Those who are waiting for President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2018 into law will have to wait till after the 2019 general elections.

This is because the President on Friday returned the Electoral Bill to the National Assembly, declining assent for the 4th time.

The general election of 2019 is less than 70 days away and President Buhari highlighted his reasons for returning the Bill to the National Assembly once again.

 A letter of the President to the House of Representatives, informing them of his decision to return the Electoral Bill without signing it into law was made public hours after it was received.

The letter read: “Pursuant to Section 58(4) of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), I hereby convey to the House of Representatives, my decision on 6th December, 2018, to decline Presidential Assent to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly.

"I am declining assent to the Bill principally because I am concerned that passing a new electoral bill, this far into the electoral process for the 2019 general elections which commenced under the 2015 Electoral Act, could create some uncertainty about the applicable legislation to govern the process.

"Any real or apparent change to the rules this close to the election may provide an opportunity for disruption and confusion in respect of which law governs the electoral process.

"This leads me to believe that it is in the best interest of the country and our democracy for the National Assembly to specifically state in the Bill that the Electoral Act will come into effect and he applicable to elections commencing after the 2019 General Elections”.

The President also highlighted some aspects of the Bill that must be amended before be would sign it.  

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"It is also important for the following drafting amendments to be made to the Bill:

"a. Section 5 of the Bill, amending section 18 of the Principal Act should indicate the subsection to which the substitution of the figure "30" for figure "60" is to be affected.

"b. Section 11 of the Bill, amending Section 36 should indicate the subsection in which the proviso is to be introduced.

“c. Section 24 of the Bill 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 political parties may give 21 days' notice of the intention to merger 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 capitalised and undefined term "Registration Area Collation Officer," the letter also read.

President Buhari further reassured the Speaker of the House Honourable, Yakubu Dogara, of his highest consideration.

The President's decision to decline assent came two days after the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said the National Assembly had done its part on the Electoral Bill, putting the other part of the job on President's Buhari's care. 

Letter to the House of Assembly declining assent t

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