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Senate Rejects Buhari’s Electoral Act Bill

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The Senate on Wednesday threw out President Muhammdu Buhari’s Bill seeking to amend the Electoral Act, 2022.
The Bill titled: “A Bill for an Act to amend the Electoral Act 2022 and for related matters, 2022,” was overwhelming rejected by Senators, a development that effectively stopped its second reading and passage.
The Bill scaled first reading on Tuesday despite an order of a Federal High Court, Abuja that barred the Senate from considering it.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan had challenged the Court order saying that the Judiciary cannot in any circumstances stop the Legislature from performing its constitutional duties.
The court, in a ruling delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, on an ex-parte application filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), barred President Muhammadu Buhari, Attorney-General of the Federation and the Senate President from tampering with the newly amended Electoral Act 2022.
The Court maintained that the Electoral Act 2022, having become a valid law could not be altered without following the due process of law.
Before the Senate commenced consideration of the Bill on Wednesday, Senator Adamu Aliero had while citing order 52(5) of the Senate Standing Rules, urged the Senate President to jettison any proposed action on the Bill.
Lawan was however adamant. He reiterated his position that only senators may reject the Bill and not the judiciary seeking to stop the chamber from performing its lawful duties through an order.
Senators however voted overwhelmingly against the Bill to stop it from being read a second time.
The move to reject the Bill was signaled by a call from Senator Aliero for it to be stepped down after the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, moved a motion for the bill to be read a second time.
Aliero, who came under a point of Order, drew the attention of his colleagues to the provision of Rule 52(5) of of the Senate Standing Order.
Order 52(5) provides: “Reference shall not be made to any matter on which a judicial decision is pending, in such a way as might in the opinion of the President of the Senate prejudice the interest of parties thereto.”
The Kebbi Central Lawmaker advised the upper chamber to step down consideration of the bill pending the vacation of an order made by the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday.
According to Aliero, going ahead with the amendment of the Act was in clear conflict with the sub judice rule in law which prevents the legislature from deliberating or considering any matter already before a court of competent jurisdiction.
“Going ahead to consider the bill obviously will mean that we are disrespecting that order, and this is an institution of the Senate – the symbol of Nigeria’s lawmaking body.
“We should not be seen to be disobeying the court order. No matter how bad that court order is, we should respect it.
“So, I’m of the opinion that we should stop considering this bill pending the time the court set aside that order, and I think I’m speaking the opinion of my colleagues here”, Aliero said.
The Senate President, while ruling on Aliero’s point of Order, insisted that the move by the upper chamber to amend the Electoral Act was in line with exercising its Constitutional duties and following due process.
Lawan said: “To be specific to this particular request, for us in the Senate, it is to look at the request and follow our due process.
“Looking at the request does not mean granting the request. Members of the National Assembly are at liberty to review the request to see if the arguments by the Executive arm of government are convincing enough.
“If the arguments are not convincing enough, the National Assembly can deny the request, and that is how it is. We have no encumbrance from that order.
“So, it is for Senators here to decide to vote for this amendment or vote against it.
“I think we are not breaching any law, in fact, we are trying to promote democracy because to do otherwise may mean that one day someone will go to court and say that the Senate of the National Assembly should not sit.
“I want to appeal to all of us, that we are on the right course and my ruling remains that we are going ahead to consider the proposal which the Leader of the Senate is leading the debate.
“At the end of the debate, we are going to vote, and the vote will decide the fate of the bill.
“I’m sure all of us know that whatever we do here is to protect democracy and the sanctity of the upper chamber.”
The Senate Leader, was then given the floor to lead the debate on the Electoral Act Amendment bill.
Contributing to the debate, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South), kicked against the deletion of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill as requested by President Buhari.
He said, “There are certain things that we see which we think we don’t even have to come here to debate.
“One of those things is the fact that in every democracy, all over the world, there are certain rules which we don’t need to be told about.
“One of those rules is the fact that you cannot be a referee and a player on the same field. It is either you’re a referee or a player.
“So, every other place in the world where democracy is practiced including Nigeria, we don’t need to be told that if we want to run for office, we have to resign. That is a sine qua non that we don’t even need to debate.

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