By Deji Elumoye and Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari for the fourth time has refused to grant assent to the revised Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018.
He has, therefore, written formally to the leadership of the National Assembly declining assent to the Bill which the Assembly transmitted to him on November 7.
THISDAY gathered that his letter was dated December 6.
Though the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, who made this known to State House correspondents Friday afternoon declined to state specifically the decision of the president on the document, he said the amendment bill had been transmitted back to the lawmakers.
According to Enang, the president has communicated his decision on the bill to the National Assembly.
The presidential aide however said President Buhari had assented to the amendment made to the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) Act, which will now allow it to operate like other universities.
According to Enang, “President Muhammadu Buhari has taken a decision on the Electoral Act Amendment bill 2018. In accordance with his power under the 1999 Constitution and has communicated that decision to the Senate and House of Representatives in accordance with the law.
“Again, President Buhari has also assented to National Open University Amendment Act, which allows the National Open University to operate as all other universities, having the same power and functions and the same administrative structures, eliminating possible discrimination as some use to want to have on their products and programmes.
“It has also allowed the establishment of some centers to be called study centers and given conditions for the establishment of such study centers.”
When asked to be specific on the decision taken on the electoral bill and whether the bill was granted assent or rejected, he said “the president has taken a decision in a accordance with the powers vested in him according to the constitution. And by convention that decision contained in the communication can only be revealed by the person to whom that decision is addressed. But the electoral bill has left Mr. President because he has taken a decision and has remitted it back.”
Pressed further, Enang said, “Thank You very much but this is all the law allows me to say by convention. Mr. President has sent that communication to the National Assembly.”
When asked why he returned the bill back to National Assembly, he said, “the president has communicated his decision to the National Assembly and that is what it is now.”
When asked if it is safe to say he rejected the bill, “it is safe to say that the president has taken decision as allowed by law and has communicated that decision to the senate and the House of Representatives.
When asked the implication of the decision on the 2019 elections, Enang said, “The implication of the decision is that the president has taken action on the bill within the time allowed by law.”