Chukwudi Nweje, with agency report
Immediate past chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, have told the Senate it has no power to alter the order of election for 2019.
Jega made his position known at an event organised by the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Development in Abuja, yesterday, while Falana stated his opinion through a personal statement issued in Lagos, same day.
Speaking at the event, with the theme, Is Nigeria’s Democracy Under Threat?, Jega said the National Assembly’s action undermined INEC’s independence of INEC and added that several sections of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), clearly state that the power to organise and set the date for elections remain the exclusive preserve of the commission.
The former INEC boss also stated that the cost of election would be higher if the National Assembly succeeds in changing the election sequence.
In Lagos, Falana described the furore over the amendment carried out by the lawmakers as “needless controversy” and noted that the National Assembly is trying to circumvent a decision that has already been decided by the Court of Appeal in 2003, when then President Olusegun Obasanjo withheld assent to the Electoral Bill, 2002.
“It is regrettable to note that the parties involved in the dispute have not studied the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of National Assembly v. President (2003) 9 NWLR (PT 824) 104 at 143-144. In that case, president Obasanjo refused to assent to the Electoral Bill, 2002 which had been passed by both chambers of the National Assembly and transmitted to him June 24, 2002.
“Subsequently, by a motion of veto-override, the National Assembly passed the bill into law. In an originating summons filed at the Federal High Court the INEC challenged the validity of the passage of the bill into law and the constitutionality of Section 15 of the Act which had provided that general elections shall be held in one day….
Falana said NASS erroneously believed they had conferred on themselves the power to fix the dates for general elections after they amended some sections but that the power of the INEC to “organise, undertake and supervise” the general elections was left intact by the lawmakers.