By Harrison Arubu
Abuja – The Presidency on Monday said the Card Reader was not included in the latest Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018, which President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to.
Sen. Ita Enang, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), made this known in a statement made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Enang said the clarification became necessary in view of false allegations by opposition politicians that the card reader provision in the Bill was one of the reasons the president withheld assent to it.
“For the avoidance of doubt, I hereby state expressly that the card reader provision addressed by section 49 of the Principal Act was completely, expressly and unequivocally excluded.
“It is not in anywise, part of the provisions of the bill forwarded to the President on Aug. 3, 2018, and could therefore not form part of the consideration of the President,’’ he said.
In a similar statement on Sept. 3, Enang had announced the president’s decision not to sign the bill, which was forwarded to him by the National Assembly for the third time, on Aug. 3.
He said that the decision was based on “some drafting issues” that remained unaddressed following the prior revisions to the Bill.
Since then, there have been allegations by opposition elements and speculation in a section of the media that the president is against e-voting and the use of card readers in the upcoming elections.
Enang’s latest revelation came barely 24 hours after the Presidency rejected the allegations in a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant on Media to the President, Mr Garba Shehu.
Enang stated that although there was card reader provision in the two previous amendments of the Bill, it was never mentioned as a subject of disagreement between the president and the national assembly.
He said, “for further clarity, the Bill of Feb. 20 had 43 clauses, and the revised Bill of June 27 had 41 clauses.
“The current further revised Bill of Aug.3, which now excludes the card reader, has just 15 clauses in the absolute wisdom of the National Assembly.
“And the President has no constitutional or legal authority to add or remove any provision to or from what the National Assembly has transmitted to him.’’
The president’s aide noted that by withholding assent to latest transmission that excluded the card reader provision, Buhari had actually preserved the card reader.
This, he explained, was an opportunity for the lawmakers to restore the card reader provision when reconsidering the Bill “in its absolute legislative discretion’’.
“I pray that this will put paid to mischief and deliberate misinformation even by persons and institutions who know these facts,’’ he said.