Electoral Act Amendment bill: Senators Threaten To Override Buhari, Govs Back President

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A large number of senators have vowed to override the veto of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on the Electoral Act amendment bill.

It was learnt that Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, had begun making moves to prevent the embarrassment of the President.

But the Nigeria Governors’ Forum supported Buhari for not assenting to the bill, saying his reasons were cogent.

The President had withheld assent to the bill in a letter which was sent to both chambers of the National Assembly.

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In the letter which was read by Senator Lawan, the President said he would not sign the bill because of the mandatory direct primaries. He further stated eight disadvantages of mandatory direct primaries which included legal, financial and security concerns.

After Lawan read the letter, the Senator representing Rivers East, George Sekibo, raised a point of order asking the chamber to go behind closed doors to discuss the issue. The Senate President sustained Sekibo’s point of order and the closed session commenced, lasting for 37 minutes.

Sekibo, who is a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, later told journalists in an interview that the Senate adjourned plenary to enable members to override the President.

He said, “By law, we have the power to override him. That’s what Section 58 (4 & 5) said. We will use our powers to do it. And they are saying that people must be present at voting. Our rule gives us three methods of voting: voice vote, by signing the document (signature) and electronic voting. So, we can use anyone.  We collected signatures in the chamber and it cuts across party lines.”

The senator later confirmed to Channels Television that they had compiled 73 signatures to veto the President.

It was gathered that many of the senators irrespective of party affiliations, vowed to override the President’s veto in line with Section 58(5) of the constitution.

A senator, who is a member of the All Progressives Congress, however, said Lawan was not inclined towards overriding the President’s veto and asked them to reconvene on Wednesday.

“Almost everyone who spoke disagreed with the President. However, the Senate President tried to calm nerves and asked that we reconvene on Wednesday. At the moment, he is the only one that seems to be okay with what Buhari did and is reaching out. We want to see how he will stop us tomorrow. This is beyond him because we are fighting a battle of life and death” the senator who wished to remain anonymous said.

When contacted, however, Lawan’s Spokesman, Ola Awoniyi, said, “I have no briefing on that subject, so I cannot make any comment on it.”

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