Lawyers differ over Buhari’s rejection of Electoral (amendment) Bill

President Muhammadu Buhari

A former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Osun state, Niyi Owolade, and Kunle Adegoke, SAN have disagreed over the rejection of the Electoral Amendment Bill 2021 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari had withheld assent to the bill over the provision on direct primaries as means of selecting candidates for election, saying its adoption would increase the cost of elections as well as infringe on the rights of citizens.

Speaking on a private radio station, Rave FM Osogbo, Adegoke supported the president for withholding the assent, saying the reasons adduced are weighty enough to reject the bill.

But, Owolade disagreed, saying the rejection has affected other important sections especially the electronic transfer of results.

According to Adegoke, “The reasons given by the president for not assenting to the bill are quite very weighty reasons.”

Adegoke however cautioned the Senate to thread softly on the issue, saying “it is not a muscle fleshing affair.” He explained that the Senate should look critically into the reasons given by President Buhari, noting that foisting direct primary on all parties is not democratic.

“If you look at Section 87 of the extant 2010 of the Electoral Act, it recognises three modes of doing primaries. It may be direct, indirect and there could be consensus among the party members and the candidates as the case may be.

“If direct primary is suitable to a big party like PDP or APC, when you talk about some other smaller parties, the possibility of being able to do direct primaries would be impossible because the cost implication is very high.

In Osun for instance, we have 332 wards, and the implication is that, if you want to do direct primaries, all members are to be participants. Can you say a party with about 300,000 members should gather in Osogbo city stadium for such an affair? A stadium that might not be able to take more than 10,000 people? It is not possible.”

On his own, Owoalde said, “It is unfortunate that the aspect regarding the direct and indirect primary should be the main reason why the amendment should not go forward.

“The other aspect which is vital and a lot of us will be shouting and continue to shout is the electronic transfer. We have to move on. We have to be part of the new world. You want to continue to do things in the same way and you want changes! No, you cannot have changes.

“The direct or indirect primary is within the constitution of each party. It is an internal thing. When you talk of party formation, you cannot direct from above how I should direct my own party.”

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