Buhari withholds assent to Electoral Amendment Bill

President Muhammadu Buhari has declined assent to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018, his Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters said on Monday.

Senator Ita Enang explained in a statement that the President communicated his decision to the National Assembly on August 30.

He attributed the decision to withhold assent to the bill to “some drafting issues”, adding that President Buhari would sign the bill into law after the issues are resolved.

“Mr. President invites the Senate and House of Representatives to address these issues as quickly as possible so that he may grant President Assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill,” Enang said.

Explaining the issues, the Presidential aide said, “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)

‘’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 of leaving INEC with only 9 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.’’

According to Mr Enang, in view of the issues, the President had to decline assent to the bill.

He said, “For the avoidance of doubt, neither the Constitution nor any written law allows a President or a Governor to whom a Bill is 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 is to assent in the manner it is or to withhold assent.”

Also, Senator Enang said the President has communicated to the National Assembly his action on other bills earlier transmitted to him.

The bills include the National Agricultural Seeds Council Bill, 2018; the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2017; the Chartered Institute of Entrepreneurship (Establishment) Bill, 2018; and the Subsidiary Legislation (Legislative Scrutiny) Bill, 2018.

Others are the National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism (Establishment) Bill, 2018; National Research and Innovation Council (Establishment) Bill, 2017; and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2017, Channels TV reports.

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