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Buhari Rejects Electoral Act Bill, Gives Reasons

Gbemileke Ajayi

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President Muhammadu Buhari has declined assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, transmitted to him by the National Assembly.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Sen. Ita Enang, disclosed this in a statement on Monday.

He said the President declined to assent to the bill due to some issues.

According to him, one of the concerns of the President was 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 the 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 to 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 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,’’

Enang explained that for the avoidance of doubt, neither the Constitution nor any written law allowed a president or a governor to whom a Bill was forwarded by the legislature to edit, correct, amend or in any manner alter the provisions of any such Bill to reflect appropriate intent before assenting to same.

He said such a person was to assent in the manner it was sent or withhold assent.

The presidential aide also listed other reasons for the withholding of assent by the president.

“A few of the outstanding issues are, there is a cross-referencing error in the proposed amendment to Section 18 of the Bill. The appropriate amendment is to substitute the existing sub-section (2) with the proposed subsection (1A), while the proposed sub-section (1B) is the new sub-section (2A).”

He further noted the president had communicated his action on other bills earlier transmitted to the national assembly.

The bills, according to Enang, include the National Agricultural Seeds Council Bill, 2018, The Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and The Chartered Institute of Entrepreneurship (Establishment) Bill, 2018.

Others according to him, are the Subsidiary Legislation (Legislative Scrutiny) Bill, 2018; National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism (Establishment) Bill, 2018; National Research and Innovation Council (Establishment) Bill 2017; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2017.

Enang had in August, clarified that the Electoral Bill passed by the National Assembly on July 24 and forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari on Aug. 3, was alive and awaiting assent.

He gave the clarification against the backdrop of a report published by a national daily that Buhari had again vetoed the 2018 electoral bill forwarded to him for assent.

Enang had said the vetoed bill was the one sent to the President on June 27 and not the one passed by both chambers of the National Assembly on July 24, the day it embarked on annual recess.

Enang added that the vetoed bill was the one with contentious provisions and infractions on provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

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Why Rescheduled Presidential, National Assembly Elections May Not Hold On Saturday — Group

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A civil society organisation, Citizens for Change and Advancement (CCA), has warned that the rescheduled 2019 general elections might not hold on the new date of Saturday, February 23 due to poor preparations and massive infighting within the top leadership of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

CCA policy director, Maxwell Abaji in a statement yesterday, said that some sensitive electoral materials in some states are still in INEC custody, and not in Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) vaults as being claimed by the electoral body.

“Election materials in states like Taraba, Cross River, Ebonyi and Benue are not in CBN vaults contrary to claims by the electoral umpire. Even INEC leadership does not know the exact locations of some materials in some states as at 4pm Tuesday. It is more worrisome that these materials are yet to be audited and verified by any independent stakeholder,” Abaji claimed.

The group further alleged that the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and the commission’s head of Operations and Logistics, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu are allegedly keeping logistics details away from other national commissioners due to infighting and poor working relationships among INEC leadership.

“With information at our disposal, the duo of the INEC chairman and Ibeanu are refusing to work with other national commissioners on the issue of logistics with regards to this Saturday’s elections; keeping the challenges confronting the elections to themselves like they did previously, hence the sudden postponement of last Saturday.

“With the current developments at the commission and if allowed unchecked, unknown forces could capitalise on it to undermine the process, wh,ich could warrant the need to shift the elections, again,” he said.

CCA, therefore, warned INEC to put its house in order, saying that Nigerians will not accept any further excuses for the elections not to hold as scheduled on Saturday.”

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Atiku Did Not Offer Adamawa REC $1million Bribe —- INEC [See Tweet]

Peter Okunoren

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The Independent National Electoral Commission has reacted to the allegation that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, offered the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Adamawa State, Kashim Gaidam, $1m and a house in Dubai.

INEC condemned the allegation in a tweet on Monday.

The tweet was in reaction to a social media post which alleged that the former vice president had compromised the elections in Adamawa, his home state.

It read, “Breaking News: I rejected Atiku’s $1m bribe plus a house in Dubai- Adamawa REC”.

But INEC condemned the post, saying, “The Adamawa INEC REC completely dissociates himself from the allegation that he had an offer of $1m and a house in Dubai as no offer whatsoever was ever made to him by anyone.”

This comes two days after the electoral body postponed the general election, which was initially scheduled to commence on Saturday last week, by one week.

INEC has on Monday, reopened campaigns for political parties before the elections begin on Saturday. Campaigns are expected to end “midnight of Thursday, 21 February 2019”.

Read INEC’s tweet below;

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BREAKING: Buhari In Emergency Meeting With Service Chiefs, IGP, Some Northern Governors

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President Muhammadu Buhari is currently meeting with service chiefs and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu

The meeting, which started around 11am, is holding at the President’s office in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Some governors from the northern part of the country are present in the emergency meeting, The Nation reports.

Governors at the meeting include those of Adamawa State, Jibrilla Bindow, Borno State, Kashim Shettima, and Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai.

Also at the meeting were the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazzau.

The meeting may not be unconnected with the security situation in the country

Recall that no fewer than 66 people were recently reported killed in Kajuru, Kaduna State.

Details later…

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