The House of Representatives has rescinded its decision on the compulsory direct primaries clause in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
The lawmakers reversed the move during a plenary session on Wednesday and instead, adopted the direct and indirect primaries. It also expunged the consensus option.
During the plenary, the lawmakers had gone into a closed-door session after which the chamber became rowdy. But the reason for the rowdiness was unclear as they were seen in different groups conferring.
Earlier in the day, the Senate had towed the same line, recommending both direct and indirect primaries.
The lawmaker’s move is coming weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari had declined assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, citing the compulsory direct primaries clause.
In a letter to the National Assembly, the Nigerian leader had faulted the move, saying it is expensive and also against the spirit of democracy.
“The amendment to the sequence of the elections in section 25 of the Principal Act may infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of the Independent National Electoral Commission to organize, undertake and supervise all elections provided in section 15 (a) of the third schedule of the constitution,” Buhari said in a letter to the lawmakers.
“The amendment to Section (138) of the Principal Act to delete two crucial grounds upon which an election may be challenged by candidates unduly limits the rights of candidates in elections to a free and fair electoral review process and the amendments to section 152 (3)-(5) of the Principal Act, may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over Local Government elections.”
Buhari’s move had triggered reactions from several quarters including the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of plotting to rig the 2023 elections.