- Civil Society Organisations have urged President Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill passed by the National Assembly
- The demand was made at a press briefing in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Thursday, December 2
- According to them, the timely assent to the Bill would facilitate early preparations and efficient election administration of the 2023 general election
Abuja - Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Thursday, December 2 called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to consider the interest, aspirations and yearnings of Nigerians and assent to the Electoral Bill.
The demand was made at a press briefing jointly organised by Yiaga Africa, International Press Centre (IPC), Centre for Citizens with Disability (CCD), Albino Foundation, CLEEN Foundation, Institute for Media and Society (IMS), Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF), Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) in Abuja.
Speaking on behalf of the CSOs, Samson Itodo, executive director of Yiaga Africa said:
“The presidency on 19th November 2021 acknowledged the receipt of the Electoral Bill 2021 from the National Assembly for presidential assent.
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“The bill contains specific provisions that are directed at enhancing the quality and credibility of elections and address certain lacunas in the existing electoral legal framework.
“Such provisions in the Bill include: Legal backing for the use of electoral technologies for the purpose of voter accreditation and electronic transmission of election results; extension of restrictive timelines for electoral activities, concise definition of over voting and the conferment of legal authority on INEC to review questionable election results.
“The undersigned Civil Society Organizations welcome the decision of the president to invite the comment of relevant ministries, departments and agencies of government on the Bill.
“In this regard, the input from the chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, minister of the interior, minister of finance and the inspector general of the police are probably the most crucial.
“In their consideration of the Bill, these office holders should be guided by the overriding public interest to strengthen our electoral process and the consolidation of our democracy.
“It is our firm belief that the Bill in its current state will not only encourage increased citizens’ participation in the electoral process, but it will also further enhance the capacity of the democratic institutions to improve the transparency and legitimacy of electoral outcomes.
“Furthermore, the timely assent to the Electoral Bill 2021 will facilitate early preparations and efficient election administration of the 2023 General Election, which is just 443 days away.”
Asked by a Legit.ng reporter if the bill won't give too much power to INEC, Mr Lanre Arogundade of IPC said:
“What is important is that INEC powers can be derived from the law or legislation already in place. The media can also carry out an oversight on INEC.”
On his part, Itodo noted that the CSOs expect those invited by the president to give a response that reflects the demands of Nigerians.
Recommendations of the CSOs
The CSOs made recommendations which are:
1. The president should timeously assent to the Electoral Bill 2021 which is in congruence with the will and aspirations of the Nigerian people.
2. President Buhari must continue to pursue and honour his commitment to bequeath to Nigerians an electoral system that guarantees the conduct of credible, inclusive and peaceful elections.
3. Further amendments to the Electoral Bill 2021 by the National Assembly should be undertaken in the next electoral cycle based on real and perceived lacuna identified in the implementation of the current Bill.
Electoral Act Amendment Bill: INEC finally speaks on Buhari's letter
Legit.ng previously reported that as the 30 days required for the president to either assent to or communicate to the Nationals Assembly his views and comments about the Electoral Act Amendment Bill draws near, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reacted to the letter sent to the commission by Buhari.
INEC in its response said, constitutionally and legally, the commission is the end-user of the electoral legal framework under contention.
Festus Okoye, INEC chairman of the information and voter education committee, said it is strategic and fundamental to seek advice from the commission and other stakeholders like the president have done in his letter.