant group known as CODECO, accused of staging another attack on a nearby artisanal mining site on Sunday that killed at least 35. The group is one of several armed militias, including an Islamic State affiliate, wrangling over land and resources in Congo’s mineral-rich east – a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions over the past decade. Congo’s government declared martial law in Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province a year ago in an effort to quell the violence. But deadly raids have surged since then. CODECO is renowned for targeting civilians, killing 18 people at a church last month and another 60 at a displaced persons’ camp in February.