The National Assembly has transmitted the 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent ahead of 2019 general election.
The bill was passed early last month by both chambers of the National Assembly, after expunging some controversial provisions that made President Buhari to withhold assent to the bill when it was first passed. According to a source close to the leadership of the apex legislative institution, the amendment to the Electoral Bill was transmitted last week Monday.
If signed into law, the bill would be known as 2018 Electoral Act, provisions of which would serve as guidelines for conduct of the 2019 general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). That came three months after the rejection of earlier version of the amendment forwarded to the President for assent. Buhari had vetoed the bill in February this year, citing three different reasons for doing so, one of which was the new sequence of elections included in the bill through section 25(1).
He said that the inserted new section violated the provisions of section 72 of the 1999 constitution which empowers INEC to fix dates of elections and see to its conduct in all ramifications. But both chambers of the National Assembly in the new bill deleted all the controversial provisions which made Buhari to refuse to sign it into law. While presenting the report on the new bill on the day of passage in Senate last month, Chairman of the Committee on INEC, Senator Suleiman Nazif (APC, Bauchi North), told his colleagues that the Bill was re-introduced following President Buhari’s decision to withhold assent to the Bill due to some observations.
They included 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 organize, undertake and supervise all elections in Section 15 (a) of the Third Schedule of the Constitution; That the amendment to Section 138 of the Principal Act to delete 2 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