Reps reverse INEC timetable for next yeara��s polls

By Samuel Ogidan and Gift Chapi Odekina
Members of the House of Representatives reversed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) timetable for the 2019 general elections in favour of the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly.
INEC had in the timetable scheduled the 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections for Saturday, 16th February, while the governorship and State Assembly/Federal Capital Territory (FCT) council elections were fixed for Saturday, 2nd March, 2019.
But on Tuesday, the lawmakers issued a fresh sequence of election into the office of the President, state governors and National Assembly, as well as State Houses of Assembly elections.
The House, which considered the report of its Committee on Electoral and Political Party Matters, on a Bill to further Amend the Electoral Act of 2010, substituted the provisions of Section 25 of the extant Act, to put the elections in the following order: National Assembly, State Assembly/ governorship elections and presidential election.
The Act though provides for election into the affected offices, but the powers were left with INEC to determine the order as well as dates for them.
Election into the offices of the chairman and vice chairman and membership of the area councils of the FCT, according to the Electoral Act, shall be held on the dates to be appointed by the INEC.
In the amendment approved by the House on Tuesday, Section 87(11a) of the extant Act was altered to outline the sequence for the conduct of political parties’ primaries in the order of (i) State House of Assembly, (ii) National Assembly, (iii) Governorship, and (iv) President.
Dates for the primaries “shall not be earlier than 120 days and not later than 90 days before the date of elections to the offices.
A new Section 143 was introduced into the Act to give protection to office occupants whose elections may be nullified owing to the process of the primary election that brought them on board.
The section reads: “Where the nomination of an elected candidate is nullified by the court and notice of appeal against the decision is given within the stipulated period for appeal, the elected candidate shall, notwithstanding the contrary decision of the court remain in the office pending the determination of the appeal.
“If the court determines that the candidate was not validly nominated, the elected candidate, shall not withstanding the contrary decision of the court remain in office within the period an appeal may be filed; and shall not be sanctioned for the benefits he derived while in office pursuant to this section”.
The amendment also made provision for candidates who wished to withdraw from the race. The candidates, according to the amendment, are to do so not later than 30 days to the poll.
The House, has, however, considered and approved a total of 156 clauses as recommended by its Committee on Electoral and Political Party Matters.
The approval requires the concurrence of the Senate before being sent to the President for assent.
During the consideration of the report, a Peoplea��s Democratic Party (PDP) lawmaker, Hon Kingsley Chinda, had moved a motion for the reversed order of elections, to be included in the Electoral Act.
After the motion was seconded, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuf Lasun, who chaired the Committee of the Whole, subjected it to voice vote amidst protestation by the Chief Whip, Hon. Alhassan Doguwa.
Shortly after the House endorsed the change in the order of elections, the aggrieved APC members walked out anger, with Doguwa been the first to leave. He was followed by others.

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