By Henry Umoru

ABUJA—AHEAD of 2019 general elections, the National Assembly, yesterday, began for the fourth time, the repackaging of Electoral Bill to produce a new one for assent by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Disclosing this, yesterday, to journalists in Abuja, prior to the closed door session of the joint meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, chairman of the committee, Senator Suleiman Nazif (PDP Bauchi North), noted that the fresh move became imperative following the failure of the three earlier amendments to get Presidential assent.

Senate

According to him, the committee is in the eye of the storm as Nigerians are anxiously waiting to hear from the National Assembly.

The Electoral Bill had failed in three attempts made in the year to get it signed into law as 2018 Electoral Act for the conduct of the 2019 general elections.

Senator Nazif said: “I know that this committee is in the eye of the storm and Nigerians are desirous and expecting to hear from us. Here we are, again, trying to address the Electoral Act for the fourth time.

“Nigerians will recall that there was a first Electoral Act (amendment bill), the second and the third one. And if we pass this one, it will be the fourth one. I believe that what we are doing is in the best interest of this country.

‘’It will address all the fears and we will ensure that we equip INEC with what is necessary and what will ensure free and fair elections in 2019.”

Nazif, who declined to offer explanations on contentious areas to be addressed in the rejected version of the amendment bill, said the committee would explain to Nigerians today via media briefing.

 

“I will not be in a position right now to address the press and I don’t think any member of this committee is in a position to address the press.

“We will have to look at what transpired (concerning the bill) in an executive session and tomorrow  ( today ) by 11am, we will call all press men and tell you in detail what transpired and the position this committee has taken,’’ he said.

It would be recalled that President Buhari had in February this year, refused assent to the first of such bills sent to him as a result of reordering of sequence of elections contained in it and other contentious provisions.

Also the President in July outrightly vetoed a redrafted version of the bill excluding provisions for reordering of sequence of elections by not in any way assenting it or commenting on its provisions from June 27, 2018 when it was transmitted to him , to July 26, 2018 when its constitutional life span for presidential assent or comments expired .

But the third one passed by both chambers of the National Assembly on July 24 this year and transmitted to the President for assent on August 3, 2018, was commented on by the President but not assented to .

In a statement issued in Abuja to Journalists, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters ( Senate), Senator Ita Enang, had said President Buhari raised issues of drafting errors in his comment on the bill on  August 30, 2018, and communicated the National Assembly for needed correction .

 

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