‘Sign it now’ — CSOs protest delayed presidential assent to electoral bill | NN NEWS


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A coalition of Nigerian civil society organisations (CSOs) has taken to the streets to protest the delay in signing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The protest was held at the Unity Fountain in Abuja on Tuesday with several concerned Nigerians among the crowd, holding placards and banners while communicating their concerns amid the chant of “sign it”.

Recall that the president earlier declined assent to the bill, citing concerns over the recommendation of direct primaries for political parties.

The president had said compulsory direct primaries for political parties “violates the spirit of democracy”.

The clause was later removed by the senate and house of representatives, and the lawmakers introduced a clause allowing political parties to elect their candidates using direct, indirect or consensus methods.

The revised bill was subsequently transmitted to the president on January 31.

Speaking at the protest, Yemi Adamolekun, executive director of Enough is Enough (EIE) Nigeria, said the bill must be assented to by the president on Tuesday or the date for the 2023 general election earlier announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will not stand.

She also added that the bill enshrines technology usage by INEC in law, and it can be admitted as evidence during electoral tribunals.

“The fact about the bill is that the use of technology now becomes enshrine in law. You know that in the past, they’ll say those card readers are not backed by law and cant be used as evidence in court cases. But this new law recognises INEC’s prerogative to use technology like BVAS and whatever other technology that INEC wants to use,” Adamolekun said.

“In addition, as of last year, we all knew when the election was going to hold — February 18 and March 4 — but if the president does not sign the bill today, by tomorrow morning when we wake up, we will not know when the precise dates when the elections will hold. INEC has been proactive in announcing dates and allowing people to plan ahead of the elections, but if the president doesn’t sign the bill today, that jeopardises everything. The opportunity for the people and the media to plan has been taken away.”

On her part, Ene Obi, country director of ActionAid, said the bill is needed to keep a close tab on the activities of “those who are saboteurs in INEC” while asking the president to assent to it.

“Give us the bill and give us responsible umpires, and all those who are saboteurs in INEC, we will also be watching them. What we are telling the president is for him to sign the bill. He rejected the bill severally, so we are calling on him to sign the bill now,” she said.

Femi Adeshina, presidential spokesperson, had earlier said the president would sign the revised electoral act amendment bill in a matter of hours.

“It could be today, it could be tomorrow; it could be anytime, but within the 30 days,” he had said.

“It could be signed today; it could be signed tomorrow. In a matter of hours, not days. Hours could be 24 hours, it could be 48 hours; not days, not weeks.”

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