- The delay in the signing of the electoral amendment bill has been a source of concern to stakeholders in Nigeria ahead of the 2019 general elections
- YIAGA Africa Watching The Vote (WTV) has called on the executive and legislative arms of government to ensure the bill sees the light of day
- The group stated that non-conclusion of electoral amendments constitutes a major threat to the credibility of the 2019 elections
YIAGA Africa WTV has expressed concern over the delay in the signing of the electoral amendment bill into law.
The group made its stance known on the delay at a press conference on the status of the electoral amendment bill in Abuja on Monday, September 10.
They called on the executive and National Assembly to work together to conclude all the electoral amendments by the end of September 2018.
“This includes ensuring key amendments that deepen the integrity of the electoral process are signed into law e.g. legal recognition for the use of card reader for elections,” Ezenwa Nwagwu, board member, WTV working group said at the briefing.
He also asked President Muhammadu Buhari to “fulfill his promise of promoting electoral reforms by expediously assenting to the electoral amendment bill when transmitted to him by the National Assembly.”
He noted that the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2018 bill forwarded by the National Assembly to President Buhari for assent in August 2018 contained only 15 clauses as opposed to 41 clauses in the original version of the bill, querying what happened the remaining 26 clauses.
“In the version of electoral amendment bill transmitted to the president for assent in August 2018, the amendment to Section 49 legalizing the use of smart card reader or any other technological device for accreditation of voters was omitted,” Nwagwu lamented.
He expressed worry over the secrecy of the electoral amendment process, stressing that more worrisome is “the failure of the National Assembly to inform the public on the amendments transmitted to the president for assent, as well as the silence on the part of president when a modified version of the electoral amendment bill omitting key amendments was transmitted to him.”
“This signals a lack of commitment to electoral reform,” he stated, adding that non-conclusion of electoral amendments constitutes a major threat to the credibility of the 2019 elections.
“The executive and the National Assembly should rise above politics and conclude all amendments to the electoral act to safeguard the integrity of the 2019 elections,” he cautioned.
He also noted that some proposed amendments in the electoral law have implications for ongoing electoral activities conducted in line with the extant electoral law, warning that it might be a subject of litigation if not properly managed.
NAIJ.com gathered that the goal of the electoral amendment was to;
1. Restrict the qualification of elective office to relevant provisions of the constitution
2. Recognise the use of smart card readers and other technological devices in elections
3. Provide for sequence of elections and party primaries
4. A timeline for the submission of list of candidates; criteria for substitution of candidates
5. Limit of campaign expenses and
6. Address the omission of names of candidates or logo of political parties
Also speaking, Samson Itodo, executive director, YIAGA Africa, informed journalists that the controversial sections highlighted by the president in the subsequent versions of the bill sent to him by the National Assembly, include Section 25 on sequence of elections and Section 152 on local government elections.
“The National Assembly also redrafted some clauses of the bill to address concerns expressed by the president,” Itodo said.
The latest rejection of the electoral amendment bill by the President Buhari was communicated to the National Assembly on Thursday, August 30.
This is the third time the president is declining assent to the electoral amendment bill, a move that has irked election stakeholders in the country.
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Meanwhile, the presidency says President Buhari is neither in confrontation with the parliament over his refusal to sign the amended Electoral Act Bill nor against the use of card readers in the forthcoming elections.
The president’s senior special assistant on media and publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, who stated this in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, September 9, said the president’s decision to decline assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018, had nothing to do with the use of card readers.
Shehu, therefore, dismissed the allegations of opposition politicians, as well as some newspaper editorial opinions creating the impression that the president was against e-voting and the use of card readers in the 2019 elections.
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