EXCLUSIVE: PMB May Reject Electoral Act Bill For 4th Time
Few days to the expiration of the 30-day constitutional window for the President to sign the 2018 Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill into law, there are strong indications that President Muhammadu Buhari may reject the bill for the fourth consecutive time.
Feelers from the seat of power indicate that the Presidency is already sending foot soldiers to the media to make a case for why the President should not sign the bill into law.
The foot soldiers include: Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang; Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan; controversial senator, Ovie Omo-Agege among others.
"The idea is to prepare the ground for the President to reject the bill and spin the narrative to suggest that the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended) can still be used to conduct the forthcoming General Elections," a Presidential source who did not want his name mentioned informed our Bounce News correspondent.
Throwing more light on why the President may not sign the bill into law, another source hinted that with the defects in the extant electoral law corrected in the new amendment, signing the bill is like the President signing his 'death warrant'.
"The truth is the President is not comfortable with some of the amendments such as compulsory use of Smart Card Reader, electronic transmission of election results, use of electronic device to record an electoral official opening sensitive materials in Polling Units and so on," another source told Bounce News.
It would be recalled that President Buhari had declined assent to the bill on three occasions in 2018 due to some observed lacunas in some of the sections of the amendment bill, and advised that those observations be addressed.
As it stands, 75 political parties have threatened to boycott the 2019 election if President Buhari fails to sign the bill into law.
The political parties under the aegis of Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), are of the opinion that the Bill will ensure credible elections if signed into law.
Some of the parties include: Action Peoples Party (APP), Action Alliance (AA), Alliance for Democracy (AD), Progressive Peoples Party (PPP), Mass Action Joint Alliance (MAJA), Better Nigeria Political Party (BNPP), All Grand Alliance Party (AGAP), Coalition for Change (C4C) among others.
Other Nigerians have also lent their voice calling on the President to sign the bill into law.
In a letter to Buhari, human rights lawyer, Olisa Agbakoba, posited that signing the bill into law would enable the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties and the courts 'discharge their responsibilities effectively'.
The legal practitioner expressed concern that less than three months to the general election, the country is yet to have an amended electoral law.
“The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 is the legal regime for the 2019 election. It is therefore important that every person is familiar with its provisions.
“If you recall, the late signing of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2015 created so much confusion and resulted in widespread electoral malpractices. If you also recall, the late signing resulted in conflicting decisions in the courts, especially on the use of card readers.
“The Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018 was passed by the National Assembly to address all the challenges created by the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2015. It is therefore important that you sign into law, the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018.
“This will enable INEC, political parties and the courts discharge their responsibilities effectively," the lawyer wrote.
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