Buhari Meets With Leadership Of NASS, Seeks Peace Over Order Of Elections, Budget

David Abakpa         Posted:    6 months ago
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Buhari Meets With Leadership Of NASS, Seeks Peace Over Order Of Elections, Budget

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday Night met with the leadership of the National Assembly seeking for peace over the controversial election sequence reordering Bill and the 2018 Budget at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

On the agenda were:

the controversial election sequence reordering, which is a subject of litigation;

the 2018 budget, which is stuck at the National Assembly— four months after it was presented by President Muhammadu Buhari; and

the worrisome security situation.

Last night President Buhari met at the Presidential Villa with the leadership of the National Assembly.

The meeting, which started around 9p.m, was attended by Senate President Bukola Saraki, House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Speaker Lasun Yussuff, Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan and House Leader Femi Gbajabiamila, among others.

After the meeting, Saraki told reporters that the frosty relationship between the Executive and the Legislature was discussed. The budget was also discussed, he said.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha confirmed that the threat by the lawmakers to override the President’s veto on the Electoral Act amendment was discussed. He gave no details.

On the budget, the lawmakers were said to have complained that some ministers were yet to defend their inputs.

Buhari was said to have directed the SGF to write the ministers, directing them to defend their budgets.

Earlier in the day, the Senate during plenary decided to write to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to protest the ruling stopping the lawmakers from overriding the President’s veto on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

It was also learnt that based on legal advice, which suggested that the President’s reasons for declining assent was not watertight, the lawmakers had decided to override the veto next week.

The controversy trailing the rejection of the Electoral Act 2018 amendment by President Muhammadu Buhari may be far from over.

The National Assembly yesterday listed “flaws” in the constitutional provision relied upon by President Buhari to withhold assent to the Bill.

The leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly is said to have met Wednesday night to consider submissions from the legal department of the Assembly.

It was gathered that the legal advice dismissed the constitutional provisions cited by President Buhari as basis for his action “as baseless and of no effect to form the basis of withholding assent to the Bill”.

The Senate and House Representatives leadership “accepted the submissions received from the legal department,” a source said.

The implication of the acceptance of the submissions of the legal department, the source said, “is that the two chambers may go ahead to override the veto of Mr. President to the Bill.”

The source hinted that “the two chambers appeared to be poised to do battle with Mr. President by exercising their power to override the president on any issue they feel strongly about”.

He added that the amendment of the Electoral Act which altered the sequence of elections, seems to be one of the issues the lawmakers are convinced was done “in the best interest of the country”.

The legal advice obtained by our reporter states: “The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vetoed the 2018 Amendment of the Electoral Act of 2010 passed by the National Assembly in the exercise of its constitutional powers under Section 58(4 oi) Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended following reasons.

“Each of the legal and constitutional reasons advanced by the President as a basis for the veto were examined in details below.

“1. The President claims that the Amendment introducing a specific sequence for elections under Section 25 of the Principal Act 2010 infringed the discretion of the Independent National Electoral Commission to “organise, undertake and supervise elections.” This argument is flawed because correct legal position however is that by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 First Alteration Act 2010, Act No. 1, specifically, Section 5 provides that “Section 76 of the Principal Act is altered thus

“(a)subsection (1) in line 2, by inserting immediately after the word ’commission’ ’the words’ ’in accordance with the Electoral Act. “

“From the above amendment, it is crystal clear that the power to regulate the principal elements of all Federal Electoral process was expressed by the above amendment, removed from the Independent National Electoral Commission and vested in the Assembly (N.A) which has the power to make laws for peace, order and good government” of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and any part thereof.

“Furthermore, the phrases ‘organize, undertake & supervise’ elections under Section 15(a) of the 3″ Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,  according to the President, allegedly infringed the discretion guaranteed” to lNEC by Section 25 of the of the Principal Act.

“1. The argument of the President that the sequencing of the elections under Section 25 infringed the discretion of INEC without expressly pointing out what specific aspects or ways and manner cannot be a basis for legal or constitutional argument or decision. With due respect, the opinion expressed is too general to establish a basis for the exercise of a legal or constitutional power, more so because “discretion” is a principle governed by the rules of Administrative Law and not that of Constitutional Law, on which the President claimed to have anchored his arguments.

“2) .Thirdly, the terms “organise, undertake and supervise” may have conferred a wide discretion on lNEC in matters of all logistics in the preparation and conduct of elections, the issue of discretion only comes to fore in the actual details of the preparation, organizing and conducting elections.

”It is respectfully submitted that the sequencing of the elections in a Bill as to which was scheduled as first or last in the conduct does not in any way hamper or affect the discretion and capacity of INEC to organise, undertake and conduct these elections into various constitutional offices provided.

“3) The new subsection (3) introduced into Section 138 of the Electoral Act, which the President argued repealed two crucial grounds upon which elections could be challenged, is not entirely correct and the view could be misplaced for the following reason:

“a. 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. In addition, it further provides that no person shall be qualified to contest elections in breach of any of the ‘Sections 66, 107, 137 or 182 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

“The amendment to Section 152 (3)-(5), which collectively imposed an obligation on the State independent Electoral Commissions to apply the standard of ‘free, fair and credible elections in the conduct of Local Government elections’ is within the competence of the National Assembly to make laws in respect of the procedure regulating elections into the Local Government Councils in accordance with item 11 (Eleven) of the Concurrent Legislative List of the 1999 Constitution as amended. What specific aspects or ways and manner cannot be a basis for legal or constitutional argument or decision. With due respect, the opinion expressed is too general to establish a basis for the exercise of a legal or constitutional power more so because “discretion” is a principle governed by the rules of Administrative Law and not that of Constitutional Law which the President claimed to have anchored his arguments.

“Thirdly, the terms “Organize, undertake and supervise” may have confer a wide discretion on lNEC in matters of all logistics in the preparation and conduct of elections, the issue of discretion only comes to fore in the actual details of the preparation, organizing and conducting elections. It is respectfully submitted that the sequencing of the elections in a Bill as to which was scheduled as first or last in the conduct does not in any way hamper or affect the discretion and capacity of INEC to organize, undertake and conduct these elections into various constitutional offices provided.

“3) The new subsection (3) introduced into Section 138 of the Electoral Act, which the President argued repealed two crucial grounds upon which elections could be challenged is not entirely correct and the view could be misplaced for the following reason:

“a. 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. In addition, it furthe provides that no person shall be qualified to contest elections in breach c any of the ‘Sections 66, 107, 137 or 182 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.”

“The amendment to Section 152 (3)-(5) which collectively imposed an obligation on the State Independent Electoral Commissions to apply the standard of “free, fair and credible elections in the conduct of Local Government elections” is within the competence of the National Assembly to make laws in respect of the procedure regulating elections into the  Local Government Councils in accordance with item 11 (Eleven) of the Concurrent Legislative List of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“It is therefore not entirely correct, with all due respect, for the Mr. President to argue that the amendment may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate on Local Government elections. The Supreme Court of Nigeria has decided on this issue in the famous case of Attorney General of Abia State & Ors v Attorney General of the Federation & Ors.

Buhari seeks peace over order of elections, budget

 

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