National Assembly begins fourth repackaging of Electoral Bill

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

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The National Assembly has set new machinery in motion for the repackaging of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018 after three failed attempts to get it signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Senator Suleiman Nazif made this known in his notice of the joint committees’ meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives at the National Assembly complex, Abuja.

Senator Nazif explained that the fresh move became imperative following the resolution of President Buhari to decline his assent to the Electoral Bill for the third time.

According to the Bauchi state Senator, “I know that this committee is in the eye of the storm and Nigerians are desirous and expecting to hear from us. Here we are, again, trying to address the Electoral Act for the fourth time.

“Nigerians will recall that there was a first Electoral Act (amendment bill), the second and the third one. And if we pass this one it will be the fourth one. I believe that what we are doing is in the best interest of this country. It will address all the fears and we will ensure that we equip INEC with what is necessary and what will ensure free and fair elections in 2019″.

Though the chairman declined to offer explanations on contentious areas to be addressed in the last rejected version of the amendment bill, he said the joint committees would offer necessary explainations to Nigerians before noon on Tuesday, September 18.

“I will not be in a position right now to address the press and I don’t think any member of this committee is in a position to address the press. We will have to look at what transpired (concerning the bill) in an executive session and tomorrow (tuesday)  by 11am, we will call all press men and we will tell you in detail what transpired and the position this committee has taken,” he said.

President Buhari had last week, for the third time declined his assent to the Electoral Bill forwarded to him by the National Assembly in February this year, alleging irregularities and “some drafting issues that remain un-addressed following the prior revisions to the bill”.  

The first version of the bill was rejected as a result of introduction of new sequence of election provided for, in Section 25(1) of the bill while the second rejection was on account of drafting errors and was outrightly vetoed by the President by not considering it in anyway before it got constitutionally expired on his table on July 26.

The third rejection of the bill, according to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, was communicated to the National Assembly on August 30.

However, Senator Enang said that the development may not in any way affect the 2019 general election as the observed draft matters could also be addressed by the National Assembly in few weeks’ time.

President Buhari has promised to sign the bill once the identified errors are corrected and forwarded back to him.

 

Confidence Okwuchi