Nigeria: Saraki to Buhari - Sign Electoral Amendment Bill Now

6 December 2018

Senate President Bukola Saraki has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore some "anti-democratic elements" and sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill now.

The National Assembly had on October 23 passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill and transmitted same to the president on November 7.

The federal lawmakers had to rework two earlier versions of the bill, which they had forwarded to the president for assent, following certain observations Buhari raised.

By the provision of the law, the president has 30 days within which to append his signature to any bill transmitted to him or decline assent to it.

Today, being December 6 will make the end of the 30 days that the president has to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

While some groups and individual Nigerians had called on the president not to sign the bill, others said it was incumbent on him to append his signature in it.

But Saraki in a statement in Ilorin yesterday, signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, urged the president to rise above petty politics and act without further delay in the best interest of the country and its democracy by signing the Electoral Bill into law.

The Senate President said he had been inundated with telephone calls and discussions by members of the National Assembly who expressed concern about the delay in signing into law of the Electoral Bill as the 30 days period elapses today.

He added that many of the legislators who contacted him were particularly disturbed that certain individuals who were said to be chairmen of political parties had approached a Federal High Court to stop the president from assenting to the bill.

He urged President Buhari to dissociate himself from these ugly antics and sign the bill which he said had comprehensively addressed issues that usually clog the process of free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.

"It is the prerogative of the president to either sign a Bill into law or refuse it assent. He is free to exercise this prerogative the way he likes in this case," Saraki said.

"What I found surprising is a situation where some people now want to adopt a wrong tactic of abusing the court process to stall the matter. That will be unacceptable and I am sure our judiciary will rely on the lessons from the past and not allow itself to be used.

"We do not want the president to allow the setting of a bad precedent in which somebody will go to court in future to stop the passage of an appropriation bill or any essential law which will be important to the development of the country.

"My position remains that the president, his aides, the entire country and the international community are aware that all the concerns raised by the President on the past three occasions he withheld assent to the bill have been addressed by the legislature.

"We bent backwards on each occasion to accommodate the wishes of the President. We started work on this law since 2016 to prevent a situation where it would become part of the election controversies," Saraki said.

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