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Again, Buhari declines assent to 2018 Electoral Act

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SUNDAY ODE, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday declined assent to the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment Bill over what he described as drafting issues.

This would be the second time that the President had failed to assent to the same bill. The first rejection was on account of reordering of election sequence inserted by the legislature.

Buhari had also last week withheld assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, citing allocation of a whopping 10 per cent of total revenue from sales of the petroleum resources to the regulatory agencies as reason.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, said the bill would be assented to as soon as the errors were corrected.

Enang in a statement said: “His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, has by communication dated August 30, 2018, to the Senate and the House of Representatives declined Assent to the Electoral (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 9 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 stipulates 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: ‘’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.

Enang also hinted that Buhari may have declined assent to seven other bills, saying that he had already communicated his action to the legislature.He said: “He is to ASSENT in the manner it is or to withhold ASSENT.

On the under listed Bills earlier transmitted, namely:

.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.”

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