Nigeria: Electoral Act - Reps to Re-Transmit Rejected Amendment

President Muhammadu Buhari.
14 March 2018

The House of Representatives has vowed to gazette the amended Electoral Act which President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to and re-transmit the reordering of the election sequence for passage.

This is as it informed that it has commenced the process to veto the Peace Corp bill.

In making it's position on the rejected electoral act, the House however said it agreed with two of the three reasons given by the president for withholding his assent, assuring that it will expunge the items before re-transmitting the new election sequence.

The House agrees with the president that, "the amendment 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" and "the amendments to section 152 (3) - (5) of the principal act, may raise constitutional issue over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections"

Speaking at a briefing the chairman of the House committee on media and public affairs, Hon. Abdurazaq Namdas, who revealed this yesterday, maintained that the House has not infringed on the powers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by legislating on the sequence of elections.

According to him, "the president has actually written to us and withheld assent to the Electoral Act and stated his reasons for doing so. I want to say that as a responsible Parliament, we've agreed with two of the three reasons given by the president.

"We agreed with the first one that the amendment of 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. On this, we have agreed with the president.

"We have also agreed with the reason advanced that the amendment of Section 152 of the principal Act, which raises constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections. This too we have agreed with. We know that we don't have the power to act on that".

On the controversial election sequence, Namdas said "however, we are in disagreement with the president over his first reason, which states that sequence of election in Section 25 of the principal Act may infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of INEC to organize, undertake and supervise all elections provided in Section 15 (a) to the third schedule of the constitution.

"Our reasons for disagreeing on this matter is that if you look at section 4 of the Legislative Powers Act, item 22, let me quote. It states that: "The National Assembly has powers over elections to the offices of president and vice president, or governor and deputy governor and any other office to which a person may be elected under this constitution, excluding elections into a local government council or any office in such council.

"So, if the Legislative Powers Act gives us these powers, it means that we have the powers to work on the order of elections as stated.

"Again, if you go to section 76 of the constitution, it states that: "Elections to each House of the National Assembly shall be held on a date to be appointed by the Independent National Electoral Commission."

The lawmaker further explained, "However, there is a clause: In accordance with the Electoral Act. This was added in the First Alteration. It says INEC has powers to fix dates, but even at that, it has to act in accordance with the Electoral Act.

"Thirdly, the entire Electoral Act talks about organizing elections. If we do not have powers to organize the elections, that means we don't have powers to even pass the Electoral Act itself".

He continued, "in view of this, we will re-gazette the Electoral Act itself and expunge the areas that we're in agreement with the president and in line with the constitution. We'll bring back the bill for debate. We'll follow the procedure of first, second and third readings, and re-transmit it to the president for assent. That is all I have to say on Electoral Act".

On other bills which the president declined assent, the spokesperson revealed that the House is already in the process of overriding him on 10 bills.

He said they include: Peace Corps Bill; Bill for Chartered Institute of Treasury Management Bill; Nigeria Council for Social Works Bill; Currency Conversion Bill; Police Procurement Fund Bill; Environmental Health Officers Registration Bill; Chartered Institute of Loan and Risk Management in Nigeria; Chartered Institute of Public Management Bill; Chartered Institute of Export and Community Brokers Bill and Federal University, Wukari Bill.

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