Human rights activists, Aisha Yesufu and Deji Adeyanju on Tuesday in Abuja led members of the Alliance of Civil Society Organisations for Expansion of Electoral and Democratic Space (ACCESS) in a protest against an alleged plan by the National Assembly to forge and manipulate the final copy of the Electoral Amendment Bill which will soon be due for passage.
The activists alleged that some lawmakers inserted strange items and clauses into the bill and also expunged some of the proposals canvassed by Nigerians during a public hearing. The protesters, who displayed placards and banners at the gate of the National Assembly, warned the lawmakers against subversion of the will of the people.
Some of the inscriptions read: Who Forged Electoral Bill; No More Rigging; and We Demand Electronic Transmission of Results.
Yesufu called on Nigerians to prevail on the lawmakers to reject the forged Section 50(2) and other manipulated sections of the Electoral Bill in the interest of Nigeria.
She added that Nigerians would resist any attempt to mortgage the future of unborn generations and compromise the electoral process for selfish interest.
She said, “We are not happy with what is happening in our nation, especially what is happening in the National Assembly, the same people we voted into the office to fight our fight for us, to be our voice, to stand for us. For how long have we been fighting for this electoral reform?
“I sat at the public hearing when the Senate President came out and said we should take his words and we know now that his words mean nothing. The Senate President should be ashamed of himself. He said in the first quarter of the year, they are going to pass the electoral bill. Here we are, we are now in July and we are still asking for the same thing.
“Femi Gbajabiamila, you fought to be Speaker to come and be a rubber-stamp and not fight for the people. You are just sitting down there as number four and playing second fiddle and playing as if you are not a citizen but a slave.
“We are saying this is democracy and the legislative arm of government is what makes it a democracy and today we are demanding that transmission of results must be done electronically.”
She said Nigerians can only get rid of bad government through the ballot by voting for candidates with integrity, courage, and good character.
Yesufu said Nigerians are not asking for too much for demanding a credible electoral process.
“Lawal and Gbajabiamila, you are the head of National Assembly, be the head but not the tail. The legislative arm of government is an arm on its own. There is the separation of power; stop doing boy-boy (behaving like a maid),” Yesufu said.
Adeyanju highlighted some of the key amendments that were rejected by the leadership of the National Assembly, noting that electronic transmission of results has now been prohibited (S.50(2)) and the limits on campaign expenses have been increased (S.88).
He alleged that the final copy of the Bill does not represent the interest of the Nigerian people and therefore urged Nigerians to consider it as a forged document