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Electoral Amendment Bill: Civil society groups mount pressure on NASS

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Concerned by the backwardness of the 9th National Assembly (NASS), to pass into law the much-needed new Electoral Act Amendment Bill in the 1st Quarter of 2021 as earlier promised, a coalition of Civil Society groups Tuesday raised the alarm to NASS to pass the bill in order to make credible election a priority.

The group noted that a speedy enactment of the Bill will give the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the legal clarity to adequately plan to effectively conduct future elections, particularly the Anambra governorship election scheduled for 6 November 2021.

They added that the timeline given by the Senate President to Nigerians has elapsed a situation that may threaten outcomes of 2023 general election.

In a statement made available to CAPITAL POST, jointly signed by the Civil Society groups, urged that “NASS Must Pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill Now”.

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“Reforming the Electoral Legal Framework for Credible Elections is a Top Priority: NASS must pass the Electoral Act Amendment Bill Now.

“In December 2020, the National Assembly held a Public hearing on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill which provided an opportunity for citizens and stakeholders to participate and make their input to the electoral reform process.

“The urgent need for reforming the Electoral Legal Framework is founded on the broad-based consensus by Nigerian citizens’ and electoral stakeholders on the need for a more credible and improved electoral process.

“A process that will encourage active citizens’ participation and guarantee their rights in electing leaders and representatives that will provide good governance by addressing gaps in the current electoral legal framework.

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“The Senate President at the time promised Nigerians a new Electoral Act by March 2021. That timeline has come and gone!

“Elections remain the fulcrum and constant cardinal feature in a democracy.

“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.

“The seeming lack of progress in the National Assembly on the Electoral Act Amendment bill is therefore worrisome.

“Nigerians demand that their elected representatives respond to the urgent need for an electoral legal framework that genuinely strengthens the electoral processes and procedures, promotes inclusivity and addresses impunity.

“The continued delay in concluding the process is reminiscent of the failed process in 2018 and attendant impact on the 2019 general election.

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“The ninth National Assembly, under the leadership of Ahmad Lawal and the Femi Gbajabiamila, promised Nigerians a people – responsive Electoral Act by the first quarter of 2021.

“We are now in the second quarter of 2021 and the Electoral Act Amendment Bill is yet to be presented for third and final reading in both chambers of the National Assembly. This process is required before the Bill can be transmitted to the President for his assent.

“In considering the Bill, NASS 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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