By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to timeously assent to the Electoral Bill 2021, which it said is in congruence with the will and aspirations of the Nigerian people.

The CSOs said the President must continue to pursue and honour his commitment to bequeath to
Nigerians an electoral system that guarantees the conduct of credible, inclusive and peaceful elections.

“Further amendments to the Electoral Bill 2021 by the National Assembly should be undertaken in the next electoral cycle based on real and perceived lacuna identified in the implementation of the current Bill.”

Speaking, at a press conference on Thursday, in Abuja, Samson Itodo, Executive Director of Yiaga Africa, said
the bill sent to the President contains specific provisions that are directed at enhancing the quality
and credibility of elections and address certain lacunas in the existing electoral legal framework.

“Such provisions in the Bill include: Legal backing for the use of electoral technologies for the purpose of voter accreditation and
electronic transmission of election results; extension of restrictive timelines for electoral activities, concise
definition of over voting and the conferment of legal authority on INEC to review questionable election results.

“The undersigned Civil Society Organizations welcome the decision of the President to invite the comment of
relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government on the Bill. In this regard, the input from the
Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister
of Justice, Minister of the Interior, Minister of Finance and the Inspector General of the Police are probably the
most crucial. In their consideration of the Bill, these Office Holders should be guided by the overriding public
interest to strengthen our electoral process and the consolidation of our democracy.

“It is our firm belief that the Bill in its current state will not only encourage increased citizens’ participation in the
electoral process, but it will also further enhance the capacity of the democratic institutions to improve the
transparency and legitimacy of electoral outcomes.

“Furthermore, the timely assent to the Electoral Bill 2021 will
facilitate early preparations and efficient election administration of the 2023 General Election, which is just 443
days away. It must be emphasized that the successful conduct of any election is predicated on the certainty and
clarity of the election legal framework, amongst other factors. This is to preclude any legal uncertainties that
may occasion manipulation and subversion of the electoral process. It is for this reason that the African Charter
on Democracy, Elections, and Good Governance and the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance
requires that any amendment to the electoral legal framework must be concluded at least six months to the
date of election.”

The responsible CSOs include; Yiaga Africa, International Press Centre (IPC), Centre for Citizens with Disability (CCD) and Albino Foundation.

Others are; CLEEN Foundation, Institute for Media and Society (IMS), Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF) and Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ).

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