The Senate has warned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be cautious of its actions concerning the amended electoral timetable as arranged by the National Assembly.
The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, delivered the warning on Monday at a public hearing on the bill seeking to establish the National Electoral Offences Commission, which was conducted by the Senate’s Joint Committee on INEC; and Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
Represented at the event by the Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, the Senate President said the National Assembly is empowered by the constitution to make laws for the electoral commission.
Acknowledging that several Nigerians had question the legitimacy of the National Assembly in making such a decision, Saraki said the lawmakers would not at any time violate the country’s constitution.
“Of recent, there have been arguments on who has power to do what. INEC should be cautious of who it is listening to. We would not sit anywhere this constitution will be violated. It is necessary we caution ourselves. We need this country, we love this country,” he said.
Saraki also wondered why INEC had not queried political parties who have declared and begun campaigning ahead of the 2019 elections as the electoral body has not lifted the campaign embargo.
He said, “The Senate in particular would be very worried, if INEC begins to condone the actions of some political parties. You have not declared campaigns open, and some are already campaigning.”
Recall that on February 14, the Senate had adopted the National Assembly Joint Conference Committee on Electoral Reform and passed the amendment, which reshuffled the sequence of elections ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The proposed amendment would now have the National Assembly elections held first, followed by the gubernatorial and state legislative elections, and then the presidential elections.
However, INEC, on March 1, announced the dates for national elections in Nigeria for the next 36 years, using the present order of the presidential and National Assembly elections which are held first, and then the subsequent governorship and state houses of assembly elections as its guide.