ABUJA – PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday wrote the Senate, vetoing the amended Electoral Act that sought to made the card reader and other electronic voting machines compulsory for electoral purposes.
He objected to the law on the ground that the National Assemby had sought through the instrumentality of the law to re-order General Election sequence for 2019.
President Buhari in a letter to the Senate and read by Senate President Bukola Saraki at plenary said that it became imperative for him to withhold assent because it will 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.
The President’s letter read, “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 amendment 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.
“Please accept Distinguished Senators, the assurances of my highest consideration. Yours Sincerely, ” .
The Senate had on Wednesday, February 14 approved an amendment that sets the Presidential election as the last of the elections to be conducted in the country while that of the National Assembly election will hold first, followed by gubernatorial and State Houses of Assembly assembly polls. Thereafter it was passed by the lower chamber and sent to the president for assent.
With this arrangement,the view was widely held that the President and other presidential candidates in the 2019 general election may have to walk on tight rope to get elected. It was this view that probably ignited the President’s refusal to assent to the Bill.