By Nasir Ayitogo and Kemi Busari
President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected the proposed amendments to Nigeria’s Electoral Act in the run-up to the 2019 general elections.
In a letter addressed to the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, the president said the amendments infringe on the rights of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
A similar letter was sent to Bukola Saraki, the president of the Senate.
The letter reads, “Pursuant to Section 58(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), I hereby convey to the Senate, my decision, on 3rd March 2018, to decline Presidential Assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly.
“Some of my reasons include the following:
“The amendment to the sequence of elections in Section 25 of the principal act, may infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to organize, undertake and supervise elections provided in Section 15(A) of the third statue to the Constitution;
“The amend to Section 138 of the principal act to delete two crucial grounds upon which an election may be challenged by candidates, unduly limits the rights of candidates in elections to a free and fair electoral review process;
“The amendment to Section 152 Subsection 325 of the Principal Act may raise Constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections.
“Please accept Distinguished Senators, the assurances of my highest consideration.”
The amendments proposed by the National Assembly sought to make some changes in Nigeria’s electoral act including changing the sequence of the 2019 elections.
The federal lawmakers want their elections to come up first, followed by that of state lawmakers and governors, and lastly the presidential election.
Some All Progressives Congress senators had kicked against the adoption of the report, accusing the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, of influencing it.
With the rejection of amendments by the president, the next option left for the National Assembly is to override the president’s veto.
The National Assembly Conference Committee on Electoral Act (amendment) Bill had on February 6 adopted the reordered sequence of the 2019 general elections, scheduling presidential election last.
According to the sequence passed by the lawmakers, the general elections are to commence with that into the National Assembly, followed by governorship and State House of Assembly. The presidential poll is to come last.
This is against the sequence rolled out by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in late 2017, which put Presidential and National Assembly elections first and governorship and state assembly to follow.
Some Nigerian lawyers had in separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES reacted to the reordering of the 2019 election timetable by the National Assembly.
Festus Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the National Assembly has no right to dictate to INEC.
“They have no right to dictate for INEC, the sequence of elections. Nigeria’s provisions in the constitution, which I have highlighted in most of my outings, does not give them the power to fix dates for elections.
“The provisions for various sections of the constitution, are very clear, especially section 15 of the Top Schedule. Section 15 of the top schedule gives INEC the power to organise and undertake elections. You organise a thing by systematising it.
“So the section 15 of the Top Schedule makes it very clear that INEC is the only one that has the sole responsibility to fix dates for elections as well as determine the sequence for the election.
“What they are doing is illegal and unconstitutional. Once any provision of the electoral act conflicts with the constitution, that provision should be null and void.”
Ola Adeosun also said the move by the National Assembly is against the law.
“For me, it is not okay. It is against all known laws of the land. But you understand the tendency of the average Nigerian politician, they politicise everything.”
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Publish date : 2018-03-13 12:06:22