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Buhari again declines assent to Electoral Act (amendment) Bill

President Muhammadu Buhari has again declined assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018.

The President had earlier declined assent to the bill twice because of the order of elections and a drafting error.

Speaking with State House correspondents yesterday, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly matters (Senate) Ita Enang, said the President, in a communication to the Senate and the House of Representatives dated 30th August, 2018, stated the reasons for his decision.

According to him, the President again declined assent because of some drafting issues that remained unaddressed.

Enang said: “His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has by communication dated August 30, 2018, to the Senate and the House of Representatives declined Assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

“I pray for leave, that in view of public interest, the fact of the National Assembly vacation, the imperative to avoid speculation and misinformation, that I give just a few of the rationale by Mr. President.

”Mr. President is declining assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill due to some drafting issues that remain unaddressed following the prior revisions to the Bill.”

“Mr. President invites the Senate and House of Representatives to address these issues as quickly as possible so that he may grant President Assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill.

“A few of the outstanding issues are:

”There is a cross referencing error in the proposed amendment to Section 18 of the Bill. The appropriate amendment is to substitute the existing sub-section (2) with the proposed subsection (1A), while the proposed sub-section (1B) is the new sub-section (2A)”

”The proposed amendment to include a new Section 87 (14) which stipulates a specific period within which political party primaries are required to be held has the unintended consequence of leaving INEC with only nine days to collate and compile lists of candidates and political parties as well manage the primaries of 91 political parties for the various elections.

“This is because the Electoral Amendment Bill does not amend sections 31, 34 and 85 which stipulate times for the submission of lists of candidates, publication of lists of candidates and notice of convention, congresses for nominating candidates for elections.”

“For clarity, may I provide some details of the provisions referenced.

Clause 87 (14) states

”The dates for the primaries shall not be earlier than 120 days and not later than 90 days before the date of elections to the offices.

The Electoral Act 2010 referred to herein states; in Section 31:

Section 31: ”That every Political Party shall not later than 60 days before the date appointed for a general election submit to the Commission the list of candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections.

“Section 34:

”That the Commission shall at least 30 days before the day of the election publish a statement of the full names and addresses of all candidates standing nominated.

“Section 85 (1)

“That a Political Party shall give the Commission at least Twenty-one days’ notice of any convention, congress etc., for electing members of its executive committees or nominating candidates for any of the elective offices.”

“For the avoidance of doubt, neither the Constitution nor any written law allows a President or a Governor to whom a Bill is forwarded by the Legislature to edit, correct, amend or in any manner alter the provisions of any such Bill to reflect appropriate intent before Assenting to same. He is to ASSENT in the manner it is or to withhold ASSENT,” he said.

According to him, he said that the President has taken same action on seven other bills.

The seven bills earlier transmitted, Enang said, include National Agricultural Seeds Council Bill, 2018, The Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2017, The Chartered Institute of Entrepreneurship (Establishment) Bill, 2018, The Subsidiary Legislation (Legislative Scrutiny) Bill, 2018, National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism (Establishment) Bill, 2018, National Research and Innovation Council (Establishment) Bill, 2017, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2017.”

“Mr. President has communicated his action to the National Assembly,” Enang said.

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