A pro-democracy group – Democracy Vanguard of Nigeria in Diaspora (DVND) – has written a letter to the United States of America, seeking visa ban on Senators who voted against electronic transmission of results.
Considering the report of the committee led by Senator Kabiru Gaya on the Independent National Electoral Commission on the Electoral Act 2016 (Amendment) Bill, 2021 last Thursday, 52 senators had voted ‘No’ in favour of the amendment, which mandated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to seek the approval of the Nigeria Communications Commission before it could transmit the result of elections electronic.
While 28 votes ‘Yes’ for the retention of the original clause recommended by Senator Gaya’s committee, 28 were absent.
The amended Clause 52 (3) reads: “The Commission may consider the electronic transmission of results provided the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secured by the National Communications Commission.”
The DVND in a letter by its President, Timothy Sule, addressed to the United States Ambassador in Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, is demanding for Visa ban on the Senators who voted in support of the amendment to the original clause in the Bill and the 28 who were absent.
It further urged President Muhammadu Buhari “to withhold assent on any electoral act bill that failed to incorporate electronic voting, order of elections to start with governorship’s and State assemblies and then Presidential and National Assembly.
The group argued that by altering the provision for electronic transmission of results, the lawmakers acted in bad faith, inimical to the growth of democracy in the country.
“We call on the United States, the United Kingdom, European Union, Canada, African Union and all ally countries to take urgent actions to nip this brewing conflagration in the bud before it consumes the nation and creates a massive refugee crisis in the world.
“In the meantime, we have attached names of all those legislators who played one role or the other in the suppression and undermining democracy in Nigeria for a visa ban. Their family members shall not be spared of the impending visa ban as well.
“In closing, we at Democracy Vanguard of Nigeria in Diaspora (DVND) are willing to be of assistance where applicable to help realize our request for the protection of democratic norms and the sanctity of all electoral processes in Nigeria.”
While condemning the development, the group said: “We condemn in strong terms those who are bent on seeing Nigeria on her kneels through the façade of an election process that is characterized by manipulations and mishandlings by those who should be the true custodians of the process.
“We would like to commend the very few progressive opposition legislators in the Senate and the House of Representatives as led by Senator Enyinaya Abaribe and Ndidi Elumelu respectively, who stood for Nigeria when the occasion demanded.
“Those who exempted themselves from the chambers without a valid reason are equally reprimanded and condemned. Those who were conspicuously absent are no better than those who shot the amendment down with their selfish and insensitive agenda. Nigerians now know the true enemies of your great country and at the appropriate time, they will receive in equal measures.”
Others copied in the letter dated July 18, 2021, include: United States Secretary of State, Secretary Anthony J. Blinken; Acting Assistant Secretary Ambassador Robert F. Godec and Deputy Assistant Secretary Akunna E. Cook.
– Media Report