Electoral Act: Buhari Delays Signing as CSOs hold Protest Rally in Abuja

Electoral Act: Buhari Delays Signing as CSOs hold Protest Rally in Abuja

Worried by timelines set in the 2022 Electoral Act Amendment Bill, awaiting President Buhari’s signature, 25 Civil Society Organisations converged at the Unity Fountain in Abuja on Tuesday to protest the continued delay in signing the Bill into law. The National Assembly had on January 31 transmitted a clean copy of the reworked Electoral Bill

Worried by timelines set in the 2022 Electoral Act Amendment Bill, awaiting President Buhari’s signature, 25 Civil Society Organisations converged at the Unity Fountain in Abuja on Tuesday to protest the continued delay in signing the Bill into law.

The National Assembly had on January 31 transmitted a clean copy of the reworked Electoral Bill to President Buhari for assent after accommodating the President’s request to amend some clauses which made him to refuse assent.

But President Buhari’s media adviser said on a major television network earlier in the day that the President would sign the Bill within hours after concluding his consultations with appropriate Officers and agencies of government.

Declaring today’s protest as a teaser, the CSOs have declared February 26 as a day for national protest to demand immediate assent to the bill.

In the league of protesting CSOs were Partners for Electoral Reform, Nigeria Civil Society Room, Yiaga Africa, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development, International Press Centre, Cleen Foundation, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Enough is Enough and the Electoral Hub.

Others were Institute for Media and Society, Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organisation, Centre for Liberty, Labour Civil Society Coalition, Transition Monitoring Group, Nigerian Women Trust Fund, Centre for Disability, and The Albino Foundation.

Women in Politics, Take Back Nigeria Movement, 100 Women Lobby Group, Raising New Voices, Ready to Lead Africa and Millennials Active Citizenship Advocacy Africa..

The organisations gathered at the Unity Fountain in Abuja for several hours during which they condemned the delay by the president to sign the bill into law.

In a statement they jointly signed during the protest, the 25 CSOs asked the president to sign the bill within the 30 days timeline and thereafter propose any amendments if he so desired as he did to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

“Further amendments to the Electoral Bill 2022 can be proposed after assent has been granted. It is within the President’s prerogative to propose amendments after signing the bill like he did in the case of the Petroleum Industry Bill and 2022 Appropriation bill, an act which attracted commendation.

“We call on President Buhari to sign the Electoral bill into law on or before the expiration of the 30 days’ timeline on the 1st March 2022 to enable INEC to issue Notice of Election and release the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general election,”

The CSOs argue that the Bill among other things strengthen INEC’s financial independence and empowers the electoral umpire to reject falsified election results. The Electoral Bill is replete with provisions that address electoral manipulation and the intractable protracted problem of poor election logistics.

Also, the new Bill will help to safeguard the integrity of the off-cycle upcoming governorship elections in Osun and Ekiti states.

Some other key provisions in the electoral amendment Bill are that funds for INEC to conduct elections would be released at least a year to the elections; the Commission is also empowered to cancel results declared under duress or during acts of violence. These provisions will strengthen the independence of INEC and advance the cause of democracy through credible elections.

If the President fails to sign within 30 days as spelt out by law, the CSOs have beckoned on the National Assembly to veto the Bill with its two-thirds majority into law.

Ayo Aluko-Olokun
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