(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) – An attempt by the National Assembly to change the sequence of general elections by placing the presidential election last, instead of first as it used to be has hit the brickwall following a withholding of assent by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The position of the president was communicated to the senate and read at the plenary on Tuesday by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
The contentions of the president were that the action of the National Assembly, by the amendment sought infringed on the right of the Independent National Electoral Commission to determine the sequence of elections, and that the amendment also limits the rights of aggrieved candidates to challenge unacceptable election outcomes.
His letter reads in part:
“The amendment to Section 138 of the Principal Act to delete two crucial grounds upon which an election may be challenged by candidates, unduly limits rights of candidates in elections to a free and fair electoral review process,” he stated.
“The amendment to section 152 (325) of the Principal Act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over Local Government elections”, Buhari maintained.
Meanwhile, the intention of the amendment was for the Presidential election to come last after National Assembly and Governorship elections but INEC, in exercising its powers under the Electoral Act had scheduled the presidential election to come first during the general election.
At the time of going to press it was unclear if the National Assembly will override the president on this matter.