The Vanguard for Transparent Leadership and Democracy (VATLAD) has threatened to institute legal action against the Nigerian National Assembly if the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 was referred back to President Buhari again for his reconsideration and possible assent.
VATLAD conveyed their message in an open letter to the leadership of the 9th National Assembly, signed by it’s National President, Comrade (Engr) Igbini Odafe Emmanuel on Thursday, January 20, 2022.
TheFact Nigeria recalled that President Buhari had withheld his assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021 which sought provision for the electronic transmission of results and the adoption of direct primaries by all political parties.
VATLAD which said it was driven by Patriotism and Overall National Interest stated that it objects 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 Buhari for his possible assent.
The letter read in part:
“Such move is strongly opposed by us as it is unconstitutional and against the clear provisions of section 4 (1) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, as amended, which unambiguously states that the constitutional Law making for Nigerians and Nigeria is exclusively that of the Legislature, in this case, the National Assembly. It is not a shared duty between the Executive and the Legislative Arms, and God forbids it is, as this planned move seeks to portray to Nigerians and rest of the Developed Democratic World.
“Furthermore, 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.
“In June 2000, this was exactly the process followed by the National Assembly in establishing the NDDC Act after then President Obasanjo withheld his assent.
“We have consistently issued Press Statements wherein we made it clear that it is unfair and unjust for Nigerians to be misled to continue to blackmail and attack President Buhari, accusing him of being the obstacle to the passage of this Bill.
“We state again that President Buhari has no constitutional obligation whatsoever in the making of this Electoral Act Amendment 2021 Bill become an Act. He cannot stop the making of this Act if the members of the National Assembly truly want it”, it said.
The group, to sum up, reiterated that if the Senate continued dragging Buhari into the Bill matter, it would not hesitate to take them to court:
“We are putting you and all respected members of the National Assembly, on notice of our decision to institute legal action against the National Assembly if it refers this Bill back to President Buhari and in the process, unfairly drag him again into this matter having voluntarily withheld his assent on December 19, 2021 and returned the Bill back to the National Assembly as constitutionally required of him by provision of section 58(4) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended”, they said.