Electoral act amendment: Presidency attacks National Assembly over planned letter to CJN

Electoral act amendment: Presidency attacks National Assembly over planned letter to CJN

The Legal Department of the National Assembly has rejected the reasons adduced by President Muhammadu Buhari for withholding assent on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

The Senate had resolved on Tuesday when the letter was read to members to seek legal advice from the Legal Department. Senate had reordered the sequence of the elections.

"Separation of powers is a core of democracy, so there is a need for the Chief Justice to caution legal officers on issuing such orders geared towards interfering with other arms of government".

In the proposed law, the election would commence with National Assembly, followed by governorship and State House of Assembly elections, while the presidential poll would come last, which is contrary to the sequence earlier rolled out by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). I am anxious about the separation of powers as enshrined in our constitution.

"Now, the Senate is not pleased that the judiciary is exercising its independence The Nigerian citizens has the ultimate power, not the Senate".

With this arrangement, it became very clear that President Muhammadu Buhari and other presidential candidates in the 2019 general elections may be made to walk on tight rope to get elected.

The report states that "the new Subsection (3) to Section 138 actually clarifies the ambiguity contained in subsection 1 of the Principal Act and reinforces the constitutional standards specified in Sections 65, 106, 131 and 177 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999".

The court, in a ruling delivered by Justice Ahmed Mohammed, ordered all the parties to maintain status quo antebellum, asking stay of action on the bill between the issuing date and the next adjourned date of March 20.

Buhari told the Senate that he vetoed the amendment especially that of Section 152 Subsection ( 3)-(5) of the Principal Act because it raises Constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections.

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, presided by Justice Ahmed Mohammed, had on Wednesday ruled that the National Assembly was restrained from further legislative action on amendment of the Electoral Act pending the determination of a suit filed before it by the Accord Party.

The resolution of the Senate was based on the adoption of a "Point of Order" raised by the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio.

Consequently, the red chamber urged Justice Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, to caution judicial officers in the country on the need for preservation of institutions rather than preservation of individual or group interests. I have looked through the Nigerian constitution and in my view, I don't think it is right for the court to interfere in the affairs of the parliament, particularly when we are in the process of making legislation.

In his remarks, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who presided over yesterday's plenary, reiterated the need for every arm of government to function in accordance with the principle of separation of powers.

"I believe the court comes in only after we are through (with the process), then the court can intepret", he submitted.

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