By Ignatius Okorocha and Jude Opara
The National Assembly has begun fresh work on the 2018 Electoral Act Amendment Bill following its rejection by President Muhammadu Buhari.
For three consecutive times, President Buhari has rejected the bill over alleged drafting issues.
Not deterred by the President’s action, the National Assembly said on Monday that it had set machinery in motion to repackage the controversial bill.
At a joint sitting of the National Assembly Committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Senator Suleiman Nazif (PDP Bauchi North), said the fresh move was prompted by the failure of the three earlier ones to get presidential assent.
Nazif said: “I know that this committee is in the eye of the storm and Nigerians are 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 passed 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 needed and what will ensure free and fair elections in 2019,” he said.
Although he declined to comment on the contentious areas to be addressed in the last rejected version of the bill, Nazif said that the committee would today tell Nigerians of its package for them.
Senator Nazif said: “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 pressmen and we will tell you in details what transpired and the position this committee has taken,” he said.
The first version of the bill forwarded to Buhari in February this year by the federal lawmakers was rejected due to the introduction of new sequence of election provided for in Section 25(1) of the bill.
The second version also forwarded to the President in June after removal of the new sequence of elections provisions, was vetoed by Buhari July 26, 2018.
However, the President in his rejection of the third one on September 2, 2018, told the National Assembly via a letter yet-to-be read that it was based on drafting errors that he cannot correct.