Court Nullifies NASS Attempt To Alter Election Sequence

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday ruled that the National Assembly does not have the power to amend the election timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

The Presiding Judge, Justice Ahmed Mohamed, voided clause 25, section 15 of the Electoral Amendment Bill passed into law by the National Assembly reordering the sequence which was announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

The court also ruled that the 1999 constitution empowers INEC to organize and supervise elections including fixing dates and sequences, therefore, the National Assembly does not have the powers to over-ride the actions of INEC.

The judgment was on the suit by Accord Party (AP), challenging the legitimacy of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, to which Buhari declined to assent.

Justice Mohammed answered all the questions raised the suit for determination in favour of the plaintiff and granted all the reliefs by the sought plaintiff, except 11(1) which sought to restrain President Muhammadu Buhari from asserting to the Bill.

The judge noted that granting such prayer was no longer necessary since the President has already declined signing the Bill.

Before determining the main suit, the judge earlier dismissed the preliminary objection filed by the National Assembly (1st defendant) in which they argued among others that the suit was not justiciable, that the plaintiff were without the requisite locus standi and that the suit was academic.

Justice Mohammed disagreed with the 1st defendant on all the grounds raised in the preliminary objection.

Electoral Act Amendment: Senate Suspends Senator Omo-Agege

The Senate has suspended a senator, Ovie Omo-Agege, for accusing his colleagues of working against President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election plans in 2019.

Mr Omo-Agege in February accused his colleagues of working against Mr Buhari by adopting the amendment to section 25 of electoral act outlining a change in the sequence of elections.

Mr. Omo-Agege had said: “For some of you who are familiar with what transpired in the House of Reps, only 36 members were on the floor when this so-called amendment to section 25 of the Electoral Act was introduced.

The position we took is that 36 people cannot determine the destiny of 360 people in the House (of Reps), which is now being carried over to 109 in the Senate. The least we are owed is for this so-called amendment to be deliberated upon and our rule is clear.

“We have 59 senators who are opposed to the inclusion of section 25 of the Electoral Act. If that division was allowed today, 59 senators would have voted to delete that purported amendment to section 25.

“You don’t make a law targeted at one person. The perception out there is that this Section 25 was included to target Mr. President.”

A week after, Dino Melaye, (Kogi-APC), drew the attention of the Senate specifically to the comments made by Mr. Omo-Agege on the election sequence.

The matter was referred to the committee on ethics and privileges to investigate.

Presenting the report on Thursday, the chairman of the committee, Sam Anyanwu, recommended 180 days of suspension.

He said the punishment was imperative because the senator took the issue to court after it was referred to the committee.

The days of suspension was however reduced to 90 on pleas by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

Senate Re-introduces Electoral Act Amendment Bill

The Senate has begun a fresh move to amend the Electoral Act 2010.

A new bill on the amendment is to be presented and passed for first reading today, according to the Order Paper for today’s plenary.

The House of Representatives had re-introduced the bill last week.

The first version of the bill, which was introduced in the House of Representatives, had been passed by the National Assembly but vetoed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The bill had sought to reorder the sequence of polls during a general election, which generated controversy over the allegation that it was targeted at Buhari in the 2019 elections.

Kano Assembly Backs Buhari On Electoral Act

The Speaker of Kano State House of Assembly, Alhaji Abdullahi Ata, says the house is in support of President Muhammad Buhari on his refusal to assent to the bill on amendment of the Electoral Act.

Ata spoke on Monday while answering questions during a live phone-in programme on a local radio station in Kano, Express Radio.

The News men reports that one of the major amendments by the National Assembly changed the sequence of elections, with the National Assembly poll coming first and the presidential last, contrary to INEC’s proposal.

Ata, however, said there was no need for the change now, adding that those seeking the amendment of the Electoral Act, especially the change in election sequence, were doing it in the pursuit of personal interests.

The Speaker added that even if the election time table was changed with the presidential election coming last, the president would still win.

“Therefore, we are not in support of the change in the sequence because it can only cause unnecessary spending by the electoral body, despite the economic issues in the country.

“With the efforts of the president, we are gradually getting out of the economic challenges.

“Therefore we should exercise more patience and continue to support the state and the Federal Government toward moving the country forward,’’ he said.

Ata also said the assembly was not dancing to the tune of the executive, maintaining that it was committed to the discharge of its responsibilities.

He said maturity on both sides and mutual understanding had been responsible for the prevailing peace in the polity.

“We always make sure that we discharge our duties as legislators effectively and accordingly.

“ We always make sure that we initiate and pass bills on issues that concern the electorate and also reject bills presented before us by the executive whenever we think there is the need for that and the executive agrees with our decision in the interest of the general public,’’ Ata said.

Ata, however, pledged to continue to render the necessary support to the executive in order to provide the electorate with the dividends of democracy through execution of meaningful projects in the state.

NAN

Reps Reintroduce Peace Corps, Election Bills

In a bid to possibly override President Muhammad Buhari’s veto, the House of Representatives has re-introduced the bill to establish the Nigerian Peace Corps for a first reading.

It also reintroduced the bill amending the sequence of general elections.

Both bills were rejected by the president weeks ago.

Other bills reintroduced for a possible override of the president’s veto are A Bill for an Act to establish the Chartered Institute of Treasury Management; A Bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Council for Social Works; A Bill for an Act to amend the currency conversion, freezing orders act to give discretionary powers to the judge of high court to order for forfeiture of assets of affected persons, and a Bill for an Act to establish the police procurement fund.

Others are a Bill for an Act to amend the environmental health officers council registration Act, a Bill for an Act to establish the Chartered Institute of Loan and Risk Management of Nigeria, a Bill for an Act to establish the Chartered Institute of Public Management of Nigeria.

Also included are a Bill for an Act to establish the Chartered Institute of Exports and Community Brokers of Nigeria, and a Bill for an Act to establish the Federal University, Wukari.

The House of Representatives had through its spokesperson, Abdulrazak Namdas, said it would overrule Mr. Buhari on the bills.

It however said it would not override the president on some aspects of the election bill, because the House agreed with the president’s argument on the matter.

He said the House will instead look into the areas of the bill the president disagreed with and re-introduce it for passage.

“We agreed with the first one that the amendment of 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. On this, we’ve agreed with the president,” he said.

“We have also agreed with the reason advanced that the amendment of Section 152 of the principal Act, which raises constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections. This too we have agreed with. We know that we don’t have the power to act on that.”

Suit Against Electoral Act Amendment Not Achieving President Buhari’s Aim – Accord Party

By Ismail Kolapo

The national chairman of Accord party, Mr Muhamed Lawal Lalado has denied insinuations that the party is working for the interest of President Muhammadu Buhari to caution the National Assembly on its amendment of the electoral act.

He said Accord party is demanding for due process as enshrined in the constitution and that the National Assembly has no power to override the independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC.

Featuring on a radio programme monitored by our correspondent in Osogbo on Friday, Lawal said that the National Assembly failed to inform the INEC chairman about its plans to change the sequence of the 2019 general elections before its schedule for amendment at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly.

He added among the issues considered before filing the suit against the National Assembly at the Federal High Court in Abuja is the financial aspect of election with the present situation of the Nigerian economy.

The Accord Party Chair said the re-ordering of the election timetable will cost the nation more than N2b when the current state of the economy is nothing to write home about.

Mr Lawal said that the party took the Senate to court for proper interpretation of the constitution to know whether they have constitutional right to amend the electoral act without informing INEC.

In the same vein, a Law Lecturer from of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Mr. Misbau Lateef while reacting on the program urged the people at helm of affairs to put national interest first before reordering elections.

The Legal Practitioner said in-spite the powers of the federal lawmakers to amend the electoral act under section (vi) of the 1999 constitution, the powers does not extend to determine the sequence of the election.

He however charged the National Assembly to follow due process of electoral amendment to the constitution.

Court Restrains National Assembly From Re-ordering Election Timetable

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday ordered the National Assembly to stop taking any further actions on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which seeks to provide the order in which the Independent Electoral Commission must conduct the 2019 general elections.

The restraining order issued by Justice Ahmed Mohammed is to last till March 17, which is the next hearing date.

Delivering ruling on an oral application by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), lawyer to the plaintiff, Accord Party, Justice Mohammed held that the restraining order was made to preserve the substance of the main suit.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday informed the National Assembly that he had withheld his assent to bill which was earlier passed by both chambers of the National Assembly.

There have been threats by some legislators that the National Assembly would evoke its powers under section 58(5) of the Constitution to override the President’s withholding of assent by two-third majority votes of both chambers.

The oral application by Olanipekun for a “preservative order” was opposed by the counsel representing the National Assembly, Chinelo Ogbozor, during the Wednesday’s proceedings.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, the 2nd defendant to the suit, was not represented by a counsel.

But INEC, the 3rd respondent, was represented by its lawyer, Mr. Taminu Inuwa, who said he had no objection to the application.

Ruling, he judge held that the National Assembly was not likely to suffer any prejudice if it was restrained from going ahead with the amendment processes before the next hearing date.

He added that on the other hand, if no restraining order was issued and the National Assembly went ahead to exercise its powers under section 58(5) of the Constitution by overriding President’s withholding of assent, the essence of the whole suit would have been defeated.

The judge therefore ordered all parties to maintain “status quo ” Tuesday.

He fixed ‎Tuesday for the hearing of the motion for the interlocutory injunction, the same order which was granted during the Wednesday’s proceedings but would likely last till the final determination of the suit if the application succeeds.

The Accord Party, is by its suit challenging the constitutionality of the ‎ongoing amendment of the Electoral Act.

Buhari Writes NASS To Withhold Electoral Act Amendment

President Muhammadu Buhari, has written to the National Assembly to withhold assent to the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act.

The letter was read on the floor during plenary by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

In a letter addressed to Senate President Bukola Saraki, President Buhari stated that he is declining assent to the amendment of the Electoral Act because the amendment to the sequence of the election in section 25 of the principal Act may infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of INEC to organize, undertake and supervise all elections provided in section 16(a) of the constitution.

He also stated that 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 right of candidates to a free and fair electoral review process.

President Buhari further stated that the amendment to section 152(325) of the principal Act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections.

Earlier in February, the Joint Committees of the National Assembly agreed on some of the amendments to the Electoral Act.

The amendment of the electoral act facilitated the collaboration between the joint committees.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives agreed to the earlier amendment by the House of Representatives that the National Assembly election will come first, followed by governorship and state Houses of Assembly and finally the Presidential election which will now come last.

INEC Will Implement Amended Election Sequence If Signed By Buhari – Soyebi

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will implement the amended Electoral Act if assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.

INEC National Commissioner, Voter Education and Publicity, Mr Solomon Soyebi, said this on Thursday during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

The Senate had on Wednesday adopted the conference committee report which alters the sequence in which elections are conducted in the country.

Presidential and National Assembly elections have always held (on the same day) before other polls, while the governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections follow.

But the lawmakers have amended the sequence such that the National Assembly polls would be conducted first, followed by the state lawmakers, and the governors while the presidential election should take place last.

Asked if the amendment can be implemented by INEC in the 2019 general elections, Soyebi said: “Unfortunately, yes, if the amendment becomes a law now.

“If it’s assented to by the President, it becomes a law. We have no basis to disobey the law; we have to work within the law as it is.”

Session Turns Rowdy As Senate Concurs With Election Date Change

  • Pro-Buhari Senators Stage Walk-Out

The Senate on Wednesday passed the conference committee report on amendment to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, act.

The passage of the report was followed by dissenting voices calling for points of order within the chamber.

The amendment to the electoral act, if approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, will uphold the change in the order of election as adopted by the lawmakers.

The federal lawmakers want their election held first in 2019, before that of the state lawmakers and state governors, with the last being the presidential election.

In 2015 and since 2003, the presidential and National Assembly polls were held first on the same day, followed by governorship and state legislative polls on the second day of the general elections.

The House of Representatives was first to, on January 23, amend the Electoral Act to change the order of the 2019 general elections.

The change recommended by the lower chamber came barely a month after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) released the time-table for the general elections.

The amendment by the House was made at the Committee of the whole House, presided over by Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun.

The lawmakers amended the Act while considering the report of the House Committee on Electoral Matters which proposed amendment of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

In the timetable earlier released by INEC, Presidential and National Assembly elections are to hold first, while governorship and state assembly polls are to follow.

The House amended section 25 of the Principal Act and substituted it with a new section 25 (1).

According to the section, the elections shall be held in the following order: (a) National Assembly election (b) State Houses of Assembly and Governorship elections (c) Presidential election.

Similarly, section 87 was amended by adding a new section 87 (11) with a marginal note “time for primaries of political parties”

In another version of the report, About 10 members of the Senate have staged a walk-out in protest against the adoption of the report by the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on the Amendment to the Electoral Act.

The protesters say despite the adoption of the report by the Senate, they would insist on its reversal.

They alleged that the amendment was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, Senator Suleiman Nazif, had presented the report at the plenary on Wednesday.

After the presentation, President of the Senate put the adoption of the report to voice vote, saying there was no need for debate on it as it was from a conference committee which had harmonised the versions of the two chambers.

After the vote, the ‘ayes’ had it and Saraki ruled on it — a development that generated an uproar in the chamber.

Saraki also ruled against three senators who raised points of order to protest against the adoption