AS Nigerians clamour for free and fair elections ahead of 2023 general elections, 35 Civil Society Organizations, Tuesday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law.
The 35 CSOs made the call in a statement and led by the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, Canada Africa Partnership Network, Yiaga Africa, PEN America, ONE Campaign (Nigeria), and others.
Meanwhile, the 35 CSOs under the auspices of pro-democracy, human rights, anti-corruption, environmental, Faith Based, Youth and Women organisations welcomed the Biden-Harris Administration’s Summit for Democracy for leaders of governments, civil society and private sector to set forth an “affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action” called on the United States Government to make human rights centerpiece of United States foreign relations with Nigeria.
The statement also demanded that the Buhari-led administration should support a peaceful, free, fair and credible electoral process before and during the 2023 general elections.
The statement reads in part, “We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill into law.
“We also want Mr President to ensure the protection of lives and properties of Nigerians including by refraining from the lengthy deployment of the Nigerian military for internal security/law enforcement purposes within the country.
“Protect democratic institutions including the Judiciary and investigate all attacks on judicial officers in the country.
“Respect the rule of law including by implementing orders and judgments of domestic and international courts and mechanisms.
“Ensure the independence of the state assemblies and local governments from their control by governors nationwide by ensuring that federal allocations are released directly to the state assemblies and local governments as required by the constitution and also ensure that all governor-appointed illegal caretaker local governments are immediately replaced with elected councils, as also required by the Constitution.”
The statement also demanded that, “Federal Government is to guarantee the protection of human rights defenders, whistle-blowers and witnesses of human rights violations and investigate all allegations of reprisals against them.”
However, the group in the statement called on Buhari to “Implement the findings of the Judicial Panels of Inquiry investigating the human rights abuses of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and the attacks by the security agents during the ENDSARS protests and ensure prosecution of erring officers as well as payment of reparations to the victims.
“Support a free press and rescind all punitive sanctions of the government against media organizations in order to encourage open dialogue with citizens and civil society through social and mass media.
“Support free access to the internet and telecommunication service, and rescind all internet shutdowns in the country including the Twitter ban.”
The statement concluded by calling on the US government to sustain and strengthen the practice of implementing sanctions including travel bans against Nigerian officials who are found guilty of electoral malpractices and abuse of office.