Deji Elumoye in Abuja
The National Assembly has transmitted the 2018 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, which will guide the conduct of general elections in the country to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent.
THISDAY gathered yesterday that the leadership of the National Assembly transmitted the Amended 2018 Electoral Act Bill with a covering letter to Buhari on June 25.
The President is expected to assent his signature for the bill to become law.
The two Chambers of the National Assembly had in June harmonised their positions on the bill and subsequently passed it.
The controversial clause on election sequence, which a competent court had earlier this year ruled that it was outside the purview of the National Assembly, was expunged by the lawmakers in the amended bill.
The controversial bill was first passed by the National Assembly on February 14, while President Buhari in March, refused to assent his signature to it on the ground that the lawmakers have no right to dictate the sequence of polls in the country.
Both Chambers passed the amended bill on June 8.
Speaking shortly before the Senate passed the bill at a plenary presided over by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Senator Suleiman Nazif (Bauchi North), said the bill was re-introduced following President Buhari’s decision to withhold assent to it due to his observation that the amendment to the sequence of the elections in Section 25 of the Principal Act may infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of INEC to organise, undertake and supervise all elections under Section 15 (a) of the Third Schedule of the Constitution.
He also said Buhari also observed 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 that the amendment to Section 152 (3)- (5) of the Principal Act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over Local Government elections.
Senator Nazif, therefore, explained that flowing from President Buhari’s observations, the Committee resolved to delete Sections 25 and 152 (3)-(5) in the proposed bill based on the President’s observations; and retain Section 138 (c) and (d) as contained in the Principal Act.
According to him, the Committee also agree to amend Section 49 by including a new subsection (3) which provides that “ Where a Smart Card Reader deployed for accreditation of voters fails to function in any unit and a new card reader is not deployed, the election in that unit shall be cancelled and another election shall be scheduled within 24 hours”
Nazif said Section 140 is to be amended to include a new subsection (c) which states that “Where the election is postponed due to omission of a political party’s name or logo, the Commission’s Officer responsible for such printing of party names or logos commits an offence and is liable to a fine of N2, 000,000 or imprisonment for two years or both”.
The Senate after comments from some Senators, concurred with the committee’s recommendation and passed the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment Bill