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Electoral Act Amendment Bill is too important to be jettisoned – NBA

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As reactions continue to trail the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Electoral Act amendment bill, 2021, the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), an umbrella body of lawyers practising in the country has expressed disappointment that the bill was returned by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The NBA said the development has offered it reasons to join their voices with Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria to express discontent at the manner the document, as important as it is to the political development of Nigeria, was treated.

Describing President Buhari’s veto of the bill as unfortunate, the body said, though, his rejection was his constitutional prerogative, the body wasn’t convinced that Mr President declined assent in good faith.

In a statement which was signed by the President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Barrister Olumide Akpata, which was obtained by DAILY POST in Abuja, NBA cited reasons the executive would have got involved in the legislative process to ensure that the bill was signed into law.

The statement averred: “The Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) has received the unfortunate, but unsurprising, news of the decision of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR (the “President”) to decline assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 (“the Bill”).

“For the following reasons, we join other civil society groups and well-meaning Nigerians in expressing our discontent with the manner of the exercise of the President’s veto.

“The NBA acknowledges that in withholding assent to the Bill, the President merely exercised a prerogative constitutional powers available to him within the broader context of the rule of law, which the NBA stands for.

“Nevertheless, we are not convinced that, in the circumstance, the President demonstrated good faith in the exercise of his veto powers. Two interrelated factors account for our stand.”

They expressed disappointment that the executive took the back sit when the legislative process was ongoing, particularly the “direct primary election”, which the executive said was unworkable.