Presidency: All is Well with Electoral Act Amendment Bill

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  • Period for assent lapses today

By Deji Elumoye in Abuja and Tobi Soniyi in Lagos   

The presidency yesterday allayed fears that President Muhammadu Buhari might withhold assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018 passed by the National Assembly on July 24, 2018 and transmitted to the president on August 3.

By the provision of S58 (4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the president has 30 days within which to sign the bill into law. Consequently, the period of assent, according to lawyers THISDAY spoke to, technically lapsed yesterday.

But the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, took a cautious approach yesterday, indicating that there was still hope for the bill to be signed by Buhari.

“All I can say is, today being a Sunday, all is well with the Electoral Bill,” he told THISDAY in a telephone conversation.

Enang had said last week that Buhari would act within the provisions of the Constitution, contending that the president was still within the 30-day window permitted for him to assent or withhold his signature to the bill, many of which provisions aimed at enhancing the nation’s capacity to deliver cleaner electoral processes.

The bill had been returned twice to the National Assembly without assent. The first was in March, on three grounds of objection, while the second was in July, because of what the presidency called clerical errors that could lead to constitutional infractions.

If the president, who is on a working visit to China, does not append his signature to the bill by 12 midnight, said lawyers spoken to by THISDAY, the period of assent would lapse and consent would be deemed to have been withheld, opening up the possibility of a veto override by the National Assembly in line with S58 (5) of the Constitution as amended.