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CSOs to NASS: Override Buhari’s decision or remove direct primaries

A coalition of civil society groups has expressed disappointment on the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to withhold assent to the Electoral Bill 2021 transmitted to him more than a month ago, stating that the development may undermine public confidence and trust in the electoral system.

This is as the coalition urged the National Assembly to as a matter of national emergency either override the President’s decision or remove the contentious clause (s) from the bill and transmit the bill back to the President for assent within the next 30 days.

The coalition disclosed this in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja and signed by Yiaga Africa, International Press Centre (IPC), Centre for Citizens with Disability (CCD) and Albino Foundation. Other signatories to the statement are: CLEEN Foundation, Institute for Media and Society (IMS), Nigerian Women Trust Fund (NWTF) and Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) President Buhari in a letter to the Senate, asked the National Assembly to remove the controversial clause on direct primaries from the bill and return the proposed law to him for assent. He also cited insecurity as one of his reasons for withholding his assent to the bill for the second time.

The statement reads: “The Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives read a letter from President Buhari communicating his decision to withhold assent to the Electoral Bill 2021 transmitted to him more than a month ago on 19th November 2021. “The undersigned Civil Society Organisations are saddened and wish to express our disappointment at this development. The withholding of assent by the President to a bill that relevant electoral stakeholders have spent enormous time and resources to put together undermines public confidence and trust in the electoral system. “More disappointing is the fact that the President delayed his response until the effluxion of time required for assenting to legislation until the date that the National Assembly is proceeding for the Christmas and New Year holiday.” The coalition said the President’s decision to withhold assent to the Bill will have serious implications for INEC as it prepares for the FCT Area Council election, the Ekiti and Osun governorship elections, and ultimately the 2023 General Election.

 

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