Seventy-three senators are set to support a motion to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s Veto on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill.
A Senator of the Peoples Democratic Party, George Sekibo, made this known in an interview with Channels Television monitored by Headlinenews.
Sekibo explained that there are plans to override Buhari’s Veto after the end of the closed-door session of the Senate on Tuesday.
The lawmaker was quoted as saying that “a total of 73 signatures have been compiled” to override the Veto.
By law, the National Assembly can override the President’s Veto of a Bill through a two-third majority vote.
The signatures said to have been gathered are over two-third majority needed to override the President’s veto as there are 109 Senators in the Senate.
With the 73 signatures gathered so far, it means 70 per cent of the lawmakers in the Upper Chamber want the Bill passed without the President’s assent.
Buhari had informed the National Assembly of his decision to withhold his assent on the Bill, signing the bill into law would have serious adverse legal, financial, economic, and security consequences on the country, particularly in view of Nigeria’s peculiarities.
In his letter to the Senate, the President also said the direct primary arrangement could worsen the insecurity situation across the Country if approved.
According to him, it could cause confusion in the various political parties
“Direct primaries are also subject or susceptible to manipulation or malpractices as most parties cannot boast of reliable and verified Membership Register or valid means of identification which therefore means non-members can be recruited to vote by wealthy contestants to influence the outcome.
“Rival parties can also conspire and mobilize people to vote against a good or popular candidate in a party during its primaries just to pave way for their own candidates. Whereas where voting is done by accredited delegates during indirect primaries, the above irregularities are not possible,” Buhari letter read in part.
The Senate adjourned its session till tomorrow.
Direct primaries constitutional – Lawyer.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun Adegboruwa, has explained that holding direct primaries is constitutional.
He urged members of the National Assembly to override Buhari’s veto on the Bill.
Adegboruwa said, “Under and by virtue of Paragraph 15 (b) of Part 1 to the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended, INEC shall register political parties in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and an Act of the National Assembly.
“By virtue of section 222 (a) of the Constitution, no association, by whatever name called, shall function as a political party, unless a copy of its constitution is registered with INEC.
“By virtue of section 223 (1) (a) of the Constitution, the constitution and rules of a political party shall provide for period election on a DEMOCRATIC basis of its principal officers.
“By virtue of section 224 of the Constitution, the Programme as well as the aims and objectives of a political party shall conform with the provisions of Chapter 2 of the Constitution.
“By virtue of section 40 of the Constitution, INEC is conferred with power to register or refuse registration of political parties.
“From all the above, the Constitution, the Electoral Act and indeed INEC, are to regulate the activities of all political parties, including their various constitutions. That being the case, the reason adduced by the President, for withholding his assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, that the said Bill violates the constitution of the political parties, is not supported by the Constitution which created the political parties in the first place.
“The registration of political parties is regulated by INEC in accordance with the Constitution and the Electoral Act. Thus, the constitutions of all political parties are to conform with these laws and not the other way round. It is the political parties that will amend their constitutions to conform with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“Since the President assumed office, he has withheld his assent to virtually all amendments of the Electoral Act, even though he promised electoral reforms during his campaigns. What this means is that the President prefers to retain all the manifest flaws bedeviling our electoral system, from which himself and his ruling party are benefiting to the detriment of our democratic advancement.
“Although the President is entitled to the discretion of his assent to any Bill presented to him, however the reason adduced for the exercise of such presidential discretion must be legal and valid. It is clear that the discretion has not been properly exercised in the national interest, in this particular case.
“I therefore urge the National Assembly to invoke the provisions of section 58(5) of the Constitution to pass the Bill into law, through two-thirds majority of both Houses.”