Nigeria election: Govt shuts all land borders, restricts car movement

nigeria election

A police officer stops a car at a check point to check the activities of criminals and unknown gunmen ahead of the February 25 presidential election at Awka in Anambra State, southeast Nigeria, on February 16, 2023. 

Photo credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei | AFP


Nigeria has ordered closure of all its land borders and restricted vehicular movement across the nation as electoral materials are moved ahead of Saturday’s election involving 18 presidential candidates.

The Federal Government on Thursday directed total closure of all these borders ahead of Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly Elections.

Mr Isah Jere, Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, said all land borders were to be effectively closed from midnight on Saturday to midnight on Sunday.

“Accordingly, all command comptrollers, especially those in the border states, are to ensure strict enforcement of this directive,” he said.

The country, which borders Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin Republics, has also banned vehicular movement from 12am to 6pm on Saturday.

The order was in line with the directive of the Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Usman Baba.

Only officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), electoral observers, ambulances, firefighters and others on confirmed emergency services will be exempted.

“There will be no movement or escort of VIPs throughout the election period, while State Security outfits are not allowed to take part in the exercise,” the police also said.

Election materials

As the nation takes necessary precautions for hitch-free polls, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has started moving all sensitive materials for the Saturday polls to the 774 local government areas.

 INEC has fixed February 25 for Presidential and National Assembly elections as well as March 11 for the Governorship and State Assembly elections.

INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Enugu State, Dr Chukwuemeka Chukwu, said early on Friday that the trucking process of lifting the sensitive materials to various council areas had been smooth.

Dr Chukwu said the sensitive materials being moved included the Bi-Modal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machine, the ballot paper and the result sheets among others. 

“Once we load sensitive materials, the trucks accompanied by security and INEC officials will get the election result sheets from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Enugu branch, before onward movement to the council area.

“I sincerely believe that early this morning, all the trucks must have got to their respective local government areas, as some reached the council areas before midnight,” he said.

“Where buses will further take the materials, INEC staff and security to INEC’s Registration Area Centres (RAC) already activated for the poll this morning, Feb. 24. From the RAC centres, both materials (sensitive and non sensitive), INEC staff and security will move to the various polling units under each RAC early before 8 am on Saturday for the polls proper [sic].”

The INEC has also warned politicians to be wary of social media posts after voting, prior to the official declaration of results.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, said: “Fake news is now a trend and can mar our efforts to ensure free, fair and credible elections. We urge you to be wary of social media posted results before official declaration. Only INEC Returning Officers at wards, local governments and state levels have the statutory authority and power to declare the results.”

Broadcast rules

Further, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has ordered broadcasting stations across the nation to desist from announcing election results until the INEC makes a formal announcement.

The NBC also encouraged all broadcasters to adhere to the ethics and codes of the commission by prohibiting commercials on its facilities 24 hours before election day and on election day.

NBC’s Director of Broadcast Monitoring, Francisca Aiyetan, said broadcasters must end all partisan political programmes by 11:59 pm on Thursday 23 February 2023.

“The National Broadcasting Commission wishes to underscore the enormous responsibility thrust on broadcasters at this period, and therefore calls for strict adherence to the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and the Electoral Act, in order to ensure a sane airwave that will enable a free, fair, credible and transparent election,” the official said.

The commission asked broadcasters to note, for full compliance, the following sections of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code:

The broadcaster shall ensure that the broadcast of a partisan political campaign, jingle, announcement and any form of partisan party identification or symbol ends not later than 24 hours before polling day.

In exceptional circumstances, a government functionary may perform a service relating to his office within 24 hours campaign restriction period, provided there is no coloration of partisanship by the official or the broadcaster;

The broadcaster shall not permit any political campaign or advertisement on its facilities 24 hours preceding polling day or on polling day.

The broadcaster shall not use any vote obtained at a polling station or from exit poll, to project or speculate on the chances of a candidate.

The broadcaster shall relay Election Results or declaration of the winner only as announced by the authorised electoral officer for the election.’’

Big numbers

Regarding where Nigeria’s 93.5 million voters will cast their ballots, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC chair, said there were 176,606 polling units across the country.

He said the commission had made it easier for voters to locate their polling stations and that those assigned to new ones will receive text messages letting them know which they are before the voting days.

They will only send texts or WhatsApp messages to a dedicated telephone number, which will be uploaded on INEC’s social media platforms.

Another big number in Nigeria's election is that of the presidential candidates -  there are 18 of them, three being the frontrunners. 

They are Bola Tinubu, the candidate of incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari’s party, the All Progressives Congress (APC); former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who is the main opposition candidate and is vying under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); and Peter Obi, of the Labour Party. 


Presidential election results from 1979 to date

1979  - Shehu Shagari (NPN): 5.67m (33.77%); Obafemi Awolowo (UPN): 4.92m(29.18%); Nnamdi Azikiwe (NPP): 2.82m (16.75%)

1983 - Shehu Shagari (NPN): 12.08m(47.51%); Obafemi Awolowo (UPN): 7.91m(31.09%); Nnamdi Azikiwe (NPP): 3.56m(13.99%)

1993 - MKO Abiola (SDP): 8.34m (58.36%); Bashir Tofa (NRC):  5.95m (41.64%)

1999 - Olusegun Obasanjo (PDP): 18.74m (62.78%); Olu Falae (AD/APP): 11.11m (37.22%)

2003 - Olusegun Obasanjo (PDP): 24.46m (61.94%); Muhammadu Buhari (ANPP): 12.71m (32.19%)

2007 - Umaru Yar'Adua (PDP): 24.64m (69.60%); Muhammadu Buhari (ANPP): 6.61m (18.66%); Atiku Abubakar (AC): 2.64m (7.45%)

2011 - Goodluck Jonathan (PDP): 22.49m (58.87%); Muhammadu Buhari (CPC): 12.21m (31.97%); Nuhu Ribadu (ACN): 2.08m (5.44%)

2015 - Muhammadu Buhari (APC): 15,42m (53.96%); Goodluck Jonathan (PDP): 12.85m (44.96%)

2019 - Muhammadu Buhari (APC): 15.19m(55.6%); Atiku Abubakar (PDP): 11.26m (41.2%)