CSOs urge Buhari to sign electoral act

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For a smooth democratic process, civil society groups have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent the Electoral Bill 2021 in time.

The bill that has become controversial due to its clause 87 that seeks to make direct primaries compulsory for the nomination of candidates by all political parties, has pitched the lawmakers against governors.

Although the governors have urged the president not to sign the bill due to the clause, the lawmakers approved that clause so as to take away the leverage that state governors have in determining who the candidates for elections would be within a political party.

The groups made up of Yiaga Africa, Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), International Press Centre (IPC), Centre for Citizens with Disability (CCD), Albino Foundation, CLEEN Foundation, Institute for Media and Society (IMS), and Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF) said the bill will address the loopholes in existing electoral laws.

“The bill 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 groups said in a co-signed statement.

The groups said the timely assent to the bill “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.”

In their recommendations, the groups urged Buhari to continue to encourage an environment that promotes credible, inclusive and peaceful elections.

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