A coalition of 124 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Nigeria on Monday urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to sign the Electoral Bill, 2021 into law, citing various infractions embedded in the proposed bill.
A spokesperson for the CSOs, Mrs Vivian Bellonwu of Social Action while addressing journalists in Abuja described the truncation of electronic votes transmission as an “orchestrated plot to circumvent free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.”
The Coalition was led by China Williams of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria; Steven Obodoekwe of Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development and Jaye Gaskia of Campaign for Transformative Governance.
Bellonwu also called for the arrest and prosecution of the officials of Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) for misleading the House and indeed Nigerians during his presentation when invited by the leadership of the House of Representatives to provide necessary information on electronic transmission of election results in the forthcoming elections.
She said, “Mr President should only give assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 after the deletion of the proviso to Section 52(2) that requires transmission of election results by INEC to be subjected to the clearance of N CC and NASS since that fly on the face of every known norm or practice in any electoral process globally especially as it erodes the independence of INEC and will ultimately lead to electoral crises which he must not allow to happen.
The deletion of Section 65 that has removed the powers of INEC to review results declared under duress or in contravention of electoral law and guidelines.
“The deletion of Section 88 which has completely monetized the democratic process as only moneybags can contest elections in Nigeria as campaign expenses for the Presidential election has been increased from N1 billion to N15 billion; the governorship election, from N200 million to N5 billion; Senate poll, from N40 million to N1.5 billion: House of Representatives, from N50 million to N500 million; and the State House of Assembly election, from N10 million to N50 million. In a country where the national minimum wage is N30,000 and the stupendously rich who may have stolen public funds or sponsored by drug barons can run for public offices.”
While frowning at the ongoing moves by the members of the National Assembly and other anti-democratic elements from shutting out women from participating in politics, the Coalition issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police to arrest the erring NCC officials and others involved in frustrating the proposed Electoral Reforms.
She said further that, “Events in the legislative chambers of our dear country in the recent past, particularly in the regards of elections and electoral processes have put a dire burden on all men and women of goodwill in this country, as well as organizations to act and take steps to checkmate what could aptly be designated as the most potent and hugest threat to transparent and credible polls in Nigeria, today.”