Three political parties have gone to court to obtain an order to stop President Muhammadu Buhari from signing the newly passed electoral bill into law
THE hope of early passage of the recently passed Electoral Bill awaiting the assent of President Muhammadu Buhari, may have suffered a setback as three political parties filed a suit seeking to stop the presidential assent to the prospective law.
At the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, Shitu Mohammed Kabir, presidential candidate of the Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance, APDA, joined by the Allied Peoples Mandate, APM, and the Movement for Restoration and Defence of Democracy, MRDD, are seeking the order of the court stopping President Buhari from signing the bill into law.
The suit asked the court to determine if the president could proceed to sign the bill to conduct the 2019 election when there was no more adequate time for the manifestation of the proposed Act.
Also joined as defendants are Bukola Saraki, Senate President, Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the House of Representatives, Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission and Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation.
They also wanted the court to determine if the new Act, if assented will not hinder the proper conduct of the 2019 elections by Yakubu, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, in view of the fact that the notice of election was initiated in line with the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
Kabir, who is the chairman, Forum of Presidential Candidates, had earlier raised an alarm on what he called the “deliberate hurdles” capable of derailing the 2019 General Elections. His grouse is informed by what he termed “the stumbling blocks against a free and fair election” next year.
Specifically, he said the new Act which stipulates electronic verification of voters and transmission of results will deliberately disenfranchise many voters especially in the rural and remote areas of the country owing to obvious constraints of power supply and internet connectivity.
“We don’t see INEC responding fast enough in cases where their devices malfunction. The constraints and impediments of time and resources in difficult terrains will deliberately deny many local communities the opportunity to vote,” he spoke shortly after the 40 presidential candidates under the Forum rose from a meeting at the weekend.
The Forum therefore threatened to drag President Muhammadu Buhari and INEC to court to abort assent to the amended bill.
Kabir argued that the time is rather too close to the election to enable INEC train its staff, especially its ad hoc staff, on how to handle the electronic devices. “We shouldn’t give INEC any excuse to postpone the elections,” he cautioned.
The APDA presidential candidate is worried that those pushing for assent to the new bill may unwittingly derail the electoral calendar if the electoral umpire is forced to adjust its programme to accommodate the personnel, budget and other logistics in the guise of abiding with the provisions of the new law.
He also picked holes in the provision of Sections 84-87 which is capable of weakening the powers of political party executives on party primaries and choice of candidates. “My concern is how to avoid unnecessary litigations and protect the sanctity of the electoral process,” he said.
Last week, chairmen of about 70 registered political parties also threatened to pull out of the 2019 general elections if President Buhari failed to sign the amended electoral bill already transmitted to him by the National Assembly.
The party chairmen claimed to be members of the Inter Party Advisory Council. Ikenga Ugochinyere, its national publicity secretary, who disclosed this in a statement in Abuja, after the council’s meeting, did not identify the members of the Council.
The statement read, “IPAC resolved that in view of the fact that Nigerian’s want free, fair and credible elections in 2019, which the new Electoral Bill before President Muhammadu Buhari promises, we as major stakeholders in the electoral process call on the President to sign the bill into law.
“Should he refuse, then we will not be part of the electoral process in 2019 that doesn’t promise credibility and fairness.
“The delay/refusal to sign the bill will throw the country into the worst bloody electoral conquest and put INEC in a tight situation that will make free and credible election impossible in 2019,” the parties said.
– Dec. 3, 2018 @ 8:10 GMT |
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