A coalition of civil societies has said it uncovered a fresh plot by some lawmakers in the National Assembly to frustrate the Electoral Bill and foist a cul-de-sac version of the bill on Nigerians ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The group called on Nigerians, political parties, civil societies, the media, market women and Nigerian students to stop the lawmakers from carrying out the conspiracy.
The group disclosed these on Thursday in Abuja at a press conference themed, “CUL-DE-SAC? The plot to trap the Electoral Bill in the mines of delay.”
The CSOs include; the Center For Liberty, Raising New Voices Initiative, Ready-to-Lead Africa, Speak out Africa, Project Vote Initiative, The Nigerian Alliance, The Art and Civics Center, CDNDC, Adopt-A-Goal Initiative and Free Nigeria Movement.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Dare Ariyo-Atoye, said the fallout of the Section 52 (2) of the Senate version of the Electoral Bill on Electronic Transmission of Results was to trigger an executive veto and cause the bill to be returned to the National Assembly, by which time the National Assembly would be busy attending to the Appropriation Act.
He added that the elements behind the plan were to ensure the insertion of a clause that is in clear violation of the 1999 Constitution and to prevail on the Attorney General of the Federation to impress it on the President not to sign the bill because it contravenes the constitution.
Atoye explained that the aim of their conspiracy was to create an executive-legislative fiasco in the first phase, and then from next year, throw the electoral reform matter into the murky water of politics including making it an object of North-South divide.
Atoye said, “Since the Independent National Electoral Commission and the overriding legal opinions have confirmed the Senate version of Section 52 (2) of the Electoral Bill passed is in clear violation of the 1999 Constitution (FRN-aa), why is the Senate, at this crucial juncture, not avoiding clauses and provisions that could trigger an executive veto or create a constitutional crisis?
“A joint committee of the National Assembly had agreed to a bill that in Section 52 (2) gave INEC the exclusive power to transmit results as at when practicable. But like a thief in the night, the Senate version was doctored ahead of presentation and clause by clause adoption, and the country is yet to recover from this unpatriotic conduct.
“One of the CSOs partners, Adopt A Goal for Development Initiative, had through their legal representative issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to retract the statement its agents made to the House of Representatives which downplayed Nigeria’s capacity to transmit election results electronically. But curiously in their reply, the NCC said, “We are currently investigating your allegations and we shall respond in due time.”
“Unfortunately, this is the same NCC that Senate is constitutionally mandated to clear INEC before results can be transmitted electronically. Also, recall that the Senate did not deem it fit to invite the NCC and INEC and had progressed into this legal error a day before the NCC was invited by the House.
“Why is the Senate insisting on taking the path of illegality when INEC has said it has the capacity to transmit elections results? Why will an NCC representative make false claims in the House of Representatives when the INEC and NCC Joint Technical committee on Electronic Transmission of Result had found that mobile network adequately covered 93% of polling units? Why is the Senate ignoring data and interested in sticking to an unconstitutional proposal?”