Buhari declines assent to amendment to Electoral Act bill

The President of the red chamber stated: "With this Bill, we will have better elections; and electoral offenders who carry out offences will not go unpunished".

Yakubu stated this at a public hearing on a Bill seeking to establish the National Electoral Offences Commission, organised by Senate Committees on INEC and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives agreed to the earlier amendment by the House of Representatives that the National Assembly election will come first, followed by governorship and state Houses of Assembly and finally the Presidential election which will now come last. "You have not declared campaigns open, and some are already campaigning".

The amendments proposed by the National Assembly sought to make some changes in Nigeria's electoral act including changing the sequence of the 2019 elections.

"INEC should be cautious of who it is listening to".

Urging INEC not to condone such actions, he said, "The Senate in particular would be very anxious, if INEC begins to condone the actions of some political parties".

Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, has called for the creation of a commission that will be responsible for the arrest, investigation and prosecution of electoral offenders.

A similar letter was sent to Bukola Saraki, the president of the Senate.

According to him, failure to enforce sanctions encouraged impunity and violence that often characterized the nation's electoral process, thereby subverting the will of the people and undermining democracy. "Therefore, the Senate Committee Chairman on Banking, please ensure that you complete that process so that we can give the necessary support in this issue of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) and the Deputy Governors of Central Bank". "That responsibility will now lie with the electoral commission and so INEC can now focus on delivery free and fair election in line with its mandate, " he said.

"INEC can not effectively prosecute electoral offenders and at the same time focus on the extensive responsibilities under the constitution and the electoral act". "There are several factors responsible for the inadequate success ranging from the huge prosecutorial task, dependence on other agencies for arrest and investigation, time and resources", he said.

He also warned against appointment of ex-officio members, while calling for a proper definition of "electoral offences".

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