CSO Threatens Legal Action Against NASS Over Electoral Act Amendment Bill
A civil society organisation under the aegis of Vanguard for Transparent Leadership and Democracy (VATLAD), has criticised the National Assembly for referring the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 to President Muhammadu Buhari for his reconsideration and possible assent.
The group which has threatened to commence legal action against NASS, however, clarified that the back and forth movement of the bill negates the constitutional provisions of section 4 (1) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, which unambiguously states that the constitutional lawmaking for Nigerians and Nigeria is exclusively that of the Legislature, in this case, the National Assembly.
According to Igbini Emmanuel, National President of VATLAD, it is not a shared duty between the Executive and the Legislative Arms to enact such laws.
“We are driven by Patriotism and Overall National Interest to respectfully convey to the respected leadership and members of the Nigerian National Assembly, our total objection to the reported decision of the Leadership of the Senate and the House of Representatives to refer further amendments to the already passed Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 to President Mohammadu Buhari for his reconsideration and possible assent.
“Such move is strongly opposed by us as it is unconstitutional and against the clear provisions, section 58 (1 – 5) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, clearly outline the five steps in sequence that must be unconditionally and fully adhered to by the Legislature of the National Assembly in making law or amending any Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that is within its constitutional powers.
“Of special interest to us is the provision of section 58(5) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, which aptly captures the last and final sequence of law making process which is the stage that the National Assembly is in right now since the four preceding sequences have been fully adhered to by the National Assembly and President Buhari, as far as this Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 is concerned.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we draw your attention to section 58(5) which states that: “Where the President (of Nigeria) withholds his assent and the bill is again passed by each house by two-thirds majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the President (of Nigeria) shall not be required”.
“From the above section, the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 is now forbidden from being taken back to President Buhari for his assent. It is now entirely left exclusively to members of the Senate and House of Representatives to complete the final process of making this Bill become an Act by simply remobilising yourselves as you reportedly did in the passage of the Bill to meet the required two-thirds majority of the total of four hundred and sixty-nine members to pass this Bill to become an Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.