Senate Dumps Buhari’s Request To Amend Electoral Act

LAGOS MARCH 9TH (NEWSRANGERS)-The Senate has rejected the bill that seeks to amend the Electoral Act. The lawmakers, in a voice vote on Wednesday, unanimously opposed a motion that the bill is read and considered for a second time.

The bill is a response to a request from President Muhammadu Buhari.

He had, in February, asked the National Assembly to expunge Clause 84(12) of the Act. He made the request shortly after signing the legislation into law.

The clause reads: “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”

Mr Buhari said the clause constituted a disenfranchisement of serving political office holders from voting or being voted for at conventions or congresses of any political party, for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election in cases where it holds earlier than 30 days to the national election.

But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) sued the federal government, the Attorney-General of the Federation and the leadership of the National Assembly over fresh moves to tamper with the newly amended Electoral Act.

The party asked the court for an order of interim injunction restraining Mr Buhari and other defendants from refusing to implement the duly signed Electoral Act or in any manner withholding the Electoral Act from being put to use including the provisions of section 84 (12) of the said Act pending the resolution of the suit – a request which was granted by the court on Monday.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the judge, Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling, said the Electoral Act having become a valid law could not be altered without following the due process of law.

The court restrained Mr Buhari, the AGF and the National Assembly and other defendants in the suit from removing section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act or prevent it from being implemented for the purpose of the 2023 general elections.

Deliberation and rejection

The bill was read for the first time yesterday and the lawmakers were about to commence consideration for second reading when Adamu Aliero cited Order 52(5) to stop the Senate from considering the bill pending the time that the court set aside the order on it.

In his response, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the fact that the court says the National Assembly should not tamper with Electoral Act 2022 as amended except through due process does not mean that the National Assembly cannot consider the bill.

He also said the president was within his competence to request for amendment including every Nigerian to ask for an amendment in any law.

“So for us to be specific to this particular request, the request was duly done and it is for us in the Senate to look at the request.

“We are at liberty to review the request, see if the arguments from the Executive are convincing enough. If the arguments are not convincing enough, members of the National Assembly could deny the request and that is how it is.

“I think we are not breaching any law. In fact, we are trying to promote democracy by doing this because one day someone would go to court and say the Senate and National Assembly should not sit.”

He ruled that the Senate will go ahead and debate the bill and the votes at the end of the deliberation will decide the fate of the bill.

Mr Lawan was opposed by the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, who said Mr Lawan’s decision was not in the interest of democracy.

He urged his colleagues not to let the bill be read for a second time.

But the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who was bent on convincing his colleagues to go ahead and consider the bill, said they swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The framers of this Constitution knew that a day like this would come and notwithstanding, they clearly stipulated in the Constitution, those provisions dealing with qualification and disqualification.”

“I, therefore, rise to support that the motion as moved by the Senate Leader be allowed to go for second reading.”

An unconvinced Kogi senator, Smart Adeyemi, opposed the bill.

“…I disagree to reconsider a decision that has already been settled.”

When the matter was put to a voice vote, an overwhelming echo of “nay” filled the chamber – prompting Mr Lawan to rule against the bill.

Earlier, Mr Lawan warned the judiciary against meddling in the affairs and processes of the legislature.

He had said Nigeria’s system of governance is based on separation of powers and as such, all arms of government are not supposed to venture into the activities of another.

He also said the court ruling will not stop the legislature from amending the bill again.

With the proposed amendment to the bill rejected, it is not clear if the lawmakers will re-present and reconsider it on another legislative.

 

Premium Times

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