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Pass polls budget, group tells lawmakers

Pass polls budget, group tells lawmakers

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A coalition of civil society groups under the aegis of the Independent Service Delivery Monitoring Group has appealed to the National Assembly to urgently pass the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission budget.

Members of the coalition said the call became necessary in order to ensure that INEC’s preparations for the 2019 elections were not jeopardised.

Executive Director of the ISDMG, Dr Chima Amadi, said this while speaking to SUNDAY PUNCH, over the telephone in Abuja on Saturday.

Amadi said they recently held a round-table discussion on the issue and came to the conclusion that it would be in the national interest if the “bickering”, intrigues and all the politics associated with the INEC budget stops in order for the budget to be passed in the national interest.

He said, “Stakeholders drawn from different interests who cover the civil society, political class, media and citizens among others, condemned in strong terms, the use of thugs and irresponsible police and other security personnel to harass citizens, INEC officials and disruption of elections.

“This development portrays Nigeria in bad light before the international community.

“We also faulted the decision of the executive which delayed the submission of INEC’s budget to the National Assembly, since INEC submitted this budget to it since January 2018.”

He further noted that the muscle flexing over the budget was unnecessary and uncalled for because the stakes are getting higher by the day.

In a communiqué signed by Dr Chima Amadi, ISDMG; Faith Nwadishi, Centre for Transparency Advocacy; Abdul Mahmud, Public Interest Lawyers League; Comrade Sheriff Mulade, Center for Peace and Environmental Justice, among others, after a meeting held earlier, the group urged INEC to continue to be proactive.

While calling for a review of the appropriation process especially as  it concerns INEC, members of the coalition said, “We note the hard fact that the INEC budget is not like contracts that can be hidden from public purview as activities of INEC are open and easily verifiable by citizens, stakeholders and in fact, any interested party.”

They also called for the prosecution and punishment of all perpetrators of electoral violence to serve as deterrent to others.

The group equally condemned the use of thugs and security operatives, especially the police by unscrupulous politicians to disrupt elections as was recently witnessed in the Rivers State bye-elections.

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