By Umar Muhammad Puma
The House of Representatives has substituted the content of provisions of section 25 of the extant Act, and put the elections of the National Assembly, State Assembly/ Governorship elections first before the Presidential election.
The House while considering report of its Committee on Electoral and Political Party Matters, on a Bill to further amend the Electoral Act of 2010, also altered section 87(11a) of the extant Act, to outline sequence for the conduct of political parties’ primaries in the order of; (i) State House of Assembly, (ii), National Assembly, (iii) Governorship, and (iv) President, continuing on (b) that dates for the primaries “shall not be earlier than 120 days and not later than 90 days before the date of elections to the offices.
The 2010 Electoral Act though make provisions for election into the affected offices, but the powers were left with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine the order as well as dates for the elections.
INEC) had just the previous week scheduled the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections for Saturday, 16th February, while the Governorship and State Assembly/Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Council elections were fixed for Saturday, 2nd March 2019.
A new section 143 has also been introduced to the Act, to give protection to office occupants whose elections may be nullified owing to the process of the primary election that brought them on board.
The section reads; “Where the nomination of an elected candidate is nullified by the court and notice of appeal against the decision is given within the stipulated period for appeal, the elected candidate shall, not withstanding the contrary decision of the court remain in the office pending the determination of the appeal.
“If the court determines that the candidate was not validly nominated, the elected candidate, shall not withstanding the contrary decision of the court remain in office within the period an appeal may be filed; and shall not be sanctioned for the benefits he derived while in office pursuant to this section”.
The Act has also made provisions to the effect that where a nominated candidate of a political party dies before, or withdraws from the race, his/her political party shall’ within seven days, conduct a fresh primary to replace such a candidate.