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75 parties asks Buhari to sign Electoral Act bill, NASS to represent bill

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No few than 75 political parties under the auspices of the Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill into law when re-presented to him by the National Assembly to save the country from the problems associated with the conduct of  elections under the present electoral law.

President Buhari had declined assent to the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment bill on the ground that it was passed too close to the 2019 general elections and signing it into law would affect the conduct of the last polls.

IPAC on Monday at a 2-day roundtable on the review of the 2019 general elections in Abuja asked Buhari to sign into law the amended electoral bill which gives room for electronic voting and other innovations that could improve the country’s electoral process into law.

It further called on the National Assembly to immediately re-present to President Muhammadu Buhari the amended electoral act while Buhari should do the needful to ensure that the amended Electoral Bill is signed into law.

The body of political parties also passed vote of confidence on Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, noting that the 2019 general elections met the expectation of majority of Nigerians.

Chairmen of the political parties that made of IPAC however, blamed operatives of security agencies, particularly the military and the police for whatever shortcomings that might have been witnessed in the election.

In a communique issued at the end of roundtable Chairmen explained that the decision to commend the INEC Chairman was anchored on his commitment to ensure that things were done in a transparent manner.

“The Roundtable after a comprehensive review of the conduct of the 2019 general elections passes a vote of confidence on the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu for the successful conduct of the election, and notes with satisfaction the transparency in communication and regular engagement of stakeholders at the National, State and Local Government levels which ensured that everybody was carried along in the process.

“The Roundtable indicts the security agencies for the lapses in the election due largely to their collusion with unscrupulous politicians and negligence to do their jobs.

“The Roundtable condemned the hypocrisy of the leadership of the security agencies that manifested in the partisan deployment of police and security personnel to polling station/voting point, and also condemned the unprofessional conducts of security agents.

“The Roundtable calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill into law when re-presented to him by the National Assembly to save the country from the problems associated with the extent law.

“In order to address dwindling turnout of voters after the first election and increase the zeal to elect credible leaders The Roundtable recommends the conduct of the three principal elections, viz; Presidential/National Assembly election, Governorship/State Assembly elections and Chairmanship/Councillorship elections on the same day. This will save cost, ensure emergence of quality leadership, the integrity of the ballot, large voter turnout and guarantee improved security on election day.

“INEC should strengthen the capacity of its polling staff through training and retraining particularly on the handling of the card readers, assisting voters as well as other electoral procedures to ensure transparency and credibility during future elections.

“INEC should consider, recruiting permanent staff whose schedule should be collation of results, train them thoroughly for the assignment to save the nation the embarrassment of adhoc collation officers.

“Efforts must be intensified to ensure proper coordination of Inter Agency Committee on Election Security (ICES) and the non-partisan deployment of security personnel to all the polling units to ensure peaceful conduct of polls.

“The Roundtable calls on the National Assembly should immediately re-present to President Muhammadu Buhari the amended electoral and calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to do the needful to ensure that the amended Electoral Bill is signed into law.

“The Roundtable demands the establishment of electoral offenses tribunal to try electoral offenders, which should be structured to take off less than a month after election petition tribunal hearings have concluded”, the communiqué read.

Faith Nwadishi, Acting Executive Director, Centre for Transparent Advocacy (CTA), Co- organisers of the event, stated that INEC as the umpire of the general elections proved quite independent in the way and manner it responded to the unexpected challenges thrown at it by the stakeholders in the process and other unforeseen circumstances during the last general election.

“Of note is how it bravely prevented the ruling party from fielding candidates in Zamfara in its determination to follow the rules no matter whose ox is gored. More crucially, on the ground, during election and voting day, it refused to be intimidated by threats and violence unleashed on its officials and ad-hoc staff leading to some certificates of return being withheld by INEC though this is now subject to litigations”, she said.

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