ADEKUNLE ADESUJI, Abuja
National Assembly Joint Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday passed the amendment of Electoral Bill for the fourth time .
President Muhammadu Buhari had declined assent to the Electoral Act(Amendment) Bill, 2018, transmitted to him by the National Assembly.However, the Joint Committee which started corrections pointed out by President Buhari on Monday concluded the amendment of Electoral Bill .
Addressing journalists after conclusion of Executive session to cross the ‘t’ and dot the ‘I’ in the amendment bill , the co-chairman of the Joint Panel, Senator Nazif Suleiman said that National Assembly is same page with Executive on the amendment of Electoral Bill in order to ensure free and fair elections in the 2019.
He explained that today passage would be the fourth time that the National Assembly will passes the amendment of Electoral bill.
According to him, the first amendment was first passed on February 14 and card reader was included and after the rejection of the bill , another amendment was concluded on June 26 forwarded to Presidency and sections 25, 138 were carried in the amendment bill and the third bill was passed on July 24 and forwarded to Presidency.
He added that the third bill had in it 14 clauses in addition to strengthen 2nd Electoral Act explaining that what the third amendment bill wanted to achieve is to strengthen the second amendment.He admitted that the Committee did not include card reader in the third amendment because it is already in the second amendment forwarded to Presidency explaining that Presidency expected the National Assembly to package in one document.
It could be recalled that Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Sen. Ita Enang, said the president declined assent to the bill due to some drafting issues.According him, one of the concerns of the president is the period fixed for primaries.
He said the schedule for primaries provided that it should not be earlier than 120 days and not later than 90 days to elections.He further said the schedule would allow Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) only 9 days to collate list of candidates among others.
“His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, has by communication dated Aug. 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 Assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill.
Enang added that Section 87(14) of the bill among other sections, needed to be reviewed by the national assembly.He said, “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.
” It leaves 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 stipulates times for the submission of lists of candidates, publication of lists of candidates and notice of convention, congresses for nominating candidates for elections.”
He further said, “for clarity, may I provide some details of the provisions referenced.“Clause 87 (14) states that, ‘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 elections, submit to the Commission the list of candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections.
“Section 34 stipulates 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) provides that a ‘political party shall give the Commission at least 21 days notice of any convention, congress etc., for electing members of its executive committees or nominating candidates for any of the elective offices.’’
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