By Ikechukwu Okaforadi, Musa Adamu and Lawrence Olaoye Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has written to both chambers of the National Assembly indicating that he will not sign the new 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment), in which the lawmakers introduced new Sub section (25), thereby reordering the sequence of the 2019 general election.
The President, in a letter forwarded to the two chambers of the National Assembly, which was read in the Senate and House of Representatives chambers yesterday by the presiding officers, predicated his veto on infractions on constitutional provisions particularly with regards to the one on new sequence of elections.
The letter titled: “Presidential Decision to withhold Assent to the ELECTORAL AMENDMENT BILL 2018” reads in part: “Pursuant to Section 58(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), I hereby convey to the Senate, my decision, on 3rd March 2018, to decline Presidential Assent to the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly.
“Some of my reasons include the following: (a) The amendment to the sequence of elections in Section 25 of the principal act, may infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to organize, undertake and supervise elections provided in Section 15(A) of the third statue to the Constitution;
“(b) The amend to Section 138 of the principal act to delete two 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;
“(C) The amendment to Section 152 Subsection 325 of the Principal Act may raise Constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections.”
However, the letter was not subjected to debate in the Senate, though there was a closed session before the plenary, but our correspondents could not confirm from insiders if the closed door meeting was to enable the senators decide on the next line of action.
Briefing journalists after the Senate plenary yesterday, the Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC Niger North), said any action that would be taken by the Senate on the letter would come after the adoption of the letter into its votes and proceedings.
“Senate has not taken any action on the letter vetoing the 2010 Electoral (Amendment) bill 2018, for now, because there are processes and procedures of taking such actions.
“First, having received the letter yesterday, as read on the floor by the Senate President, the next line of action would be to approve it in our votes and proceedings tomorrow ( today) after which it will be properly studied for any possible line of actions,” he said.
Recall that the National Assembly, three weeks ago, passed the 2010 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill and reordered the sequence of the 2019 general elections against the earlier one announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
INEC had, in its own sequence of elections, fixed February 16th 2019 for Presidential and National Assembly election and March 2nd 2019 for governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.
However, the National Assembly, in its own sequence of elections, put that of the National Assembly first, followed by the governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections and Presidential election last.
Meanwhile, if the lawmakers toe the line of overriding the President on the veto, they would require 73 senators and 240 House of Representatives members to counter the President’s veto, being the constitutional 2/3 majority stipulated by the Constitution for the purpose.
It would also be recalled that on the 14th of last month when the Senate passed the amendment bill, ten senators led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC Nasarawa West), protested against the new
sequence and vowed that it would not see the light of the day, because it is against the constitution.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the sack of the Coordinator of Amnesty Program for Niger Delta, Brigadier-General Paul Boroh (rtd) and announced Professor Charles Quaker Dokubo as his replacement.
This was made known in a statement made available to newsmen by his Special Adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina.
Dokubo is currently Director of Research and Studies at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs. He holds a PhD in Strategic Studies from the University of Bradford, United Kingdom, and hails from Abonema, Akuku-Toru Local Government of Rivers State.
Also, the President has directed the National Security Adviser (NSA) to carry out a full investigation into the activities of the Amnesty Programme from 2015 to date, especially allegations of financial impropriety and other acts that are allegedly detrimental to the objectives of the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
Boroh had faced multiple criticisms over his stewardship from the people of the Niger Delta region. His critics had called for his sack alleging that he had mortgaged their future.
But last weekend, the sacked Amnesty Program Coordinator who spoke to newsmen after a meeting with the President, said those calling for his sack were those who wanted business done as usual.