President Muhamadu Buhari’s bid to have section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 deleted to give room for political appointees to contest as delegates or candidates for elections at parties primaries have been achieved.
This is as the Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia on Friday struck out the controversial Section and ordered the Attorney-General of the Federation to immediately delete it.
The court in a judgment delivered by Justice Evelyn Anyadike held that the section was unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever and ought to be struck out as it cannot stand when it is in violation of the clear provisions of the Constitution.
The section stipulates that: “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 a suit marked FHC/UM/CS/26/2022, Justice Anyadike further stated that Sections 66(1)(f), 107(1)(f), 137(1)(f) and 182(1)(f) of the 1999 Constitution already stipulated that appointees of government seeking to contest elections were only to resign at least 30 days to the date of the election and that any other law that mandated such appointees to resign or leave office at any time before that was “unconstitutional, invalid, illegal null and void to the extent of its inconsistency to the clear provisions of the Constitution.”
Buhari raised an objection to 84 (12) of Electoral Act 2020 when he signed it last month and immediately wrote both Chambers of the National Assembly to delete the section.
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The President in a letter to Ahmad Lawan, President of the Senate and Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives said: “Section 84 (12) constitutes a disenfranchisement of serving political office holders from voting or being voted for at conventions or congresses of any political party, for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election in cases where it holds earlier than 30 days to the national election”.
However, the Senate rejected the President’s request on the ground that an amendment would be going against the civil service norms and would be injurious to the well-being of the society while the House has not even slated it for consideration.
Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation had said the federal government would exploit all avenues, including legal and legislative actions to have the section deleted.
The plaintiff, Nduka Edede of the Action Alliance (AA) had gone to the court to seek proper interpretation of Section 84(12) of the New Electoral Act.
Emeka Ozoani, counsel to the plaintiff, while addressing journalists said by this judgment, the National Assembly is not required to further make any amendments to the section as the import of this judgment is that Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act is no longer in existence or part of the Electoral Act.