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CSOs protest, want Electoral Act 2021 signed before June 12

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Buhari. Photo: TWITTER/NIGERIAGOV

A coalition of 14 civil society organisations (CSOs), yesterday, protested in Abuja against the alleged failure of the National Assembly to conclude and transmit the Electoral Act Amendment Bill to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent, saying it must be done before June 12, 2021.

The groups reminded the National Assembly, under the leadership of Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, that it promised Nigerians a people-responsive Electoral Act by the first quarter of 2021.

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Speaking on behalf of the protesters, YIAGA Director of Programme, Cynthia Mbamalu, said the CSOs were worried that the Electoral Act Amendment Bill was yet to be presented for third and final reading in both chambers of the National Assembly, even as the nation is now in the second quarter of 2021.

Mbamalu said different partners were meeting with key stakeholders in the National Assembly to make key demands, and that the coalition had presented a 10-point demand that must be considered before transmitting the bill to the President.

According to her, the lawmakers must undertake an in-depth consideration of the citizens’ priority issues to address identified gaps in the current electoral legal framework.

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“We will no longer sleep on our right. Yes, 2018 has passed and we failed, but this time around, we are not going to wait till next year. We are going to keep hitting until we have our laws before the Anambra election,” she said.

Founder of Albino Foundation, Jake Epelle, who noted that the demands of the CSOs are germane aspirations of Nigerians, insisted that the lawmakers have an obligation to work expeditiously on passing the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 and transmit it to President Buhari for assent.

“This is an urgent national priority. Together with Nigerians, we firmly believe that if the current electoral legal framework is not reviewed and reformed, it will have a negative impact and consequences for democratic consolidation.

“We call on the President to speedily assent to the bill and deliver a brand-new Electoral Act 2021 to Nigerians ahead of the 2021 Democracy Day celebration on 12 June 2021.”

For the Co-convener of Centre for Liberty (CFL), Ariyo-Dare Atoye, elections have remained the fulcrum and constant cardinal feature in a democracy, maintaining that It is important to protect all conditions and instruments required to conduct free, fair, and credible elections to ensure that “the sovereign will of the people” prevail always.

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