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Group flays president Buhari for refusal to sign electoral bill


Muhammadu Buhari

The Catholic Action Nigeria has condemned President Muhammadu Buhari for declining to sign the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment Bill.It charged the President, to as a matter of great national interest, rethink his decision or expect increased demands for him to resign even before the 2019 general elections.

In a statement issued yesterday in Abuja, its Governor, Board of Trustees, Peter Agbontaen, said the President has lost a good opportunity to be seen as a reformer of the electoral process.

He added that he (Buhari) was ill-advise not to accent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, insisting that the President’s action was not only a great disservice to himself, but it was damaging and has further created doubts about his intentions and commitment to conduct a credible election in 2019.

Agbontaen, who also noted that Buhari’s action would expose the 2019 elections to the manipulation he claimed he was trying to avoid, said,  “After all the efforts and the ‘back and forth’ experienced in the bill, the timing of his non-assent, will be viewed as deceit & insincerity on the President’s part. “This will hamper the President’s quest to govern the country in a way that will guarantee cohesion and peace.

“One wonders why Mr. President has to wait for the expiration of the constitutional 30 days, as he has done and did other times the bill was submitted to him, before making his position not to sign it known. This causes unnecessary tension and will heat up the polity,” he stated.He pointed out that the bill introduced novel ways to prevent rigging, checks and balances, as well as a deterrent to the manipulations the presidency is talking about.

“If not for desperation and an attempt to pave way for rigging the old way and lack of transparency, why will the President reject a bill that seeks to make manipulation of results and rigging of elections more difficult?

“Why will his advisers encourage him to reject a bill that mandates the use of card readers, provides real time on-the-spot live transmission of results, mandates access of all party agents to inspect election materials before voting commences, mandates access of party agents to be present during voting, collation and announcement of results, and more importantly, imprisonment for any INEC staff that contravenes the Act?He said,  “In our opinion, there was no harm in signing the bill into law as it was designed to improve the quality of our elections in Nigeria, considering our peculiar situation.

“We are surprised at the reason Mr. President gave for rejecting the bill, since the joint team from INEC, NASS and the Presidency and Attorney General of the Federation worked on the document to arrive at a final copy.”

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