Nigerians have expressed divergent views about it with a former federal lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed saying the move was in bad faith.
Ismail Omipidan, Desmond Mgboh, Noah Ebije and Ndubuisi Orji and Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
In the build up to the 2019 general elections, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved that three bills on electoral reforms be forwarded to the National Assembly to enhance quick passage into law.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who briefed State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, said the bills are Constitution Alteration Bill (2018); Electoral Act amendment BIll (2018); Electoral Offences Commission Bill (2018).
He said the president remained committed to strengthening the electoral process, hence the setting up of the Ken Nnamani Electoral Reforms Committee, whose report, among others gave rise to the bills as well as the need to have permanent institutions to drive the reforms.
However, Nigerians have expressed divergent views about it with a former federal lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed saying the move was in bad faith.
“This is another election subterfuge, so that in the end they would say they have done what others could not do. But then how does he (President) want to go about it? I personally don’t believe there is sincerity of purpose in the move.”
Elder statesman and Second Republic politician, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, expressed reservation over the move, saying its timing appears suspicious.
“The point is that since the courts can handle the matter, why do we need a tribunal which is largely political in nature? We generally have tribunals during the military era, but a tribunal that is not envisaged in our constitution can become an instrument of persecution of perceived political opponents.
“Even if the government sincerely believes in the need for such a tribunal, it ought to have considered the need for it a long time ago. The timing is wrong. This idea appears like an afterthought.
“There is the fear in this country these days that whatever this government is doing, it has a hidden agenda, particularly if the issue is viewed against the one-sided nature of the government’s fight against corruption.
“So many people were arrested on the allegation of corrupt practices, a number of them were arraigned before the courts of law but unfortunately these arrests are not followed by diligent prosecution.
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And most of those arrested are members of the opposition. And Even those members of the opposition, once they defect to the ruling party, the matter is swept under the carpet,” Yakassai, said.
On his part, former governor of old Kaduna State and Chairman, Board of Trustees (BOT), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa, has said that the National Assembly does not need more than a month to pass the bill on Election Offences Tribunal, if they are serious.
“One month is enough to work on the bill if they mean to work on it. But what Nigerians need is
fair and free election in 2019. No politician can be trusted, but we have to give President Muhammadu Buhari the benefit of the doubt about the bill,” he said.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on its part said it would react only after seeing the details of the proposed commission.