Three registered political parties have approached a Federal High Court in Abuja for an order to stop President Muhammadu Buhari from giving his assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018 sent to him by the National Assembly.
President Buhari had on three occasions withheld assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018, which was passed by the National Assembly on July 24, and transmitted to the president on August 3.
The latest amendment to the Electoral Act Bill 2018 was sent to the President early last month.
On Monday, three political parties – Advanced People’s Democratic Alliance (APDA), Allied Peoples Movement (APM), and Movement For Restoration and Defence of Democracy, (MRDD), in the case with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1469/18 filed by their lawyer raised the alarm that the President’s assent to the 2018 Electoral Act will truncate next year’s election.
Joined as defendants in the suit are the President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
In the suit dated December 3, 2018, the plaintiffs asked the court to determine the following questions:
Whether the 1st defendant can proceed to assent the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018 forwarded to him by the National Assembly to be used to conduct the 2019 general election when there is no more adequate time for the manifestation of the proposed Act.
“Whether assenting to the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018, now will not truncate the 4th respondent (INEC) from ensuring proper conduct at 2019 general election considering the fact that the notice of election was initiated in line with the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.”
The based on the resolution of the questions, the plaintiff asked the court to grant the following reliefs: A declaration that the assenting of the bill will truncate the 2019 general election scheduled for February and March 2019.
The plaintiffs are also asking for an order of this court stopping the 1st defendant from assenting to the Electoral Amendment bill 2018.
In the affidavit in support of the suit deposed to by Shittu Mohammed Kabir, Chairman and Presidential candidate of APDA, the plaintiffs said the Electoral Act 2010 as Amended was done sequence to the 2015 general election,
adding that the purpose was to among other things provide adequate time for the 4th respondent to issue notice of election, receive nomination of candidates from political parties and ensure the proper conduct of political parties.
According to the plaintiffs, the Act has been used by the 4th respondent to conduct the 2015 general Election into various political offices in Nigeria.
He further averred that the Electoral Act 2010 has been used to issue notice for the 2019 General Election.
He said in the affidavit in support of the originating summon: “That I also know as a fact that Electoral Act 2010 as amended has been adopted/used by all the registered political parties to conduct their primary election into all the political elective offices in preparation for the 2019 general election coming up in February. 2019.
“That I know as a fact that the process leading to the conduct of the 2019 general election was initiated and substantially consummated on the basis of 2010 Electoral Act.
“That I know as a fact that changing or amending the Act that has been used for primary elections in preparation for the forth coming General election which is less than 3 months will engender confusion in the electoral/political process.
“That I know as a fact that signing the bill is to make it an Act to amend the Electoral law which has been used already to set up the process and conduct of the 2019 General Election coming up in less than 3 months.
“That l know as a fact that accenting the bill will truncate the electoral process which had already begun.
“That I know as a fact that the bill will provide for electronic transmission of results from polling unit to collation centres. The said bill is hereby attached and marked EXHIBIT 82
“That i know as a fact that there is no way that the electorates who are not educated in this area can assimilate the act of electoral voting and transmission in less than 2 months to the general election.
“That as candidate in the forthcoming election, I know as a fact that the level of education of the generality of the electorate is very low and they will be confused and this may lead to them being disenfranchised by the sudden introduction of electronic voting in the electoral process.
“That proper voters’ education and demonstration of electronic voting system is required to be done in all the 36 states at the federation and Federal Capital Territory and 774 LGs and Area Councils, before such bill can be introduced to the electoral process)”.