Senate rejects Buhari’s attempt to amend new Electoral Act

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By Naomi Sharing

The Senate on Wednesday, unanimously voted against the amendment of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 sought by President Muhammadu Buhari.

This was sequel to the presentation and consideration of the lead debate on the general principles of the bill by the Senate Leader, Sen. Yahaya Abdullahi during plenary.

Section 84(12) of the Act provides as follows: “No political appointee at any level shall be voting delegate or be voted for at the Convention or Congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”

The bill is entitled: “A Bill for an Act to Amend the Electoral Act 2022 and for related matters, 2022’’.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Buhari had on March 1, written the Senate seeking amendment to the Act.

The president, in the letter, drew the attention of the chamber to the provisions of Section 84(12), which, according to him, constitutes a “defect” that is in conflict with extant Constitutional provisions.

According to him, Section 84(12) of the Act constitutes a disenfranchisement of serving political office holders from voting or being voted for at Conventions or Congresses of any Political Party.

“And for the purpose of nomination of candidates for any elections in cases where it holds earlier than 30 days to the Election.’’

Presenting the debate, the leader of the senate said that the bill was read for the first time on Tuesday.

He recalled that the Bill was passed into law and assented to by the president on Feb. 25.

“However, the president expressed reservation on section 84(12).’’

Abdullahi further said “it is my humble opinion that this proposed amendment be looked into by this distinguished senate.

“This can come out with an objective position that will strengthen our electoral processes as well as our democratic disposition.’’

In a swift reaction, Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Eyinnaya Abaribe said “a precursory look at this paper shows that this paper is dead on arrival.

“I urge you my colleagues to help us to continue to deepen democracy by insisting that this bill not be read a second time in any manner whatsoever.’’

According to Sen. Smart Adeyemi (APC-Kogi), one of the hallmarks of democracy is justice, fairness and equity.

“And it is also certain matter in law that you cannot be a judge over your own case.

“I disagree with all the argument emanating from your table on the need to reconsider a decision that has already been settled.’’

Speaking contrarily, Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege said “the framers of the Constitution, they knew that a day like this will come.

“Notwithstanding, it clearly stipulated in the Constitution those provisions with qualification and disqualification on running for political office.

“If it was their intent that for holding a political office you should not contest election, they would have so provided.

“There were some provisions some of us voted for at the beginning of section 84(2) that says no political party shall seek to disqualify anybody by importing into the process a provision for qualification or disqualification not otherwise provided for in the constitution.’’

Earlier, President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan said “the fact that the court said we should not tamper with the Electoral Act 2022 as amended except through due process does not mean that the national assembly cannot consider the bill.

“The president was within his competence to request for amendment. The national assembly can consider that request appropriately,’’ he said. (NAN)