President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected the Electoral Act amendment bill by the National Assembly which seeks to change the sequence for general elections in the country. The president’s rejection was contained in a letter read Tuesday on the floor of the upper legislative chamber by Senate President Bukola Saraki.
The federal parliament had carried out an amendment on Section 25 to re-order the sequence of elections in Nigeria, whereby elections into offices in National Assembly come first before the presidential election contrary to what had been the case. Some senators had protested against the bill, stressing that the move by the parliament was targeted at Buhari’s electoral fortune in 2019.
But Buhari, in a letter to the Senate read during plenary on Tuesday, stated that “Pursuant to section 58(4) of the 1999 constitution as amended, I hereby convey to the Senate my decision on March 3, 2018 to decline presidential assent to the electoral amendment bill 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly”.
He said some of his reasons for withholding assent to the bill was that, “The amendment to the sequence of the elections in section 25 of the principal act may infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to organise, undertake and supervise all elections provided in section 15(a) of the third schedule to the constitution”.
The President also said that the amendment to section 138 of the principal act to delete two crucial grounds upon which an election may be challenged by candidate unduly limits the rights of candidates to a free and fair electoral review process.
He also said that the amendment to section 152 sub-section 3-5 of the principal act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections.