Electoral Bill: 26 Civil Society groups declare Feb. 22 as National Day of Protest

Gives Buhari next week Tuesday to assent to Bill

As Nigerians are becoming anxious about the electoral process ahead of the 2023 general elections, 26 Civil Society groups, (CSOs), yesterday, declared Tuesday, Feb. 22, as ‘National Day of Protest’, following the delay by President Muhammadu Buhari to assent the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill.

In an issued statement, the groups also gave next week Tuesday as an ultimatum for President Buhari to sign the Bill based on dates announced for the 2023 elections, if they are to be maintained.

The 26 CSOs include Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room; Yiaga Africa; Partners for Electoral Reform (PER); International Press Centre; Institute for Media and Society; Nigerian Women Trust Fund; The Albino Foundation; Centre for Citizens with Disability; Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, (PTCIJ); Labour Civil Society Coalition, (LASCO); Transition Monitoring Group; CLEEN Foundation; Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, (CISLAC); Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, (WARDC).

Others are the Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organizations, (NNNGO); Inclusive Friends Association, (IFA); Enough is Enough; ‘The Electoral Hub; Centre for Liberty’; ‘Take Back Nigeria Movement’; International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre, (IPCRC); ‘100 Women Lobby Group; Women in Politics Forumz; ‘Raising New Voices; Millennials Active Citizenship Advocacy Africa’; and ‘Ready To Lead Africa’.

The CSOs also pointed out that the delay by Buhari to assent to the Electoral Bill will create legal uncertainties that will threaten the integrity of the off-cycle elections in Ekiti, Osun States, and the 2023 general election.

Recall that on Friday, 23 CSOs expressed pain over the attitude expressed by the President on assenting to the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill, saying on five occasions the President has refused assent to the Bill in the last five years, but now enough is enough, hence the nationwide protest and ultimatum to sign the Bill on or before next week Tuesday.

The statement reads in part: “Aware that on the 31st January 2022, the National Assembly transmitted the Electoral Bill 2022 to the President for assent after expeditiously reworking the Bill to meet the President’s expectations.

“Also, aware that the Bill allows electronic transmission of results, strengthens INEC’s financial independence and empowers the Commission to reject falsified election results.

“Further aware, the Bill, when signed, requires INEC to issue a Notice of Election not later than 360 days before the day appointed for an election. Therefore, the President has to give assent to the bill on or before February 22, 2022 if the dates announced for the 2023 elections are to be maintained.

“Concerned that the delay in granting presidential assent to the Electoral Bill, 2022 will create legal uncertainties that threaten the integrity of the off-cycle elections in Ekiti, Osun Stated, and the 2023 general election, which is 366 days away.

“The civil society community resolves to declare Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, as the National Day of Protest to demand immediate assent to the bill. Civil society networks will organise peaceful public direct-action activities to further the demand to assent the Bill”.

“We urge citizens across the nation to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to act on this matter of urgent national importance”, the groups stated.

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