Members of the Civil Society Organisations on Wednesday staged a peaceful protest tagged #OccupyNASStoday at the National Assembly Abuja to demand for immediate passage of Electoral Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill.
The group also accused the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila of working in cahoots with some people to frustrate the passage of the bill into law.
The placards carrying protesters under the auspices of Alliance of Civil Society Organisations for Expansion of Electoral and Democratic Space (ACCESS) said Nigerians were concerned that the leadership of the National Assembly had failed to meet the two deadlines (December 20, 2020 and March 2021) set for the passage of the Bill.
The protesters defied the heavy presence of armed policemen drafted to the main gate of the complex and vowed to sustain the occupation of the building until their demands were met.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Ariyo-Dare Atoye said it had come to the knowledge of the group that the Joint Committee of the National Assembly had completed the technical process on the Bill and that it was ready for third and final reading but the leadership of the chambers were obstructing its transmission to the plenary for consideration.
Atoye said, “The leadership of the two Houses of the National Assembly must demonstrate that they are not part of an emerging conspiracy within the current ruling political elite to scuttle the conduct of the 2023 elections.
“They must immediately ensure passage of the Electoral Act 2021 on or before June 9, 2021, when the 9th Legislative Session shall clock two years, to show Nigerians that they are patriotic and committed to free, fair, credible elections.
“We also want this Act in place to guide the conduct of the Anambra governorship election scheduled for November 6, 2021.”
The group called on the lawmakers to expedite action and pass the bill in the interest of Nigerians and to enable the electioral body and other stakeholders adjust to the new realities of conduct of polls ahead of 2023 general elections.
The protesters said the continued delay and lukewarm attitude of the lawmakers towards the bill may force them to take further measures to drive home their demands should there be no positive response to their demands.