A BILL for an Act to amend the newly signed Electoral Act 2022 has failed to pass second reading in the Senate.
The bill seeks to amend the section of the Act which barred political appointees from voting or being voted for during political party primary elections.
The bill had scaled first reading on Tuesday but when it came up for second reading on Wednesday, Senator Adamu Aliero observed that a court order had restrained the Senate from tampering with the Electoral Act.
However, Senate President Ahmad Lawan disagreed noting that the upper legislative chamber was not breaking any law by considering the bill.
“The fact that the court says the National Assembly should not tamper with Electoral Act 2022 as amended except through due process does not mean that the National Assembly cannot consider the Bill.
“And I said the president was within his competence to request for amendment, including every Nigerian to ask for an amendment in any law.
“Members of the National Assembly are at liberty to review the request, see if the arguments from the executive are convincing enough. If the arguments are not convincing enough, members of the National Assembly could deny the request, and that is how it is.
“I think we are not breaching any law. In fact, we are trying to promote democracy by doing this because one day someone would go to court and say the Senate and National Assembly should not sit,” Lawan said.
He added, “My ruling remains we are going ahead to consider the request which the Leader of the Senate is leading the debate, and at the end of the debate we are going to vote, and the votes will decide the fate of the bill.”
Contributing to the debate, Senator Smart Adeyemi disagreed with Lawan.
Adeyemi said the Senate should not amend the Electoral Act.
“One of the hallmarks of democracy is justice, fairness and equity. In any election, where people have the advantage of holding executive power either by proxy or appointment and for such people to have access to compete with others from the street is an unjust society.
“Therefore I disagree that we should reconsider a decision that has already been settled, ” Adeyemi said.
Senate minority leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe also appealed to his colleagues to reject the bill.
When the matter was eventually put to a voice vote, those against the amendment of the newly signed Electoral Act were in the majority, and as a result, the bill failed to scale second reading.
The ICIR reported that the Senate President had accused the judiciary of interference in the law-making process after an Abuja Federal High Court barred the National Assembly from tampering with the newly amended Electoral Act.
The court gave the order on Monday while ruling on an application filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).