The House of Representatives on Tuesday reworked the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018 rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The president had in December 2018 declined assent to the bill for the third time.
In his last letter to both chambers of the National Assembly, Mr Buhari said passing a new bill with elections close by could “create some uncertainty about the legislation to govern the process.”
He also highlighted some parts of the bill that he said need legislative action.
Prior to that period, the president had declined assent to the bill in previous times, citing “drafting issues.”
Mr Buhari had first in March withheld assent to the bill with reasons that the proposed law would usurp the constitutional powers of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to decide on election matters, including fixing dates and election order.
However, after a second communication from the National Assembly, the president again in September declined to assent to the bill.
The amendments made by the House were sequel to a motion moved by Edward Pwajok last Tuesday.
He had urged his colleagues to revisit the amendment bill in the interest of Nigeria and to consider looking at the clauses the president pointed out in the bill that required reconsideration.
Some of the areas the president noted in the amendment bill were Section 5, amending section 18 of the Principal Act, which he said should indicate the subsection to which the substitution of the figure ‘30’ for the figure ‘60’ is to be effected.
“B. Section 11, amending Section 36 should indicate the subsection in which the provision is to be introduced.
“C. Section 24, which amends Section 85(1) should be redrafted in full as the introduction of the “electing” to the sentence may be interpreted to mean that the political parties may give 21 days’ notice of the intention to merge, as opposed to the 90 days provided in Section 84(2) of the Electoral Act, which provides the provision for merger of political parties.”
“D. The definition of the term “Ward Collection Officer” should be revised to reflect a more descriptive definition than the capitalized and undefined term “Registration Area Collation Officer.”
The lawmakers thereafter, resolved into Committee of the Whole to make the amendments.
Three News Clauses
While considering the report, the lawmakers also adopted three new clauses, in subsection 1 of Section 18 of the Principal Act.
This amendment seeks that any electoral officer apprehended for issuing a Permanent Voter Card (PVC) to any voter less than 30 days before the election will be liable to five years imprisonment or a fine of N5 million or both.
The new subsection (2) proposes: “If the Electoral Officer or any other officer is satisfied as to the circumstances of the loss, destruction, defacement or damage of the Voters‘Card, he shall issue to the voter a replacement of Permanent Voter Card.”
New subsection (3) states: “No person shall issue a replacement of a permanent voters’ card to any voter on polling day or less than thirty (30) days before polling day.”
The new subsection (4) says: “Any person who contravenes subsection (3) of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to 5 years imprisonment or a fine of N5, 000,000.00 or both.”
Section 36(1) of the Principal Act was also amended by (3) inserting after the word “days” and “proviso.”
Many Nigerians, including politicians, have urged the president to assent to the bill to enhance Nigeria’s electoral process which has been beleaguered by irregularities in recent years.
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