President Buhari and the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami have approached the Supreme Court, for an interpretation of the contentious section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act as amended in 2022. The section deals with the resignation of political appointees for the purpose of participating in the electioneering process. According to Section
President Buhari and the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami have approached the Supreme Court, for an interpretation of the contentious section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act as amended in 2022.
The section deals with the resignation of political appointees for the purpose of participating in the electioneering process. According to Section 84 (12) of the legislation, “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.” But, the constitution prescribes resignation not later than 30 days to election, the amended act prescribes 30 days before the primary election. General elections are billed to hold in February 2023.
The suit was filed following the judgment of the Federal High Court in Umuahia, Abia State that struck out Section 84(12) on the grounds that it was in conflict with sections 66(1)(f), 107(1)(f),137(1)(f) and 182(1)(f) of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999. And, a judgement of the Court Appeal that ruled that the plaintiff was incompetent to institute the action.
However, the Court of Appeal added a caveat to its ruling by saying in its opinion that the section 84 (12) of the constitution was not consistent with the Nigerian constitution. This may have prompted the latest suit filed by the Attorney General at the apex Court.
It will be recalled that the National Assembly had earlier gone to Court to assert its powers to make laws. The Senate had in March passed a motion seeking to appeal the judgment of the Federal High Court, Umuahia, Abia State, on Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022.
The Senate, in the motion, seeks to follow appropriate channels to ask the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment.
The motion, titled “Urgent need to appeal the Judgment of the Federal High Court, Umuahia, on Suit No: FHC/UM/CS/26/2022, on Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022″, was sponsored by George Sekibo (PDP-Rivers) and 81 Senators.
“The legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in a National Assembly for the Federation, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.
“That in furtherance to the powers vested in the National Assembly, the 1999 Constitution under the roles of the Executive in that deals with political parties in Section 228 (a, b and d) confers more powers on the National Assembly, more particularly on political parties and effective management of the electoral process by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“That the National Assembly may by law provide – (a) guidelines and rules to ensure internal democracy within political parties, including making laws for the conduct of party primaries; party congresses and party conventions.
“(b) The conferment on the Independent National Electoral Commission of powers as may appear to the National Assembly to be necessary or desirable for the purpose of enabling the Commission more effectively ensure that political parties observe the practices of internal democracy, including the fair and transparent conduct of party primaries, party congresses and party conventions
The Senators believe that the Electoral Act 2022 enacted by the National Assembly followed due process of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
The House of Representatives has equally resolved to appeal the controversial judgement. It also decided to petition the Nigeria Judicial Council (NJC) over the circumstances surrounding the procedure of the suit in court.
In addition, the House asked the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami not to execute the directive of the court to allow it to appeal the judgement.
It was on the strength of the Abia State High Court ruling that the ministers who were interested in aspiring to higher political offices refused to resign their appointments until the Court of Appeal judgment voided the appellate court’s ruling on the subject matter.
It is believed that only the Supreme Court’s judgement on the issue would lay the matter to rest.