As preparations for the 2019 general election gather momentum, the House of Representatives has introduced another bill on the sequence of elections.
The bill, which was read for the first time at yesterday’s plenary, was sponsored by Kingsley Chinda, a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) lawmaker from Rivers State.
In March, President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to the National Assembly’s amendment of the Electoral Act, 2010, because of the inclusion of a clause which provides for sequence of elections.
In that amendment, federal lawmakers put the National Assembly election before the presidential poll.
The president, in his letter to the National Assembly, said the Legislature’s action violated the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and noted that only the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can set the order of elections in the country.
However, in its reaction to the development, the House of Representatives said there was no going back on new sequence of elections.
Consequently the Green Chamber decided to excise the clause on the sequence of elections from the new electoral law and treat it as a separate bill.
Regardless, Deputy Speaker, Yussuff Lasun, said a recent court judgement upheld the power of the National Assembly to legislate on sequence of elections in the country, and noted that the parliament cannot be gagged in the discharge of its constitutional duty of lawmaking.
Also, yesterday, the chamber rejected the use of electronic voting and manual accreditation in 2019.
However, the House resolved that only Card Readers would be used for the accreditation of voters in 2019, with a proviso that when the card readers malfunction, the election in that unit shall be suspended and conducted within 24 hours.
The House also resolved that, in the event of presentation of false information to INEC, by a candidate in an election, only the candidate, and not his political party, would be disqualified in the election.
The House deferred consideration of some aspects of the new bill to next week.