NASS joint session: From left, President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki; Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, during a closed joint session of the National Assembly, in Abuja, yesterday.
A source in the Senate disclosed, yesterday, that the bill was transmitted last Monday, June 25, 2018.
The amendment bill, if signed into law by President Buhari, will be known as 2018 Electoral Act, provisions of which will serve as guidelines for the conduct of the 2019 general elections by Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The submission is coming three months after President Buhari rejected the earlier one forwarded to him for assent.
President Buhari had in vetoing the earlier one sent to him in February this year, cited three reasons for doing so, one of which was the new sequence of elections included in the bill through section 25(1).
The President in his rejection, said the inserted section in the Electoral Act violates the provisions of section 72 of the 1999 constitution, which empowers INEC to fix dates of elections and see to its conduct in all ramifications.
But both chambers of the National Assembly in the new bill deleted all the controversial provisions kicked against by the President.
Presenting the report on the new bill on the day of passage in Senate last month, Chairman of the Committee on INEC, Senator Suleiman Nazif (APC: Bauchi North), informed lawmakers that the bill was re-introduced, following President Buhari’s decision to withhold assent to the bill.
That the amendment to the sequence of the elections in Section 25 of the Principal Act may infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of INEC to organize, undertake and supervise all elections in Section 15 (a) of the Third Schedule of the Constitution;
That the amendment to Section 138 of the Principal Act to delete 2 crucial grounds upon which an election may be challenged by candidates unduly limits the rights of candidates in elections to a free and fair electoral review process; andThat the amendment to Section 152 (3)- (5) of the Principal Act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over Local Government elections.
In line with aforementioned observations, Sen. Nazif explained that the Committee resolved to:Delete Sections 25 and 152 (3)-(5) in the proposed Bill based on the President’s observations;Retain Section 138 (c) and (d) as contained in the Principal Act;Further amend Section 49 by including a new subsection (3) which provides that “ Where a Smart Card Reader deployed for accreditation of voters fails to function in any unit and a new card reader is not deployed, the election in that unit shall be cancelled and another election shall be scheduled within 24 hours”; and Amend Section 140 to include a new subsection (c) which states that “Where the election is postponed due to omission of a political party’s name or logo, the Commission’s Officer responsible for such printing of party names or logos commits an offence and is liable to a fine of Two Million Naira (N2, 000,000) or imprisonment for 2 years or both”.
In addition, Senator Nazif noted that although INEC had submitted its observations for consideration, the Committee unanimously agreed to deliberate on the Commission’s remarks in any subsequent amendment as the Senate and the House had already harmonized positions on the Bill.
However, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who chaired the session, mandated the Committee to make copies of INEC’s observation available to lawmakers for their scrutiny.