Not less than 26 Civil Society groups have declared February 22, 2022, a National Day of Protest following delay by President Muhammadu Buhari to assent the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
In a statement on Saturday, the groups also gave next week Tuesday as ultimatum for Buhari to sign the Bill based on dates announced for the 2023 elections, and if they are to be maintained.
They also pointed 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, 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 the bill allows electronic transmission of results, strengthens INEC’s financial independence and empower the commission to reject falsified election results.
“Further aware, the bill, when signed, requires INEC to issue 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 22nd February 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, 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 organize 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 26 CSOs are 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).
Others include Transition Monitoring Group; CLEEN Foundation; Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC); Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC); 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 Forum; Raising New Voices; Millennials Active Citizenship Advocacy Africa; and Ready To Lead Africa.