The controversy trailing the amendment of the Electoral Act which reordered election sequence in the country took another dimension Tuesday as President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to the amendment citing probable infringement of the Constitution.
The two chambers of the National Assembly on February 14, 2018 adopted the conference report of Electoral Act amendment which altered the sequence of elections in the country.
Essentially, the amendment slated the National Assembly election first in the order of elections, followed by the Governorship and State House of Assembly Election.
The amendment placed Presidential election last in the sequence of elections.
Following its passage, some senators led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu, stormed out of the chamber to fault the amendment.
The group of nine senators also claimed that President Buhari was that target of the amendment and vowed that it would not stand.
Some commentators have also risen to fault the amendment and threatened to charge it in court.
President Buhari in a letter dated 3rd March 2018 addressed to the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, told the lawmakers why he declined to assent to the bill.
The Presidential letter entitled “PRESIDENTIAL DECISION TO WITHHOLD ASSENT TO THE ELECTORAL AMENDMENT BILL 2018,” was read by Saraki on the floor of the upper chamber yesterday.
It read in part, “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:
“A.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;
“B.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;
“C. The amendment to Section 152(3)-(5) 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.”
Saraki read the letter after a brief closed session where the issue of the rejection of the bill might have featured.
It is not yet clear the next line of action of the lawmakers. An insider hinted that “we will override the president if we feel strongly over the bill. I can tell you that the issue is not over.