Friday, 29 October 2010
National Assembly adopts crucial amendments
The National Assembly's two chambers – the Senate and the House of Representatives – have both voted overwhelmingly in favour of constitutional amendments that will allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to move the date for the elections from January 2011 to April 2011.
The voting on the constitutional amendments, which was conducted at the individual plenary sittings of both chambers, follows the adoption of reports by the committees mandated to review the 1999 Constitution. The new amendments have also addressed the adjudication of gubernatorial election petitions.
Specifically, the new amendments affect sections 76, 116, 132 and 178 of the 1999 Constitution as first altered, which provide that elections shall be held “not earlier than 150 days and not later than 120 days before the expiration of the incumbent's tenure in office”.
The new amendments now provide that elections shall be held “not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the incumbent's tenure in office”. Crucially, this means that while elections can still be conducted in January as previously planned, they could also be conducted in April 2011, which is “not later than 30 days” before the 29th May 2011 handover date.
The National Assembly further amended section 285 of the Constitution, which provides for gubernatorial election petitions. The new amendments have reinstated gubernatorial election petition tribunals, which were abrogated in the first amendment exercise, and extend the litigation process to the Supreme Court. Previously, gubernatorial election petitions terminated at the Court of Appeal.
For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.
© 2010 Menas Associates