Yesterday — in an interview with Punch Newspaper — Senator Ajibola Basiru disclosed that the Senate has the power to make laws on how electoral procedures are carried out and how electoral results are transmitted.
This was a reactionary statement concerning the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) that it had the constitutional backing to conduct elections by any means it chooses to adopt.
However, in a separate interview conducted by Punch Newspaper, two of Nigeria’s senior lawyers — Mike Ozekhome and Tayo Oyetibo — do not agree with the claims made by the Senate.
The latest disagreement over the power of the National Assembly became evident on Sunday. Notwithstanding, the joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives will have a series of meetings this week to reach an agreement over the versions of electoral bills passed by both groups.
On the 15th of July, 2021, the Senate had inserted a clause — while amending the electoral acts — which ordered the Electoral Commission to seek the verdicts of the National Communications Commission before deciding to conduct elections and transmit electoral results via electronic means.
The House of Representatives, on the other hand, passed a seemingly contradicting bill that permitted the Electoral Commission to conduct elections via electronic means, where and when practicable.
As a result of the different versions of bills passed by both legislative groups, a 14-member committee was established to ensure that both factions come to an agreement regarding the bills.
However, INEC’s chiefs including the electoral body’s National Commissioner and Chairman — Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu — have blamed the enactors of law.
Yet, Senator Basiru believes that the Senate has the power to determine how electoral procedures are carried out in the country. It is important to note that Senator Basiru is part of the 14-member committee set up by the legislative groups.
“According to Section 4 of the Nigerian constitution, the National Assembly has the power to make laws determining the mode of election,” he told Punch.
“INEC is an independent body. It’s evident from its name. I should not depend on any person, body, or authority. It is written in Section 158(1) of the Nigerian constitution that INEC shall not be subject or be responsible to any other person or authority in the performance of its duties,” Mike Ozekhome (SAN) said in the defense of INEC. Other senior lawyers Ifedayo Adedipe and Tayo Oyetibo — who also spoke in the defense of the Electoral Commission also said that INEC does not have to depend on any authority to conduct elections.