No fewer than 42 civil society organisations have rejected the Electoral Amendment Bill (2021) being proposed by the National Assembly.
The CSOs in a statement on Sunday said the manual transmission of election results would be used to manipulate the outcome of polls.
Some of the CSOs are Center for Liberty, The Electoral Hub, Yiaga Africa, Raising New Voices, Ready To Lead Africa and Speak Out Africa Initiative, Centre for Development Alternatives Research and Studies, Aspilos Foundation, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre and South-South Professional Women Association.
“As everyone may be aware, the National Assembly will pass the Electoral Amendment Bill (2021) this week. Barring any last-minute changes, the bill is expected to be passed by both chambers on Thursday.
“Some proposals canvassed by citizens were adopted in the bill e.g., electronic voting, financial independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission, and new timelines for submission of list of candidates. However, there are discrepancies between the approved version of the bill and the alleged final copy, where some key provisions have been manipulated.
“In the alleged final copy, some key priority amendments were rejected by the leadership of the National Assembly, e.g. electronic transmission of results has been prohibited (S.50(2)) and the limits on campaign expenses have been increased (S.88). We are also concerned that the National Assembly has rejected the proposal empowering INEC to review the declaration of scores and return of candidates made by a Returning Officer, and determine that the declaration was made under duress or contrary to the provisions of the law (S.65).
“Following, the events of the 2019 general elections, we are convinced that INEC needs to have this power in order to prevent politicians from going through the backdoor to win election and steal electoral mandate at gunpoint! It is instructive to note that following the submission of the Electoral Amendment Committee’s report, the National Assembly leadership undertook an additional review of the report to insert and reject some amendments unilaterally, without going through the established process for such insertion,” the statement partly read.
The group added that the alleged final copy of the Electoral Amendment Bill did not represent the interest majority of Nigerian people.