Nigeria’s Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, has vetoed four bills passed by the National Assembly and transmitted to the President for assent.
The bills are Dangerous Drug Amendment Bill 2016; National Lottery Bill 2016; Currency Conversion Freezing Order Amendment Bill 2016; and Agricultural Guaranteed Credit Scheme Bill 2016.
Senate President Bukola Saraki disclosed the development at the Senate plenary on Wednesday while reading Mr. Osinbajo’s letters separately conveying the refusal of assent to each of the bills.
According to the letters as read by Mr. Saraki, the acting president refused to sign the bills into law due to do the wording and spirit of the bills.
Specifically regarding the lottery bill, the concern was about pending litigation and the power of the National Assembly to legislate on the subject.
The All Progressives Congress Senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye, protested Mr. Osinbajo’s presidential veto, arguing that, following the principle of separation of powers, the presidency has the duty of assenting to bills passed by the National Assembly or approach the judiciary for redress.
But Mr. Saraki said the matter would be referred to the legal department of the National Assembly for advice.
Nigeria’s presidential system allows checks and balance, which moderates the principle of separation of powers. In essence, Nigeria’s Constitution grants the president the power to withhold assent to a bill within thirty days of receipt.
But upon presidential veto as exercised by Mr. Osinbajo, section 58(5) provides that such bill automatically becomes law if it is passed again by two-thirds majority of each of the chambers.
It is not the first time a veto would be exercised. Last year, President Muhammadu Buhari refused to assent to the initial version of the 2016 Appropriation Bill passed by the National Assembly.
Before Mr. Buhari, former President Goodluck Jonathan had at the twilight of his tenure in 2015 refused to assent to the Constitution Amendment Bill 2015 passed by the National Assembly, pointing to some anomalies.
Meanwhile, Mr. Osinbajo had days ago signed seven bills into law.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect the actual number of bills vetoed by the Acting President.