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Electoral Bill: Buhari’s Refusal To Assent Threatens Free And Fair Election In 2019, says West Idahosa

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A former lawmaker and legal practitioner, Honorable West Idahosa has warned that there might be an upheaval ahead of the 2019 general election due to the President Mumammadu Buhari’s

By Ehi Ekhator

A former lawmaker and legal practitioner, Honorable Ehiogie West Idahosa has warned that there might be an upheaval ahead of the 2019 general election due to the President Mumammadu Buhari’s refusal to assent to the Electoral bill.

Reactions had trailed the Buhari’s decision to reject the electoral bill for the fourth time as many claimed the All Progressives Congress are planning to manipulate the election in its favour. 

Ehiogie West-Idahosa : Electoral Bill: Buhari's Refusal To Sign Threatens Free And Fair Election In 2019
Ehiogie West-Idahosa

Reacting while answering questions on Channels TV on Friday, West Idahosa expressed doubt on Buhari’s commitment to free and fair election, saying that the President has missed an opportunity to further strength democracy in Nigeria.

“Well, the point i have to make is that it is not quite clear why this decline is coming again. I understand very clearly that this was the bill that was first presented about ten months ago and repeatedly the bill has had several rejections and all the contributions the President had made in the past have been accommodated and to that extent everyone thought this time around, the bill was going gain his assent but he didn’t do so. 

“One would there wonder whether there is a sincere commitment to organizing credible, transparent, free and fair election because the most important part of this deal was to guarantee that a process which INEC has been using, the smart card accreditation become a product of the law.

“You will remember in 2015 when a case of Wike vs Dakuku Peterside came up, the Supreme Court rejected the use of card reader by implication of INEC regulationS instead of the law. This was a major amendment directed at the fabric of electoral transparency and it is a pity that it is being rejected. 

“I also don’t see any confusion as to which of the law is applicable at a time like this. All the primaries have been completed and we know under which law they were conducted. The amendment is directed to take effect from the day the President assents to that law, and principally regulate the 2019 election very clearly and very unequivocally, so I am not too sure, I am carried away by the excuse of confusion “

Talking about the reason behind President Muhammadu’s Buhari refusal to assent on the bill, the CUPP had said Buhari missed an opportunity to write his name on the sand of political history of Nigeria. Barr. Idahosa concur on the party’s position, adding that the President has a duty to add to the process that brought him to power. 

He said: “There is need to improve the electoral process and that is the kind of process that brought the President to power, so he has a duty to improve on the process so that our democracy can advance and move to a level of public opinion democracy. I think that, that bill which the President has refused to assent to give a guarantee of the framework within which free, fair, transparent and credible election could have been conducted.

“The legal practitioner expressed worry that the 2019 general election might be marred with a lot of manipulations due to the President’s refusal to sign the bill.

“In my view, what it means is that we are going to have to resort to having incident forms and that’d been a big manipulation process in the whole of the electoral circle. I do think that is a cause for worry. and i believe that the easiest way to have guarantee the confidence of the Nigerian voters and indeed, the entire electoral environment would have been to allow the card readers to be legalized and become a creature of the stature and to allow electronic transmission of result to be the mode of communication of result to the appropriate authority, in that way, it would have been more difficult to manipulate the process. I see that there will be plenty of upheaval ahead in 2019.”

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